I was firm in my decision to delay a solo travel adventure since I’d financed long-awaited kitchen renovations. Yet solo travel, outside of bringing me joy and growth, is the subject of future writing projects. But I told myself that it was too time consuming, too expensive, too much work to squeeze in to 2018. I could do it the next year.
But losing a few close friends this year was a terrific reminder that the future is never certain. It inspired me to unclench my tight fists and spend over $1,500 on a round trip ticket to South America. Uruguay and Argentina, to be more specific. I’d start in Uruguay. A week or more after arriving there, I would take the ferry over to Buenos Aires, Argentina and enjoy the sites, and then wander back to Uruguay before returning home. In all, I’d be away from Alaska for three weeks. A long break from snow and work reorganization and routines and and all things familiar. Just me and my hostel(s).
People. Always the people. Plus walking often ten miles a day, thanking God that although I may be lost, I still had the capacity to move without pain, and found generous people who helped point me in the right direction.
Uruguay is a small and more affluent country. I felt safer walking the streets there than I do at home. Three million people, twelve million cows, according to our walking tour guide. From the beautiful museums in Montevideo to the beaches of LaPaloma and Punta del Este and Colonia del Sacramento, I saw more of it than I had originally hoped, hopping busses, wondering if I could understand Spanish well enough to know when to exit, and intermittently staying with a wonderful friend I’d met on an author Facebook group years before who let me use her casita as a home base. I appreciated that from the first day, our conversations were effortless and authentic, and I made a mental to list of things she’d suggested that I wanted to pursue.
Argentina was a little more challenging. Since I stayed in Buenos Aires exclusively, my love of the sights and the history was tempered with the noise and the crowds. And witnessing an attempted kidnapping. But I’ll write more of that in a later essay for publication.
What I adored about shared housing was never knowing who I’d be in a room with. One morning-we were delegates from Israel, China, New Zealand, and America, sitting up in our beds, comparing and contrasting lives in our home countries as though we were representatives from the United Nations. Respectful yet real conversations that inspired more reading, more thinking, future travels.
Next continent- Antarctica. If you know of a way I can do it on budget, please let me know!
I find solo travel to be scary, lonely, and unsure. And character building, resilience increasing, and a stress reducer, at least once I return home.
Happy New Year to you. I hope you give yourself permission to do something you’ve always wanted to do.