My first thoughts after arriving in Antigua, Guatemala.
A year and a half ago I sat on a park bench in Berlin, crying. I was overwhelmed by it all. From being so far from home. From being alone. From the thought of long-term travel. I didn’t think I could make it for three months let alone 12 let alone 15. I just wanted to go home.
A few days ago, and really, the whole week before, I sat crying in my room. And on the couch. And in the bathroom. Terrified once again of the idea of being out on my own. Being in a foreign country where I didn’t know my way. Where I didn’t know the language. Where I didn’t know anyone. Despite the fact that I had traveled through Europe and Asia for fifteen months, fifteen months, after five months home I seemed to have forgotten what I was capable of. I wanted to cancel my plane ticket to Guatemala. I wanted to throw up. Constantly. The last thing I texted one of my friends before boarding the plane was, “I don’t want to go.” On my four hour layover in Mexico City I stared at the departures board and wondered if I could sneak onto the flight heading back towards Chicago.
My last day in Chicago involved coffee at Wormhole, mashed potato and bacon pizza at Piece, a dipped beef from Al’s, and a general feeling of anxiety.
Yesterday, on my second day in Antigua, Guatemala, I sat on a park bench, crying. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the square was. How beautiful Antigua was. How the town seems to be the perfect mix of Spanish charm and Asian grit. I couldn’t believe that I had just come from my first Spanish lesson. How four hours of learning the language didn’t seem like much time at all. How I already felt like I knew more Spanish than French (and I took four years of French in high school…)
How amazing my life has become.
I thought to myself, “I never want to go home,” and, “why, again, did I get stuck in Chicago for so long?” Thoughts that came to me ever so much quicker this time around. Thankfully.
I sometimes wonder if travel will ever be easy for me. If the thought of leaving wherever it is that I am, wherever it is that I’ve grown comfortable, will not make me feel like vomiting for a week beforehand.
But at least I know now that once I’ve taken that step, everything will be OK. And, at least I keep pushing myself to step out of that comfort zone, no matter how much I want to puke in doing so.
As I enter this next phase of my ’round the world adventure I do have one particular worry swimming in the back of my mind: money.
When I first left for Berlin I knew I had enough to do whatever I wanted for a year and not have to worry. But the money that I left with is long gone. I’ve halved what was left in my savings account to continue on in Central America. It was something I had to do. I couldn’t stop. But I know that when this money is nearly gone, I have to go home, get a job, return to a normal life. And that is scary. Especially when I sat down and wrote out where I want to travel and ended up with a four-year plan. To know that I can only afford about six months of that 48 month itinerary makes me anxious.
Of course, I do know that I’m blessed to have been able to travel for as long as I have and continue for as long as I can. I know that. But it’s still hard to know that I will probably have to stop before I am ready to.
I’m going to try to work more while I travel. I started a little while in Asia, so I know that it’s possible. I just need to push myself to find more opportunities for web editing and design. My friend Alyssa and I have been talking about collaborating: she’d do the graphics, I’d do the coding. We’re currently working together on a not-so-secret project (hello, redesigning my online-life). So, we’ll see how it works out. But I need to press myself to find more jobs. I have to.
But, that’s just me rambling again.
I’m spending the next month here in Antigua, studying Spanish with a tutor four hours a day, five days a week. I’m hoping to get a good base for the language before I move on around Central, and hopefully South, America. I anticipate more tears ahead: whenever I have to leave this town, whenever I realize how amazing the world is, and, eventually, when I have to return home. And, eventually, when I leave again.
CynMarch 27, 2013at12:30 pm
I leave in a week for Nicaragua for about 50 days of traveling solo – spending two weeks in Costa Rica. I just got back from a pretty quick two months in India, Thailand, and Cambodia but I was traveling with someone. I am super nervous as you were, and it doesn’t help I barely remember any of the Spanish I learned in high school and college. I hope once I am there I can be OK and comfortable as I was India and the other countries… But I am very nervous right now and question buying my plane ticket, which I need to do today! (procrastination to the extreme).
Good luck with learning spanish, I’ll be taking a one week intensive course in Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua – first thing.