I’m sitting on a bus in Guatapé, Colombia and More Than Words by Extreme is blaring from a corner store. I’m waiting for the 11:30 bus to leave for Medellin, and it’s currently 11:40. I’m the only passenger so far and I’m reading Life of Pi. As the song came on it brought a silly grin to my face, similar to the one you get when seeing an old friend. I’ve only been traveling alone for a little over two weeks, the longest I’ve traveling alone in my life. When being in a foreign place you can underestimate the importance of having familiar things around you whether it be music, books, or photographs. For example when I get homesick all I have to do is play Ho Hey by The Lumineers to remind me of my boyfriend, which brings an instant smile to my face.
Although I’ve been traveling alone, I’ve rarely actually been alone. Even on bus rides a chatty neighbor usually strikes up a conversation, which never seems to end once I tell them I’m from the US in my bad Spanish. Being alone for what feels like the first time on this trip is a great feeling that I cannot explain in words. No smelly dutch guy undressing to his red bikini underwear openly in the dorm, no drunk Australian questioning my sexuality because I’m not interested in him, or the petulant American insisting we play Beer Pong his way.
Just me reading. No one trying to flirt with me or sell me something I have no use for. If you’re friendly and can connect with people in at least a basic level, you never really have to be alone while traveling. There’s always a circuit of gringos to stay up until sunrise with, if you so choose.
Is learning to enjoy your own company a sign of growing up, or was I just a codependent youth? Learning to love yourself is one of the most important ingredients for a happy life.
At this very moment it’s just me, my book, and my thoughts. It’s perfect!