It was around this time last year that I was getting ready for a flight to Australia; I was running around Cambodia, riding motorbikes and throwing grenades and drinking the cheapest beer I’ve ever had. I was geared up to meet my friend Ali, as she had been living in Melbourne for a year or so and I missed her very much. We spent that week drinking delicious coffee, photographing street art, and seeing the city through tram windows, and it cemented our friendship that much more.
I almost always travel solo, but on this trip I am lucky enough to meet up with not one of my best friends, but two. Ali will most likely meet me in three weeks and we’ll traipse around El Salvador and Nicaragua, and then I’ll meet Kerri and we’ll start in Honduras and work our way down south. I feel like I’m going crazy with anticipation – I can’t wait to be with them and just be me, just be us.
That’s a side of solo travel that’s not often talked about, I find. On this blog and in my life in general I am constantly advocating solo travel, of being on my own. “I’m never on my own for long!” I proclaim, and it’s true – everywhere I go in my travels, there are other people open to sharing a drink or two, or locals eager to hear your story, or even a kindly bartender that takes pity on the girl with nothing else to do on a Friday night but sit and read. But as I travel more and more, I find I connect with fewer people; gone are the days when I need to add everyone I meet to Facebook, gone are the days when I even tell people my full story or full name. I’ve not become bitter, or mean, just realistic, and older. What I crave now is to connect with just a few people in my travels, to connect and to actually make lasting and wonderful friendships. There are those rare people you meet on the road that make you stop and think, “Yes, I would be friends with this person no matter where I met him or her; this friendship is not circumstantial; this friendship is real; my life is better with this person in it”, and it’s a beautiful, life-changing thing.
And while Antigua is gorgeous and relaxing, I have yet to connect with anyone in the nearly two weeks I’ve been here. I’ve shared beers and shared laughs and enjoyed hearing of other people’s travels, but there is nobody that I can say I will keep in touch with. The one person I did wish I had more time with had to leave abruptly, and I didn’t get his contact information. I know this game, though, I know how it works – I can be lonely and bored one day, but meet someone whom I adore the next. There is nothing to do but keep smiling, keep introducing yourself, and keep on the lookout for those magical connections that happen every so often. It’s how I’ve met all of my closest friends and all of my boyfriends. It’s how I met both Ali and Kerri.
Yes, I will continue to sing the praises of solo travel, but I will also be honest with anyone who asks if I ever feel lonely – of course I do. So why do I keep travelling on my own? It’s because I know what, or who, could very well be waiting around the corner.