If you can carry a 30-40 pound backpack to and from transit stations and you’re not shy to ask questions or for directions, then yes, the travel portion should be easy. You already quit your job, left your home, sold and stored your things, and said goodbye to your friends. Everyone’s well wishes, travel stories, itinerary questions, and jealous teasings have already given you the energy to start the journey in what you feel is your right state of mind. You met interesting travelers, befriended many locals, saw amazing things, read books you thought you would never have time to, and have funny stories about that time you got ripped off by a taxi driver, again.
Somewhere along the way you feel as though you’re absolutely free. Your spirit reaches out in front of you, pulling or being pulled, eager for the next laugh along the adventure. Few things are taken for granted and you’re happy you brought the repellent with deet AND the travel pillow.
Not being understood, which is really you not understanding, also means your tone of voice and facial expressions overcompensate for the things you can’t describe with your hands. Speaking slowly and over enunciating is more irritating to one’s own ears than it is to say , especially when the difference between first left and second left is everything. It is annoying to meet an English-speaking traveler who, because of necessity turned habit, speaks to you in the same manner.
Although seldom, you can’t tell if you sympathize with, understand, want to put in the effort, or can’t put a finger on, why you don’t find comradery with the local people. All of the feelings that implies, along with the stares, makes it uncomfortable to be surrounded by them. Still, you find comfort in the fact that you don’t understand what it’s like to be them, so disregarding their glares becomes easy, but it comes with guilt. Sometimes locals don’t include you; your heart was in the right place, but your effort was misguided. Other times you leave a place feeling truly loved.
But all of the travel things, the communication, and the freedom of going with the wind puts a mask on what it is you’re doing here. What it is I’m doing here. Somewhere along the way, like a mosquito you know is there but can’t find, the thought creeps into my head. I left for a reason, to fulfill a dream of travel at a point in my life that felt perfect for the journey. I was told it would change my life, be the best thing ever, and was something I wouldn’t regret. Having so much time to think is good and bad. Bad because you over think the good. Good because you have little choice but to follow your thoughts and confront your YOU. My ME. With so much time in between home realities and now, there’s still time to hit the personal reset button. Most likely I’d find that no one back home would know these thoughts fostered a confrontation of will to do, or not to do.
Soon, quiet time is time standing still; waiting for me to make a decision about a question I haven’t asked but is important enough I should have. Introspection is an activity wrought with pleasure and pain, angst and calm, but having the time to ponder your life’s biggest questions while traveling, this is hard. The bugs, open sewers, being lost, not having enough money, eating bad food, having cuts that won’t heal, and meeting people who for whatever reason don’t like you, is nothing compared to the mosquito you can’t kill. But traveling, that’s the easiest part.