Friday, April 17, 2009

Thoughts on Traveling Alone - Monday 4-13-2009

Juan left this morning. I talk a lot this evening with Leonie and Tyler over dinner and drinks at Sol Azteca, a Mexican restaurant up a hill from Casa Brian. Some of the conversation strays into traveling alone. Tyler has been in Playa Samara since January attending the local massage therapy school. He tells me it has been emotionally difficult to meet people in the hostels or in the bars, click with them, hang out with them for awhile, and then say goodbye to them when they move on. He says that doing something for himself is key to making it through the incessant goodbyes. Just hanging out somewhere isn’t enough, he tells me. Trying to find validation through socializing just leads to disappointment as a solo traveler. The key is to do something because you want to do it, not for the sake of meeting people – go to school, seek out new experiences, visit new places.

Leonie echoes Tyler’s sentiments. Leonie has been in Playa Samara since January as well (Tyler and her met on the bus from San Jose). She has been living at Casa Brian since early February and so has watched a parade of people come and go, some of whom she because very close to. Part of the reason she is moving on, she tell us, is because she had stopped experiencing life for herself and instead stuck around to hang out with people who just went on to leave. She needs a change. She needs to travel and live for herself again.

I disagree with both of them at first since meeting people was a primary reason I booked my Costa Rica trip. Later, I understand what Tyler and Leonie mean. I met the people I met on this trip while I was doing something I wanted to do for myself – traveling abroad for my own reasons. These private motivations helped cushion the sense of loss when my new friends moved on because I knew that my journey was an end unto itself and that I didn’t need to get attached to other travelers to have life validating experiences. In fact, this constant turnover of traveling companions has taught me to appreciate every moment I spend with them without regard for the future because I know that distance and circumstance will largely prevent them from being a part of my future. I have spent much of my life ignoring my present in favor of my future. That’s changing now, thanks to this trip.

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