I traveled alone and never once did I feel alone.
I traveled alone as a white non-Spanish speaking woman and never once did I feel unsafe.
It was amazing. Inspiring. Humbling. And unexpected.
Traveling alone, I thought I would have a lot of time on my own, reflecting, meditating, writing, etc, and that was not the case at all. I wrote in my journal in Monteverde on my second night and that was it. After that, my time was filled with people and adventure, and hardly any solitude at all.
I trusted in the moments and that everything was unfolding exactly the way that it was meant to be.
It was amazing to see the world through new lenses, not only from the ground in Costa Rica, but through the lenses of other travelers from around the world that I connected with, many of them young, half my age, mostly coming from Europe, South America, and the US.
It was incredible observing how quickly friendships form, without any expectations and attachments. Easily forming bonds with folks, some who I'll likely never see or even speak to again.
What a beautiful teaching.
The other thing I'm sitting with is humility from a place of privilege or advantage. I'm not speaking of 'white privilege', but the privilege of any of us folks with the means to travel, regardless of skin colour, race, or location, who take a lot of things in life for granted. Observing how this privilege translates in the expectations of travelers in a 2nd world country who have little to no consideration for where it is that they are traveling. Whining about no wifi in their air conditioned shuttle or no hot water at their accommodations, all while the tico they're complaining to has family living in dirt floor shacks that may not have running water, or even a front door.
I especially felt this on my quad tour outside Manuel Antonio as we traveled through a village. I almost didn't feel right, like who was I to drive through there and gawk at the ticos like they were in existence for my entertainment. The tour would have been much better served if we were actually able to stop, interact, and relate at a human level. The only thing that alleviated my sense of misplaced entitlement was that my guide was local to the area.
It filled my heart to see his interactions, and we hiked and swam with his sister in law and nieces. He talked to me about his family, his mom, and showed me pictures of his daughter. This is the connection that I seek, not just witnessing from a place of privilege or supposed superiority from inside an air conditioned vehicle or a fancy resort.
Staying in hostels---sometimes with questionable cleanliness, often without hot water, and always with warm friendliness---using public transit, eating at sodas, shopping at local supermarkets to make my own meals, and facing a language barrier has certainly pushed and expanded my edges.
I overcame fears and found deeper wells of capability, courage, joy, and love.
There's just so much to take away and reflect on from this trip. I'll certainly be unpacking much more than my backpack when I get home.
Forever changed, forever in my heart. Pura Vida!