It’s time to get real. I’ve been on the road for six and a half months. That’s a long time to be without a home, let alone my own room. I started off full of energy and ready to move to a new place at any given moment. No one could stop me! In the last 200 days, I’ve made my way from southern Ecuador to the beaches of Nicaragua. While I’ve traveled “slowly” compared to other backpackers (many will do all of South America in just 6 months!), I’ve still seen A LOT. I’ve been to countless cities in 5 countries. And I am tired. At about 5 months in, I started to crave spending more time in any one place. My travel pace slowed, and I found myself spending 1-3 weeks in spots instead of 3-5 days.
During my time on the road, I’ve had a variety of sleeping situations, some of them comical and nearly all of them shared. I’ve only had my own room once! For some reason that realization is stunning…Perhaps because sharing a common space has become my new normal? I’ve slept in bunk beds, on mattresses, in hammocks, in tents, at new friend’s houses, on tiny islands, in jungles, in cities, on buses, in boats, you name it. Maybe I’ll write an entire post on it one day because oh the stories I could tell! (Confessions of a cargo ship bunker…)
I’ve been fortunate to have many visitors since Christmas, and that has had two effects on me. 1. It’s reinvigorating because I get to share my stories with people who really know me, and I get to see how they are doing IRL. 2. It makes me homesick. It feels like so much has changed since I’ve been gone, but in reality, I know that things will be mostly “the same” when I get back to San Diego. Thinking about everything that has unfolded and all that I could be missing out on (my sister’s pregnancy and soon to be new niece, friends’ pregnancies and babies, showers, birthdays, new homes, new loves, new jobs, new illnesses) gives me some pause. I know all of these things will still be there in one form or another when I return, but I still hate to miss important milestones.
Still, I know my time on the road is not done. While I can technically return home tomorrow or next week, I am not ready yet. I am tired, yes. But I know this is just a phase in the grander scheme of things. I am tired of constantly being on the move, so I’ve slowed down quite a bit. I am tired of party hostels, so I’ve slept in tranquil hippy environments. I am tired of answering the same questions over and over again (Where are you from? How long are you traveling for? Where are you going? Where have you been?) So, I am going to make a change.
“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” Paulo Coelho
I am going to stay with a Nicaraguan family for 1 month beginning Feb 14. (Happy V-Day to ME!) It will be my first homestay since Madrid 2004, and I am so excited! In fact, dare I say, I’m invigorated? The program is through La Mariposa language school, a nonprofit with an eco-focus, and it sounds right up my alley. In addition to spending time with my Nicaraguan family, I will have 20 hours of private Spanish lessons per week, and 20 hours of volunteering within the community. (Maybe I’ll work with kids again!?) I’ll be eating traditional Nicaraguan fare grown within the community, and…you may have guessed it…I will have my OWN ROOM! : ) I do not care how basic it is. It will be tiny and beautiful and all mine!
One of the reasons I selected Latin America for my travels was for the hope of becoming fluent (or casi) in Spanish. I would love to use both English and Spanish in a job one day. Spending weeks in backpacker hostels speaking English with others from around the world hasn’t helped my case, so I have to go out of my way to use my Spanish with the locals and with Spanish-speaking travelers. (I’m sure that sounds weird given that I’ve been in Spanish-speaking countries!) I hope to speak very minimal English during my homestay and go full immersion. I’d like to leave with a better understanding of the Nicaraguan culture, a country I am so in love with. (It’s my second time here!)
So, even though I am tired, I am still curious. I want to know what life is really like in Nicaragua. I want to explore north of Nicaragua, an uncharted territory for me. I want to make it to Mexico City and visit my dear friends from grad school. I want to walk across the border from Tijuana to San Diego with a feeling of YES. This part of my journey is complete, and I am fulfilled. I may be tired, but my travels are not over – yet.
What are your thoughts? What do you do when you’re feeling tired of something?