When I set off on this adventure lots of people focused on the alone aspect. “But you’re doing this all alone? The whole time?” Well, yes, technically. I planned it just me and set off alone, but in addition to having a few friends join me along the way I hoped that I would meet new friends who would become travel buddies. This was something I said before I left without really having proof to back it up; it was an idea more than a fact. Now I can happily say that this is very true.
This happened almost immediately when I met Kahlia in my first hostel in Sao Paulo. After three days together we planned to visit Salvador together post-Rio. We coordinated over a few Facebook message exchanges and one productive dinner, and we had a great 3 day trip together. Even though we had spent less than a week together it was sad to say bye. We shared new experiences that bond people: we slept in an airport, got into and out of a shady couchsurfing situation, and just generally explored a new place together. We still keep in touch, and I hope our paths will cross again one day.
I synced up with another traveler, Bobby, for the Amazon. This one was cheating a little – he’s my friends’ brother – but since I didn’t meet him till we were both in Rio I still think it counts. We realized we both wanted to go to the Amazon and the timing worked out well so off we went. As I’ve already said, my 6 days in the Amazon were incredible, and having an adventurous buddy like Bobby definitely contributed to that.
It was a recent experience though that most proved what I said at the beginning of this post.
I met Jasmin in my hostel in Cartagena. It didn’t take long to realize that we had a similar plan for our next leg of travel: we’d both be in Medellin for almost a week and needed to find our way down into Ecuador. We decided that a 20 hour bus ride and border crossing were probably best done not alone, so after a quick judgement on both our parts that we wouldn’t hate each other we decided to take on the challenge together.
This decision turned into 2 weeks of travel companionship, from leaving Medellin, Colombia on August 11th until we went our separate ways from La Paz, Bolivia on August 26th. We took buses the entirety of Ecuador, including the 3 days of pure travel to get down to southern Peru. We showed up at hostels last minute in the hopes that they had more than 1 bed. We ventured around cities and hiked an island. We ate local cuisines, killed time in cafes, and had our fair share of local beers and boxed wines. This portion of my trip would not have been the same without Jasmin and saying goodbye was especially difficult. I still hope we’ll meet up again in Argentina before our adventures take us to new continents (Jasmin is going to Fiji next!) but if our plans don’t align in this trip I’m sure we will see each other again in the future. (Side note: Jasmin is also blogging! You should check out what she’s up to: http://littlebutnotlost.wordpress.com/)
There are more people who I will remember with different locations – Rosa, Connie and Paulina had the same three day itinerary as me in Colombia, Val joined us for a stretch in Bolivia, Julia and I hung out in Santiago and then again two days later in Valparaiso, and Pete I see randomly in almost every country – and they are all a part of this journey.
So now I can say with full confidence that although I am traveling alone, I am not really alone, and I am sure I will meet more new travel buddies throughout the rest of this experience.