Friday, December 16, 2011

I'm a Big Girl Now: 12.16 (ft. @TracitaLinda)

I would like to thank the lovely Tracita Linda for writing today's #Reverb11! You can find her blog here
Tracita Linda & her mother (circa 1987)

Travel: How did you travel in 2011? Where did you visit?How & or where would you like to travel next year?

This year, I flew solo.
Ever since I journeyed with Elizabeth Gilbert on her quest for emotional, spiritual, and gastronomical fulfillment in Eat, Pray, Love I didn't need any more convincing on a solo trip. I weighed all the pro's and the con's of traveling alone and thought not only would it be a way for me to get to know Tracey better, but also an accomplishment to boast that I planned my own personalized trip and was not afraid to
just go. In other words, I wanted to prove that I was grown!
In my preliminary search of how to travel solo as a woman, I stumbled upon an article on the ‘Lost Girls’ website. The Lost Girls are 3 friends, who in their carefree twenties decided to travel around four continents with no itinerary—just the courage to go. In that spirit, I took their advice as confirmation that traveling solo is a privilege not available to most.  Why let the moment pass me by?

For my 26th birthday, as I passed my 2 month mark living in Costa Rica, I decided to follow through with my intention. I settled on starting small, so as not to freak my poor mother out with thoughts of
her only child getting kidnapped by Colombian drug lords. I decided Panama was generally neutral and relatively close, a 50-minute charter flight from San Jose to Bocas del Toro (an island on Panama’s Caribbean Coast).  As a seasoned traveler, I was to discover that I STILL had a lot to learn.
The Good
·       If you love flying, there's nothing like a charter flight experience.  I can’t even begin to explain the feeling of flying in the space where clouds look like cotton candy tasty enough to eat, and the bird’s eye view of the landscape make you jealous of God’s view.
·       You embrace the idea that things happen. When you recognize that no trip is ever perfect, you try not to be preoccupied with minor things that would usually annoy you. Or better yet, because you know how hard you worked to plan the trip major things that would normally make you mad don’t and shouldn’t RUIN your entire trip.
·       I got stories to share with my children [when they are mature enough]. I will just say they involve an ocean-front bar and a hot dance floor.
·       You are likely to engage your environment when alone. You talk to strangers and you are generally open to people talking to you. On this trip, I met some crazy U.S. Coast Guards, tourists, natives and even sat in a restaurant during down season chatting with some young men about the differences in all the populations/dialects in Panama.
The Bad
·       I didn’t forget my camera, but I forgot my memory card. Needless to say, this was not something easily replaceable on an island. I couldn’t even find a disposable camera. In the spirit of embracing the idea that things happen, I decided that this would NOT ruin my trip. Panama’s beauty will stay embedded in my mind’s museum.
·       I got bored. Sometime after lunch and before dinner, I had to resort to my room and occupy myself with TV movies. The sun was so high and blazing that it wasn´t smart to be just strolling around, and I didn´t really want to sit at a random bar by myself.
·       After a day, I didn´t want to sit on the beach or go island-hopping. On my trip, I learned that I am not simply a tanning- all-day type of traveler, neither am I a water-sport girl. I need more variety of activities. For my next solo trip, I will definitely put this higher on my priority list.
The Ugly
  • I ran out of cash. I know what you're thinking. How? Let’s just say things happen. A miscalculation of funds that I was relying on but didn’t come through because of the 4th of July holiday had me limiting myself on my last day because I had just enough money for my bus ride back to Costa Rica. Ms. Grown ended up having to take that a walk of shame to Western Union to get some extra money wired so I could at least have dinner that night. So much for my solo trip, huh?

    All in all, I wouldn’t trade my first time flying solo for any other experience.  Western Union  walk-of-shame and all. Nothing will compare to going out to the bar one night with one dollar in my purse and learning the power of being a woman, a cool-dip at 2am in a bar that resembled a sunken ship, daring myself to pick up a star fish without getting freaked out by all the moving legs on the opposite side, renting a bike and exploring the island on my own, and enjoying some fried Red Snapper and fried green bananas for lunch while I watched the town around me move in its customary stride.
Still trying to prove I’m Grown,

She Traces

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