Travelling solo – and trying not to learn too much in the process

Asking (non-camera thieving, potentially artistic-looking) randoms to take your picture is the only way to avoid having 100 selfies when you get home

Asking non-camera thieving, artistic-looking randoms to take my picture was the only way to avoid having 100 selfies in my Mexico album.

I’ve been taking planes, trains, buses and yes, auto-mobiles, to and from places on my own for years, but really taking time out to travel by myself? Well, I’d have to say never. Until this May when I decided that Mexico needed a visit and none of my friends were able to take the time or budget.

I’m not really sure why it’s taken me so long to write about it when all I really wanted to say was I’m glad I did it, for a couple of reasons, other than the obvious… the proof that I could.

It certainly wasn’t that whole eat, pray, love thing, but then it was only two weeks, I wasn’t really expecting any real revelations, and most of all I’m still a fair way from actually enjoying my own company.

That, however, is definitely now a work in progress, because the very first thing I realised was if I am going to expect someone else to want to spend time with me, in the short, or long term, then I really have to start valuing my own company more. And actually, when I look back at the balance of that holiday, compared to say, a trip of similar length and exploration factor with a friend or a boyfriend, there were probably just as many low points (after that fight, or that hidden frustration) it was just of a different type (that dinner alone).

As for the high points, that was the second learning, there were loads. I met people. Not people I’ll be best friends with or even perhaps see again, but real people from completely different walks of life, that I would never have spoken to for any length of time if I was with someone else. I spoke Portunhol and therefore learnt a lot about Mexico from Mexicans. I went where I wanted to when I wanted to – that took the longest to get used to. And I wrote a lot, and realised how much I enjoyed it, not only when I was there (an extract follows this), but also when I got back.

Go, if you can, go alone. Be prepared for some loneliness and few low points, but revel in the highs, and start the journey to enjoying the company of the person you have to spend eternity with.


Oaxaca, Mexico, 13.05.15, 

I have a view of the Iglisa de Santo Domingo and the blue sky with its gathering clouds, the sun behind me warming my back and arms. It’s hard not having anyone to share this with me but I’m very happy to be here and feeling 11424670_10153377960950185_3556554495112004555_othis. Mexico is an adventure, an assault on the senses, and it feels more like home to my bones. The clouds are the ones that gather over the hills on the horizon and then sneak forward, advancing surreptitiously, with flat black bottoms and cotton wool heads. They complement the green and purple hills and the golden and green-tinted stones of the church. The palms explode gently into vision lower down, evoking holiday…but oh the flamboyants…those are the things that really hit my heart. Remembering playing with their huge flat banana-shaped seed pods in Botswana. The flat, polished seeds…don’t eat them…which fall and pop out, the fanned leaves which feel so soft and tickle nicely when you run small fingers through them. Pull off the leaves from the stem and you have useful bendy straws that can be tied in knots or stuck in dry sand like goosebump-ed hair.