Is Anything Spontaneous, Really?

We had been wandering through Oaxaca City for a good hour before one of us asked a simple question.

“Where are we going to eat?”

I don’t know if the adventure started there, or if there were forces at play long before that. But, everything seemed to just fall easily into place after the question had been asked.

Oaxaca’s Zocalo

Immediately, we found a vegetarian restaurant off the Zocalo, which was perfect because my friend was a vegetarian. But, we decided not to eat there, and kept walking. Around the corner in the busy city street there was a confused face we vaguely recognized from Iguana Hostel. We introduced ourselves. Her name was Sarah, from Finland. She was an editor of an online magazine, and just that morning she had lost her passport. She had also lost her friends, so we invited her to dinner. 

You know, I never bought into this idea of fate. There’s nothing predetermined about my life. Every moment is a new opportunity to decide differently. Whether it’s a matter of life or lunch. And, the life bit is not lost on me, as I have been known to erratically,  almost theatrically, make drastic life changes with little more than a moment’s notice.

Anyway, the three of us spent that evening at the same restaurant we passed up the first time around. After drinks we moved to wine, where Sarah revealed to us the trip she had just been on.

That trip, San Jose del Pacifico

In the Oaxacan mountains at 2500 meters there is a small town called San Jose del Pacifico. We talked for just ten minutes about it before Aga looked at me and asked another simple question. “You wanna go?” And that was it. My answer was yes and the next morning we were on a bus bound for an idyllic town where primavera festivals, Mayan healing rituals, ten peso tequila shots, chance encounters with new and old friends, sunsets, laughter and mushrooms all came together to create the trip I really needed.

There I determined my next country, which, when you have become a stuck traveler, can be revolutionary.

Those are other stories, however, because the story here is about fate. If we hadn’t said no the first time around to this vegetarian restaurant we never would have cruised the block and made a new friend. We wouldn’t have insisted, as we did, on following up the meal with wine. We may never have heard of this little mountain town. If my friend hadn’t asked the simple question. If I hadn’t responded with a yes. If Sarah hadn’t lost track of her friends at that very city block at that exact time.

Hell, I wouldn’t even be here with Aga if I hadn’t met a guy a month back in Flores, Guatemala who gave me a pillow, whose name I remembered because of that, whose name I’d randomly shouted across a busy street in San Cristobal, Mexico when I saw someone who resembled- but couldn’t have been- him. He, whom it was, and whom happened to be staying at a hostel with this Polish girl I was now adventuring with. What if I hadn’t chanced to see him on that random street in that busy city? Or what if we never started talking on that rooftop in Guatemala in the first place?

…That sunset

But those ifs never mattered, because everything sorted itself out. Now, I don’t know if my experience in Mexico could have been any different. It was too perfectly aligned. And in the end the only work I ever had to do to live these adventures was to be exactly where I was, and to simply say yes.

But, that’s just travel for you, isn’t it?

Cheers to that!


Traveling Alone is Far from Lonely

Before travel I lived in a social world, one where being alone was a collective fear. One where I made plans to spend time with those I loved, but oftentimes life would get in the way. It was a world where I bumped into friends at the supermarket, and insisted we should plan something. Really, we should get together. And I meant it. But I lived for the weekend- which was Tuesday- where I would cram all my quality time with good friends into a few hours. It wasn’t enough. Seven months ago I took a break from that world to travel on my own. And, you know what? The life I left behind was a lot lonelier than the one I live now.

Back in my social world, time with myself was usually spent waiting for something, or thinking too much about shit that didn’t matter. When my world was regimented it was harder to make new friends precisely because it took a painfully long time to reveal my true self to anyone. I walked around in suppressed agony that “no one gets me.”

Thankfully, travel helped me to dissolve fear of the self. I embrace the time I spend alone, because I enjoy myself. I care less about the things that don’t matter, and because of that, I come into relationships more organically. I value my relationships, however short and spontaneous. I marvel at the regularity in which people come into my life, and affect me with even a single act.

Let new friends in. Let old fears go.

And just as I value the relationships that I cultivate in my traveling life, I’ve become better at spotting those relationships that don’t serve me. There are people I’ve needed to say goodbye to, so I could get back out on my own. Because, it’s just better to travel alone than it is to be lonely traveling with the wrong person.

Travel inspires