I’ve always dreamed of visiting faraway places. I had a poster of the Sydney bridge in my room in middle school and high school. One of my bucket list items is to visit all 50 states. I love the idea of exploring a new culture through food and lifestyle activities while getting away from reality.
The first time I left the United States, it was a rude awakening. It was great to travel across Europe from London to Paris and Rome, but it was an eye opening experience. I understood, for the first time, what it must be like for someone in the U.S. that doesn’t speak English (except for in London). I didn’t want to stay at chain hotels during that trip; I wanted a more authentic experience, which definitely put me was outside of my comfort zone. It made me appreciate the conveniences of home; sometimes you don’t know how well you have it until it’s gone. In my head, I sang “God Bless America” for most of the trip.
The second time I left the U.S. I went to Indonesia for work. I was excited but also nervous. It was literally on the other side of the world. I was scared of the potential mishaps that could happen. I mean every time our car pulled up to a building, or the hotel, it was searched for bombs before we could proceed. THEN all of our personal belongings went through xray machines and metal detectors before we could enter. I was afraid of drinking bad water or eating something and getting sick. “God Bless America” popped into my head at some point during that trip as well.
A little over a week ago, I journeyed outside of the U.S. once again. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go someplace warm during the winter. But with public accounting, that was never an option during busy season. Last winter was my first opportunity, but I didn’t act on it. I’d wanted to get away recently; kinda take a spontaneous trip. But spontaneous air plane tickets are pricey…..so in December I decided to plan something for February and that I was going solo on this trip.
I didn’t want to have to coordinate with anyone on the timing or activities or consult anyone on anything. I just wanted to do what I wanted to do. Solo travel is great for reflection, for challenging yourself, and growing (or so I’d heard given that this was my first time traveling completely on my own, 100%). I was excited but nervous. Definitely more excited than nervous. I planned to fly into San Jose, Costa Rica and spend 5 days on the Pacific coast (about 1.5 hour’s drive from the city). I didn’t plan anything out except flight, hotel, and transportation to and from the airport. I wanted to relax for the most part and not have jammed packed days of activities. This is COMPLETELY opposite from any other vacation I’d planned (but that was okay).
I was nervous about the potential of eating/drinking something that would make me sick and having to eat dinner by myself. (I know Zika is a threat down there, but so is Malaria. After going to Indonesia and being freaked out about the potential for getting Malaria after opting for none of the Malaria pills, I wasn’t worried at all about this. I took some bug spray when I ventured out to the rain forest, but it’s not like there are swarms of mosquitoes all the time. Zika was the least of my worries, to be honest).
I was pretty much Charlotte York on my trip to Indonesia (well almost). In the first Sex in the City movie Charlotte would only eat pudding from Poughkeepsie at the 5 start resort in Mexico. I was almost this bad in Indonesia. It was my first time in a developing country where you couldn’t drink the tap water, and the lady at the travel clinic, where I got my shots, kinda scared me about food. I ate while I was over there, but I could have experienced more. I didn’t want to be like that again in Costa Rica. I feel like the best way to experience a new culture is through food. I had tons of fresh fruit (it tastes so much better when it hasn’t flown 3000 miles), rice and beans, and seafood. I ate dinner by myself 3 out of the 4 nights I was there (the first night I ate a really late lunch upon arrival at 4pm). Solo dinner wasn’t my favorite part. Breakfast and lunch are easy to eat by yourself. Dinner is a much more social event, especially in a scenario like vacation where hardly anyone else is solo. I didn’t want to take a book and read at dinner, nor did I want to be on my phone the entire time. I felt like those were cop outs. Part of me just wanted to prove that I could eat dinner solo, and that everything was going to be alright. Solo dinner isn’t my favorite thing to do, and I’m not saying I’m going to do it for fun when I’m not traveling, but I can survive through it.
So you’re probably wondering when I started singing “God Bless America” this time? Well the lyrics didn’t cross my mind at all. I was able to enjoy the journey in its entirety, which is something I struggle with in all aspects of life. I wasn’t itching to get home until I was finally at the San Jose airport and I just wanted to get on the plane and get the show on the road (I don’t particularly enjoy flying). It was a great trip and will share some more details about my experience in a future post. For now, I plan to enjoy the crazy gorgeous weather we are having in NC. Highs in the 70s for the early part of this week!