There is no place like home. (I mean the U.S., not Colby…sorry)
I have been traveling for 8 months now. Last week I officially made the plunge and booked tickets home. I will be Stateside April 26th.
Entering Chile made me realize that it was time for me to end my vagabond lifestyle; I am actually tired of being a vagrant. Chile and Argentina are so similar to life in the U.S. that I almost forget I am not in the U.S. And when I think about it that way, I wonder why I do not just go home where I could be in a semi stable lifestyle where I am not wearing the same six shirts each week and I do not have to repack my life´s possessions every few days. I am sort of ready to have a space of my own where I am not constantly spitting out the traveler essentials: name, where from, time traveling, where been and where going next, age, etc. I adore meeting new people and I have made many wonderful friends throughout this journey, but sometimes I want to know a place. Have my favorite coffee shop, know the best grocery shops, be a recurrent costumer to my favorite farmers´ market stand. I want to be able to sleep in and not have ten other people wandering about the room at odd hours making noises or to be kicked out of bed by 10 AM for checkout. I have have enough overnight bus rides. This trip has been vital to my realization that despite wanting to live simply without partaking in too many excesses of materialism, I really appreciate living with all the comforts and commodities of highly developed countries. I also am looking forward to having a routine where I do not have to plan each move of every day. However, I also enjoy traveling outside those comforts, and they serve to remind myself to not take my fortunate life for granted.
Upon entering Chile I was suddenly confronted with full-sized grocery stores containing imported luxury items, shopping mall complexes in every city, Internet that functions faster than snail pace, and certain niceties of transportation and accommodation. I could be anywhere in the U.S. At first I thought it was the extreme similarity to U.S. life that made Chile and Argentina seem so completely different than Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, but then I realized there was a bit more to the situation. I could literally feel the level of safeness increase in Chile. When I walk around the cities in Chile or Argentina I do not have that ominous feeling that half the people are weighing whether I am appropriate bait for robbery. Despite not having the local appearance, people eye me for the sake that I am a tourist or a female. I am a shiny new penny, enough to compel a glance but then we move on. Cat calls are more common here than the U.S., but that is it. It is a breath of fresh air to not constantly feel the need to look over my shoulder. However, it also forces me to acknowledge that the “dangers” of traveling in South America alone or with other people, are the same dangers presented me in the U.S. There are incredibly safe places in the U.S., but there are also incredibly safe places in Bolivia. Also, when I know a place and feel completely comfortable there, it does not mean that location is suddenly “safer” than the next town.
Well, I am not really providing thought provoking insights here, but this trip has served its purpose for me. I needed to escape responsibility and expectations after university to clear my slate. Now I have had that freedom and I am ready to move back into feeling useful and productive. I am ready to have a job and be able to provide for myself. We are not talking career ready or having my whole life planned out ready, but I am looking forward to having a space of my own where I have a job to keep me busy so that I appreciate weekend get-aways and look forward to free time. The saying, “There is little pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is in having lots to do and not doing it,” is too true. And I am finally ready to go back to that. 🙂
Thus, I am officially in Argentina and will continue travelling across northern Argentina to end my trip with a week on a beach in Uruguay. Life is good.