The cackle of my laughter briefly filled the room. Two of my girlfriends were teasing me about a guy I liked - they gestured a slight flick of the hair and it triggered laughter in me that I couldn’t contain. I had been away for three weeks and today marked just my third day back in Huaraz. There was a comforting familiarity in their presence and seeing them was the icing on the cake on being home.
I had a giggle to myself as I walked home, remembering the mischievous glint in their eyes. Huaraz feels like home, it really does. I’ve begun to build a new life here, made friends, so it will surprise some people back in Whakatane that I’ll be heading back in just three months. Mind you, that’s almost a year living in Peru.
The most important lesson I’ve learned is staying in the present, which for someone like me hasn’t been the easiest. When you’ve spent 15 years of your professional life always needing to be ahead of multiple deadlines, “living for the moment” is quite the luxury. During my recent travels down south, I didn’t have a set itinerary, just a rough idea of places to see and activities I wanted to do. It’s not something I’ve ever done before...like ever! It showed me that it all works out in the end, whether you stress about it or not. So, it’s best not to stress about it too much.
Taking each day as it comes
At first I was apprehensive about going back to Whakatane to “start over”. I’m now 36 years old and so much has happened since my last birthday - I’m definitely not the same woman that left. I remind myself that I won’t be starting over from scratch, actually, I will be starting over with experience.
Whatever society thinks a 36 year old woman should be is no longer my business. Here, I’ve found space to figure out who I was, not what society wants me to be. At least not what I thought society wanted me to be anyway. This isn’t the life I pictured I would have, had wanted, but I’m grateful that it worked out the way it did.
Take each day as it comes, that’s something my sister reminds me when
I start to plan and analyze everything. Meeting someone special in my travels is something I’ve been resisting, especially in these last few months. Then again, would it have been easier in the beginning? Probably not. That’s why I’m just seeing how it goes, no expectations, you know? Whatever will be, will be.
Starting over with experience
How cool is it to realize that there are no limits to starting over? When
you see your own unhappiness reflected in the mirror and you think to yourself, “This can’t be it, this way of living isn’t meant for me,” - then suddenly you click that you can do something about it. I’ve had a few
of those days.
I’ve learned to trust myself more over these last three weeks - solo travel does that. People tell me all the time that I’m brave for choosing to travel by myself, but it’s not as hard as some people have convinced themselves. The hardest part is trusting yourself, and after that most things work out anyway. You learn to trust your instincts, and if something just doesn’t feel right, you listen to that feeling.
What do I think my life will be like back in Whakatane? I don’t really know, though I choose to be curious rather than worry about it. Often the Universe doesn’t give us what we think we want because it wants to give us something better. That’s how I think I ended up in Peru anyway.
Life’s all about perspectives - you can focus on what you’ve lost, or instead see what you’ve gained. I’m so grateful to have found “homes” on opposite sides of the world. How lucky am I? In the cross-roads of my journey, there will come a time that I have to choose. But not yet. There’s too much living to do to spend all your time worrying about the future,
I know, and I’m speaking from experience.
Ronna Grace Funtelar a thirtyish storyteller, creative, writer and poet currently working and traveling in Peru. A woman with a curious mind who lives for hiking mountains, outdoor adventures and eating pizza. She has a unique brand of optimism that is a combination of her great enthusiasm for life and cups of coffee during the day.