femalesolotravel

The old man in the alley

The old man in the alley

Growing up and until my early thirties, I just assumed that I would be a mother. It wasn’t something that I felt pressured into, yet something that I somehow thought I had to be. Motherhood is such a natural part of my culture, that it never occured to me to question it. I have friends who’ve struggled with trying to conceive, and I also have friends who chose not to have children. Then a few weeks ago it hit me. Whether or not I have children of my own in the future, I know that they’ve been an integral part of embracing my purpose. No matter how much I’ve tried to walk away from teaching, I somehow find my way back to it - whether it be teaching English or dance.

Maybe I thought that having children meant that I wouldn’t be alone in my old age. I grew up in a culture where the older generation were cared for by their children, or at least younger relatives. I didn’t even know that rest homes existed until we moved to New Zealand. There, I’ve seen once active people go into rest homes and over time lose their joie de vivre, not from old age, but from feeling like they’ve been forgotten.

There’s an old man that lives in the gap between my apartment and a brick wall. It’s below my bedroom window on the first floor, so I hear him every night. Sometimes he sings, sometimes he laughs, sometimes I hear him have arguments with an invisible foe. I see him arguing with himself more these days. He’s in a permanent state of stupor but never has he been rude to me, in fact he holds the gate door open for me, especially when it rains.

Why taking a gap year in my thirties has been the best decision ever

Why taking a gap year in my thirties has been the best decision ever

If like me, you’re single and in your thirties, you’ll probably relate. I go through a cycle where I’m super comfortable about where I’m at in life - I do what I want, I’m going out and having fun and just doing me. Then,
I meet someone who either makes me rethink this whole being single thing, or it reminds exactly why I like being single.

People usually take their gap year after high school, but what happens when you get to your thirties and you feel like you’re on a raft in the middle of the ocean without a paddle? That’s why I decided to take a gap year. Sure, it isn’t the most adulting decision ever, but that space, time and permission to start over and get to know the real me again has been a real game changer. I’ve made some incredible connections and taken up new hobbies that I never thought I would, like rock climbing.

Taking a gap year in my thirties is not like a holiday, that’s the mindset I had to adapt. I knew that if I worked, I could live in Peru for at least a year. I had no plans of spending my days lying on a tropical beach somewhere - my gap year had a purpose, even if that purpose has changed somewhat throughout the months I’ve lived here. This wasn’t about taking a break from my ‘real’ life, everything that happened this year has shaped who I’ve become, as much as the memories I made in New Zealand.

Remember that you're not starting from scratch, you're starting over with experience

Remember that you're not starting from scratch, you're starting over with experience

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.

Hasta luego Huaraz!

Hasta luego Huaraz!

“Make sure you come back!” That’s what most people have told me these last two weeks. I’ve made friends here, and Huaraz does feel like home. As much as I’m excited for my month off work and traveling, in the back of my mind it feels like a dry-run for when I have to leave Peru for real in September.

My bus will leave in a few hours, I’ve never really done the backpacking thing. Even though I have a list of what I want to see in the south of Peru, I also have a flexible itinerary. That’s both exciting and slightly out of my comfort zone. Who am I kidding? It’s going to be a month of incredible memories!

Finding my bliss - the incredible gift of giving back to myself

Finding my bliss - the incredible gift of giving back to myself

Everyone has their catalyst story - when we look back at that time of our lives wondering if this was all we were meant to do, meant to be. Here’s the fascinating thing I’ve learned in my most recent introspection, I wasn’t necessarily unhappy with how my life was going. Although I was doing and being what I wanted to be before my own ‘a-ha’ moment, I wasn’t living a life that was soul-enriching either. You see, not everyone has to be at their lowest of lows to ask that question - is this it?

The woman behind these words can say honestly say how grateful she is for what pushed her to walk in the unknown. To discover and learn from the shadow parts so that she can appreciate and feel joy from within. In this chapter of my life, I know I’ve found my bliss.

For me, knowing and living my bliss is about letting go. To live from a grateful and abundant mindset and most of all, to be honest about who I am.

Hike. Eat pizza. Repeat.

Hike. Eat pizza. Repeat.

I lay on my bed while using my fingers to count how many months I’ve been in Peru. Seven. Almost seven months. It’s only 7am on a Saturday morning - I close my eyes again and ten minutes go by. April is my birthday month. Just a few days after my 36th birthday, I hope to gift myself a day on top of a glacier. I have set my sights on Mateo, a moderate terrain that can be climbed in a day. It’s towards the tail end of the rainy season, so I’m optimistic that we’ll have a mint view.

That reminds me, I also need to set aside a day or two to go rock climbing with Guido before I go on holiday in May. I tried it for the first time a couple of weeks ago and I saw a shift in me. I think that goes hand in hand with trying anything hard, right?

It took me two goes to get up what they called a “really easy rock”. On my second attempt and while halfway up the rock face, I began to hear those familiar internal tapes of doubt. I looked down at him and yelled, “What do I do next?” He smiles and yells, “Keep going up!” I laughed. And climb I did. I was pretty proud of my effort that day.

A Christmas postcard from Huaraz

A Christmas postcard from Huaraz

It’s my first Christmas away from New Zealand in almost ten years, maybe more, I can’t remember. This time of year has often been a time to recharge more than being about the “festive” season, and because my family has been scattered around the world over the years, gift giving has mostly been more about making the time to catch up or sending each other pictures of the food we had that day. You know, the simple things in life.

December has been a full on month, teaching four classes including Saturdays. I know some teachers do more, and they even study at university after their classes. It’s something I often joke about with one of the teachers, like, when does he actually sleep?

Lost In Translation: Yohan's Story

Lost In Translation: Yohan's Story

He worked at the hotel and I was a guest - our connection was purely platonic and maybe he just needed someone to listen to his story. Sometimes it’s easier to tell your story through a screen, to a stranger, it feels less confronting that way. Then again, I only speak a little Spanish so it made sense that his story came to life with the help of Google Translate. Maybe at the end of my time in Peru, when my Spanish is better, I can rewrite this so that his voice can truly be heard in my words.

”Yohan was born in the mountain city of Merida in Venezuela, on the 7th of November 1992. Long before the economic crisis of the past decade, he was raised by a single mother, growing up with his five brothers. There had been six, but a brother passed away. A lot of our conversations centred around his family, they meant the world to him and his biggest motivation for moving to Peru.”

Teaching Moments In Solo Travel

Teaching Moments In Solo Travel

This photo was a teaching moment for me – it was taken in my room at a not so pretty hostel (it was a dud). There was no keyhole on my door and to lock it from the inside was a simple slide latch and a brick I found on the floor. On the outside are two hanging screws with loops and a padlock you would use for a garden shed. Today, I’m not sure if the shower will work, but the optimist in me is hopeful.

Did I not read the reviews before booking this place? Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. It could be that I had grown complacent in my month in Zorritos and decided to take a chance on the price. That’s irrelevant now, and to be honest I’m glad it happened early on in my travels. It reminded me to be more present in my decision making, and if things don’t go to plan, I will take it as it comes. In a few months, this just becomes another story I can laugh about.