In 32 hours, my six month stint in Brasil will come to end.
I will be flying from São Paulo to Santa Cruz, Bolivia… by way of Asunción, Paraguay.
And then? Parts unknown.
Some people (ie: certain family members who will remain nameless) keep asking me for an itinerary. But I don´t really have one. Sometimes I don’t recognize non-plan Fran. Plan-Fran would have had a detailed itinerary in both email and hard copy form by now.
When the first kernel of thought about long-term travel took route, the idea of traveling for a full year seemed so overwhelming. I remember telling myself that I would go for three months, and then see how I felt about it all. Then, fate intervened and I found myself in Brazil for six months, with three months left to travel afterwards before heading home for an undetermined amount of time. Yes, I have a general idea of my route. But honestly, I am going to land in Bolivia on Thursday and just see what looks interesting, and make some decisions from there.
As these final hours creep forward, I am excited and energized and thrilled at the idea of seeing amazing sights, meeting new people and eating different foods.
I´m also nervous, anxious and a bit sick to my stomach.
Why? Let me tell you…
1) It´s been a looonnnggg time since I have traveled solo. What if nobody likes me?
2) I speak ZERO Spanish. Uh, Buenos Dias?
3) My body is older. My back goes out sometimes. My feet can no longer walk all day without aching. My digestive system isn’t as hardy as it used to be.
4) Maybe I should be spending MORE of my money on ´´sensible´´ things like an apartment, retirement, debt (NOTE: I already spend money on these things, thus my use of the word MORE)
5) See #2
I have made some fabulous friends that have treated me like family and it will be hard to leave them.
But the hardest person to leave will be Rodrigo.
I feel so lucky to have met this sweet, kind and quirky man. I know we will see each other in a few months – and thank heavens for Skype — but to not see his smile and hear his deep baritone voice every morning makes my heart ache.
Thankfully, he is supportive of my travels. He understands this is a long awaited dream and he wants me to do it… even though he would prefer that I stay in Brazil with him until he is able to travel with me. And I could have postponed my trip until that unknown time materialized.
But I have spent my entire life postponing this trip.
Last week, my teenage student lost her mother. In just two weeks, her mom went from being a healthy presence in her life… to gone. The hardest thing I have ever done was go to that wake, hug this skinny, gorgeous, just-on-the-brink-of-puberty child while she sobbed so hard her body shook… and not break down myself.
Further proof that life is short.
I am not saying everyone should throw out reason and responsibility to selfishly fulfill their every desire. But sometimes tomorrow never comes. And, within reason, I think we should all live the life WE want, instead of the one someone else thinks we should have.
For me, that means recognizing my dream to wander the world by myself for a bit. I know I will be lonely at times. That I will miss certain people so much I will often regret my choice. That I will have many moments of frustration because of language barriers and disappointed expectations. But I still want to go.
If I had the type of boyfriend that wanted me to choose between him and this trip, I don’t know what I would have done. I would like to think I would choose the trip, but who knows? Thankfully, my love is supportive of my dream, even though my leaving will cause him pain.
I feel very lucky.