My Solo Female Travel Journey: Day 1
from the archives
Waiting for the shower to warm up only to realize, “baby that shower never getting warm”, coupled with the imagery of me slathering on a shiny layer of sunscreen and spritzing on bug spray is what I would call the symbolic moments marking my new life as a nomad. To think that just a couple of days ago I was walking the grimy streets of DTLA plotting my exit and now I am here in Nicaragua plotting my journey.
A journey not of self discovery but more like a reunion. I’ve always had a strong sense of self, who I am, why I’m here and where I’m going but somewhere along the way to big dreams and career goals, the little voice that was leading me became softer and softer. After a series of jarring situations from being in the hospital to random people coming to me and telling me that the universe wants me to know that I am off my path, I felt like my higher self was doing everything she could to hang out with me again. Like a baby in distress screaming to get it’s mother’s attention, she wailed. Everything became uncomfortable. I needed to do something. I needed to strip away everything that was a distraction and get back to me. When I finally decided to leave, the call to travel was so compelling that I became afraid that if I stayed my true self would be lost forever. It was time to bet on me and be willing to lose it all.
When I finally decided to leave, the call to travel was so compelling that I became afraid that if I stayed my true self would be lost forever.Tweet: The call to travel was so compelling that I became afraid that if I stayed my true self would be lost forever.
Walking through the streets of San Juan Del Sur looking for a local breakfast spot, I was very shocked at the amount of hipster looking shops and restaurants that speckled this tiny town. In some ways I felt like this was just a beachy version of a trendy LA neighborhood, just a little cheaper. I had no expectations of this small fishing community but I never would have envisioned this; trendy bikini shops, streets lined with loud four wheelers and tons of pubs. For a moment I felt weirded out because it felt too familiar. In some ways when thinking about a trip to a place I’ve never been, I had a Jane Goodall vision of myself trekking through the bush lol. But duh Donalee you picked the town where digital nomads call a base, what did you expect?!
With hunger knocking at my gut’s door I gave up my search for local food and picked a Hawaiian spot to chow down. Yep, you read right: HAWAIIAN. Since it’s only day one and knowing that I would have plenty of time to find my spots, I didn’t let the disappointment get to me. Even though it wasn’t what I was looking for, it def hit the spot and Kenny, the owner, was a great local insider to talk to. He has been in San Juan Del Sur for 10 years and even though it has changed a lot from a simple fishing village to a tourist hot spot, he still thinks it's a great base for any Nica traveler. And even though I’ve only been here for a day I agreed. He gave me a few tips before sending me on my way with my leftovers wrapped in foil.
As I walked through the town center I couldn’t help but hear patois! This is the second time I’ve bumped into a patois (garifuna) speaking Nicaraguan and I couldn’t help butting into his conversation and introducing myself. In a country where I know no one, these small moments help me feel at ease. I may never see this man again (fun fact I def did lol and he gave me the biggest hug!) but in this moment of familiarity all the strangeness of travel subsided and we were connected.
This is why I started this travel journey.
Oh but what would life be without contrast? For every moment of familiarity, there were times of utter confusion. At first when people asked if I know Spanish I would answer, “Enough not to be scared.” All that confidence went out the window less than an hour after my patois connection when I needed to buy eggs at the market. I was confused, the market lady was frustrated, we repeated each other hoping to make the next understand. In the end she just took my dollar and flashed me off. Sigh. Yep my Spanish sucks.
Towards the end of the night my housemates and I went out for sushi. Yep. SUSHI. Needless to say I did not partake, at this point I just wanted street meat but I wanted to hang out and possibly make friends. Although, I became fast friends with one of the guys (we went for a walk in town before the meetup and we went for beers and chatted for a good bit), I couldn’t help but feel like a fish out of water. Most of the folks residing at the co-living space for digital nomads (people who work remotely) had a few weeks of friendship established by the time I got there. So for the majority of dinner I sat in silence and just took in the scene.
Still super grateful for being there, I also felt intimidated. Here are folks that are fully established in their respective fields, and here I am barely knowing where to begin. And if the feeling of not fitting in wasn’t enough torture, the question I got asked after my name was, “So what do you do?” I effin hate that question. I left a world where that was the only question that was asked at social gatherings and if you didn’t do something that could help the inquirer, you were immediately of no value to them. I was left wondering does anyone (other than the young man I hung out with earlier) actually want to know who I am, why I’m here?
Deciding to not give in to discomfort, I took a deep breath, sipped my $1.36 Toña beer and listened. I’m happy to report that after a couple of beers and bar hopping, I was able to break the ice with my housemates. A couple of them also assured me that I will have this digital nomad lifestyle figured out in no time.
As I sit by the pool reliving these moments I have no beautifully crafted philosophical quote to end this post. But I can say that even with the uncertainty of this journey I feel at peace.
Have you ever done long-term travel? Share some of your first experiences in the comment section below.