It’s time to get going again.
It was almost exactly a year ago that I left on my trip to Asia and Australia, full of anxiety and fear. Now I am days away from leaving again, for the giant continent down south, and it feels totally different.
On Thursday I’ll be taking the megabus up to New York, then on Friday I’ll meet Mike at JFK and together we’ll fly to Bogota. In typical me fashion my bags are not packed, I’ve got a to-do list as long as my arm and my efforts to learn Spanish… well more on that next week. Instead of stressing out though I feel strangely calm.
You see, I’m in the sweet spot right now. I’m in that weird golden slice of twilight before you set off on a big trip but after you’ve made all your major preparations. There are things to do of course, and plenty to get freaked out about, but right now I’m more excited than anything else.
This is a big change from last year. In the days leading up to my trip I didn’t feel any of the excitement that had powered me for months. I mostly just felt overwhelmed, and kind of tired. Backpacking around Asia just seemed like such a monumental effort, I didn’t know where I would find the inner resources to get it done. I didn’t have real doubts, but the expanse of the unknown before me was pretty intimidating.
Now though, I’m a travel veteran. I’ve launched myself out on the world (three times really) and it has never turned out to be anything but life-changingly awesome. Although I’m being terribly apathetic about my trip preparations, I’m excited about the chance to explore Latin America, work on new projects and travel long-term with my awesome boyfriend (although I’m sure I’ll sneak a solo trip in there somewhere).
I sometimes think that the time right before something significant is going to happen is the best time. I love the anticipation. Right now, in my head, this trip is perfect and pristine and full of possibility. It hasn’t yet become that trip where I lost my ipod and fell in the mud, or the night we had a huge fight on the beach, or that hellish 19 hour bus ride through Bolivia or whatever other crazy thing will end up happening over the next six plus months. Right now, it’s all good.
This time around I can actually enjoy the pre-trip glow. I love combing through the battered Colombia lonely planet I got from the library, reading about possible places that I might visit. Restaurant suggestions that I’m promptly going to forget. We don’t really have any plan or itinerary so it’s fun to scan wikitravel and pick out places we might want to go maybe. It’s not like real planning, not yet.
I’m glad I was able to get to this point- this new normal where flying to Mexico is another day at the office and uprooting myself to South America for six plus months seems awesome and not horrifying. It took a lot of work to get here, a lot of sweat and a lot of fear. I think it’s working through that fear that sets the travelers apart from the people who just wish they could.
On Friday I’ll be on the plane: a 6 hour ride (not so bad after long-hauling it to Asia) and then the hustle and lights of Bogota. Maybe I’ll feel nervous then, boarding that tin can to the future. For now though, I’m just gonna enjoy the sweet spot.