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  • Suzanne Murphy

What it feels like to solo travel

Personal blog, 2018

I am not going to lie, I had a few wobbles.

Having enjoyed the company of more than two friends at all times since starting my travels in late January, the prospect of being alone never really hit me.

And so I enjoyed my three months of world-wind travel, never once having to be fully responsible for my plans, safe in the knowledge that someone always had my back.

The last two weeks that I had company, the reality started to sink in. I silently endured the sad lull of homesickness, already yearning for the familiarity I was soon going to lose. I made the most of my time left with friends, spending indulgently on luxury resorts and Lima’s finest restaurants knowing that I would soon enter upon an era of frugal backpacking.

The last day came and went. We splurged on brunch in a restaurant nestled on side of one of Lima’s seafront cliffs. We lounged for what seemed like eternity, waiting for the inevitable late night flight my two friends were about to take.

And then, suddenly, they were gone. I sat in the hostel reception taking in the silence and suddenly feeling like Lima was an alien place full of strangers rather than the energetic city I had thoroughly enjoyed over the last few days.

I booked into a new hostel, deciding I did not want to be in my current one without my companions. The new hostel was cosy but extremely quiet. I shared a room with a decidedly unfriendly couple who did not make me feel welcome. Before I knew it, I was fully in the throes of my first wobble.

The next morning I got up and went for a long walk by the sea determined to have a good day. I spent the morning roaming the beautiful area of Barranco, taking pictures and making plans. I picked out an adorable coffee shop in which I planned to spend my afternoon, writing and completing errands I had long put off.

In the afternoon, I decided to head to the contemporary art museum in Lima as it was nearby and free. I then planned headed to the supermarket and pick up ingredients for dinner, looking forward to my first home-cooked meal in weeks. Arriving to the museum, I was informed that it was closed as they were installing a new exhibition. I don’t know why this bothered me so much but suddenly I was completely at a loss.

Instead of being meticulously filled with activities to distract from my loneliness, the afternoon now stretched out before me like some purgatory. When I realised the supermarket was also closed (a hangover from Labour Day apparently), I was near distraught.

I sat on a bench in Barranco’s park trying to distract myself, not sure if I wanted to cry or book a flight home immediately. I found a bench overlooking the sea and watched the sun set as I read my book, letting myself be completely engulfed by the story. On the way home I found a bakery and treated myself to a brownie.

I arrived back to the hostel around eight and found a girl from Ecuador had checked into my dorm and was sitting on the bottom bunk bed next to mine. I was still a bit shaky but she insisted on chatting to me, asking me where I was going and what I had done on my travels so far (usual backpacker chatter). Thirty minutes later, we were laughing about our strange roommates and I had almost made plans to go paragliding the next day. But somehow I had made a friend.

The next morning at breakfast I befriended Lars, a German man who was just as enthusiastic about the cinema and food as me. I had no choice but to accompany him on a food excursion that day. It was around this point that I realised I was going to be perfectly fine.

Wobble(s) over (for now).


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