What it feels like to become a solo traveller

barranco lima solo traveller

Library, Barranco, Lima

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, 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 sleek restaurant nestled into the side of Lima’s cliffs, overlooking the ocean.

We lounged around for what seemed like eternity, waiting for the inevitable late night flight my two friends were about to take.

cafe barranco lima

Pan Sal Aire, Barranco

I showed absolutely zero emotion, but in all honestly, I was anxious. I had those stomach pangs I used to get as a nervous child that I now only got when I was about to start a new job or had to walk into a room of strangers and ‘mingle’.

And then, suddenly, my friends were gone. I sat in the hostel reception taking in the silence and suddenly feeling like Lima was some alien city of total strangers rather than the bustling metropolis I had thoroughly enjoyed over the last few days.

I had 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 quiet. I shared a room with a decidedly unfriendly couple who did not make me feel welcome. 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. I felt much better and spent the morning roaming the beautiful area of Barranco, taking pictures.

I had picked out an adorable coffee shop in which I wanted to spend my morning, writing and completing errands I had long put off.

In the afternoon, I planned to head to the contemporary art museum in Lima as it was closeby and free. I then decided to stop at 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.

The afternoon now stretched out before me like some purgatory, hours and hours of being alone. When I too realised the supermarket was also closed (a hangover from Labour Day apparently), I was near distraught.

barranco photo lima

A pretty house in Barranco, Lima

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 gorgeous bakery and treated myself to a brownie as I read.

I arrived back to the hostel around eight and found a girl from Ecuador had checked into my dorm and was sitting sunnily 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. Thirty minutes later, we were laughing about our strange roommates and I had almost made plans to go paragliding the next day (though I am saving that for Ecuador). 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. He even let me have some of his guacamole. It was probably right in that moment of bonding over an avocado that I realised I was going to be absolutely fine.

Wobble(s) over (for now).

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