Getting out of “Normal” Life to Travel.
For my whole life, I had been pushed towards what I was “supposed” to do with my life. Go to high school, graduate with good grades, go to college, earn my degree, get a job. That is the direction my life was heading, just like all the rest of my friends. This is what is “normal.” This is what is “right.” But why is this normal for the United States? Halfway through my senior year of high school, I decided I would not follow that path. My whole life, all I wanted to do was leave. Not at all because I disliked my town, friends, or family, in fact I loved it all. But in my heart, I knew I did not belong there. That maybe I really didn’t belong anywhere. Instead maybe I am meant to be a wanderer for the rest of my life, belonging everywhere, and nowhere.
I was 18 years old when I left to Ecuador. I had just graduated high school and had saved up about 6,000 dollars to begin my trip. I did not know how long I would be away, or if I would ever return. The idea of it all it all was too crazy for anyone to really comprehend. It was almost laughable to most people. That did not stop me from fulfilling my dreams. To take the first step to seeing the world. I didn’t care what anyone thought about what I was doing because I knew no one could really understand. When I bought my ticket was when peoples doubts were finally silenced.
However, new doubts arose.
My entire family was scared out of their wits, being the blonde haired, blue eyed girl I am.
“You need to dye your hair!”
“Blend in, don’t stand out in any way!”
“You’re blonde, you’ll get kidnapped!”
Over and Over people would pour all sorts of fears into my ear, trying to convince me I was going into some sort of death trap in South America. Is it really their fault for believing that? Most Americans have been led to believe the outside world is dangerous. But is it really that much more dangerous than our own country? In every country and city, there are places you just don’t go. Because they ARE dangerous. The problem is, once we hear one bad thing about a place, it is deemed unsafe. Because all we know is what we hear. So we fear what we hear, because we fear what we do not know.
Not once on my travels in South America did I feel unsafe. Even when traveling alone.
I ignored my initial fears. I wanted to know it all. I wanted the good and the bad. I wanted truth. And with my first travels, that is exactly the kind of knowledge I have started to gain.
Throughout my travels, I met very few American “travelers.” Instead I met people mid 20’s or 30’s who had 2 weeks vacation from their 9-5 jobs. I met many Europeans, Australians, and Scandinavians, most traveling for extended periods of time. Why is this? It is not seen as unordinary or crazy to travel, like it is where I am from. It is encouraged. Traveling has opened my eyes to the world in so many ways. It has made me realize prior to this adventure, I knew virtually NOTHING about the outside world. I feared the outside world. Going to Ecuador, I thought it would be an unsafe venture, because of what I had been led to believe. The cheapest airline ticket was through Bogota, Colombia, which I bought, but was very leery about, due to all the negative things your hear about Colombia such as drugs, violence, and Pablo Escobar. However, almost all travelers I spoke to thought Colombia was their favorite country in South America.
So what is the truth? The real truth? That is exactly what I hope to find throughout my adventures in life.