Drearily, I opened my eyes after hours of failed attempts at sleep. Night buses aren’t my dig. I was happily startled by the moon-washed mountains and valley and more stars than I’ve seen since being on this continent, and –
Wait. What. I don’t see the edge of the road, there is no guard rail, why can I see the bottom of the valley thousands of feet below???
It was my first night bus on such terrifying windy roads from Chachapoyas to Cajamarca, and all of a sudden, I decided to be rational at 2AM when everyone else on the bus was soundly sleeping. “So, should a bus this size really be making these turns? Um, we’re going pretty fast right now… Did this driver get enough sleep?” My mind knew that this road is traveled every single day and night by buses, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to trust the situation.
And after my anxiety moved from this to other subjects in my life, I looked up at what was possibly the starriest sky I’d ever seen, and realized the simplicity of the situation and what I’ve been struggling with since traveling.
Three simple words:
LET IT GO.
Whether it be anxiety-fueled night bus rides or most other problems, this is the easiest but seemingly most complicated solution.
Since I’ve been in South America, I’ve been having a lot of problems with it. Whether you know it or not, there’s really a “backpacking culture” out there. So many blogs, so many pro-tips, so many people who’ve been doing this for so long.
In our media-crazed culture, we’ll see “Twelve Reasons You Need to Travel Alone,” “Why You Need to Pack Up and Start Traveling Now,” “Gringo Pro-Tips for Backpacking South America,” “Here’s Why You Need to Travel in your 20s,” etc etc etc etc etc. (Can I throw one more etc in for good measure?) And then there are people you meet on the road occasionally who are just as much into the “right” way and the “wrong” way of traveling.
But here’s the actual secret:
You can do whatever the fuck you want to do.
Travel is a time where you can LITERALLY* do anything you desire within the limits of the world. You can blow all your money in a month or end up traveling ten years. You can take the tourist trail or you can go off route. You can do work stays or you can see all the sights. You can travel by yourself or travel with five of your closest friends.
(*Side note: Within the law most of the time. Don’t be this guy. North Korea sentenced a traveler to 15 years of labor.)
The point is it’s your time. Do what you want with it. Do what feels right at the time when it feels right.
Cue the falling star as I come to this realization on the night bus. (For real, that happened.)
PS – Photo highlights coming soon… Turns out what Peru has in ancient ruins, it severely lacks in good WiFi.