I did it. I went on my first solo international travel excursion and didn’t get kidnapped, robbed or lost. That calls for some serious celebration.
But in all honesty, it wasn’t really solo travel. Yes, I got in the cab by myself, boarded the plane by myself and went through customs by myself, but once I stepped foot into the resort in Alajuela, Costa Rica I was no longer alone.
I should probably take this time to acknowledge that yes, I was in a resort, therefore the traveling solo let alone traveling at all was much less rugged or scary or independent than it would have been if I were staying virtually anywhere less fancy.
But no, I will not diminish my accomplishment anymore. I actually feel really proud. And besides feeling proud, I feel extremely full. Full off of the three buffets the resort served a day and also full of emotion and compassion and drive and new relationships and soul.
It was a writer’s retreat for Pink Pangea, a women’s traveling and writing blog/company. I have always loved to write. From small fictional stories when I was in elementary school, to turning to journalism and becoming the editor of my yearbook in high school, to staying with journalism throughout college and acting as news editor for the Vermont Cynic, to interning with various newspapers and magazines and now working for a paper in Brooklyn, to using my spare time to write as creatively as possible.
I’m not sure what I was expecting to get out of this retreat. I was graduating college early and wanted something memorable to do during my would-be spring semester while all of my friends were still enrolled. I decided on travel. I always wanted to study abroad in college, but due to reasons that you will all discover as you keep reading my stories, I was unable to. This time seemed like the perfect opportunity to take some trips. With my boss on my side for time off, I chose a place my soul seemed to be connected to by sheer magnetic force: Scotland. I planned a trip for the whole month of April.
So… What the hell am I supposed to do there? How am I supposed to prepare myself? Is everyone going to think I’m stupid? Crazy? Not managing my money properly?
As the weeks went on and the planning for the trip remained an after thought, an intriguing subject like popped up in my email. Writing Retreat: Costa Rica.
I enrolled in the trip almost without thinking. While people challenged, “There’s no such thing as a writing retreat, you’re going on vacation” and “How can you afford this you just graduated college,” I chose to ignore them. I needed some group practice before I went to Scotland alone anyway. I love to write, I love warm weather, I want to meet other women who feel the same… What more did I need to consider in this decision process?
It turns out, not much. The trip did everything for me. Planned by the amazing team behind Pink Pangea, I can officially say the trip changed my life for the better. I not only practiced my writing in ways that expanded my passion and skill, but I also made friends (and I’m talking friends, like soul sister shit) of all different ages from all over the world that after seven days I can consider some of the greatest people I’ve ever met. A few who live in New York and I’ve already planned sleepovers and boozy brunches with, so there’s that.
Costa Rica allowed me to explore the world and myself. I ziplined in a cloud forest, went white water rafting in class three and four rapids—a place so beautiful that one of my new friends remarked, “It’s sights like these that make me believe in God”—practiced my Spanish, spent the last night in a dirt-floored local bar where I’m sure the patrons had never seen a white woman before, and heard stories from my female companions that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
As I write this piece I feel like there is no point to it, but I think the point is just that I fucking did it. I started, when so many people don’t. I left, when so many people stay. And even though this wasn’t intense independent travelling, I feel more prepared to do so than I ever would have if I didn’t sign up for such a mysterious and ambiguous trip. So let’s do it.