i have always been an explorer, a wanderer, always wondering “what if?” and since i was a little girl, it was a dream to travel. not to party or to indulge (much) but to discover, learn, push myself into serious discomfort. growing up, it was never a possibility to travel. family rules and money prevented it. my tremendous lack of self-confidence and inability to tightly grasp my agency and autonomy as a first generation panjabi girl prevented it. finally though, here i am. i did not take no for an answer. it felt right, it was time to go.
family, friends, acquaintances, strangers all ask the question: but why alone? yet, for me, that was never a question. why not alone? consider me strange, i adore my solitude. i’ve fallen in love with silence. yet, traveling solo is rarely solo. hostels are bustling with other travelers, locals glance at me in confusion in sodas and cafes, white men feel entitled to dump their every thought on me. even here, i create my solitude. i carve out moments of silence. i make space and time to decompress in solitude. i say, no, gracias. it is a part of my careful practice.
family, friends, acquaintances, strangers all ask me, too, the question: why costa rica? in all honesty, i was not even sure at first. my original plans were to support my comrade in her local permaculture work with la comunidades idígenas. to work with the earth. to provide my services. when her plans were left in the air, i decided i was to go ahead on my own. it felt right.
in my first moments in costa rica i met a sikh man, with whom i found myself in deep conversation about sikhism and spirituality.
just like that, the universe sent me an answer. well, damn. pura vida. it has been a tumultuous year of excruciating growing pains through self-discovery, self-healing, and spiritual growth — this was its culmination, or rather, continuation.
yet i felt confusing feelings of discomfort and pain my first few nights of backpacking. i stayed in a hostel in a remote area of the osa peninsula, literally immersed in the rainforest. no sign of human life in sight, except for us, 10 or so travelers. this was the beginning of my trip. i didn’t do this for any particular reason but that it felt right. i make 99% of my decisions because they feel right. my intuition is my guide. it was right. i was uncomfortable. i cried. i was emotional. and it was okay.
the sun, the moon, and the trees held me. the coos and caws of birdsong told me it was going to be okay. the wet heat, similar to that of my homeland, enveloped me in a hot, but comfortable, embrace. it was going to be okay, it was going to be okay. the long, strenuous hikes reminded me why i was here. the persistent roars of howler monkeys reminded me to push through. i have never seen or heard such life. my mind frequently flooded with the question: where the hell am i? how the hell did i end up here?
i spent hours hiking, solo, through the vast jungles — crossing streams, climbing up waterfalls. i got lost. i trusted myself: i found my way back. i focused on my breath. i looked to the sun. i thanked the steady, capable tree roots – as they held together the small cliff sides i walked across. i have, honestly, never been in such awe. of the land. of my self.
i said goodbye to that woman i was in the forest and i am now, under the bright full moon, in the city of san jose. wondering who i will be by the next cycle of la luna.