The idea that Antigua, Guatemala might be especially “dangerous,” never really occurred to me until after I arrived, and was putting on my jacket to go grab some street food that first night.
“Make sure you don’t walk down dark streets,” my host, Cesar interjected.
Sensible advice, of course, no matter where you travel, but usually people don’t take the time to say it. He continued, off-handedly, as he stirred a pan of sautéing mushrooms.
“Tourists gets robbed a lot. Girls get robbed a lot.” He eyed me. “And you’re a tourist and a girl.”
At his direction, I unloaded half of what was in my bag back into my bedroom before heading out into the evening, including the professional camera I had planned to use to photograph the street cart cuisine.
“One more thing,” he said as I thanked him and told him I’d see him later. “If you do get robbed, just make sure you don’t die.”
On the night before I boarded a plane with a one-way ticket to Mexico, I was out to eat with my family, and my sister asked me if I was nervous.
“Nope,” I said, stuffing my face with North Carolina barbecue.
“But — do you have butterflies?” she pressed.
“I actually don’t,” I said.
I was being honest. On the eve of the biggest decision of my life, my greatest adventure, my greatest challenge, I was certain: I was going to kick ass.
I had no doubts. Traveling like this, on my own with no itinerary, was what I had always wanted to do. It was what I was meant to do.
Two weeks into my nomad existence, I can hardly write those sentences without tearing up. Yep, that’s right. I’m close to crying right now. I’ve been crying a lot.
Mine is the last seat on the plane — one of those almost forgotten varieties tucked by the bathrooms, with no window.
So I can’t see the world I’m leaving, but its just as well. As it is, it’s all almost too much to process.
A one-way ticket into the world; a one-way ticket away from stability.
It feels weird. It feels crazy. It feels thrilling. Right now, I can’t separate the fear from the fervor, the excitement from the terror. It’s all rolled into one. (I’m excitfied? Terricited?)
After more than a decade in traditional print media — including the Minneapolis Star Tribune where I covered sports, food and travel for the last 8 years — I’ve decided to cut the cord and take on some of my own projects and goals.
I’m selling almost everything I own, saying goodbye to my apartment, strapping on a backpack and heading out — with no safety net, no promises.