I may be strong, independent, and totally able to solo travel wherever my heart desires, but I wouldn’t have made it through my last trip without the help of people along the way. When you travel by yourself it’s not because you don’t need any help, you do. It teaches you to be open to help from other people, and to trust that everything will work out. It shows you that you can figure out how to solve your own problems, but that often requires the help of a stranger, or a new friend, rather.
In the spirit of being grateful I am writing a thank you letter to all the people I met on my backpacking trip in Central America. To anyone that lent me a helping hand, gave me any advice that made my journey a little bit easier, to everyone who inspired me, and to anyone I shared an experience with that I will never forget, this is for you.
Thank you to all the other girls I met on the road and the encouragement you gave me. Thank you for the feeling of comfort I had when I would see you getting onto a bus, or walking into my hostel. Thank you for being able to relate to the problems I had along the way and reminding me that I am not alone. Thanks for the moments of “girl talk” that I hadn’t even realized I missed until we met, for the conversations about our heavy backpacks, and rude encounters we had with guys who didn’t get the hint to leave us alone. Most of all, thank you for being the type of girls that welcomed me with open arms, thank you for accepting me without a second thought and giving me a new friend.
Thank you to the locals I met that helped me whether we could communicate or not. To the woman in San Jose who shared her umbrella with me, even though I was already drenched. To the girl on the bus who didn’t speak English, but still managed to communicate to me if we were at the right stop or not, and the people pointing me in the right directions all along the way to get me to my destination.
Thank you to the guys I met who encouraged me for what I was doing instead of belittling me for being a girl. Thank you for telling me that I was strong and brave, not that I was dumb and weak. Thank you for inviting me into your large groups of friends, and walking me back to my hostels at night. Thank you for not reminding me of the fact that I was alone, but instead making me feel like part of the group.
Thank you to the expats I met that gave me good advice about where I was and where to go. Thanks to the ones that introduced me to your friends and made me feel like I had been there all along. For helping me across the border my first time into Panama, and telling me where to stay in a town I never planned on going to. Thank you for giving me the help you could instead of treating me like I should have known better.
Thank you to all the other travelers I met. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for telling me about the places I have yet to see, and the things I didn’t know about the places I had been. Thank you for reminding me that there are other people out there with similar hearts to mine. There are other people out there who also feel like the world is a tangible thing, and that it is possible to see it once you get your priorities straightened out. Thanks for making sure that even though I was solo, I was not alone.