I arrived in Mancora, Peru, and after locating a hostel, the first thing I did was walk the beach. Walking a beach is so therapeutic for me. And, in this moment I feel for the first time, that I’m not quite sure where I’m going. My plans for the most part have been somewhat free-flowing and I’ve had to make some adjustments to my trip (like taking out a stop on the west coast of Ecuador). But I had yet to feel like I wasn’t sure what to add or how long I should stay anywhere. It’s scary to not have something or some purpose guiding your travels.
So I walk the beach. With each step in the sand, I leave an imprint. And with every indentation in the sand, is a thought, or idea, or concern, or something that troubles me. I ponder where I really want to go or what to do with my life. Sometimes I berate myself for the mistakes that I’ve made. And other times, I remind myself of how fortunate and blessed that I am to have this amazing opportunity. But after a couple steps, the water comes rushing back in, taking with it my thoughts, dreams, mistakes, and fears. Nothing is permanent. This is something that I’ve always struggled with. I hold onto things far too long and am fearful of too many things. I’m too hard on myself. Like the waves washing away my footprints, so do my days wash away my mistakes and fears and replace them with wisdom. A fresh start. This is what I need.
The second day in Mancora, I decide to stay at PK’s Hostel. It’s a pretty crappy place, but I meet Thomas, a man from Holland who’s been traveling for well over a year. He’s got his breakfast tucked under his arm and he gives me a huge smile, slightly creepy, but one that says “Hey – I’d really like some company for breakfast”. So I invite him over. We talk about travel and how it changes people. To “find yourself” is not really what happens, he explains. Instead, it’s all the little things that happen to you that change you. It’s the small conversation you had with someone one day, the small adventure that you have another day, or the challenge you have on another day that altogether changes you as a person. You gain confidence. A new perspective is gained after living your life out of a bag each and every day. Your new minimalist lifestyle starts to give you a greater idea as to what is important in life.
I take a surf lesson, eat some tacos and Ceviche, and meet some other great people. I end my stay at Hostel Loki where I spend a night drinking and conversing with other like-minded individuals from around the world. But, it’s time to move on. I decide on an overnight bus to Trujillo. I need to get to Lima, but 20 hours on a bus from Mancora seems like too much. So, I’ll do 9 hours and then take a break. I’m stressed because my bus is an hour and a half late showing up. Andrew, an Australian that I come to find out that’s been traveling for almost 2 years, shows up and is incredibly calm. Maybe too calm. He pets the dog in front of him and doesn’t seem fazed at all that his bus is late. The bus finally departs. When I reach Trujillo, I immediately head to Huanchaco, another surfing town 20 minutes outside the city. I locate a hostel and then…… I walk the beach some more.
I hang out with Andrew a bit. Like me, he’s in his late 30’s and just got tired of working the corporate grind. We discuss politics and books. After awhile we talk about travel frustrations – late buses, inconsiderate people, taxi cab drivers trying to rip you off. After awhile, they become funny stories that you tell your fellow travelers or friends. “I remember this one time…..”
Andrew boards his bus to Huarez with some girls from the Hostel. I’m on way to Lima. Maybe we’ll see each other when I get to Cusco. Another goodbye. I imagine that when all is said in done, I’ll get more comfortable saying goodbye…. or at the very least letting go.