As an aspiring traveler, one thing I have to learn to deal with is the pain of saying goodbye all the time.
Before I started really traveling, I read about some travel warnings. One that stuck out to me is: you’ll meet people and become best friends for a short amount of time, and then immediately have to say goodbye and never see each other again.
Now that I’m finally in the travel community and experiencing this for myself, I realize how valuable that piece of information is. If you want to travel around the world and live in another country, or if you want to keep yourself moving, you’re going to have to get used to that way of life. It’s not easy!!
Two years ago when I went to Morocco and Spain, I met a bunch of people. We traveled as a group. We became very close. We shared some close moments. Some serious, like a member’s grandmother passing away while on the trip, and some small, like a beautiful sunset over buildings straight out of Aladdin. You learn to support and help each other because you’re in it together, you’re all travelers, and you’re part of something special. You never forget.
One of my next trips was out of Philadelphia to Dallas, Texas. I was visiting a friend. The trip got interesting from the second I stepped on the plane. I ended up next to two passionate travelers and we immediately discovered what we had in common. The drinks started coming and we were throwing up Texan guns (our fingers) to celebrate our flight while the rest of the plane tried to sleep. We made it very difficult for them. That flight created such close relationships that we ended up talking in the future, and I even got to see one of them in Philadelphia almost a year later. We spent the day together, went to a museum, ate some chocolate espresso beans, and talked about what it means to travel the world.
Today, I live in Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica. I’m traveling, but I’m grounded, more grounded than others. I have a job that I can’t leave, but I can see what Costa Rica has to offer on my days off. Some travelers are much more extreme than that. Some travelers carry around their life in a backpack and move from odd-job to odd-job to support themselves, constantly on the move and without a plan. I admire this type of person and one day I’ll be that person, but that day isn’t today.
What’s nice about living abroad is that I get a chance to meet these people and interact with them, learn about them. I can enjoy their company and we can talk travel all day. Well, I met one from Venezuela working in my city, and she became my best friend for two whole weeks. Why only two weeks? Because she’s leaving today, she’s going to a town two hours away (Tamarindo) so she can continue to support herself and experience the rest of the world.
Needless to say, I’m upset. I’m losing my best friend here! No more trips to the beach. No more smoothie or ice cream treats in the middle of the day. No more laughing about cultural differences (curse words are the best) over a 3 hour breakfast. No more deep conversations about real-world problems while the rain keeps us stranded under a big umbrella. Perhaps worst of all, no more photography adventures together. That was what we had in common the most: we loved the art of travel photography. I’ll miss that.
Is this really goodbye? I hope not. I hope it’s more “see you later”. She’ll only be two hours away, at least for a month. That’s before she takes off to Panama and continues her adventures through South America.
We thought about how far away we’d be from each other. In Liberia it was 5 minutes by foot, now it’s 2 hours by bus. In the future it will be 4, then 6, then a day, then 5 hours by plane, and then 10 hours by plane (Argentina!).
Unfortunately that isn’t sustainable. Luckily, there’s a traveler’s code that I’m learning about. That code is to let people go. You know you’re both going to different places, that’s the reason you met in the first place! That makes it a little easier to say goodbye. Is it easy? Of course not. Is it a valuable lesson in life? Yes, absolutely. Learn to let people go their own way if you must, they will go their own way towards happiness.
Have I learned that lesson yet? I can’t say I have 100%. I’ll miss you Deines. Best of luck to you in your travels, I’ll see you somewhere down the road.