Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Nothing To Lose

'Welcome, Poets of the World' Graffiti during
Granada's poetry festival
I have this travel philosophy of pack light and don't take anything you couldn't handle losing.

After months of snail pace travel, this theory gets put to the test. I'd been working, spending weeks with the same people and knowing where I was spending the night. In other words, not much movement. In other words, not so much packing up and moving on with all those opportunities to lose something along the way.

End of February arrived and I left my job at the reception of Sonati in Leon. I'd read in a guidebook that you'll fall in love with Granada but leave your heart in Leon. I hadn't fallen for anywhere, and yet, leaving Leon was like leaving a part of my heart.

For 5 months it had been my reference point. The place to come back to. The place to tie together the other places. Home.

It was night when I got to Granada. I stepped off the bus into the brightly coloured streets, the sound of music and the feel of water somewhere in the air. At last I fell for Nicaragua.

And then, following a darker image of Granada's children sniffing glue and a refreshing stop on the island of Ometepe, it was time to go.

Costa Rica - San Jose - Heredia - La Fortuna
Nicaragua - Granada - Cosiguina - Chinendega
Honduras - Choluteca
El Salvador - San Salvador - Costa del Sol - San Salvador
Guatemala - Guatemala City - Antigua - Xela

March has brought a splurge of Spring craziness. Its been go go go and some wonderful stops along the way.

Angry Snake
Like the two metre long snake that blocked my path and had me scared witless in the cold and rain after I'd gone for a short stroll from the hotel spa. It had me stood there talking to myself about how fast snakes could be, concluding probably not very. They don't have legs. Then I got into a debate with a rock about whether or not I should throw it before deciding I didn't want to end up in an it's you or me situation with a venomous snake.

Or the family who welcomed me into their house when I got lost in Northern Nicaragua. The next morning we went to pick jocote (a small green or red fruit that's served with salt).

Or the family who welcomed me into their house when I got lost in Northern El Salvador. I should probably stop getting lost tho'.

Or the truck driver who gave me a ride across a country, discussing culture and politics and history and religion - what religion do we have in my country? Many, I reply. Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity... It's pretty diverse. Like here. He replies. We have the Christians and the Catholics.

And all along the way I get asked: ¿Solita? Alone? Aren't you scared? And the truth is, yes I am. But scared like skiing where you know you'll make it the the bottom somehow and have a lot of fun along the way. You just have to face down the mountain at each turn. You have to let go for moments to keep your balance.

So I made it, from Costa Rica to Guatemala. Beautiful Antigua that knows it. Small Xela with its cool cafes, its 30 Spanish schools and something magic that escapes me. And before I prepare for a final land crossing into Mexico, here are some of the things I've lost or left behind along the way:

3 tops
2 pairs of shoes
Make-up remover
Antigua, Guatemala
A bracelet that took me hours to make
A pair of earrings I bought in Leon
A pair of earrings I bought in Morocco
All my make-up
A pair of jeans
A book by Iris Murdoch
A wealth of beautiful people and places
A flight home

And here are some of the things I've gained:

A sweater
2 pairs of shoes
Coconut oil from Granada
2 pairs of earrings from Antigua
A drawing of someone blowing dandelion clocks on rooftops from a Mexican artist
My new favourite Spanish word: escalofrios (goosebumps)
A French book called A Treaty On the Immensity of the World
A ticket to go home by boat

The truth is, no matter how light you pack, you always have something to lose. It's sad when it's friendships or places that steal your heart. But along with the flow of items through my backpack, is a flow of life. Parts of myself I've left behind that I don't need anymore. New parts I've picked up. And more than anything, I'm not so afraid of it - that rushing tide of coming and going. I know it goes both ways. I know that with the next turn life will reveal more of her riches. And with such a small amount of things, I've never felt so rich.


  1. Woha, when I saw the picture of the snake my heart stopped for a second. I never thought they could get this HUGE! :o
    I don't know what I would have done.. You're brave! :D

    PS.: The last paragraph? / passage? (I don't know how you call that) is very beautiful. I love it!


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