Things Go Wrong When You Travel: Part I
I should start by saying that my silence was due to a Spanish language program in Guatemala that was amazing, but kept me busy with all that language learning. I'm back now, and have many stories to tell about that fantastic trip.
I started writing this post on the back of an itinerary that had long ago become obsolete, whilst sat in a bus station waiting for a rearranged tour guide. I had been meant to arrive at Tikal, the ancient Mayan ruins in the North of Guatemala, at 9am and it was already 12pm by this point. I wouldn't make it there till 3pm, and I spent a good hour of that delay stranded at the side of the road having taken a ten hour bus northwards from Antigua. An hour of that had been spent sitting on the floor.
When I started writing this post I was frustrated and trying to be nice about it. I didn't know if I'd ever make it to Tikal, and to entertain myself all I could do was play noughts and crosses and chat in Spanish to a bored ten year old who mumbled too much for me to truly understand what he was saying. Things were going wrong.
That was two weeks ago. Since then I've had a major allergic reaction, been to hospital, flown home two weeks before I was meant to, nearly missed my flight, and ran across an airport with bronchitis. Meanwhile my brother lost his bag in Corsica, couldn't walk where he was meant to because of forest fires, and now said bag broke. Hence why this is only part one!
One of things you notice when you travel is that sometimes things go wrong. It's painful and frustrating and sometimes terrifying, and often you just have to blindly trust people. I didn't know if I'd make it to Tikal but with patience and trust I did. I remember landing in Koh Samui to a complete powercut across the island with a friend who was throwing up from whiskey poisining, and when we found our hostel after two hours of walking it was shut; I missed my flight in Costa Rica and had to spend an extra day with the family of the boyfriend who had broken up with me that week whilst we were visiting together; and I arrived in Tikal six hours after I should have. Things go wrong when you travel, and sometimes you want to curse and scream and cry. But here's what you learn.
You learn that things can be resolved. You learn that people will generally help you, in whatever language, and sometimes there really are fairy godmothers. You learn that a view or a flight or experience is never as sweet as when the arrival went disastrously, and that perils become funny tales to share with new friends over beer. And you learn that you can, and after you accept that things aren't going to plan you can do it with a smile on your face.
Before she left for Peru a friend confided in me that she was nervous, and asked me how I did it. My response was simple: you just do. You go and sometimes you have the best moments of your life and sometimes you have the worst, but each time no matter what happens you learn you can and it helps silence the nerves on the next trip.
So let's give an internet shout out that they'll likely never see to Carlos and Henri, who personally saw to it that I would experience Tikal come hell or high water. It was almost a disaster, until it wasn't, and Tikal was worth every second of the wait. As the Spanish say: vale la pena. It was bloody worth the pain, and now the memory just makes me laugh.