I’m such a tourist…
Have you ever walked around Sydney and seen the multicultural mix from everywhere? I’ve always loved the differences and unique perspective that each culture brings. But it also goes without saying that tourists always look like, well, tourists. With their daggy clothes or the Australiana paraphernalia draping from their necks down to the camera bag bulging with maps and local tourist guides. You know what I’m talking about, I’m sure…
Well now I am the one that is wearing the daggy clothes, draping Brazilian paraphernalia wherever I can and ordering food in a weird accent with little success in making yourself understood and ending up eating whatever they happen to bring. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who has just learnt a little English? Think of your reaction, the different things you said and did, and now put those characteristics into someone else who is trying to talk with you. It’s pretty weird being on the other side of it!
Some people say I have been brave to come here on my own. I don’t think so. Brave is the Brazilian girl who I met last year in Sydney. Renata spoke no English before she came, was traveling alone and was in Australia for around six months. She overheard me talking with my tutor Rafael at Sydney Tower. When we all went to eat something afterwards, she didn’t accept my offer to translate when ordering, she just jumped in line and used symbols and what little English she had learned to order her meal.
Most travelers will travel in groups or as families and have some connections at their destination, such as work organized contacts or relatives. But to travel alone is to rely on yourself completely. If you feel tired during transit there is no nap for you while someone watches your things for you. There’s you and no one else.
When you arrive at an airport, there’s no one to pick you up, to meet you or to help you get to your hotel. Actually, that’s not entirely true, there’s plenty of people willing to help you get to your hotel for four times the price!
From the two airports I have now arrived at, I realize that I shouldn’t grab the first option that comes my way. It’s usually quite heavily priced, and through my lack of understanding of the new exchange rate, I’m probably being ripped off completely.
In Santiago, the first price was 10,000 pesos for my taxi. I later learnt there is either a bus or an airport shuttle that I can order for around 2,500 pesos.
In Rio, the guy wanted me to pay 160 Reais, I knew the price was nowhere near that much for a taxi to my hostel and so talked him down to 50 Reais (which was still above the normal 40 Reais price)
Solo travel has its rewards at the same time… It keeps you focused and challenges your personal limits. You know that you and you alone can walk into a new situation and walk out the other side of it without too many worries.
You are changed as a person because your experiences only make you stronger if you don’t let them beat you, and also you have a better understanding about the different types of people that exist in this planet of ours.