I struggled if I should include some things in the post about what happened in San Juan. I want to hold on to the memories, but at the same time, don’t know if I should.
I met a really nice Australian boy. I kissed a lot of boys during the four days I was there. I did things I never thought I would do and felt great about it.
The Monday morning before I was scheduled to go to Liberia, Costa Rica in order to catch my flight on Tuesday, I was woken up (hung-over as f) by the hostel owner’s boyfriend who had my mother on the phone. Yes, my mother had called because I hadn’t been in touch for two days. My phone had died and someone had taken my charger. This was mildly humiliating as I ushered her off the phone and told her I would find a charger and call her later. But this is the part that bothered me the most:
First, I had let my best friend know where I was. She and my mother chat. Second, I had told my mom I would call her on Monday when I got to Costa Rica to tell her my flight information. Third, I later learned that she had posted on Facebook that I been missing. And fourth, everyone else she had asked if I had been contact told her I had probably lost my phone or it had died. (This happens often)
And while I can understand a mother’s worry, it became something else. Before I left to Nicaragua, everyone, and I mean everyone, had been so quick to point out the dangers of Nicaragua. That as a solo female travelling, I would be in danger. That I would get kidnapped, sold into sex slavery, have my organs harvested and essentially end up at the bottom of the ocean in a white plastic sheet. In fact, most people asked me if my mother knew I was travelling by myself and if she had okayed it. I had a hard time responding without rolling my eyes.* I am twenty-five and had travelled extensively in Europe after I had moved there, by myself. My mom would laugh and say of course I wouldn’t say no, you should be independent and do whatever it is you want. I think it was a bit of false bravado and trying to prove how cool she was with it, when in reality, I felt she wasn’t. I think she was expecting me to be irresponsible and unsafe and try things without thinking through the consequences, when in reality, it was the complete opposite.
Being a woman who travels by herself has been the most liberating experience. I felt so unburdened and free and felt like everything was on me and my schedule. I finally felt like I could do anything and everything I wanted. The responsibilities and burdens I bear when I’m at home were completely lifted. The fact that someone who champions female independence would question my actions and make me feel like I wasn’t able to travel alone really hurt me. I hung on to that resentment for a while.
Reading some blogs have helped me in trying to discuss that idea that sole female travellers are just as capable, if not more, than men. One of my favorite blogs, Heart My Backpack, talked about her experience in backpacking Iran. I know right? How extraordinary is that? I have found that boys tend to take bigger risks and make dumber moves than girls. It’s made me think about how to break that double-standard. And the only way I see how is to stop thinking there is one. Saying things like, well I don’t have to talk to your brother as much because he’s a boy just continues to perpetuate this idea. If just one person at a time stopped enforcing this double-standard, maybe the fear will be lessened.
And if I can make it over the border, at night, then I can do anything.
*Who am I kidding? I rolled my eyes every time.