Travel journal // Thoughts in Sri Lanka

It’s been a while since I wrote my last blog post. I haven’t really written anything about my journey so far. I’ve been travelling for 6 months and I haven’t shared any of it. The truth is I have been writing a lot. I just didn’t share it with anyone. Maybe I just wanted to keep it to myself. But today I decided to write without hesitation and tell you a little bit about my journey so far. 

I quit my job 7 months ago to solo travel the world and it has been one epic adventure. I started in Costa Rica and now I’m writing this post from Lombok, Indonesia. Nothing went the way I thought it would, but that’s life. The idea was just to wander as lobsters do ;). To get inspired, upgrade my surf skills, stay connected to myself, follow my intuition and enjoy the journey. And I’m grateful for every moment I experienced, even the sad ones. The people I met along the way all inspired me in some way. Even the ones I didn’t like.

The funny Argentinian guys I met in Costa Rica who helped me to catch my first Latin American waves, the friendly Dutch girl that made me feel at home in Samara, the Dutch guy I travelled across the border with to Nicaragua. Memories come to my mind of how we ended up on a dark empty beach in Popoyo, playing Jack Johnson while searching for accommodation in the middle of nowhere.

Jose and Marlon the surf instructors who passed on their love for surfing and taught me that every wave is different, with every wave you have to give it all. And most of all to have fun in the water and to never give up. Mica the surfer girl who helped me to push my surf limits and made sure I didn’t end up in the hospital when I got my first cut in the water.

The free-spirited British girl I met in Lima, who drew me a map of Sri Lanka with her favourite spots. The wonderful German guy I met in Lima who made me laugh when I felt like crying the days before. The Spanish guys I hiked Machu Picchu and Rainbow mountain with and -despite the language barrier- had lots of fun with. The artistic Dutch girl and Swiss surfer guy I got lost  in the mountains with, shared deep conversations and cheap red wine with. The search for waves and elephants in Arugam Bay with the Dutchies. And so many more.

For me, the best part of travelling on your own is freedom. You can go wherever you want, whenever you want. If you don’t like a place or the people, you just pack your things and move on to the next place. But sometimes it can feel lonely too. Especially when you’re surrounded by people you can’t connect with. When you stay at a hostel in Costa Rica surrounded by 16-year-old girls who are getting drunk on Smirnoff ice and you ask yourself ‘What the hell am I doing here?’

Travelling is an adventure and mostly it’s fun. But sometimes it’s not. Like the time I got stuck in Lima for 10 days because I couldn’t board my flight to Nicaragua from Peru, because I didn’t have the right vaccine and nobody would help me. Or that time I almost got kidnapped in Lima by a man who at first seemed nice and helpful.

Or the time I got kicked off a local bus in Sri Lanka in the mountains while it was pouring rain and thunder and getting dark. I was standing alone in the middle of nowhere as the only foreigner, dark eyes staring at me. No guesthouses around and not knowing if the next bus would come. In those moments, you wish you weren’t alone. But luckily I can always rely on my intuition to get me out of messy situations. And you always meet kind people who are willing to help you.

Travelling can be confronting at times. It’s not all beautiful beaches and sunrises. You see lots of poverty, young children working in the streets, you see how tourism fucks up the environment, piles of plastic on beautiful beaches, animals treated badly. And then there are the annoying guys catcalling you, making you feel uneasy at times.

But you also meet people who barely have anything and still share their food with you. Strangers who wave at you from busses like you’re a long-lost friend. A Tuk Tuk driver in Weligama who drives you to his sister’s home so you can do your laundry without asking for it. Or the driver who invites you to his neighbourhood party in Kandy to dance in the rain with the locals, while he shares his life story with you and has tears in his eyes when you say goodbye. Locals in the mountains who invite you to their home for a cup of tea while you take shelter from the rain.

Travelling makes you appreciate how much you have and how lucky you  are. When the friendly Balinese man from my homestay asks me what I do back home and I tell him I quit my job to travel, I quickly realise he would never be able to do this.

Travelling teaches you so much. About yourself, about the world, about people. It makes you feel connected, not only to yourself but to the people and the world around you. Even if you don’t speak the same language, the language of kindness and laughter is a universal one. It teaches you to be humble, feel grateful and to see the world as it is.

People keep asking me: so when will you get back? When does your adventure end? Well, I don’t know. I love that I have the freedom to go wherever I want. And currently, I’m not planning on returning ‘home’ soon. But then again, where is ‘home’ really? Is home the place you were born? Where you come from? I believe home can be anywhere, but most of all home is found within yourself.