I have always wanted to live a fearless life. I even jumped out of a plane to get rid of my fear of flying, but that never really worked out. I believed that fear was hindering me from living my life to the fullest.
I struggle in making decisions too. I am a bad decision maker, a very bad one. In fact one time I even stayed awake all night inside a rental car because I couldn’t decide which hotel to stay at, a very true and tragic story. The funny thing about this is that my work was all about decision-making. I had to make quick decisions at times and, I say this in the most snobbish and arrogant manner, I was good at it.
I believe it was the difference between knowing and not knowing. I knew my job well enough to make decisions, but I guess I did not know my life as well. So how did someone who is so bad at making decisions and hates flying, amongst other things that “they” don’t wish to reveal to strangers, end up in South America, with no return ticket, unemployed, as an inexperienced traveler with the sole company of everything stuffed in a 65L backpack?!
This is not an article. In case I misled you with my flawless grammar; I am not a professional writer. When you travel on a budget for an extended period, you get to experience things that you would never experience otherwise: like hitchhiking out of desperation, bush toilets, and apparently you have to talk about it.
The beauty about backpacking and traveling on a budget is that it strips you from all privileges you may have gained through life, and for the most part you are left to be yourself – like being left naked, but less embarrassing.
When the unfamiliar becomes familiar, all fear and doubts disappears. When I bought my one way ticket to Peru I wasn’t living in fancy hotels or rich neighborhoods, instead I was staying in some of the poorer streets. This gave me a chance to interact more with the locals, and experience religious or wedding ceremonies that I wouldn’t have the chance to experience otherwise.
Chio, a local Peruvian and a good friend, told me that when she first met me she was scared “I never met an Arab before, you could be a Terrorista.” With my humble Spanish we managed to have some great conversations about our fears and judgments of each other’s cultures and how people’s lack of experience and interactions with other cultures keep them with a narrow understanding of others. We departed each other with a totally different view, more loving, more knowledgeable and wiser. Although I am not sure about the “wiser” part.
A yogi in Bali told me that life is about the stories you live to tell.
Through traveling I have experienced the most amazing stories and met unique characters. I can talk about living in the slums of Nakuru in Kenya, treating my twisted ankle with ancient remedies in the Himalayas, dancing the salsa in Peru, collapsing in the Ecuadorian Andes or even getting scammed at the Cambodian borders.
But the real experience of traveling comes from the people you meet along the way. Those who befriend you, those who lie to you, those who make you dance and laugh and those who make you cry, or almost cry, and the many random faces in between. It turns out that life is way more than our comfortable cars, big houses and fancy titles. Life most of the time, lies somewhere out there, outside our comforts.
All because of a snap decision I now know that life is not lived without fear, but life is lived in spite of fear, and with a little bit of faith.