Traveling isn’t always easy or fun, and that’s part of the reason why I wanted to travel so much. Part of being on the road means finding solutions you would never consider for problems you would never encounter at home. Out of all the cities I’ve been to, I’ve arrived at 75% between 4 and 5 am, and another 10% near midnight. I’ve seen a lot of sunrises while lost. I’ve spent a lot of nights on coach buses.
There’s a mental place you fall into when traveling, where you stop being scared of things, not because you shouldn’t be, but because they’ve just happened to you enough times already. At 4:30am, public transit might not be running, there’s no one to ask for directions, and no one speaks English besides. When I got into Sarajevo, I had four different currencies in my wallet, but no Bosnian marks. Before I leave for a new place, I write down directions to hostels and draw makeshift maps if I don’t have real ones, but it will be for nothing if none of the streets are visibly marked. I can do all my research on a hostel, but if no one answers the door, I’m screwed. I could rely on the internet to fix my problems, but wifi isn’t omnipresent, and internet cafes aren’t open before 8 or 9am. At every ATM I’ve used, my stomach has dropped, wondering if this is going to be the machine that swallows my debit card and refuses to give it back.
I still get scared sometimes, but I’ve realized I’m not paralyzed. I could look up everything I need to know online beforehand, but I’ve realized that I won’t be able to predict everything, and I’ve stopped trying to do so. In that respect I’ve gotten used to being on the road. At any given time, I don’t know what the date or the day of the week is, much less what time it is. It’s only this past week that I realized how close I am to coming home.
In ten days, I’ll be back Stateside. I’ll have a functioning phone again, more than one pair of pants to wear, and I’ll be drinking coffee that I’ve made myself. It will be the end of washing my underwear in a plastic bag, and spending most of my time voluntarily getting lost. And I’m finally ready to come home.