hot coals and tender tootsies...
But oh, what
fun risks! I drove a motorcycle. Myself. For the first time
ever. On hairpinning, red, dirt roads, over washed-out bridges,
along teetering cliffs. Had a little accident while waving
at some children.
Got back on. And then, on Christmas night, in an adrenaline-powered
trance, I walked over hot coals during a Chinese Buddhist
ritual. I survived, feet intact, if a little tender. Felt
wonderful. Each risk boosted my confidence just that much
fears (and the old, tested, and re-approved ones), those
that might have prevented me from thriving dissolved completely.
Practical ones, like the fear of flying, are gone. Flying
all the way around the world on dodgy airlines, making unannounced,
unscheduled landings in, for example, the United Arab Emirates
have seen to that. Fear of pickpockets, kidnapping, wrongful
arrest: gone. I'd seen the movies, read the papers. Can't
trust cabdrivers. Can't trust the night. Can't trust the
food. So I got sick. So I got ripped off. No lasting harm
survives, she thrives...
But the most
overwhelming fears, the ones I thought were inextricably
part of me, were social. Fear of getting out there, making
myself conspicuous, giving offense, being misunderstood,
these were the sources of the most anxiety and panic before
I left. I was terrified I'd be absolutely unable to meet
people -- never very good at cocktail parties. I was doomed,
I thought, to be alone. Thankfully, blessedly, I was wrong.
I lead a
quiet life in Canada. My circle rarely grows larger. But
now, after only a few months of travel, that circle has
widened into a vast mandala. And I've learned that as fears
disappear, room opens up for other, soul-nourishing things.
I am now a mass of impressions from other worlds, imprinted
with the memories of kind and loving people, fun and heartache,
compassion and laughter and understanding. Was my biggest
fear that I wouldn't get it? Would come home unchanged,
unaffected? Maybe. That fear, too, has been challenged head
on and sent to the grave.
I like my
new fears--and seeing the back of the old ones. Like my
little scars and empty box of Band-aids, my fears, new and
discarded, are badges of honour, signs of life and of action,
of me traveling the world with my heart on my sleeve, yet,
somehow, safe from harm.
top 15 backpack stuffers...
the all-important travel documents, a couple of changes
of clothing, solid walking shoes, and various good-luck
charms, here are the key "can't-do-without" items you'd
find if you took a peek into Karen's backpack. Don't worry.
Her knife was checked through luggage. She didn't try to
carry it on board.
Army Knife (always number one!)
2. Laundry soap
3. Picture postcard of Toronto (to showoff
4. Alarm clock
6. Phrase book
10. Short wave radio (for sounds of home)
11. String (for laundry line, among many
12. Small plastic "Zip-loc" bags (again,
many uses), various sizes
13. Mosquito net and repellant
14. Travel journal
15. A Global
Ed. Note: At Journeywoman,
we love juicy travel details. Click
here to read excerpts from Karen's personal travel journal --
her successes, failures, fears, tears and tummy aches.
solo travel motivation...
If you need further motivation
to try solo travel, here are a few more links you might like
yourself safe and happy...
to She Travels Solo