Brief Stories From My Travels Alone

BuzzFeed - Latest 2014-09-07


Traveling alone is scary, and lonely, the best thing in the world.

Christina Lu / BuzzFeed

August 2005, 16 years old. It's my fifth week in Ghana and I'm leaving in a few days, but I'd be perfectly happy to stay here forever, thank you very much. When I wake up one morning around 6 a.m. I'm too restless to go back to sleep, so I head to the beach.

I don't see a single person. All I hear are the waves crashing, and maybe a few birds calling to one another in the distance. The sun is starting to inch above the horizon, dyeing the sky a pinkish crimson, and I sit on a nearby rock to watch it emerge. It's the first sunrise I've ever seen alone. Everything seems so close — the ocean, the horizon, and the clouds — it's like I could reach out and grab it. I start singing, which feels weird admitting but it's really what happened. Then I decide to run inside and get my camera. When I return to the beach the sun is already up, and I take a single photograph. May 2007, 18 years old. I'm living in Ayacucho, Peru, for two months during my senior year of high school. A massive white cross sits atop the tallest hill in Ayacucho and overlooks the small, mountainous city; it's like a Hollywood sign for the god-fearing Christian. "I am going to hike there," I decide one day. A few weeks later, I do. It takes me a while to find a path, but after that it's an easy climb. The view of the Andes Mountains is remarkable from the hilltop. I take my time soaking it all in before making my descent. On the way down I can feel whatever is in my stomach thrashing around. I can't remember what I ate or drank or touched, but whatever it is, it feels horrible. And it needs to come out of me. Now. There aren't bathrooms on the trail, so I run. Ahhh noooo, bad choice. I speed walk, squeezing all my muscles together to make sure my body stays put, but it doesn't help. "OK, you win!" I shout to the health gods, surrendering myself to the reality of what is about to happen. I find the largest bush I can on this clear, well-marked path, squat behind it, pray nobody is coming toward me, and pull down my shorts. I am confident that I killed many innocent plants that day. Maybe some small animals, too.

Cape Coast, Ghana

Courtesy of Alison Vingiano

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Date tagged:

09/07/2014, 18:11

Date published:

09/07/2014, 18:00