I’d like to think I’m a bit of a bada*s. I mean, I did just sell all my stuff and move to a country I knew nothing about with no friends really, so ya, I guess I’m kinda bada*s. Either that or ridiculously free spirited. I never thought in a million years I would end up being a solo female traveler, but I am, and it’s pretty friggin’ awesome.
Anyway, I’ve been down here for a little over 4 years now (Guatemala that is) and I’ve learned quite a few things about myself. It’s amazing what you find out about yourself when you’re put into interesting situations. There were many times in the last 4 years that I said to myself “Girl, you’re not as brave as you think!!” These are some of the things that really stand out to me.
Here are a few things I learned as a solo female traveler
I really do hate critters and they continue to scare the poop out of me.
I don’t mean little bugs and stuff like that. No, not those cute little guys. We’re talking scorpions and spiders the size of the palm of my hand. Ya, those critters. I have all my windows sealed up like Fort Knox. I’ve also sealed up every little slit and crack I could possibly find.
This is a critter free zone. Piss off. Though I may not be 100 % successful and I’m still not completely sure how effective it is, I sleep better at night and that’s all that matters.
I’m learning the language quite quickly. I surprise myself.
I was honestly a tad intimidated by the fact that not many locals actually speak English and I gotta get my butt in gear and learn their language. Fast. And I am, and I’m pretty proud of myself really. I never thought in a million years I’d be learning a new language at 53 years young.
It’s pretty awesome.
I have a long way to go but I’m getting by pretty good now (in my opinion). I still have yet to be able to read signs and words which gets kinda tricky in a restaurant. Thank God most of them have English translations.
I’m actually rather shy.
I bet some of my friends reading this are laughing right now, but really. I find myself feeling very shy and the introvert in me comes out more than I thought it would. It’s taken me quite some time to make the few friends I have made (see note below).
I thought I would get down here and have a bunch of friends within a week. Such is not the case. I couldn’t talk to anyone and I kept to myself. I was actually, and in all honesty, kind of scared. (who wouldn’t be??) I’m getting better though and I’m pretty proud of myself.
I really do like being alone.
I mean I always did, but here, I am really alone. No one calling, no one banging on the door or showing up unannounced. They couldn’t anyway ’cause I’m behind a big locked gate AND you gotta climb almost 100 stairs to get here. Seems not many want to do that.
But I’m really loving my own company. I feel so totally free here. I actually feel like I’m in Heaven some days. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t like some company every now and then, it’s just saying that I feel very free, happy and alive, being alone.
I’m surprised by that.
I learned how to light a gas stove without burning all my hair off.
Ok this one still freaks me out for the simple reason that I have always been afraid of gas stoves because I have a crippling fear of my hair going up in flames.
That’s the diva/former hairstylist in me that will never die.
So when I had to learn how to light my stove so I could eat to survive, I was actually really frightened of doing so. But I did it, obviously, and I’m pretty proud of myself, once again.
Contrary to number 4, I find myself lonely at times.
Not very often, but every now and then, it hits me and hits me hard. There have been a couple of times I actually thought I should go back home.
But where is home anyway?
I have nothing nowhere. Such freedom! But at the same time, it’s not having that sense of belonging to anything any more that may be igniting that sense of loneliness. I’m still not really sure about this one all I know is that every now and then, whammo, I wish I had someone.
Becoming a vegetarian sounds good, but a vegetarian who can still eat bacon.
So, like a pretend vegetarian. And the only reason why is because I haven’t really found good meat to eat down here. To me, it all tastes funny. I have been eating a lot more avocados and chick peas and other fiber and protein fillers and I’m not minding one bit.
It’s just the bacon thing, I dunno.
I never know what day it is any more.
I don’t wear a watch any more either, something I would never leave the house without putting on back in Sudbury. Now? I couldn’t care less. I wake up when I feel like it, I eat when my tummy tells me it’s time, I go out when I feel like it and come home when I’m tired.
Days of the week don’t really matter much any more. Every day is just a beautiful day. Why do we have to give it a name?
I have way more balls than I ever thought anyone could legally have.
I mean, I’m doing stuff that I never in a million bajillion years thought I would ever be doing. From getting in beat up wooden boats to go across one of the deepest lakes in the world to go see villages across the way, to planning a 10 hour bus trip to Mexico to renew my Visa.
It blows my mind all the time. I’m actually now even thinking about going paragliding. Now THAT looks ridiculously awesome!!
So is solo female travel safe?
I actually get asked this a lot by my friends in Canada. It’s safe as long as you use common sense. It’s like anything really. Your own city has some dangers and you need to be safe.
Same here. Mind you, I gotta tell ya, I do feel safer here than I did back in Sudbury, Ontario. No one wants to break into my house, no one wants to mug rape and beat me here.
The people here are sweet and loving. So in my opinion, yes, solo female travel is safe.
Solo female travel in Central America
Slow but sure, day by day, I’m settling into this solo female traveler life. I’m still not really sure how long I will stay in Guatemala for. I have my eyes on a couple of other places for the future. Time will tell.
For now, I learn, grow, amaze myself and continually step out of my comfort zone. If you have the opportunity to do this, don’t wait another day. Do it. Plan your trip and go. This life is pretty amazing.
(Update:November 2019- I’ve since left Guatemala and am in Mexico now still feeling quite safe and still perfectly happy being a solo female traveler though some days I wish I had some company)
Peace and Love