On November 22nd, my friend, Jenessa, and I left Buenos Aires, Argentina to go to Santiago, Chile. But, when we left, nothing was planned. All we had was a 26-hour bus ticket to and from Santiago, Chile and a hostel booked for one night. This very loosely planned travel turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
As I mentioned, Jenessa and I took a 26-hour bus ride to Chile. “Wow, you guys are so hard core!” one of my friends told me when I let them know of our travel plans. But, to be honest, we took a 24-hour bus ride because we procrastinated on plane tickets and did not want to spend close to $400 to fly to Santiago, Chile. So technically, our choices were very limited.
But, Jenessa and I were adamant about being positive during this trip. We made it clear to one another that we expect each other to stay positive, to enjoy the difficulties, and push one another outside of our comfort zones in terms of speaking Spanish, interacting with the locals, and experiencing a different lifestyle. I must say that we did a good job.
During the 26-hour bus ride, we learned how important it is to ask as many questions as possible and to no be afraid to ask for help. Picture this: two American girls in a bus that crosses the boarder of another country, they have no specific plans or ways to check if they are on the right track, and they do not speak fluent Spanish. We did not know where to stand to wait for the bus, where to put our luggage, where to sit, and so much more, but we did know how to ask questions. And we did!
Right when we arrived at the bus station, we asked about the bus number, where to stand, where we put our luggage, and the stops we were making for immigration. From this, we learned the value of trust in humanity and to not be afraid to ask questions. I must admit that I had a defensive mentality, one that assumes that everyone is out to get everyone and thus one is better off on her own, but in this trip, I have learned and accepted that people are nice. Yes, there can be people who chooses to do the wrong thing, but their existence is over exaggerated by social media. (This is not to say to let your guard down, but rather to not be quick to judge). But here in our travels, we are becoming more open minded as we learn to depend on other people. In the US, everyone is used to making things happen on their own. If I want to travel, I use my own resources to get myself from point A to point B. But traveling to a different country that I do not speak the language of is different. Even a 100 years worth of research will not be enough to assure that everything will go according to plan. Thus, I must learn to trust and rely on other people.
From a broad perspective, it seems a little dramatic to give so much meaning to a simple bus ride experience, but it was a moment of realization for me. In the United States, I was comfortable where I was at. How do I know? I know that I was living the comfortable life because I have never had to ask for help. Yes, that can mean that I am simply an independent person, but I think that there is more to it than that. I needed to move out of my comfort zone to know who I truly am and what I truly want. I am comfortable because my friends and families have paved roads that I can easily follow, but what about creating my own? I want to pave my own road. This road, my road, will be a representation of who I am as a person, the lives the I have touched, and the differences the I have made. It will be perfectly meaningful, which is how I want my life to be.