It's funny how quickly I fell back into the backpacking lifestyle. Living out of my pack. Awful showers seeming awful. Talking to complete strangers about your hopes and dreams and the deeper meaning of life. Struggling with a language not your first with strangers patient or confused, or both. Getting lost in a place where it's oh-so-obvious you're not from there (i.e., you're a gringa with blonde-and-pink hair). Not having a plan because then you're never disappointed. Sharing and helping strangers. Hearing people have sex and instead of being annoyed, you're just missing the one you love. Heading off with complete strangers, putting your life and day in the hands of strangers...you just go with it. You go with the wrinkled clothes, the sleeping on thin mattresses on the bottom bunk, throwing your toilet paper in the garbage instead of bowl, eating the most random combination of foods, doing things you normally would never do back home, thinking firewater sounds delicious...
I realized way too quickly, within two hours of being in Panama City, that I had lost part of myself. I'm not sure where or how I lost it, but I did lose it. I've become what drove me to leave NYC for grad school 9 years - stressed, running around like crazy. There's a lot of really good things in my NYC life right now - NBR, the NYC Burning Man Community - but I need to reclaim my life.
I don't know how I can do this back home. Here, I can figure things out but how can I make them apply? How can I extend this calm state of mind there? True, it's easy; the main worries are how to get from one place in Costa Rica to the next without having to go via the dreaded San Jose; where I can find a vegetarian meal (not an easy task); what's next?I have mind space to think about my life, think about what I want next, think about what I want overall, think about why we're here (which I still firmly believe, is to help others). But this is mixed in between surfing and drinking and dancing and beaches and talking Spanish and seeing what cool things are going on at the hostel.
And I'm enjoying my life right now...but I hope I can extend this feeling of happiness and peace to every day in my life, post-traveling (but let's not think about post-traveling right now).