The post that didn’t know her age

It’s my final night of my travels.

Tomorrow I fly back to London.

So I was going to write something reflective, and I will, but probably next time.

I wanted to talk about someone I met two days ago on a tour.

An American girl. She was cool, pretty, funny, interesting and we clicked and got on really well.

We did the tour then went off together to do our own thing.

We talked about lots of things and she was quite open about her life and I was the perfect listener – of course.

At some point later in the day, I was talking about how all my friends are having babies and getting married because I’m at that age where people tend to do that sort of thing (30 years old).

She then asked how old I was and I told her. Then she said two more words which completely threw me.

I’m 44.

I physically felt my eyes bulge out of my head.

I was shocked. Stunned. For so many reasons.

First of all, she looked way younger. I thought she looked ten years younger, just slightly older than me.

Seriously, I’ve never seen anyone look so young but be so… well… old.

Secondly, I thought she was great. How could I get on so well with someone who was 14 years my senior?

Then I realised something. I’d been talking with her about things as if she was my age.

For example, coming up with silly ‘would you rather’ scenarios, making stupid jokes and generally making her laugh at daft things.

Basically, acting in a way that I wouldn’t act, and talking about things I don’t think I’d talk about, if I’d known I was talking to a 44 year old.

But then I thought, why? Why does it matter? Why would I behave differently around someone who’s that much older?

Do I think they’re more mature? Do I think they won’t like the ‘normal’ me?

And why did it bother me that I was able to chat and laugh and enjoy the company of a 44 year old?

Because, I’m ashamed to say, it got inside my head for several minutes when she first said it.

It was all I could think about.

I think a lot of it was down to the fact that the I thought she was hot.
So not only did I like her, but I liked her. I liked a woman who was just ten years younger than my own mother.

Now is that not just weird?

It’s all because she looked so much younger. If she looked her age I’d have been less keen to go to lunch and then dinner and then do the things we did together.

Her looks lied to me!

Maybe there’s a lesson here. Maybe I’ve learnt that older women are perfectly fine.

That I shouldn’t judge a book by its age.

Before I met her, I would never have pictured myself with someone that much older than me. But now, it seems plausible.

I mean, it still seems weird but this little episode has thrown everything up in the air. How could it not?

Are all women in their mid 40s like this one? Is she a rarity? Am I more suited to older women? Is this why I get bored of the younger ones I’ve been out with?

So many questions.

Even as I type this now, I’m still shocked that I clicked so well with a 44 year old.

I mean, come on man! Forty four!

No one’s really that age, are they?!

I can’t get my head around it.

Anyone had a similar experience? Anyone freaked out over it?
Anyone surprised themselves like I did?

Please do share if so.

Anyway, the next time I post, I’ll be in London.

Adios south America. It’s been emotional. Very emotional.

N x

The post that’s saying what she said

Just a quick one.

So I was out with a male and female friend. She (was a bit drunk) and says to my mate:

“You are cuter but I prefer him.”

“Him” meaning me.

I didn’t know what to make of that. Compliment? Back handed compliment?

It’s like saying, despite your grotesque appearance, I like you more.

I mean, yeah, it was me who was making her laugh all night.

The witty one. The sarcastic one. The one who had the way with words and humour.

I guess that can be enough to overcome a lack ‘good lookingness’? Sometimes?

I don’t know, it just didn’t sit well with me. I guess I should be used to not being the cute one.

I guess it’s mild jealousy that my friend can be instantly attractive to someone whereas I can’t.

I can only be so after several minutes or hours of interaction.

That doesn’t seem fair somehow.

Does it?

N x

The post that changes quickly

Something I said in my last post two weeks ago was:

The good news is that things can change quickly as you never know who or what is waiting for you in the next hostel.

This was in reference to the recent weeks in which I hadn’t been meeting many people and therefore had been feeling a bit down and lonely.

Well, since I wrote that post, I have met fantastic groups of people in several of the hostels I’ve stayed in.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, bang. I had instant groups of friends. Some of whom I got on with so well, it’s kind of sad that you know you’ll probably never see them again when you or they leave.

In particular, there was a girl I was kind of gutted to leave behind. We had a great time together. She was one of those giggly kind of girls, and I really like those.

I had a great time being silly with her and making her laugh loudly and often. There just aren’t enough girls like that out there. It didn’t hurt that she was very nice to look at as well.

So it was a pity I met one under circumstances in which we were only together for two days.

We exchanged the usual social media details and I told her to come to London for a beer one day. Who knows, stranger things have happened.

So what was this upturn in meeting people down to? Did I change my approach to people? I don’t think so. Was I more lucky? I really do think this played a big part.

So much is down to chance. Being in the right place at the right time.

It’s crazy how quickly your circumstances and feelings can change when you’re travelling.

But anyway, I wanted to post this as a way of redressing the balance of the last post.

When things are going well and you’re having a good time, enjoy it.

And when they’re not, know that things can change quickly.

On those words of wisdom, I’ll leave you to it.

Cheers.

N x

The post that’s travelling very solo

Greetings from Ecuador!

How have you been? It’s been over a month since I last posted, but hey, we knew this might happen.

I thought I’d check in to let you know I’m still alive. A lot has changed over the last month.

I’ve been meeting much fewer people. I don’t know why. Consequently, I’m feeling much more alone.

And much more like a solo traveller.

The first month and a half, sure, I had times when I was alone and doing things by myself. But never for very long and therefore relished and enjoyed those times.

But now, it’s the opposite, pretty much. I can only think of a handful of times over the last month where I haven’t eaten alone. Or done a tour by myself. Or gone for a beer with people.

I think it might be a combination of factors. Firstly, losing all my photos knocked me for six. That’s an absolute fact. I’ve not really been the same since.

Then I think there’s an element of misfortune where I haven’t met people who are willing to let a stranger into their group. Or if I have, then they (or I) are moving on straight away. That’s happened a few times.

It’s annoying when you click with people but then don’t have chance to enjoy their company. Again, that’s just unlucky.

Then there’s me. I’m a part of the reason why I’ve not been meeting as many people.

It’s like a vicious circle. The less I meet people, the less I have the confidence to meet people, and the less I feel like I want to do it or have the energy to strike up a conversation.

As someone who’s largely an introvert, I find that hard and very tiring. Particularly to have to do it so often. It’s energy sapping to me. Even though it’s to my benefit.

On the other hand, a confession: there have been times when I’ve gone to dinner or had drinks with people who I didn’t even really like. Just because I couldn’t face another meal or night in alone.

It’s kind of pathetic but it made me understand why people stay with their boyfriend or girlfriend, even though they don’t get on. They’d rather be with someone they don’t actually like that much than be by themselves.

I never understood that before, but now I can see how someone might feel that way.

So I’m not blameless in this current social slump. I wonder if I’m giving off a whiff of desperation and trying too hard when I meet people.

This is a thought that I really don’t like. They might be picking up on that, and we all know it’s a highly unattractive quality.

As someone who has prided himself on not needing people, the idea that I’m subconsciously exuding desperation and seeking approval, well, I don’t like it one bit.

The good news is that things can change quickly as you never know who or what is waiting for you in the next hostel.

And anyway, I know from talking to travellers that I’m not alone (oh, the irony!) in feeling like this when backpacking. It happens to most solo travellers at some point.

When it does happen, you start to think about your friends back home and wish they were with you.

You also start to notice all the couples. Latin America is very big on public displays of affection too, which means the reminders of your loneliness are frequent and strongly felt.

I guess it’s all part of the experience. It’s not a holiday, where every day is amazing. You can’t have amazing days every day for nearly three months.

Backpacking doesn’t work like that.

Hopefully, writing all this down will help in the therapeutic way in which it usually does.

Here’s to making the final five weeks of my trip, absolutely ruddy marvelous.

Cheers.

N x

The post that’s dealing with challenges

Well, hello there. Hello from the capital of Bolivia, La Paz.

It’s been a rough few days and I’m taking this opportunity to post because it’s pouring with rain outside and I’m bored.

Three days ago I lost my passport, camera with all my photos on from 6 weeks of South America, mp3 player and loads of other little things.

The only thing I give two shits about is my camera. Once in a lifetime photos of the most incredible things I’ve ever experienced in my life. Gone. Forever.

I’d be lying if I said I was anything but completely devastated.

I’ve gone through the stages of grievance and I’m trying to accept what’s done is done but I’m really struggling.

I’ve bought a new camera so I can start again.

I have been mentally beating myself up about this since it happened because it’s completely my fault. A lapse in concentration and I was punished in the harshest way possible.

I’ve not slept well since it happened and I don’t know whether to cry or bash my head against a brick wall.

I suspect neither will help.

I just have to keep moving on. Physically and mentally and emotionally.

I’m trying to find some perspective. I have my health, I have my phone, access to money and the memories.

I still feel like a complete fucking idiot. Ashamed and embarrassed. I hope I read this back one day and these feelings will be a distant memory.

I’ve got Peru and Machu Picchu coming up so there’s plenty to look forward to.

In other news, the previous week was fantastic. I met a group of people who I became really close with. I didn’t want to leave them and, pleasantly, they didn’t want me to leave.

But I have so much ground to cover between now and July that I had to go.

My reasoning being I don’t want my trip to be ruled by the people I meet en route. Everyone you meet is moving; whether it’s tomorrow or next month. So, to get attached to people isn’t necessarily a great idea.

I did get attached and it was a real wrench to leave.

Right, so that’s anger, depression and sadness all covered in this post. Excellent. Good work.

Despite all of this, South America is officially my favourite part of the world.

I was thinking last night, despite all my woes and troubles, would I rather still be at home, back in London being generally miserable and not experiencing life and what the world has to offer?

The answer was absolutely not.

So, ya know, there’s that.

Let’s hope some better things are coming my way and that I get over my loss quickly.

As always, I hope you are all doing well.

N x