Alright, that post title may be a bit over-dramatic.
“Why I’m Not Coming Home….Yet” might be a more appropriate option.
See, back in February I took off for my first solo expedition with plans to visit Portugal, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and Hungary. The trip was meant to last for 30 days.
As of today, I’m on day 42 and I’m still in Jordan. So… what the hell happened?
Let’s start at the beginning.
(Warning: lots of photos coming your way!)
(forgive this picture… it was 4:00am, my house was a mess, and for some reason I look like I’m about 15 years old)
I left home with a backpack and a small camera bag, nervous but eager to start my adventure.
Portugal went just as planned.
I stayed in a small private room in a hostel, saw the sights, made some friends, and ate lots and lots of food.
I felt proud of myself for navigating a new country entirely on my own. I had thought it would be difficult, but I found it thrilling, satisfying, and much easier than expected.
After four days in Portugal I caught my flight to Cairo. This was a bit of a culture shock after Lisbon, but I was immediately enthralled with the city and the people living there.
I had booked a tour with a group of 20 other travelers which would take us through Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, the Sinai Peninsula and on to Jordan.
I’m not usually one for group tours, but it was perfect for traveling through Egypt. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it as much had I tried to navigate all of the directions, checkpoints, and cultural customs on my own.
The tour was extremely fast-paced, with lots of late nights, early mornings, and long bus rides. We were traveling all the way up and down the Nile Valley in just one week — ambitious, but do-able.
Dimitry and I were still seeing each other, and while we checked in from time to time while I was in Portugal, the wifi situation in Egypt left me incommunicado for days at a time. Instead of making me desperate to find a way to get in touch, I felt relieved to be on my own.
For the first time since the miscarriage, I felt like myself again. I was re-discovering what it felt like to have a sincere interest in life, and the thought of going home and returning to our troubled relationship left me with a knot in my stomach.
What was so troubled about the relationship? The usual things. We wanted different things out of life, we struggled to communicate, and we could never seem to agree on anything.
After 10 years of friendship and 2 years as a couple, it felt a little bit impossible to leave. Going through a break-up is difficult enough, but losing one of your best friends at the same time felt a bit like losing a part of myself.
I spent most of the long bus rides in Egypt torturing myself with thoughts of what I would do when I returned home. I knew that we couldn’t keep pretending anymore, and the more I asked myself what I needed to be happy, the more I realized I simply couldn’t go home.
After a week in the Nile Valley, we crossed the Suez Canal and headed to Dahab, a sleepy beach town on the Sinai Peninsula. The moment we arrived I felt a deep connection to the place and dreaded the idea of leaving in two days to head to Jordan.
I had made friends with a fellow solo female traveler in the group, an Aussie named Taliha, who was planning on simply staying in Dahab. She had been on the road for 3 months already and wanted some down time to relax by the beach.
We had been snorkeling the reef that morning, and she and I had spread out on some beach loungers to dry off and drink some tea. I was bemoaning the idea of leaving Dahab the next day when it suddenly hit me that I didn’t have to.
I’m self-employed and can work from anywhere if I need to. I was already on the other side of the world with a well-stocked backpack. I could just… stay!
Of course, leaving Dimitry at home waiting for me for months on end simply wasn’t an option. I had already come to terms with the fact that things were never going to work out for us in the long run, so I found a wifi connection, bit the bullet, and gave him a call.
Shit, that is a lie. I texted him.
YES. I’m a terrible person. But it was the middle of the night back home and I’m a complete wimp and did I also mention a terrible person?
That was 28 days ago but somehow it feels like a year.
Taliha and I decided to pair up and travel together for a few months. We both wanted to go to Jordan, Israel, Turkey, then spend a few months in Eastern Europe.
We’ve been backpacking on the cheap by staying in hostels and doing some couch-surfing.
We slept in a hut on the beach with no power or running water for four days.
We hiked Mt. Sinai in the middle of the night and slept on the side of a cliff to see the sunrise.
We camped in the Wadi Rum desert…
… explored the ruins at Petra…
… and floated in the Dead Sea.
We’ve hitch-hiked, crossed borders, made amazing new friends, and consumed more pita bread than I even want to think about.
As of today, Taliha is in Tel Aviv and I’m still in Jordan. I wasn’t ready to leave Jordan yet, while she wanted to move on. We’ll meet up again in a few weeks, and in the meantime we’ll have some solo adventures.
I can’t tell you enough how much I love living this kind of life. I’ve met so many kind, generous, and intelligent people in this part of the world. They have shared their food, homes, and stories with me. They have changed me, and I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity to see the world in a new way.
This is why I’m not coming home…