I’m leaving Indonesia with salty skin, salty hair and a salty heart. I leave Indonesia feeling more mature but incomplete at the same time. Here, sitting on an AirAsia airplane while writing this, I’m leaving Indonesia wanting to let all of you know that travelling is not the same as going on a long holiday. That it’s challenging you each day, making you learn more about yourself. That it has constant ups and downs. But that it’s exactly what I chose and keep choosing for my life right now.
Travelling is falling and getting up again, trying to stay true to yourself each time no matter what, trying to keep believing in a better world and trying to stay positive when shit happens. Cause trust me, shit happens.
This is a different post. This is the real thing, what you don’t see on the amazing youtube videos and what a breath-taking Instagram photo doesn’t capture. This is what no one told me before leaving the comfort of my home and what I want and need to talk about right now.
‘Nobody can join you? Solo travelling!’ they said. ‘Everyone should experience solo travelling once in their life!’ they said.
I was very happy and excited to be travelling on my own at first until it began to feel lonely. At the most exciting moments of an adventure, I found myself searching for a look of complicity. At my very happy moments, I would wish I could share my smile. At walks on the beach, on a sunset, I wished for a hand to hold.
I wanted my best friends around. I asked for a lover to the moon.
But still, I say yes to solo travelling, even though it does feel lonely sometimes. Even though I have this general feeling of disappointment every time the people I bump into does not meet the expectations I had on mind on the kind of people I would meet while travelling, and how much I would learn from all of them.
It’s been a general contradiction each day, feeling lonely even while having company. I found myself not wanting that company, rather being alone, wishing it was something else, my ideal kind of company. I found myself being the quiet one in a group, can you imagine. Not interested in taking part in conversations that had no meaning to me at all, and leaving to do my own thing, randomly, when getting too annoyed about how uninterested I feel about the person next to me. Or how boring it gets. Yes, I found myself getting annoyed, frustrated when things were not how I wanted them to be. Which is the usual while travelling.
Of course, and it’s completely normal, not everybody wants to do the same thing you want to do. One day you want to climb mountains and watch the stars but the other person rathers chilling at the beach, and the next day it’s exactly the contrary. A perfect travel buddy is not easy to find.
So still, having no other option, and having different plans and destinations in mind than my dear best friends who I wish I could be with, I decide to travel solo. I decide to keep going. Cause at the same time, I’ve never felt more free.
I could be coming home. I’ll be running into loving arms. I miss them so much. But there’s something that keeps me going, I don’t know what. Maybe just the hope that the next place I visit will be exactly all I’ve been waiting for.
I’m leaving Indonesia into my next destination grieving for everything I’ve lost on the way. All the memories recorded on the GoPro that fell on the water. I’m crying for all the videos that I will never be able to edit and show to you. And the ring with the blue stone? The most beautiful ring I had.
The shoes that were stolen, my friend’s money, also stolen.
Travelling gets messy. I’ve left forgotten in a hostel room a towel, a sleeping bag and my flipflops because being tidy gets so freaking tiring sometimes and being a mess is easier and when things start missing I can’t blame anyone else other than my(messy)self.
I’m flying out of Indonesia wanting to leave crazy Asia, but hoping to come back.
Indonesia is bittersweet. While discovering its incredible nature that I love, I was also discovering its strict Muslim culture. Did you know that 90% percent of the girls still have their clítoris circumcised? I didn’t until now. 90. freaking. percent. Fuck.
Bittersweet Indonesia, a country where they believe that doing good will bring you good and where, at the same time, love before marriage is still prohibited. I’ll tell you a little “tale”. Some years ago, a western man living in Gili, working as a Scuba diving instructor, was found sleeping with a local Indonesian girl. Her whole family appeared at his house holding weapons and pushing him into marrying their daughter… or else. Next day he was flying home with not much more than his passport, fearing for his life. On the following weeks, his coworkers had to send him all he couldn’t bring with him on his rushed escape. And nobody knows what happened with the local girl. No one has ever seen her again.
Bittersweet Indonesia doesn’t know about feminism. Outside Java and Bali, not many men understand what respect is. I’ve had men offering me sex in the most disgusting way, trying to touch me when they see an opportunity and looking at the tattoo on my leg with dirty eyes. Making me feel naked while wearing clothes.
But I’ve had men helping me find my way, I’ve met a man who made a dreadlock on my hair, and a local strong woman working for UNICEF who hopes for a better Indonesia. I’ve met families in little old traditional towns wanting to talk to us and inviting us for tea and a woman with an organic project trying to teach kids about the importance of recycling.
The vivid memory of the people waving to us, with a smile on their face, while we were biking through the -not so touristy- roads.
The kind look of an elderly woman, that’s my golden memory. That’s all I want to remember.
Don’t take me wrong, of course it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, but I’m really grateful for being able to live my life as I want to, grateful I can still learn about the world and it’s great and not so great things, and grateful I have the freedom to talk about it.
And at the end, I just realise, we’re all the same, we’re all just humans, and we’re all just trying.
And at the end, I think now you can understand, that today, I’m flying out of Indonesia wanting to leave, but definitely, hoping to come back.
And that at the end I’m just another girl, trying at life, just like all of us.