I hate birthdays. All of mine, to be precise. Days like this in the year hold too much expectation and are therefore predisposed to be disappointing. I rarely remember a birthday ever fulfilling its promise, and the dread that starts the day for me now makes it well and truly self-fulfillingly gloomy. I think now the pattern is too deep-set and this will perennially be the case. I know this is my depressive mindset talking and if I tried very very hard I could change it!
– No other solo OR sociable travellers appeared to exist in Copacabana. Plenty of couples who want to keep themselves to themselves. Loneliness is a terrible, terrible thing. I didn’t know where I would be on my birthday. This just happened to be the place I’d got to on my route. This is the risk I took as a solo traveller with no fixed plans and I know it’s no-one’s fault.
– It appears to be the start of the ‘low season’ = less people.
– The famed Bolivian total indifference to tourists was abundantly clear.
– At the border they’d only given me a 30-day visa, which might mean tight deadlines again in Bolivia.
– The ‘hostel’ cost was way more than I thought it would be (see below).
– Had to try three different cash machines to get money, stress rising, after suddenly finding myself down to my last £3 due to ‘high’ hotel cost. Who said Bolivia is cheap?!
– Somehow deleted my drafted post about Puno that morning.
– Hadn’t slept well for some reason.
– Wifi and therefore connection to the people who understand me was not working well.
– Was due to go on a boat for an hour and a half, to Isla del Sol.
– I broke my sunglasses – they’re now taped together.
– The following day I realised I’ve lost my phone charger, and my purple bodywarmer, adding to a rapidly growing list of lost stuff. Superficial, but enough to add to my grumpiness!
– Couldn’t face checking facebook because in this frame of mind, the dark negative gaps in between the bright, entirely well-meaning wishes have a stronger pull. So only the couple of people who had taken the time to actually email me got through to me that morning.
Thank goodness I managed to speak to my parents, who miraculously pulled me ‘above water’ just a little!
The town (country?!) with no dorms…
How on earth do I manage this, there are people travelling this route all the time, but I often seem to find myself twiddling my thumbs with no-one to talk to! It’s partly because I want the best of both worlds; sociable people and social areas to hang out, but not annoying loud/impressionable types who have no life experience and just want to get drunk!
Private rooms are almost always a social shot-in-the-foot when travelling solo. We will see what Bolivia really has to offer, but from my research of the country so far, there seem to be only dorms in massive party hostels (of which there are none in Copacabana) – so my choice is likely to be meet lots of possibly indistinguishable people and have little sleep, or often meet no-one, pay more, but do what suits me. Many of the cheap private rooms are frankly depressing, which is very detrimental when I feel wobbly. Feel like I owe it to myself to pay the extra for at least a vaguely cheery room.
Maybe I’ll have to do a mixture of private rooms and big hostels, open my mind a little and not just assume that my preconceptions about party hostels and people are correct! Things could, of course, definitely always be worse. I have a room and two pillows (luxury!) and can leave electronics charging overnight. Even then though, when I’m frustrated because the wifi won’t work for me to reach people online, I then read about the miners in Potosí who have appalling ‘living’ conditions, not seeing daylight for 4 months at a time, a hugely reduced life expectancy, and no other options to try to give their families a meagre income. I’m still grumpy, but it gives me perspective.
Isla del Sol
Here are the pictures from the island, including views of the snowcapped Cordillera Real, a dance for a baptism for an island family, Isla de la Luna, and some Inca ruins on the north side, which I walked the 3 hours to get to.
Yeah yeah, it’s all amazing and beautiful and I should feel super-lucky. Whatever. I’m grumpy! You know the black cloud is lurking when you’re not enjoying things that you normally would. But you know it’s not completely taking over when there’s a tiny bit of you that can replace the impending tears with laughing at yourself…just a little bit.
I managed to have dinner not-totally-alone that night, with a lady from Germany, staying in another room in the same hostel on the island. And I came within a whisker of spending some time with a girl I’d met on the Galapagos, but circumstances meant it wasn’t quite to be.