I’ve just boarded the venerable MV Colombia which, in a mere 38 hours, will deliver me to Ketchikan, Alaska where I will be staying for a week or two with my cousin. In the last 3 weeks I’ve made my way up from San Diego, via Los Angeles, Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. I’ve enjoyed it, seen some wonderful things, jaw-dropping scenery on the Pacific Coast Highway, strolled down Hollywood Boulevard, been record shopping in Haight Ashbury and sampled some of (and when I say some, I mean a lot) the local Portland brews.
But there’s been something missing. Travelling “alone” in South America never actually meant that. I can only think of a couple of days in all the weeks I was “alone” when I was actually on my own. As long as you stuck more or less to the backpack trail, you could always spend time with other like-minded travellers, perfectly happy to chat, share a beer or go exploring. Often at the same time. Some I’ve stayed in touch with, others just spent the day with and can’t actually remember their names. And all of them have added something positive to the trip (with the exception of Sally, the eager yet oh so boring English teacher).
However, travelling alone here seems to mean, at least for me, truly alone. Outside of the people I’ve stayed with (and a big shout goes out to all of them, love you guys!) I’ve barely spoken to a soul. Some of this is pure laziness or grumpiness on my behalf but people here seem so much more self-absorbed and unapproachable. Maybe this has something to do with most people travelling in couples or groups, but I’m not sure. People will talk, if you start a conversation, but then the conversation is all about them. You don’t get a look in, they show absolutely no interest in listening to anything you say. Kind of annoys me. Hence the grumpiness. I am enjoying it, missing Laura, but enjoying it nonetheless, and glad to be doing it – catching up with people and, through them, meeting new ones. Just looking forward to getting back to Argentina, not for the first time!
Note, what do you know!, in the 15 hours since I wrote this, I have spoken to some very nice people – 3 50 -somethings on a Harley trip to Alaska they’ve been planning for 2 years and a couple of others. Some idiot who said the dolphins we saw were killer whales. I’m no marine scientist but know when you see killer whales, these things are the size of tanks, and these were not. Nice dolphins (good dolphins) though, pretty damn cool.