The short answer? Yes. I know it’s cliché, but how could it not? When you spend a month alone in a developing country, you learn a lot about yourself and your abilities. Apparently when I returned from Peru I was noticeably calmer and happier. Not that I was seriously anxious or sad before, but I hadn’t been feeling myself for quite sometime for a number of reasons. I just needed to do something for me, and in doing so I realised that, as much as I like to tell myself I am independent and I thrive on my own, the times when I was really alone were ironically the moments where I felt most unhappy. Not that I would say I’m evidently not independent, just that my understanding of what that means to me has developed. I like to organise things for myself,  fund my own adventures, and go places want go, but that doesn’t necessarily mean spending time totally by myself. I also like meeting new people and talk for hours about both nonsense and academic babble. Essentially I just like to be in control of myself, whether that means deciding where I’m going in the morning or whether I want to spend time with someone or not.

#loner
#loner


I wouldn’t call myself a thrill seeker, but I forced myself to do things I’d never done before. The morning I left for the airport I was in tears, mostly because I’m terrified of flying, but also because it was only when my suitcase was packed and the taxi was outside the door did it click that I was actually effing off to South America for a month. The fear didn’t end there; getting on a local bus scared the bajeebies out of me, as did the idea of trekking up a mountain into the wilderness. But I did it, (albeit because I had no choice) and soon began to feel empowered by it all. By the time I ended up being hurried into an ambulance to spend a night in hospital I was embracing each bump along the road as all part of the experience. When I was alone throwing up in Aguas Calientes I had no one to hold my hair back, and I didn’t dare ring home and worry my parents. And yet, if my fellow volunteer hadn’t come in to see me that evening I would have stupidly not bothered to contact a doctor and would have most certainly been worse off for it.

IMG_2745
#independentwoman [almost]


And of course, I learnt a lot from the people I met and made friends with, and the children I volunteered for at Picaflor. Thanks to those fantastic individuals, I now feel more comfortable in myself and have a more flexible attitude towards my future. It will never be too late to turn my life around if I go down the wrong path. I faced up to how lucky I was, but I also realised that paying for my white-privilege could not be resolved by a one-off experience. That trip did me the world of good, but I’m still unsure how much my being their helped children I volunteered for. That said, I now know that I want to pursue a career in social justice and youth development, but to do that well I’m going to lead a lot more experience than a month of self-discovery in Peru and sharing articles on facebook…

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#winning

Would I recommend a similar adventure to everyone? No. I think you could easily head on the exact same journey for all the wrong reasons, and come out the other end feeling completely different. I didn’t book the holiday to discover myself, I booked it because I wanted to and I unexpectedly returned feeling better off for it. The first independent trip I planned (inter-railing 2012) ended up as a major let down, and I think a large part of that disappointment was fuelled by the fact I’d hoped it would be great and meaningful, and partially because I ended up not going alone…

My only recommendation would be to go where you like; do something, sometime, for yourself, by yourself; prepare for the worst, and don’t have high expectations. I was convinced I would die on the plane there, so naturally staying alive made me feel pretty darn good about myself!

– MW.

3 thoughts on “Reflection: Qusqu, Qosqo, Cusco! ~ A life changing experience?

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