Be kind to yourself

Once you step out of your comfort zone and dare to be brave, there is no going back. At least, this is what I experienced during my travels. Especially once my unintended solo travels kicked off in Bolivia. I did a 4×4 jeep tour with a bunch of French people crossing the border from Uyuni in Bolivia to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. Our driver was so kind to drop me off directly at my hotel (Hostal Masairi) that I had booked for 1 night in advance to have at least somewhere to go to in this new town. I loved my room. A big bed. Comfy bed linen. A nice shower made of cobbled stone. This was exactly what I fancied after the rather basic accommodations in Bolivia. And the sun was shining, too. I remember thinking:

What a feeling.

After a power nap and a refreshing shower, I walked into town (approx. 8 min) to explore the different tour operators. I read about the different tour offers in advance and decided to visit Geysers del Tatio as well as Laguna Cejar. I booked my tours with Cosmo Andino and Desert Adventures and I was very happy with the tour guides, their knowledge and the fun part to it. On my first tour the same afternoon to Laguna Cejar, I met two really nice girls, one Chilean girl and one British-French girl who both live in Santiago de Chile. How perfect, since this was my next stop. We spent the entire day together and then decided to go the Geysers del Tatio tour together.

When sitting in the mini bus with them, I realized how easy it was for me to connect with new people. It made my heart jump, as I understood in this moment that becoming aware of my strengths meant I was kind to myself, too. Sadly, being aware and mentioning our own strengths is often perceived as arrogant, but I think it is the most critical thing to practice self-love and to know our positives in order to live a happy life.

Suddenly it hit me in the mini bus that I can easily connect with new people, that I can speak 3 languages (German, English, Spanish) fluently and that I love exploring. I felt so empowered in this moment. I was impressed by myself about how quickly I got back up on my feet after the break up, how I was able to enjoy this adventure and how I was brave enough to continue living my dream – to travel through Latin America.

What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?

I love this quote. We all tend to see the painful and negative side of things only, however, in every pain, in every change, lies the potential for something better. The universe is sending us signs that the old situation wasn’t right for us and that we should move on to something else, to something even better.

Let us see the positive in every fall – ’cause it might make us fly.

Yours, Nina

Dare to be brave

After the break up in Bolivia, my solo travels were about to start. I decided to fly from La Paz to Uyuni to do a salt flats tour there, also known as Salar de Uyuni.

Getting into the taxi in La Paz and heading to the airport was tough. When the taxi started driving, I instantly started crying, I couldn’t hold back my tears anymore. Too strong was the pain I felt, too strong the shock about what had happened and yes of course there was this feeling of uncertainty.

When I boarded the plane and sat down, I felt relieved, majorly because of the physical distance I was about to create. I knew it would do me good. The further we went, the better I felt. When we landed in Uyuni, I took a taxi to my accommodation (Hotel Jumari**). I was greeted very kindly and shown my room. The first thing I did is that I took a hot shower – ensure you book a room with hot water, as it’s not necessarily common in this town. I showered forever, as I didn’t know what else to do. I went to bed very late, but set my alarm for breakfast. Even if we don’t feel like eating when in emotional pain, I know for myself that having a bite to eat is important to give my body energy to keep going, to literally digest. After breakfast, I walked through town to find a tour operator for the salt flats. I had decided to do a day trip only instead of the originally planned 3 day tour, as my heart and body weren’t necessarily craving cold nights when I felt emotionally low, too. So, I booked a one day tour with Red Planet Expedition

The tour left the same day only a couple of hours later in a 4×4 jeep. We were 6 people with a few from the UK and a few from Germany, so I felt home in a way. A great start!

Sitting in the car, I couldn’t believe that I was now traveling on my own. I had moments where I felt abandoned in a way, as this was not the plan; on the other hand, I felt so proud of myself that I pulled through with the travels and hence with my yearlong dream of traveling through Latin America. Most people I spoke with after the break up said that I should come home and quit the traveling. Funny in a way, since at that point I had already packed up my life in London, so I had no reason to return to London and also I hadn’t lived in Munich for almost 9 years, so it didn’t feel right to return to Munich at this stage in my life either. Hence, I realized one thing for myself.

Home is where the heart is.

And my heart was clearly with my travels and myself. So, whilst I listened to each and every opinion, I had already made my decision and I knew deep down in my heart that I wouldn’t give up on my dream, that I would continue the journey on my own and that I would be happy with my decision. It simply felt right.

Trust your intuition and follow your heart.

Back to the tour. We were a fabulous group and had loads of fun taking pictures, listening to music in the car and chatting. However, what really got me was the beauty of nature. I sat in the car and I couldn’t believe I was here, in the largest salt flats of the world, in Bolivia. I looked out of the window and was overwhelmed by the vast extent of the area, by the colors and by the beauty of our world. When we stopped somewhere in the middle of the salt flats, I needed a moment for myself, so I walked up a hill to enjoy the view from the top. I just looked into the sky, and felt so emotional, that I couldn’t hold back my tears and you know what? I didn’t want to hold them back. I wanted to allow myself to feel touched by this beauty around me, and I wanted to allow myself to feel sad and to feel everything I feel, without controlling, without evaluating.

Allow yourself to feel everything you feel.

Back into town, I was so motivated that I visited some bus operators around the bus terminal (Terminal de Buses, Av Arce, Uyuni) to organize the next part of the travels, crossing the border to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. I spoke to approximately 5 operators to find out costs and times, however, I didn’t really fancy being on a night bus for 14 hours on my own. I also heard though that there are 4×4 jeeps crossing the border to Chile. So, I specifically explored this option and found an operator that had 1 spot (!) left, leaving the next day around 3pm with a group of French people. I thought that this would be the more fun and adventurous option, hence booked it in and left the bus terminal feeling satisfied with the next journey sorted.

After 2 nights in Uyuni, I walked all packed up to the agency and met my travel buddies. I was excited about the trip, although I knew we would have a cold night in a refuge camp ahead of us with no luxuries whatsoever. But during the trip I had already learned to live with less and yet be happy. Also, I had learned to embrace unknown situations and to say yes to life.

Why? Because the things that scare you, often hold the biggest potential for growth. And my personal growth was just waiting around the corner.

My learnings during this rather short night in the refuge camp:

  • Question your limiting beliefs. Because you are more than you think you are.
  • Don’t overthink, just do. Because thinking leaves you in your head. Go into your heart instead.
  • Say yes to life more often. Because it opens doors that would otherwise stay closed.
  • Dare to be brave. Because life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

You will realize that if you consciously & regularly reflect on the above points, that there’s so much more within you and that your potential is just waiting for you to free it!

Yours, Nina