I recently turned 30 and spent my birthday by myself on beautiful Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Quite soon, a lot of my time will be dedicated to ensuring our foster child feels settled in a new home, so I wanted to take some time to celebrate me. I spent my time there lounging on a hammock, reading novels, doing yoga and hiking. Luxurious, right?
Throughout my life, I've been lucky to have travel to many countries across 6 continents, but I had never traveled solo and I wanted to experience this before I turned 30. Parts of traveling alone were really challenging. I had two delayed flights, one lost seat reservation, a missed shuttle, and a non functioning ATM which made me want to just give up and go home at times. It would have been much easier if I had a partner there to vent about the struggles faced. However, after 27 hours of travel (3 flights, 2 buses, and 1 boat), I felt very proud of myself for finally getting to my destination all on my own. It made me savor my time alone even more knowing how much it took to get there.
Traveling to a country where I don't speak the language well reminded me what it feels like to step outside of my comfort zone. I often felt confused and unsure of myself. For instance, the Airbnb I booked was only accessible by boat. Due to late flights and a missed shuttle, I arrived near sunset and was unsure of what boat to take. I had to ask multiple times in my broken Spanish to make sure I was taking the correct boat, as it was the last one of the evening. I felt uncertain and nervous, but kind strangers made my travels a bit easier. These feelings of uncertainty might parallel emotions our refugee child may feel when first arriving to the US and I'm hopeful that our home, built on values of kindness and compassion, will make his/her transition easier as well.