Becoming a “Married” Sole-Traveler… or not
Hi, Kobi here. Gabi is about to walk out the door for two weeks; and I want to share with you something that’s been on my mind for a long while.
Traveling alone- what a treat. On our long journey in so many countries, we met so many travelers from all over the world. Some were traveling for short periods of times; others for longer. But the most distinguishing factor about the travelers was ‘traveling alone’ or ‘with others’. When I say “traveling alone,” I don’t really mean alone- all by yourself. The idea of traveling alone is the notion of meeting people that you like, in which you get to choose with whom to hang out with. You can decide the location, the duration, the company, and the budget without any compromises. On the other hand, when one initiates his or her journey as part of a group or a couple, he or she will have to compromise on many aspects of the trip. Many times, I heard of travelers ended up doing things or going places they didn’t really want to do or see. And when compromising starts to block one of the brain’s arteries, and constrict your breathing, oye! And only then, if you get sick of being a dishrag, then, if you’re lucky, you become a sole-traveler. How cool!
As for myself (Kobi), I love the idea of traveling alone (I guess Gabi won’t appreciate me saying it 🙂 ). Don’t get me wrong, I cherish and love the idea of traveling as a part of a family (I must say this to be politically correct), but the idea of traveling alone has some magic in it. Throughout my life, I had the privilege to be a sole-traveler several times. The first was in 1991 when I had traveled to Thailand all alone for 5 months and my parents freaked out. (They really, really did!)
On the second time, in 2008, I had permission from my dear wife Gabi to go to India for a month. She freaked out, as well, when she heard that I spontaneously decided to enter Qatar. Remember? I am an Israeli. (That was very risky.) The third time was on our present journey, I had traveled alone for almost 2 months from Peru heading south in order to sell the family car illegally. Unlike the other trips, this one was a different journey. It was different since I had no idea for how long I would be gone, while my family waits for me in foreign country.
This journey was very interesting for me since not only did I travel for many weeks, alone, and for undetermined period of time; but my pleasure and excitement were touch by the sense of guilt. I know for a fact that if guilt did not fill each bone in my body for leaving my family in Lima, Peru; I could have had better days. This journey was full of mixed emotions, positive and negative. Some of the time, with a dear companion Phillipe; sometimes, with other backpackers; sometimes, alone. Knowing that my family, especially my kids missed me so badly, broke my heart. At one point, Gabi writes me that each of the kids took one set of clothes I left behind, filled it with sheets and other articles of clothing , just to form a Kobi-like figure so they can cuddle with at night.
After arriving to Bolivia, I rejected several offers given for the car since I wanted to get the most out of it. I wanted to sell for $12,000 and the best offer was around $9,000. And one local guy suggested that I drive to Paraguay since I can get a much better deal and quickly. So what did I do? Dah! I drove to Paraguay, four countries away. I had to cross through Argentina to get to Paraguay.
I stopped in Puerto Iguazu, just near the border with Brazil and Paraguay. In Purto Iguazu, all the local Argentineans warned me about how dangerous it is for me to try to sell the car in Paraguay by myself. I pictured scenarios where I would be robbed, shot, scammed, kidnapped and worse (not sure what can be worse). To be honest, I had great concerns entering my car to Paraguay, so I did the first trip by bus. A bus from Argentina, through Brazil, to Paraguay.
So now, not only I feel guilty, confused, alone, but also scared… damn. But guess what? When I finally arrived, I discovered wonderful places with wonderful people and with many great hostels, great markets and more. I must admit it was quite challenging when I first drove there. I had to be very careful, especially inside the bigger cities. Regardless what I felt (tired, scared, exhausted and missing my family), I had to sell this car, and be more careful than I ever was.
I ended up crossing the borders, back and forth, back and forth many times, looking for a buyer for our car. I walked into situations I felt very unsafe in, and learned not to walk the streets of Paraguay at night, and not to trust every person who entered my path. I learned that a two-three cool, time-away from each other, can turn into an eight-week emotional, stressful family separation. I learned that out of desperation, I almost dumped the car, and took the next flight to Peru, to my family.
There were many near-sales and near-break downs. Mechanically, the car started to break down in every way, and I almost had to spend another thousand dollars to fix the brakes, replace the tires, and help the gears. Emotionally, I had so many near-sales, one in which a buyer and I were at the attorney’s office, signing sale papers, when she changed her mind. It was a very challenging.
Was it all bad? No, not at all. I did party and hang out and do things (like bike rode ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Road’) that I would have done as a married man with three kids in tow. There were many fun times with really amazing fellow travelers. But, I learned that I am a family man. I love my wife. I love my kids. And, given the choice, based on my experience; I would choose to travel with them. That is where I belong, with them (she made me say that….HELP)
More about my travel as a Nomadic Dad.