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Published: December 20th 2015
Today might just be my first day in my 10 months of travels, that I am truly homesick. The first day that I really wish I had my family and my city. My internet is too shotty at my hostel to be able to FaceTime my family or to send out a text that doesn't take forever to send and receive without them thinking that I'm ignoring them or that I'm dead. But, I don't realize that Christmas is but five days away unless I look at the date on my phone. There are no Christmas trees here in Panama, and if there are, you don't recognize them on people's lawns. Being surrounded by heat and palm trees completely throws off the feeling of the massive family holiday that approaches, the one that I can't wait but to dress up for, to buy a new outfit for, to consume way too much champagne and to sit around with my family for hours and develop hundreds of new inside jokes with. But, no, this year is bound to be different. Last year I knew that I was flying across the Atlantic from Budapest on Christmas Eve to surprise my family and walk up the driveway on Christmas morning after three months of travel. Last year I was surrounded by Christmas markets all over Europe where I drank glüwein until my stomach couldn't stand it, where I was bundled in parkas, jeans, two pairs of socks, boots and gloves. Yet this year, I'm in dirty shorts, a swimsuit and a sweaty tank top that I've worn for three days straight. But I know you're thinking, "oh stop it Lilly, you're in paradise! I'd kill to have that!" but, I'm also not with anyone I know, I won't be with the friends that I've been traveling with and I won't be with family and that kills.
Solo travel is of course something that I have chosen to do. It's someone that I have chosen to be, it is something that I have boasted about being and that I take pride in, but it's times like these when it gets hard. When you know that on Christmas Day you won't be with a tight knit crew, or a family. Maybe you'll wake up and not even realize it until you check Facebook as if it's your daily newspaper, look at Instagram and see everything joyous back home. I stand by what I'm doing, but what I would give to have a festive latte and not black hostel coffee, or go on a late night shopping spree with my sister, attempt to do a good wrapping job on a gift, find a horrid white elephant present and to sit with my nephews as they show me the insane amount of gifts that they got. Being homesick for the first time sucks, I'm just glad it hit on a day when we got more rain in 24 hours than Seattle did in five days, therefore, I don't feel bad about laying in my uncomfortable top bunk all day. I'm in a beautiful place, with beautiful people, but the truth about solo travel doesn't mean that everyday is perfect... It doesn't mean that everyday is fun and games.
So, make those trees (wreaths, whatever you decorate) sparkle, wrap those gifts much better than I can do, go have an overpriced latte for me, bathe in your traditions and make new memories, drink some damn fine alcohol (because Panama beer is pretty much Keystone Ice) and enjoy the time that you have with your family and friends. As the days approach and you celebrate whichever holidays that you do, I wish you a very happy one. I'm not depressed, I'm not giving up, it's just a rough day and the first time I've ever been away for Christmas 😉
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