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!