What Happens at the 2 Week Mark of a Long Trip… — By Lydian Shipp
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What Happens at the 2 Week Mark of a Long Trip… — By Lydian Shipp

Geckos are cute, but not a cure for feeling homesick, sadly.

So today at lunch, something rather strange struck me. I was homesick. Here I am in Costa Rica, taking classes I’ve never taken before in my life, learning Spanish through my mistakes, and enjoying the beautiful plants, and I’m homesick. Before we came here, right after we booked the tickets, we were given an offer online of travel insurance. This travel insurance is where if you decide to leave later, come back earlier, or change your return flight to another location other than home, you can. Most likely for a small fee.

This knowledge that we can cut our trip short at any point, is a real problem for me, currently. Well, I think, if we’re not going to this other rental, why don’t we just go home in early October instead of staying till the end of October? Because the GOAL was to stay three months.

I haven’t been to many different countries for longer periods of time yet, but I have noted one thing so far in my travels. Homesickness, when one is on a two week trip, always strikes sometime around the fifth day. This has been true for every country I’ve visited so far except Mexico, which was the other longer trip.

In Mexico, close to the end of the trip (little did we know), when we were planning to move to our second rental for another month, we discovered something. Our two story, two bedroom house that we were planning on staying in, all by ourselves, was to be occupied by another family. This other family, would get one floor, and we would get the other. This wasn’t going to happen, we decided, so we changed the tickets. This was probably close to the two week mark, but I cried I was so happy we were going back in a week.

Well, Lydian, welcome to Costa Rica, you are finally beginning to exist in the place you’ve been for the past two weeks, and starting to speak the language again. Good job. Now go home. It’s been long enough.

It’s strange to me that I didn’t feel a thing on the fifth day here. In fact, I just felt kind of…. Well, non existent really. I was annoyed with the lack of food, the loudness, and I do suppose I came to terms with my own humanity that week.

In a way, day five of a shorter two week trip would be approximately equivalent to two weeks into a longer trip. Logically, if this was the way it worked, if I was gone for a year, I would start to feel the homesickness around the second month or something like that.

I’ve really got to think about this though, why exactly do I want to go home again? I desperately wanted to leave home just two weeks ago… So much so that I was freaking out. Now, I’m freaking out because I want to go back home. I’ve got just about everything that I really need here; shelter, food, my guitar, clothing, headphones, an MP3, my parents are here with me, I don’t have my amp, but that’s okay. I’ll survive. Gives me something to look forward to when I get home… But see? Right there, that’s the problem. Recently, one of my friends who plays guitar got her first electric guitar. I’m super excited to see it and to see how she’s doing with guitar… This is another thing to look forward to when I get home.

I have maybe three or four things that are really important to me that I don’t have here, that I can look forward to when I get home. These things, I think, are making me homesick. I wonder, if I had these things, would I not be homesick?

Truth is, I think that having these things along with me would defeat the whole purpose of travel. What’s the point of traveling if you’re not uncomfortable? What’s the point of it if you don’t have to work and use your imagination to, say, get in touch with your friends? Or to try and imagine exactly how that certain kind of distortion that you want in your song will sound? Things like this make traveling entertaining. My dad’s current phrase that actually does just so happen to fit the situation, is that we should “not complain about natural pain”.

For instance, the two most comfortable chairs in the house right now are our reclining, meshy, porch chairs that would only be really super comfortable under three circumstances. One, if you are insanely tired, in a Walmart in Alajuela, and only have leather chairs to sit in. Two, when you’re spending a day or two camping, and eating marshmallows by a red and orange fire, and three, when you’re having a three hour pool party.

Besides the fact that it’s entertaining to try to make yourself comfortable in a new and uncomfortable place, you learn something about yourself too. How quickly you adapt, how you adapt, different positions in lawn chairs that are always comfortable, how long you can go eating beans, rice, and palm shaped cookies, and how to get yourself to focus when all you want to do is go explore or stare at a wall.

When you’re away, you can see the truths and the lies of everything back home. You can see flaws and virtues of your life back home too. It’s easier to appreciate the things that you might take for granted, like, as an example in my case, the fact that every week I get to see all my friends on Tuesday, and interact with them, or the projector that covers most of the wall in our living room that’s the size of the house we’re living in right now, or how comfortable the red couch that I usually find uncomfortable actually is. That’s what actually makes traveling fun, the getting home, and the anticipation of going home. In reality, the traveling itself is exhausting.

Traveling really is one of those rare opportunities that gives you an opportunity to test your limits and learn about yourself. Really.

(NOTE: This post was written when I was 12. I edited it in 2017 for grammatical errors and other technical stuff, but maintained the content to preserve my 12-year-old perspective)

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