Perhaps what both delights and troubles me most about this piece Hannah, is that not much has changed. I am much, much older than you are, at 67, and I guarantee you that the same stupid bullshit that we are told as solo women who head out in a van/tent/truck/car/thumb and backpack hasn’t changed one bit. I wasn’t scared back then- and I left home at 16, in 1966- and I am still not scared now. I am writing you this from a small hotel in Dar es Salaam after five monumentally amazing weeks riding horses, petting rhinos and scuba diving all over Africa. This is what I do, it’s who I am.
In every way, making the decision to strike out solo in a world that seemingly every one else feels is going to eat us up and spit us out sounds insane. I have had my share of rapes, scrapes and awful situations (most happened in the military, which is different). Those which almost happened on the road are very similar to your stories. You MOVE. That’s just common sense.
People live out of terrible fear, and as a result, they miss out on life’s finest and best. The early morning sunrises- last fall, mine were in the Gobi- for example, yours are different. The nighttime discussions with falling stars, stars you can’t see at all with light pollution. Endless quiet time, also unpolluted by traffic, road rage and shitheels.
My experiences on the road are very similar. I’ve just been doing it longer. There are women in previous centuries who were far braver than you and I, who risked far more than just censure or sexual assault. Yet they carved the way forward for us. To them I am grateful. When I write about my escapades exploits, that implicitly gives permission for others to explore a bit more. The same thing you are doing. You and I end up doing fairly effortlessly what others consider impossible, which is only impossible for the what fear tells them about Life Out There.
Fear kills life. It ruins what could otherwise be a curiosity and joy-filled existence. When you and I head out solo into a massive world, which really is a tiny, tightly-wrapped bubble spinning around in the endless Cosmos, we are pushing boundaries for more than just ourselves. It’s only scary out there if we believe it is. There are scary things. But above all, you and I- and anyone else brave enough to learn to be on their own-figure out what to trust, who to trust, and why. And as we used to say in the Sixties, we keep right on truckin.’
I am off in two weeks, tent and bag in car, to seek out new digs in the PNW. Or not. I have no idea where I will live next. I do know that a return to Mongolia is in August, barring anything major worldwide, and I hope to be in Uruguay in November or December. Riding, stumbling through my awful Spanish, galloping along the coastline. Hard life. Someone has to do it.
I would be doing none of these things had I not lit out as a kid in my mid- teens. I recommend waiting a bit longer, but I was ready. The prices I paid to get where I am today were worth it. I do wish I could have a puppers, but that won’t be for a long time. Too many countries, too many adventures still over the horizon. Happy tire changing, and many beautiful sunrises and sunsets to you.