From there to here, and here to there
After a 32-hour trip from Peru to Liverpool, I arrived home on Thursday afternoon welcomed back by cold winds and small pebbles of rain. The smells in the air were familiar, and my wait for the taxi on my final stretch from the train station to my house was something that felt routine before going away — had I really been away for two months?
Liverpool is the kind of city, and it’s one of the main reasons why I love it here, where it doesn’t matter how long you disappear or hibernate for, you’ll always be welcomed back with open arms and a warm heart.
It sure does feel good to be home.
Before I left for Peru in October, I was anxiously excited because it was something I had never done before; I had been on holiday but they would usually be for 4-7 days at a stretch whereas this trip, we’d booked out a full 8 weeks.
When making the decision to going away for this amount of time, both Mark and I were pacing through our workload and juggling our own companies. You could say it sounds a bit impulsive, almost daft, to be going away for this amount of time, so it wasn’t a surprise for me when I had people ask me whether or not I was scared to leave everything behind — mostly referring to business/work stuff.
“How are you going to survive out there?”
“Will you be doing work whilst you’re there?”
“Who’s going to be looking after everything while you’re away?”
I hadn't really given it much thought… unconsciously, maybe I didn’t want to and I wasn’t sure whether that was a good thing or not. But my main response when people asked me questions like this was that things will be ok and if they’re not, that’s ok too.
I’ve spent a fair amount of years working — sounds rich coming from a 21-year-old but like many others, I started working when I was in my teens which meant a fair share of my time was spent behind a computer or on a shop floor at a young age.
Then, I decided to start up a business when I was 17, which I walked into determined, motivated, and driven to make what I was creating, a success. But this came at a cost.
My idea of success at the time meant that in order to get there I needed to work hard. And without realising, working hard meant becoming a recluse and parking what I had once enjoyed, to make sure that all the time I had was being invested into this thing that I believed would make me feel successful.
So as you can imagine, when Mark suggested we take a trip out to Peru this year for 8 weeks, my chest tightened.
What would it look like for me to not be in the country for two months? Will all the work I’ve put in over the years disappear, and what if I need to start from scratch when I come back? What am I going to do about finances? What if nobody wants to work with me again? What if people think I’m slacking?
The thoughts drove me up the wall and the idea of exploring a part of the world that I had never been to before with somebody I love was slowly becoming an idea that was less attractive and more of a burden.
In hindsight… how self-important of me.
It wasn’t until a few days before leaving when I realised what this meant for me — big picture — and it had nothing to do with work.
Travelling for me has always been something that I had admired in others, and it was something I found great pleasure in when I was fortunate enough to do it myself. I’ve heard so many stories from other people on how travelling changed them and how it gave them a new perspective on life and the world around them.
I understood the impact an experience such as travelling could leave on your identity. Parts of you change — your outlook shifts, your confidence grows, and your self-awareness strengthens.
Sunrise during our 3-day Colca Canyon trek
Another reason that helped me to put this trip into perspective was my age and where I am in my life.
But then regardless of age, travelling is something that can be done at any stage of your life, and it makes me sad when I hear people talk about the graduates that have gone travelling after getting their degree ‘to get it out their system’ before they enter ‘the real world’.
Travelling is often seen as this luxury for the young and as something that becomes less viable as you get older — but since when was experiencing the world too idealistic and something that had to be squeezed into our so-called busy schedules? Shouldn’t it be a necessity?
We trekked up to this beaut on our way to Machu Picchu — breathtaking.
Writing this, I realise that I’m talking from a position of privilege.
I know that not everybody can take that amount of time out to go travelling whether that’s because money is a barrier, their job is too demanding, there’s a little one on the way, or they don’t own a passport. And to be honest with you, I’m not sure whether I would have been able to do this if I hadn’t put savings aside over the last few years.
But I see travelling as an investment rather than an extravagance — what can be gained from these types of experiences, if you’re intentional about them, is priceless.
Visited Canyon de Los Perdidos… reminded me how small I am
I made the decision a few days into the trip that I wanted to take the whole experience in. To do that, it meant I needed to limit the amount of work that I did — better yet do none, spend less time on the screen and more time in nature, and put aside all of my responsibilities (which you could argue is irrational and escapism… but if I can’t do it now then I’ll never be able to do it).
I made this decision because I didn’t want this trip to be something that allowed me to fall back into the usual routine that I had back at home; wake up, shower, breakfast, walk, work, dinner, gym (sometimes), sleep. Same routine, just in a different country.
That wasn’t what I wanted to take away from the trip, even though wouldn’t it have been lovely to be able to prove to myself that I could still run a business whilst sitting on the beach in Mancora, North Peru.
Bedroom view in Mancora — sadly had a bacteria disease during the week I was there but more on that another day
But, it wasn’t what I was here for — my intuition was telling me to drop the ordinary. This wasn’t easy, mentally, but it was the best decision I had made and I’m a better person for it.
The less work I did, the more clarity I had. The more clarity I had, the more decisions I could make. The more decisions I could make, the more creative I could be. The more creative I could be, the more happiness I felt.
Don’t get me wrong, work plays an important part in my life and I wouldn’t want it any other way… I love what I do and I love figuring out the role that I have here; helping others and challenging norms. But I’ve come to realise that I’m able to bring more value to the table with the more experience I have, and by experience, I don’t mean the number of years I’ve spent in a particular industry.
Dune buggy and sandboarding in Huacachina — don’t mind if we do
For me, experience is about the challenges I’ve overcome, the sacrifices I’ve had to make, the places I’ve seen and embraced, the things I’ve felt enjoyment from, the people I’ve met, the cultures I’ve adjusted to, the mistakes I’ve made, the feelings I’ve felt, the decisions I’ve made, the things I’ve committed myself to, the things I’ve quit, the boundaries I set myself…
Exploration and adventure is a decision, a risky decision to make.
It brings uncertainties to the table, new perspectives, and plenty of opportunities to test your understanding and your limits. Do you even have limits?
5-days and 100km later, we made it.
Travelling has been a therapeutic process for me and it helped me to overcome the challenges — more than just work stuff — that I have been too afraid to put myself up against.
Hopefully, I’m a better person because of it… I feel like I am and I suppose that’s what matters most.
Thank you for reading!
I’m hoping to write a few more rambling on Peru over the next few weeks, maybe month.
If you fancy it, you can stay updated by following my Medium profile or my Twitter: @robyndooley