Riding the entire length of a continent, you ultimately have days where you are just trying to cover as much distance as you can. You may be 500 miles from the next interesting town or national park. So you have nights spent in small unnoteworthy towns or campgrounds that don’t get many foreigners. They are just stop over places to eat and rest before carrying on. In a country like Chile that stretches 3,000 miles from top to bottom (LA to NY is 2,700 miles) and with a maximum of 230 miles a day before my body decides enough is enough, this means I have many days of uneventful towns with little to no interaction with people. I say this because those are the lonely days. The nights spent in a dingy hotel room reading and watching Netflix.
The great debate between the freedom and “character building” of traveling solo versus the compromises and companionship of traveling with a partner is one I’ve had a fair amount of experience and time to think about. Having someone with you to share the misery of a long day is a great feeling. When you might be doing nothing but listening to music and sleeping on a long train ride. With a friend you are drinking liters of beer and playing chess, getting the locals in on it. Then there’s the wondrous experience of never having to ask someone what they feel like eating. And when you accomplish something incredible, the victory is so much sweeter when you did it solo.
As I’m writing this I’m sitting alone in a cafe, on my second Cortado, watching the rain fall outside. It’s easy for an introvert like me to find enjoyment in this. I’m an observer, not a talker, which makes for a good trait to have traveling. But the truth is my biggest motivator for traveling alone is the fact that I was never going to go if I waited for someone to come with me. So I will continue doing my own thing until then; Continue to embrace the solitude and enjoy my decisions going unquestioned.