Reality Travel – Solo in India
OK – so I wrote the Essential Guide for Women Traveling Solo. I didn’t say solo travel is always easy – as I was reminded part way through my India journey.
I had been in Varkala for just a day. I wasn’t feeling well though I had checked myself into a reasonably comfortable hotel that featured a pool, so I knew things would improve.
The hotel was filled with couples and families, all European as best as I could tell. As a solo traveler, I found it difficult to make an “in” with these pods of people that had isolated themselves from the other travelers.
I spent part of one day and evening without speaking to many people other than shop owners and waiters. Conversations rolled in my head that included the voices of the many travelers I had met in the previous weeks. While the conversations were in English, they were heavily accented by German, Swiss, British, Argentinian, Spanish and Russian voices. I thought I was going crazy.
Enjoying fresh juice with Kate at a cafe in Varkala.
I met Kate when she and some friends were dining next to me at one of the many cafes along the cliff. I introduced myself when I heard American accents (Kate is from Connecticut). Her friends, as it turned out, were departing the next morning, leaving Kate on her own for the remainder of the week (like me!).
We immediately clicked and ended up eating breakfasts and dinners together, walking to a local fishing village and hanging by the pool. We both had flights out of Kerala on the same day and even got to share a taxi to the airport together.
As my week wore on, I also made friends with the locals. Ganesh had a little stand (that I passed at least twice each day) where he sold sarongs. He was so friendly and persistent that I finally broke down and bought a beautiful sarong (that I didn’t need) from him.
As so often happens when you’re traveling solo (and this seems even more so in India), serendipitous events occur to bring the right people together at the right time. I really enjoyed having someone to converse with who understood my culture, background and interests. Of course, it’s great fun to connect with locals and to meet travelers from other countries, but Kate was the perfect antidote to my potentially lonely week.
You can also read about my India travels on my blog at the Seattle Post Intelligencer.
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