Traveling Solo Doesn’t Mean Solo All the Time

February 5, 2013 7 Comments »

Group dining

Travelers and locals intermix in this lovely shared apartment in Buenos Aires

Sometimes I get tired of meeting people. Really tired. I feel like it’s the movie Groundhog day and I simply have gone through the same introductions for 6 years now.

I know, I know – meeting people is fun. Yes – most of the time it is. But imagine the new people you may meet on a 2 week vacation and now imagine that for 50 more weeks year after year. It kind of makes your mind spin.

Most of the people I meet are in the category of social nicety. You exchange a bit of information and maybe even hang out for a few days and then it’s done. A short-term friendship. One in which you only scratch the surface and you are never really allowed to let you deeper self out.

Then sometimes you make a weird connection that can’t be predicted, You speed through the niceties and go deeper. You have thoughts, experiences, and beliefs in common. You feel close immediately, you share more, and you care more, you click.

A tango dancer, Spanish student, writer, dress designer, personal trainer, and taxi driver – meet over dinner in a bed and breakfast in Buenos Aires… No this isn’t the beginning line to a raunchy joke, but it is the way I made some great connections in Buenos Aires. It was all thanks to a decision I made when planning for my 3 weeks in Buenos Aires over the holidays.

I sat on Airbnb.com and tried to decide – do I get my own apartment and stay alone for 3 weeks and concentrate on writing, or do I stay in a shared house where I’ll have my own room and privacy, but others will be around to converse with when I want. Since it was the holidays and I knew that I may mentally self destruct if I was completely alone for Christmas, I chose the shared home in the Almagro neighborhood.

casa del sol Buenos Aires

The shared kitchen and living area of Casa del Sol

The home was run by Bettina and Irina (mother and daughter) and was also occupied by Bettina’s boyfriend, Emiliano, and a couple of cute dogs and cats. A perfect family feel for the holidays. Bettina and Irina spoke a little English, so I knew there would be a few challenges for me in communicating – but it would be worth it.

The home was creatively designed, quiet and spotless. Immediately you knew that Bettina took the role of being a host very seriously. When she found out I didn’t have any plans for Christmas Eve she invited me to join in the dinner she was making with friends – perfect – it wouldn’t be a lonely Christmas after all. Over that Holiday dinner I met 2 of the other visitors in the house – Angela and Ute. Both solo female travelers like me, and both in my same agegroup – which is quite rare that I find/meet people in their 40’s traveling alone.

angela and ute

Ute and Angela modeling at the milonga!

Angela and Uta were like Christmas angels sent to me by the entity in the universe who takes care of solo travelers – yes – I’m pretty sure there is one. We all three immediately clicked. We each had our own responsibilities during the day. I had to write and do photo editing, Ute (a tango dress designer) had appointments at boutiques, and Angela was taking Spanish and tango classes during the day. That meant each night the 3 of us would meet after our work, open up a bottle or 3 of wine, and sit and enjoy each other’s company. Angela would cook up an amazing steak and salad and we would sit for hours talking and laughing about travel, careers, men, politics, and cultural differences. Some nights we opted to go out for dinners but my favorite times were hanging out at the house completely casual. It felt like a normal life to me – someone who’s life is far from normal.

Some nights we’d accompany Ute to milongas (tango dance halls) where she was doing business. Angela would be her model and I’d be her photographer – a perfect trio! And finally some nights we would stay in and cook a big dinner with Bettina, Irina, Emiliano, and Jorge (another family friend who was a taxi driver who escorted us around the city late at night). The last night we were all there together we made a big feast to celebrate our new friendships and the beauty of shared homes, solo travel, and local living.
The group of us

Even though your may be traveling solo, it’s your choice to actually BE solo. It’s not difficult to find situations where you can meet others and staying in places like Casa del Sol is a great start. You can decide if you want to put yourself in social situations or not and how much you want to socialize. Lodging choices are a very big part of that decision. However I do admit that after 6 years of solo travel, it’s rare to find/make friendships like I did in Buenos Aires – that’s just luck.

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