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Long ago, when I adopted a nomadic life, I imagined that traveling responsibly meant slumming it out.
I had no idea what it meant to call a river “alive”.
Over the course of my travels in India, I’ve found myself in some strange predicaments.
Porque viajas sola? Why do you travel alone? Some questions don’t change even on the other side of the globe. I was sitting in a cave under a waterfall, beer in hand, in the Dominican Republic – a Caribbean nation that hadn’t been on my radar until I found a cheap flight and two unplanned weeks in New York. I was sitting in a cave under a waterfall, beer in hand, with Juanin, a newfound friend who had quit his job in a golf resort to become an independent guide – leading curious travellers to secret waterfalls and pristine villages near the north coast, one of which he grew up in. I wanted to tell Juanin that I travel alone because if I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be sitting with him in a cave under a waterfall, beer in hand, chatting like long lost friends. Even for an introvert like me, solo travel lends itself to unexpected friendships all the time. And so it was in the Dominican Republic: Una vida: You have one life. When the folks at my sweet abode …
I had no idea that an ordinary ‘chicken bus’ ride in Nicaragua was (sort of) going to transform my life.
Deep in the mountains of Uttarakhand, I discovered a secret.
Exactly one year ago, I was lost amid the dramatic, barren, snow-capped Himalayas of Ladakh. I acclimatized myself to the high altitude at an eco-luxury camp on the shores of the mighty Indus, hitch-hiked along remote villages in western Ladakh, introspected at a nunnery, witnessed a grand traditional welcome for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, hiked through surreal landscapes, met a tight work deadline on the steps of a monastery (the only place I could find 2G internet!), rode in rickety buses, and partook in the wisdom of Buddhist monks. So much has happened since – from discovering the secret lives of chocolate farmers in Costa Rica to hitch-hiking through soulful villages in northern Romania – that I almost forgot why traveling in Ladakh broke my heart. Every time I surf Instagram and see a picture of Ladakh, I can suddenly hear the call of the Trans-Himalayas, and feel myself gripped by a desire to revisit this remote mountain desert. But then I remember, Ladakh might no longer be the place I visited just a year ago. Here’s why: Ladakh’s breathtaking geography masks a very fragile ecology Choose …
Airbnb has changed the way I travel. Instead of pouring hours of research into finding unique accommodations during my Central America trip, I decided to rely on Airbnb and found private islands, organic farms and artistic, off-the-grid homes in the lap of active volcanoes – all at prices I could afford!
I groggily board the flight to Leh at an unearthly hour. Waking up irritably to the flight attendant’s announcement, the view outside my window quickly changes my mood. We are flying precariously close to the snow-covered Himalayas, and would soon land in the cold mountain desert of Ladakh. Three years after my first solo trip to Spiti, I am back in the trans-Himalayas, still dreamy and wide-eyed, a little nervous, and hoping to find solitude in the mountains. It feels like life has come a full circle.