For the first time that I can remember, I have just spent a week essentially alone. Yes, there are my Airbnb hosts and the checkout ladies at the local supermarket who I've had human contact with, but largely, I've just spent the first week for as long as I can remember by myself. And I have spent it in the small seaside town of Sumoto.
We all talk about how we'd love to quit our jobs and just be alone for a while, to do whatever we want and go wherever on our own time. But not me, I much prefer to have company, any day.
I did begin this adventure with company, but circumstances have changed and now I'm on my own. At first, I was daunted by the prospect, but I am slowly learning to enjoy it. I do have to remind myself of all the people I know who are jealous of my situation - that they would love to have all their time free to spend as they wish.
There have been more than a few confused locals who wonder why there is a foreigner wandering around a small seaside town in low season - from the looks of things, this place buzzes in summer, but right now the beach is deserted, boat hire shops are closed and guesthouses are completing renovations or have just simply gone bust. Frankly, I've wondered why I'm here as well, but bear with me.
If you've followed my blog thus far, you'll know that I feel somewhat of a connection to the sea. I grew up by the beach and it has always been a place where I can go to clear my head. Reflect. Recharge. And this is precisely what I need after the aforementioned 'change in circumstances' that led to my travelling solo.
And Sumoto has served its purpose, and served it well. There isn't much to do here, which has led me to indulge in hours on end of listening to podcasts - definitely something that there just wouldn't be time for in 'normal life' - while honing my recently acquired crocheting skills. I've binged on listening to the Serial and Undisclosed podcasts about the case of Adnan Syed vs. the State, mixing in episodes of The Dollop for light relief when the complicated judicial details become too much.
Sumoto comes complete with a waterfront that's great for running, a castle that's a short walk up a gentle hill and eagles circling overhead to make you worry that they'll swoop for your lunch (or so I was warned by a lady who passed me in the 'Artisan Square' - the hipster part of town. It would explain the dearth of fellow lunch-eaters you might expect in such a square).
Many people have extolled the virtues of solo travel, and there are plenty of Buzzfeed listicles that back that up, but I've always been sceptical of whether I'd actually enjoy it. As I said, I prefer to have company regardless. While I won't say that this week has been the most enjoyable so far, I'll admit that my scepticism is slowly unwinding and I can appreciate the importance of learning to be with yourself.
I've had plenty of time to wander around, reflect, and recharge for what is ahead of me. If I've learnt anything about myself this week, it's that if I can survive Sumoto solo then I can manage whatever happens next.