Travel Out of Your Comfort Zone

pablo

Travel doesn’t have to be a perfect experience to be appreciated. We all dream to lay on a paradisiac tropical beach, but that’s not really the meaning of travel. Travel is about learning, growing and broadening your horizons. And that doesn’t happen on a beach. If you have never felt uncomfortable when traveling, you have never traveled for real. I don’t mean that you need to stay in a dirty hotel or experience bad customer service, I mean that you need to feel out of place, in a culture or environment that somehow throws you off.

Before Indonesia, I thought I had traveled a lot. Now I know that I had never traveled for real. My husband and I went to Bali and then decided to go to Kuta, Lombok because we felt it would be less touristy and more authentic. It was, but not in the way we expected.

The extreme poverty, the trash, and the dark looks of people are carved in my memories. The hotel was located in the downtown area, where tourist businesses flourished on streets made of dirt. Next to a fancy cafe, a hut falling apart. The tourists, surfers, for the most part, didn’t seem to care about the poverty and the trash scattered around. Restaurants seemed to me like “oases in the dirt,” places where people could hide to avoid looking at the poverty a couple of meters from them. From the table, they saw a selected part of reality. After dinner, they went back to their hotel and closed the door behind them.

I wanted to learn more. I talked to the owner of the hotel and listened to his story of hard work and resilience to start his business. I talked to women selling sarongs on the beach and listened to stories of gender inequality and unhappy families. We all know that places like Lombok exist, but few of us choose to get closer to that reality. I have to admit that I am not one of those brave people. It’s too much for me to take, but I am thankful to have seen Lombok because it forced me to experience something I wasn’t ready for.

Travel teaches us more about ourselves and force us to look into our values and fears. Lombok is one of my fondest memories of the six months I spent traveling around the world because it deeply touched me. We need good and bad emotions to grow and become more resilient. Travel gives us both.