Jun 10, 2017
By Nika Bizjak
The uncompleted puzzle of me in Portugal
Standing on the shore of Espinho beach, Portugal, with the wind blowing my hair in my face, wrapping it around my neck, making it hard to untangle later. Hearing the waves powering their way through the sand, brushing against my feet, cold feet. Feeling the rays of sun on my skin and thinking: “Priceless and unrepeatable.”
Standing on the shore of Espinho beach, Portugal, with two of my best friends sitting not far from me, making it hard to feel completely free. Hearing their laughs, their words, familiar words. Feeling the moment, the elements, my inside, everything fit together in one thought: “GO TRAVEL. ALONE.”
That moment of epiphany was all I needed to give me strength, to finally decide it is time to go. Alone. Even though I was scared, even though I enjoyed travelling with friends, even though the world can be a big and scary place, it felt right, it felt the only logical thing to do. I was on holidays, I was having the best time, I was seeing new amazing places, I was meeting spontaneous people, but it still wasn’t enough…I wanted to do it all again and again and again and again, on my own.
Sitting on a plane a year later, embarking on a whole new adventure, with a one way ticket to Lisbon, Portugal. The plan was to go work in a hostel, for free, for fun, for change, for ever? Arriving in a new city, but known country, the country that I fell in love with, the country that made me fall in love with myself as a traveller. As soon as I landed I felt the warm breeze on my skin, even though it was November. Back home it just started snowing, but Portugal was in Spring. Actually I was in Spring, a fresh start and in love, in full bloom. Lisbon was big, unknown, but somewhat familiar – the Portuguese hospitality could be sensed. Right from the start – it was home, I was home.
Sitting at my regular table, having my usual cup of coffee, with a notebook opened in front of me. Thoughts pouring out of me, experiences make me write a new and special story every day. Arriving in Lisbon was the best decision I could have made, even if it wasn’t completely my decision. Contacted by the Lisbon team, or by fate, I just accepted the offer, an offer you truly can’t refuse. The same Lisbon team that became my away-from-home family and my best friends. Things I’ve told them that I could never tell to people at home, even the closest people to me. All because our bond was Lisbon-tied, it had a deadline, it had a best before date. Knowing we only have a limited period of time available in that space continuum, we cherished every second of it even more.
The three months spent in Lisbon, spent in the hostel made me grow so much I hardly recognised myself. Was it still me? I figured out a lot about my sensibility, about my listening, about my humour, about my feelings, about my friendships, about my working… me, me, me. The truth is, all this was figured out because of others, not me. Through their eyes I could start seeing myself clearly, through the eyes of people who started to know me from scratch, I became a new person, I could change. And I did change, unknowingly, not thinking about my old self I discovered new shades of my personality that were in hiding, waiting to come out, craving to be shared.
The three months of being completely alone in a foreign country, but never feeling lonely, made me discover the best possible version of myself. I am not done exploring, though, because as I’ve learned – things, people, nature – all are endless puzzles, made up from small pieces of different shapes and shades. Fitting them together can be quite hard at times, but you always get by with a little help from others, if not, there is no point in doing the puzzle at all. As it is not you who will be able to see the picture you represent, it is for others to admire and cherish, and for you to be proud of it.
Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Inspiration 2017 Travel Writing Award and tell your story.
About the Author
Just a small town girl, feeling like a World citizen, who loves to write, travel, talk and at the same time loves to read, likes the routine and needs peace and quiet. An unpublished author who doesn't like to define herself by age, race, job title or degree, but rather by saying she is happy and proud of herself.