In May, my friend and I who were staying at the Whala! Bavaro in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic were targeted by a prostitution ring that was being ran out of our resort by management and security guards. We were able to escape with the help of a local we had made friends with earlier in the week, but the emotional trauma stayed with us.
The people I loved reacted in different ways when I told them my story when I got back from Dominican. Some reacted with love, some reacted with anger, some reacted with insensitive comments. The question I received the most though was, “Aren’t you too scared to continue travelling?” and I was encouraged to cancel my upcoming trips that I had booked.
Nope. Hopped on a plane 3 weeks after the trauma by myself to fly half way across the world for my first ever Eurotrip. A few weeks after that I hopped on a plane and went to New Orleans with the same friend, which has one of the highest murder rates in USA. Sure, I was triggered in both trips while still figuring out this new chapter of my life with PTSD, but even though I had lost a piece of myself in the dark side of paradise, I promised myself I wouldn’t lose my wandering spirit.
A family friend told me that after hearing my story about the Dominican and seeing all of the terrorism around the world, that her and her husband have decided to not leave Canada when they travel. My heart hurt when I heard that, as then she allows the terrorists, the rapists, the murderers to win. She allows fear to control how she lives her life, fear in something that has such a small chance of happening to you.
What about all of the good that one misses out when you allow fear to hold you back?
I wouldn’t be engaged if I cancelled that trip to Europe. I wouldn’t have experienced the full moon over top of me as I stood on a bridge over a canal in Venice. I wouldn’t have experienced that child like glee when eating gelato in Italy. I wouldn’t have experienced having a staring contest with a sea lion when we were in Ireland. I wouldn’t have experienced eating poboys while live jazz filled the streets of New Orleans. I wouldn’t have danced on Frenchmen street to a pop up jazz band under the hot Louisiana sun. I wouldn’t have met my artist friend Erin who inspires me greatly. I wouldn’t have had my dream come true of seeing the Eiffel tower last weekend. I wouldn’t have wandered through a castle in Salzburg and saw the city that one day I will call my home from a bird’s eye view. I would have missed so much culture from 8 different countries in 6 months.
Bad things can happen at home. There are drunk drivers on our streets, we get storms where trees can fall down and crush you, we live in a day and age where mass shootings can literally happen anywhere, no matter how big or small your town is. You are more likely to get into a car accident than a plane crash. My small home town has police telling us to be extra vigilant with recent random murders.
I believe that the scary thing isn’t the fact that I continued to travel after the trauma, the scary thing would have been if I didn’t ever travel again.
We absolutely do lose parts of ourselves in trauma, in deaths of loved ones, in life changing injuries or illness. We have to make that promise to ourselves, to the old versions of ourselves, that it won’t take everything from you.
Our early 20’s are very transformative. It’s when we truly discover who we are and who we are meant to be. My most transformative discovery in myself has been my gypsy soul, with my first flight ever only being a year and a half ago. Since, you haven’t been able to keep me in Canada for very long before I’m off to the next place. No prostitution ring, no rapist, no terrorist, will ever take that wanderlust from me.
Fuck fear. It’s just an emotion.