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A little insight into the life of Free Spirit - a melting pot of our thoughts, beliefs, suggestions & ideas to inspire you on your path as you journey through life.

Published: 23/05/2017

The (not so) Lonely Road

It may come as a surprise to some people who know me, or even some people that are just reading my blog travelling the world on my own...but I have a fear of being alone.

It's not a fear like I'm freaking out and go into cold sweats the minute I don't have a companion by my side, and it's not that I even fear being old and alone (well no more than the next person) but, as I found out on my yoga journey, it's one of my negative core beliefs from childhood.

It's more a fear of being left alone I guess.  I'm not sure the exact incident this stems from, but I'm aware of it.  And I'm also more than aware of my compensating trait for it.  Which is the exact opposite:  To put myself in the situation where I am alone.  Then it's my choice.  I have the control.


I guess that's why I'm generally an independent person who thinks nothing about jumping on a plane to the other side of the world.. alone.


But let's face it, when you travel alone, you're never really alone.  Every bus ride, hostel room, restaurant or cafe you are sharing with many people and just by chance of location you end up with a new best friend for the day, or if you're lucky a bit longer.  I must admit this is one of my favourite parts of travelling as I find new people from all different cultures so interesting, and constantly learn new things.

Anyway, after my first two weeks of constantly being around people day and night, I'm almost relieved when I realise I'm the only one taking the jeep back to San Pedro.  Well, it's almost just me.  Me, Timoteio my new driver, and a random Bolivian guy Hector, who apparently has to go to San Pedro for work.

Ok, driving back off into the desert for a 24 hour trip, alone, no phone signal, with 2 strange Bolivian guys ... on paper might not seem like the most pleasant of ideas, but I'm perfectly happy.  My gut tells me it's just fine, and the guys are super nice.  

We chat in Spanish until we get tired and/or run out of things to say and Timoteio entertains us with the best of Bon Jovi on the dodgy car stereo.  The whole Salar de Uyuni trip Carlos, our driver, had been playing traditional Bolivian pan pipe music as we cruised through the beautiful landscape.  Now on our mission to get to the first stop before sunset, "Living on a Prayer" seemed perfectly appropriate as we tear up the terrain, singing at the top of our voices.


We reach the hostel (which was the same hostel we'd spent the first night) after dark.  I'm not sick this time, thankfully.  A little old wrinkly lady comes out of the breeze block cottage and explains the hostel is full, but we can sleep next door.  Ok no problem.  We go next door and then Timoteio tells me there's just one room with two beds - one for me and one for Hector - is it ok for me?

Sure, again it's not the ideal situation, but if there's a bed I'm happy.  And Hector doesn't seem like a rapist.

I sit down and make some friends who are just starting their tour and try not to spoil it for them with stories of how amazing it all is.. then dinner is served, but I'm told I cannot eat here, I have to go back to the first hostel.. why I don't know but I just go with the flow.  It's literally the house next door but Timoteio insists we drive.  Again why?  I don't know.. I just go with the flow.

I choose this moment to tell Timoteio that his name is a Shampoo brand in the UK.  He laughs.  Yay!  I made a joke in Spanish!  Progress! 

That night I struggle to breathe.  I'm not sick but every time I turn in my sleep I'm out of breath!  So as soon as the alarm goes at 4:30am I'm eager to jump in the jeep and lose some altitude.


As soon as we leave the hostel, a man jumps out in front of the headlights flapping his arms.  His car's broken down and can we give his wife a lift to San Pedro?  Of course!

A little lady with her face in a headscarf to protect from the cold climbs into the back with me.  Her name is Maria.  She tells me she's working in a restaurant in San Pedro in the week and comes back on weekends to see her family.  She has a son who's 14.  She doesn't look more than 30.  

We chat in Spanish the whole way.. some things she says I understand, others I don't, or I just guess, but it's a great way to practice.

We finally reach the border and before crossing take breakfast in a little hut.  Timoteio summons me inside and Maria says she'll wait in the car... whaaaaaat?? No I insist.  I have to insist five times and eventually I persuade them for us all to have breakfast together.  


And I'm so happy.


My new Bolivian friends.  I'm so grateful for the conversation, the company and to be able to share something with them.  I could have slept the whole way or stayed in silence, but even with my limited spanish I'm able to make a connection.  

We get to the border and say goodbye.  Maria gives me a big hug, and I'm a little bit teary.

She doesn't have Facebook or a mobile phone.. I've no idea how long a letter might take to get there, and if I'm completely honest I know myself and if I would ever find the time to write.. 

So I leave it there, as another "hello stranger, goodbye best friend" moment... except this was a particularly special encounter.  


The Salt Flats were amazing, but this trip back was unplanned, unexpected and unforgettable. 

A fond memory to cherish. 

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