A day off from ‘carpe diem’

I woke up sad today. There were a number of factors – I was tired, stuck in La Paz and it was raining. My womb has also been a complete a-hole for the last couple of weeks which I’ve been successfully ignoring, but it got the better of me this morning. I really needed a hug.

I think another reason is that I was ‘coming down’ from the extreme high that adventure sports gives you. Hurtling down the Death Road yesterday was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It’s a higher emotional fall when you started on top of the world. Literally – at 4000m above sea level! If yesterday hadn’t been so great, maybe I would’ve felt more positive this morning. What a strange paradox emotions are.

This is a very different post to what I was planning to write today. After dragging myself out of bed, I decided to have a self-care day. I was going to write a witty and patronising piece about ‘how to have a self-care day while travelling’. I would NOT stay blue because YOLO, carpe diem, life is for living! Yada yada yada.

My first step in my self-care day was to BEAUTIFY. I always brush my teeth and shower every day (round of applause please), and it’s a very good day if I remember to moisturise my face. Today was the day for that little bit extra, for my mental health but also so I would look less like a wild animal. I cut my nails and tidied my eye brows, which made me feel really damn attractive. Good start. I also delved into the bottom of my backpack where my facial wax strips are, because a) I’m really clever and prepared; and b) I have very dark facial hair. The struggle is real.

Then I decided to go to the cinema, because I bloody love sitting in a dark room and eating popcorn. It’s therapy for me. I walked 35 minutes to the nearest cinema and was very excited when the film I wanted to see was due to start in 10 minutes. On trying to get a ticket, the token English speaker had to be summoned to tell the poor lonely gringo that on every other day they play films in English, but not today. Today they are ALL IN SPANISH for a special promotion, sorry!

At this point I was the most ‘hangry’ I’ve ever been, so I went to the nearest place I could find for lunch. Which is when pure unadulterated gluttony possessed my body and mind, and I ordered a burger. ‘Comfort food’, I told myself. Yesterday my mantra was ‘eat fresh’. Go figure.

Self-care day was not going well. I felt guilty for being sad and completely drained of energy after my unhealthy lunch. That was THE moment that I put today in the ‘fuck it bucket’ (that’s for you Claire and Peta!). I stopped trying to pretend I wasn’t incredibly blue. I stopped feeling guilty for being sad. I just accepted the day for what it was.

I am very lucky to be doing what I’m doing. To have the luxury of not working and seeing the world makes me far more privileged than the average person. A new parent is incredibly lucky to have a baby, when so many people can’t. Someone doing their dream job will sometimes feel completely lost and sad. We are all lucky in one way or another. I don’t need to feel guilty for having a sad day, despite being on the trip of a lifetime.

This is what I told myself as I trudged back to the hostel, and took a nap. Then I went to the cable car station and bought four tickets, and did the same return trip twice. It was fun doing something like that for the hell of it. I kind of felt like Mr Bean, but a bit less idiotic and with better eye brows. I just sat and watched the huge, sprawling city pass under me, alongside all the locals on their daily commute.

This trip has mostly been full of highs, but not every day can be the best day of my life. The good days are only good because I know they are preceded and followed by the occasional bad day. This afternoon after my failed ‘self-care day’, it felt more kind to let myself be sad. Tomorrow I am travelling to the highest lake in the world. On Sunday I am trekking to Machu Picchu, a longstanding dream of mine.

I’ll take the lows for all the highs. And it’s not all bad – my face looks great now!


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