Awareness, a traveler’s perspective
Once upon a time I traveled to South America all by myself. People around me told me to be very careful travelling as a woman alone. I personally believe that it can be dangerous anywhere in the world. Especially after I got sexually insulted in my own house twice. Once in Germany, once in Denmark.
Being fearless and being careless are not the same. So I prepared myself as good as I could. I traveled threw Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Some of the legendly more dangerous countries. And returned just fine to Chile, one of the legendly more save places. By now it was a routine to leave my credit card and passport in the safe of the hostel. Admittedly, I wasn’t using my second skin back under my pants anymore as I started to feel more confident in the streets. You start speaking some Spanish and adapt to the cultural differences bit by bit. Also becoming more confident doing hikes on my own, and going to non touristy cities. So one I was returning form this local festival in the North of Chile, and went to a supermarket on the way home. The store was just 3 blocks form the hostel. I was caring my fanny bag around my shoulders, in each hand one of the grocery bags. I was walking and talking to a friend next to me and the sun was setting. This is when it happened. Literally out of nowhere, a boy came, Unclipped skillfully my bag and started running. The following part of the story is not recommended. I started running after him, screaming like hell. People on the street started screaming as well. The thief got distracted and turned around multiple times. A group of foreigners came out of the supermarket and one girl jumped in front of him and the guy managed to grab my bag. The thief ran off. Luckily no one got hurt. But what did I learn from that. I was thoughtless. It wasn’t very smart to carry my bag like that. I had the skin close bag. or just could have had my fanny bag closer to me. It is not about being scared all the time. But just when we become comfortable the auto pilot sets in and we loose awareness of our actions. First was getting careless about my stuff. And running after the thief was also more reaction than action.
Why I am writing this now, so many years after the incident. Because a similar thing did happen during my current stay in Guatemala. When I wake up in the morning I always shined my torch out of the bed to check if there are any spiders or scorpions in front of it, so I may not step on them. Every single morning. But two days ago. I didn’t. I thought after a month there was never some danger in front of my bed, I should be less paranoid and mistaken fearless for unawareness. So first step that morning was on to a scorpion and it got me. It is hard to be so aware in the morning, especially as we often just stumble out of bed into the day. How can we practice awareness even in the morning. Take a breath or two when the alarm kicks in. Feel your body and see where you are. Take even the first step of your day mindfully and aware. Practicing yoga off the mat. If you have been to my Yoga class, you probably heard me saying, we do not hurt ourselves in the practice as we do every movement fully aware and listen to our body, how far we can go. This is just an other example of how practicing yoga can benefit in the other 22h of the day. Practice everyday, walk mindfully, talk mindfully, eat mindfully, get out of bed mindfully.