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The One-Way Ticket

How a One-Way Ticket and a Series of Accidents Ruined Me For A Normal Life

I was out having a drink with a friend the other night and she asks

"Do you mind if I tell a travel story?"

"Not at all, I live for travel stories!"

"So I bought a one-way ticket..."

"Hold on. Let me order another drink and settle in for this one."

All the best (and longest) travel tales start this way… I flew into town on a one-way ticket. I'd just come off the Appalachian Trail and was riding a wave of auto-reliance induced self-confidence. I had unlearned much of the unintentional lessons life had taught me to that point about comfort and convenience, limits and possibilities, distance. I had in mind a longish sojourn.

The way I like to travel is to be in a place for a while - to really find somewhere interests me and be still in it. I didn't always travel this way and some of my other travel stories are set with the whirlwind tour backdrop but I felt I’d evolved from traveler to sojourner thinking of this trip as an open ended lease on Guatemala with the option to 'own' rather than a simple vacation.

I had only one destination in mind - Panajachel the most easily accessible portal to Lake Atitlán. I carried a single bag - a Jansport backpack I’d used for toting texts in college held one change of clothes, a few necessary toiletries, music (I believe this was still the age of the Discman) and a couple books.

My plan in three easy steps was 1) get to Pana, 2) make contact with my language school Jardín de América and through them find a place to stay then, 3) find a second hand store and supplement my wardrobe. These steps were exceedingly easy and satisfying and I accomplished them on the same day I arrived in country and could go on to step #4: make a new plan.

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