One thing you prepare yourself for, but don’t anticipate the intensity of in Central America is by far the perpetual state of itchiness that befalls you. From sandflies to mosquitoes, to strange transparent beings in the water, even with repellant these small unfriendly critters will always get to you.
I’ve so far counted over 50 bites on my body and I surely do not kid; 11 alone are just on my feet. These creatures attack you in your sleep so you wake up itchy, they attack you whilst you try to take a steady picture of a crab, they will even attack you in the shower. They are devious, unrelentless stealth ninjas; in the ephemeral moment between feeling a pinch and looking to see what’s biting you, the damage has already been dealt. Just writing this passage alone, I felt three pinches but never saw the culprit.
It’s quite a fortunate thing that vanity goes out the window when you’re backpacking though.
You barely care that your legs and arms look as if they’ve been overtaken by some infectious, highly contagious spotty disease.
You neglect brushing or always washing your hair after you’ve been in the ocean because you’re going to be back in it the next day anyway and need to use the shampoo to wash your clothes because you can’t afford the $6 it would cost to wash a few shirts.
You don’t even remember how to apply make up with a steady hand anymore because you haven’t given mascara a second thought in a while. And in the Caribbean sun, all make up transforms into a sticky, melty substance on your face.
You don’t remember the last time you looked in the mirror and cared about the outfit you were wearing.
In a world with no Manolos, no Marc Jacobs handbag, no Chanel Mademoiselle, it’s a far cry from my life back home as a fashion devotee. I have always revered fashion and preached being well presented at all times, but where I am now, the vanity priority falls beyond the bottom of my list. As long as I keep my body odour in check and brush my teeth daily, I consider my state ‘acceptable’. With a job that requires not even a hair be misplaced, it’s actually quite a nice change to have this kind of liberty I seldom have the opportunity to express at home. While nomad-Vanessa is but a stranger (only for now!) she is freer, happier and more self aware. But still just as inquisitive, if not more.
I’m glad it took me gallavanting across the globe to reach this point of self discovery. With so many exciting times ahead, there’s only progress to be made from here. I’m looking forward to moving on from Utila and diving the Blue Hole in Belize before traversing through Mexico, then heading to Egypt in two weeks. If it hadn’t been for that one day last July where Brisbane seemed so abysmal, dismal, abominable even, I wouldn’t be lying in my hammock watching my shampoo shirt dancing in the wind.
Following my whims led me to places where my restlessness was usurped by a calm that settled my thoughts, and allowed me to finally at feel at peace with myself.