You are only one.

Posted: December 26, 2013 in Tales of Travel and Woe

Being a solo traveler has it pluses and minuses. There is no one to watch your bags at the airport so there is a bit of toilet Tetris to get you and your bags into the stall. There is no one to turn to and say “Look at that!”. There is no one to tell you when you’ve dropped chocolate topping down your front (I don’t even want to know what the people of Barcelona thought that was). And when you’re on a tour, filled with couples, you definitely feel a bit of a 5th, 7th or 9th wheel.

In July 2012 I went to a conference in South Africa.  I was actually travelling with a colleague and her partner, but because they were a couple, I was still an odd number. We decided to go on safari in the Kruger National Park.  If you ever get the chance, solo or otherwise, I wholeheartedly recommend it.  However, if you go in their winter (July) please note. It gets bloody cold at night.

At every turn – checking in, creating a tab, collecting gear, I was questioned “You are only one?”. Yes, I am only one. I was also paying extra to be only one in my own room. This kind of bothers me, but it is better than being stuck sharing with a stranger. Once everyone in the company was aware that I was only one, the question turned to statement. When instructions were given, I often got separate instructions starting with – “You. You are only one”. And then I was told what to do when being eaten by a lion without a buddy to run for help.

I’m kidding of course.

But after a day or so, it became quite the joke, so on our final night when we arrived at our camp out spot laughter ensued with our lovely guide Bernard pointed out that I could tell which platform was mine, because it only had one chair.

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But I had the last laugh on that trip.  Being only one, but staying in rooms designed for two, I had two hot water bottles and twice the bedding that anyone else had. AND on the sleep out, I figured since I am only one, I would like to sleep next to the fire instead of freezing my butt off in tent by myself. There was certainly room for one me.  (That’s not me in the photo).

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When I asked Bernard if I would be allowed to bring my sleeping bag and sleep next to the fire, there may have been a bit of translation lost in his reply – “That is where I sleep. Do you want to sleep with me?”

I can tell you my head almost popped off resisting the urge to say,  “Well, I am only one”.

I had the best and warmest sleep of anyone, except for Bernard who was on the other side of the fire, because I was only one.

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