I finally see what everyone’s been talking about.
Towards the end of the two-hour long soak in Hot Springs Cove, Tofino I was thankful to become a third-wheel to two of the coolest people I’ve met to date. They’re a couple of guys exploring from Quebec and having been on the road since June we had plenty to talk about sharing stories of our travels across Canada. The Explorer Guys are living the life I’d love to live with a life partner one day; they travel beautifully together and it’s clear they truly value being in nature and the person they’re sharing it with. They bought an RV and fixed it up to travel in and ultimately sell when their journey of Canada is complete. It’s beautifully renovated and has a retro, chic feel.
We hit it off and ended up grabbing drinks immediately upon docking the boat at Tofino. While enjoying deep discussion about topics such as discrimination, racism, and travel, they opened my eyes to something new to me.
At the end of our soak at the Hot Springs Cove there only remained the three of us. We were instructed to be back at the boat at 4 o’clock. With the cove being in a quiet and remote location on the island, it required us to start our half hour-long trek back to the boat. I offered they walk in front of me so I wasn’t holding them up with my shorter strides. While enjoying a great hike to stretch our newly warmed legs, we also continued the conversation all the way back to the boat.
Later, over drinks, one of the Explorer Guys mentioned he’d made note that I was a single girl, alone in a remote, water alcove on an island with two strangers. They could have overtaken me or harmed me with me being outnumbered. He inquired if the reason why I asked them to hike in front of me was because I was being alert and careful of my safety. This statement completely surprised me and made me think differently. When he asked me the question I had to smile at his kind and thoughtful consideration for my safety. It proved my first impression of them was not wrong.
His statement was also a revelation for me. Indeed, no, the thought hadn’t crossed my mind that I was single and alone with two unknown men, on a remote island. I didn’t fear my safety at all. Perhaps this is the bravery everyone keeps telling me about. Even strangers, when we’re striking up conversation in a parking lot (the latest instance happened at a fruit stand) will say “You’re brave!” when they find I’m alone. It has continued to puzzle me until my conversation with the Explorer Guys. I used to reply “Am I?” and now I reply “Yes, I am.”
Once I assess the situation and it passes all my internal safety checks, I proceed with my life. I have a set of rules I’ve lived by while being on the road, I plan on writing about later, but so long as I’m living within them and the individual(s) I’m speaking with pass my gut check, I carry on conversation.
I’ve encountered people who don’t make me feel safe or that my gut gives me a little nudge that something may not be right. I simply remove myself from the situation (one example of this was a man who made me feel weird at the Hot Springs Cove; soon after I dismissed him, I met the Explorer Guys). I find you can tell a lot about someone by looking them in the eyes. Being on my own I’ve become a great observer of people. I’m much more attuned to body language than I was before and most importantly reading someone’s thoughts through their eyes.
For the first time on this adventure I understand why people have continued to call me brave. Even I have awed myself on this trip a few times. Afterwards I’ll think, “I can’t believe I just did that.” Little things that would have given me anxiety in the past seem like an everyday occurrence to me, now. I may be a small, single girl, alone in this big world but thinking about that makes me feel strong and empowered, not weak and vulnerable.