No, this post isn’t about doing yoga on vacation. It’s about stretching mentally. It’s so easy to get comfortable, fall into a routine, and shrink your comfort zone. While it might appear this doesn’t apply to me (bc of my adventures), even I struggle with it. I have to remind myself that sometimes when I’m feeling awkward I should actually push myself through that feeling.

My most common stretch is trying to talk to strangers. I’m really quite introverted, but I know that like most things it becomes more natural with practice. Sometimes my efforts fall flat, and other times I make a small connection with someone. Much fewer times, a guy gets the impression that I’m easy or I end up with a free trip around the Galapagos (yes, this happened).

Last week on a beautiful, sunny day I waited for the very infrequent bus to a nearby town on the coast. After 2 hrs, a nice lady asked me if I would like a ride bc she lives there. While it might appear suspicious, one) I know people here are extremely friendly, and two) she had a snot-filled 4 year old daughter with her. I felt pretty comfortable getting in her car. When she dropped me off, I immediately saw the sign for the tourist office so I headed there. I was hoping to get the actual bus schedule for returning home. The lady at the counter gave me the schedule, but she said that since it was a holiday the bus probably wasn’t running at all. She gave me a card to call a cab when I wanted to return home.

Fast forward.

I could call a cab to go home, but considering I hadn’t seen a single cab in two weeks, I figured it would be coming from a larger town quite a ways away. Requiring time and money. There are plenty of people driving between these two towns so I decided I should just hitchhike. (That is how I got here in the first place.)

Let me tell you, standing there beside the road with your thumb up as cars drive by is a test of endurance. It isn’t that I waited long. It’s that there’s a feeling of rejection as every car goes by. After only 3 cars went by, I was rethinking my option of a cab. I couldn’t figure out where my hand should be. Should I remove my sunglasses (perhaps seeing my eyes gives the appearance of being in need or being a nice, genuine person)? Should I look at the people driving or stare into the sky? When did I get so awkward?!

And it was that sentiment that signaled to me that, sadly, I needed to stand there, waiting, putting myself through this agonizing stretch. I couldn’t copout and call a cab.

The agony in my head made time go very slow for those 15 minutes. Then, a nice couple stopped their car, and after they moved their groceries around, I got in. It was an Irish woman married to guy from Barcelona, who have 3 almost-grown kids. The woman does Tai Chi once a week, which they were returning from. We chatted about the weather and things to do in Barcelona.

I got a free ride and a nice chat with people who live here, and in the process I stretched my comfort zone just a little bit.

Note: I should mention that I did hitchhike one other time – in Germany. However, in that situation, I asked someone who was stopped at a gas station for a lift. It was only a hair above asking the person in the elevator to press the button for my floor.