So, I travelled alone. Interestingly, it seems people thought I wanted to travel alone, but that wasn't the case. I just wanted to travel more than I wanted companionship.
Being that I wanted to travel long term, that I was alone, and that I didn't have endless money to spend, I travelled as a backpacker. By 'backpacker' I mean that I travelled by local transport and stayed in cheap accommodation. I also carried my luggage in a backpack.
Backpacking frustrated me, but it seemed like the only option I had. What I didn't like about backpacking was that it was very difficult to get out into the countryside and see the lifestyles there.
I don't have much interest in visiting cities: more churches, plazas, parks, museums. Instead, when I took a bus or train from point A to B, I wished I could visit the little places in between, and buy food items from the road side stalls.
So, in 2013, after a few months in India, I decided that if I hiked one of the Camino's in Spain, I could at least be in the countryside. So, I went to Spain.
People who've heard of the Camino's de Compuestela often think only of the famous Camino Frances which starts in France a travels across Northern Spain. But, there are lots of different camino routes.
I chose to hike the Via de la Plata, which starts in Seville in Southern Spain. It's reasonably popular, and has lots of roman ruins along the way.
Before going I asked if it was safe to do alone and everyone said 'yes', 'most definitely'.
Unfortunately, on my first day, I was robbed by 2 men wearing balaclavas and wielding big kitchen knives on a quiet stretch of road. They stole €60 and, worst of all, my confidence.
I kept hiking, but with a team of older men who adopted me (there was a group of 3 men together and 2 other solo hikers). The pace wasn't good for me though, and I hurt my knees after another week of hiking. Eventually, I quit the hike.
I ended up returning to Australia and wondering what to do with my life. I still wanted to be travelling, but I realised that I really needed to try to find a travel companion.
I started searching a couple of online travel forums. On the Travel Companions section of the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree I found a guy who had responded to a few other people's posts. His name was Hendrik, from Belgium, and from his forum username, which included the number 74, I guessed his age to be just a year older than I. He was overlanding in South America, and I loved this idea: by overlanding you can visit the countryside!
I couldn't find his original post, but he'd left his email address on his response to someone else so I emailed him directly. As I was only interested in a travel companion, I only asked about the bare minimum that was important to me: his itinerary, and that he wasn't a smoker (I realised that if this worked out we'd be together a lot, and didn't want my only companion to be a smoker).
In 2009-2010 I spent almost an entire year in South America. As a backpacker, it was a destination I was confident in, and I was fluent in Spanish. I decided to fly to South America and meet him. If he turned out to be someone I couldn't get along with, I reasoned, then I could go back to being a backpacker.
Most people who knew me were amazed, supportive and told me to be careful. My dentist's assistant told me 'oh! He's going to be the one! I can tell!' I thought she was crazy, I was, after all, just going to meet a travel companion.
So, that's it really. I flew to meet him in Mendoza, Argentina. Life was instantly everything I'd ever wanted, I was traveling perpetually, and we were stopping wherever we wanted: which was mostly in the countryside.
That was last September. When H proposed marriage in February I was shocked! But I said yes (after 2 weeks of thinking), and we got married last month. It seems that the Dentist's assistant was right!