After nine days couchsurfing with some wonderfully inspiring people I finally got to spend a night on my own in a motel room. In some respects I was beginning to crave my own company and I thought a break from talking and catching up with my own thoughts would do me good. It’s interesting retelling my story and receiving different feedback and opinion. But somehow my past worries seem so insignificant and I find myself feeling proud of what and who have been left behind.
Being a solo traveller brings it’s own curious dilemmas and decisions. Where shall I go? What shall I do? There’s nobody in the passenger seat checking the route and making suggestions. It’s down to me to make of this trip what I will.
So yesterday I drove a little too long but the free ferry ride across the Pamlico River was worth the one hour wait soaking up the sun by the neatly manicured visitor centre. Me and a bunch of guys in pickup trucks heading home after a hot day’s work. The bright sun turned the water black through the lens of my camera; the afternoon heat tempered by the breeze.
The Palace Motel on the outskirts of New Bern immediately advertised its cheapness by the locked-up disused pool out front half filled with stagnant water and the general air of dilapidation. A palace it was not but at forty five bucks it came in at under the fifty limit I had half-heartedly set myself before leaving the UK.
The blue door didn’t need much persuading to open. The smell of stale cigarettes greeted me in the darkness of my little temporary home despite the reception lady telling me it was a non-smoker! The counterpane on the bed was shot through with burn holes but hey, the sheets, towels and bathroom were clean, the fridge worked, there was soap and a Bible. I decided to be generous and gave them two stars on TripAdvisor (as long as I got through the night without being bitten).
Across the road in Piggly Wiggly I found the answer to America’s obesity epidemic. Rows and rows of cheap sugar and fat laden goods (I won’t call it food although there were some fruit and veg). I stocked up the best I could and made my way ‘home’. With only a bedside light it soon became gloomy with the curtain closed for privacy. I began planning my next day.
As much as I am enjoying the whole couchsurfing experience it does take a lot of effort especially in the high demand peak summer season. By mid morning of the following day I still had no accommodation or definite plan. I was heading towards Charleston with my fingers crossed.
Sitting in a roadside gas station eating a Subway I finally received the one word I’d been chasing: accepted! I had a host. Another couple of hours and I was shaking hands with yet another friendly good Samaritan and being made welcome in their home. Such kindness to travellers in this day and age of so much global hostility is nothing but life affirming in its simple, trusting generosity.
My host had a prearranged meal with a friend so we agreed to catch up later. I promised to feed her dog before heading out to find my own food.
Despite my dismal motel I enjoyed my evening and night alone. I found I had craved that solitude as much as I looked forward to sharing company again today. We are social creatures at heart. It doesn’t do to close oneself off too readily. But striking a balance in our high demand world and lifestyles can be a challenge.
I wonder what tomorrow will bring? I still plan to visit Charleston and a hostel may yet be the cheapest option. A shared dorm? Now that’s pushing me out of my usual comfort zones.