The Traveling Teacher
Who you are? And where have you traveled?
Well, my name is Catalina Alfaro, I am a teacher for little children, toddlers and I have been very lucky in terms of being able to travel. My first trip alone was in 2015, when I went to study to Chicago for two months and then in San Francisco for another month.
After that, I went to visit the US for two more months, of which I spent a month in Hawaii visiting its islands and the rest visiting Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego, Washington, New York and Miami.
In 2018 I also traveled with a Working Holiday Visa and I worked for 6 months in Australia.
In addition to these trips, I have also been to Europe, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Uruguay, Peru, Ecuador. Also, to Mexico, I went with friends I met from the Chicago experience.
How was the experience of traveling alone? Was it hard?
I think the most difficult thing is to face the fear of the language, of not understanding how the city you arrive at works, and everything new. But over time you realize that the idea in your head is much bigger than what it finally becomes.
Things are flowing only for you and since you are alone and you are making your own decisions, you also experience a different freedom, which is what I value most about traveling alone. Finally, you go on making your own destiny in the place, and depending on if you like to walk, to be looking for beaches, or anything else, it depends on each one what you prefer to do and what make sense to you.
What is your favorite place in the world?
Hawaii, by far. Because I have always loved the beach, and the beaches there are stunning, the climate was perfect too. you were able to walk through the streets and you could smell the fruit of the trees, people are also very friendly. There was always music everywhere, the nature of the place is amazing. A lot of green, a lot of hills, a lot of water, and not only on beaches but also in waterfalls, lagoons, etc.
Another thing that I loved is that each island is different, so depending on who you are, what you like, or what you expect from the place, you could choose the perfect island for you. Oahu, for example, is a highly developed island, with thousands of shops and large roads. On Big Island, it was pure countryside, with small towns and a lot of farms. In Maui it is very touristic, it is easy to meet foreigners, and you can find many beaches that seem prepared for tourists. It’s full of gorgeous waterfalls too.
We rented a car and we got lost touring the island. That allowed us to visit less touristic places and sometimes we found ourselves alone in breathless places.
What do you like most about traveling?
I think there are several things, but what I like the most is discovering new things. Learning is an innate capacity in human beings. It accompany us from the moment we are born until we die, and it is precisely in these type of experiences that you have the opportunity to face different situations or people, something new every day.
While traveling you are constantly being part of a reality or a context that you are not used to. It gives you the opportunity to learn other languages, to know places that you have always seen in movies, read in books or that you have heard. But when you are there, you realize from a much deeper perspective that there is a giant world out there, and very different to your country.
Is there anything that you learned while traveling that you transmit as a teacher?
I would say facing fears. That is what I have learned the most from these experiences and at the same time, I have managed to transmit it to the kids. Sometimes you don’t dare to do certain things, but when you finally do them, you realize that it was not as terrible as you thought it was going to be. And over time, you realize that in life, you experience it in different ways or in different contexts. And that is exactly what I try to emphasize in my classes and leave it to my students.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to travel but who does not dare or is not sure whether or not to do so?
I would tell them not to question it so much. Sometimes opportunities are given only once in life and doing it will undoubtedly be one of the best experiences in life. It’s because regardless of the good or bad things that can happen while you travel, it is something that you treasure and something that stays with you forever.
It’s not about getting material things that finally make sense, it is not what you have or do not have, but what you have learned, what you have lived, who you have been with, what you have shared about yourself what really makes sense to me.