Chapter 3: The Blank Spaces on the Map

“Love You; Mean It!” ; Traveling with My Sister

Written September 10, 2015

I got into a fight with my sister this morning.  It all started when I took full advantage of the hostel’s free breakfast to eat a croissant and bowl of cereal and drink a cup of instant coffee.

Long story short, this vaulted me past our anticipated departure time to see the Colosseum.  Rachel had to wait for me, so she put on her patronizing big sister tone.  Things escalated to me shouting at her and storming away, and her leaving me behind in the hostel to finish my coffee.  It was quite the public scene since there’s not much privacy at hostels.

She came back for me as I was sitting on the steps of the hostel trying to figure out the map (Rachel had been in charge of navigation for the last few days).  We had an emotional conversation as we walked to the Colosseum, and mostly worked things out.  By the time we arrived, we were laughing at each other’s jokes.  Well, she was laughing at mine because I’m funnier.  Just kidding.  Love you, sissy.

It’s a dumb premise for a fight, but these are issues that have been simmering all trip—actually, probably all our lives.  She’s very much about schedules, plans, and fitting it all in.  I’m all about enjoying the moment, turning getting lost to my advantage, and not having to see everything.

Turns out these outlooks are not compatible in the travel world.  It’s a classic Type A vs. Type B personality showdown.  And since we’ve known each other for quite some time now, we’re not afraid to confront each other or, in our less mature moments, deal some underhanded blows to get what we want.

The good news is that there is already notable improvement in compromise, communication, conflict resolution, and respecting and understanding each other’s priorities and vulnerabilities.  I’m finishing this post five days after I started it and can say that the fight was good for us and relations between the two warring sisters have improved considerably.  (This could also be because she got sick and hasn’t had the strength to fight back.  I’ll get back to you on that.)

Nothing brings out the true dynamic of a relationship better than traveling together, at least in my experience.  Also, nothing makes me seriously examine my personality flaws quite like having my sister generously point them out to me and then consistently observing them myself over the next few days.

However, our entire trip has not been riddled with conflict.  She’s always ready to go up in arms for me if it looks like anyone’s going to diss my Spanish degree.  I’ve done my best to take care of her while she’s been sick, knowing how much it kills her to stay in bed rather than get out and see the world.  We’ve had deep discussions that sometimes span days.  We’ve worked together to handle last minute planning, and realized our roles with me as initiator and her as follow-through when an unexpected opportunity comes up.

I kind of like her a lot.


3 thoughts on ““Love You; Mean It!” ; Traveling with My Sister

  1. Renee! I just wanted to let you know that your blog about your time in Costa Rica and your later travel experiences really helped me plan my own studies in Central America and also inspired me to keep my own blog. When I was researching my study abroad, I found that blogs about locations like Costa Rica were really hard to come by (compared to blogs about Europe, which are a dime a dozen), so your blog is a phenomenal resource.

    I even linked to your blog on my own page ( as a way of highlighting the importance of blogging about non-traditional locations.

    I’m in Costa Rica for the next three weeks. I’m living in San Jose, but I’d love to hear about any of your must-see/must-do experiences.

    All the best,

    Katie Becker

    1. Hi Katie! Yeah, that was a big reason I decided to start the blog, because I couldn’t find any good personal accounts about studying in Costa Rica. I’m glad it turned out to be helpful! I’ll go check out your blog–I love reading about other people’s travel experiences.
      Sorry I’m not replying until now–the notification didn’t pop up on my phone for whatever reason. I guess you have about two weeks left in the country I love so much. It’s hard for me to say which are the must-sees, since I think they’re all must-sees, but if I had to choose, my favorite place is Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean side. Get a hammock at Rocking J’s and rent a bike to explore all the different beaches in the area. It’s such a unique hostel and laid-back place. I also recommend not prioritizing Manuel Antonio since it is just flooded with tourists.
      Pura vida!

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