The End of the Road

Trip Start Jan 10, 2008
Trip End May 29, 2008

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Where I stayed
Hostel Granado

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

In terms of our final three days there isnīt any special to add; we decided to get a hostel in San Telmo (the tango district) and basically wandered all day to kill time.  We had already seen most of the city and were so anxious to get home that we couldnīt find any motivation to really explore.  On top of that, winter is hastily approaching in Buenos Aires and there is a chilly wind keeping us from walking around too much.  Mixed with our anxiety to get back is also a quiet sadness and reflection of our time over the past five months.  I reminisce over the places we visited, lessons learned (both good and bad) and different cultural aspects such as music, food or customs.  All these things randomly surface to the front of my mind; some I will greatly miss, others I will be happy to get away from but regardless, they all added a peice to this thoroughly rich experience I had and shared with Becca.  In these last moments I try and summarize all the peices, to come away with some personal meaning to the whole trip and give it closure.  I think it will take some time once I get back to fully comprehend everything because these questions are better answered once compared to life back at home.  For now, I can only attempt to bring my state of mind to where it was about a year ago: wasting my life behind a desk perhaps finding occasional satisfaction by performing well at work or doing something fun on the weekend.  By contrast almost every moment during this trip has been so rich that I felt like I was really living, so when I think back to the life I had, it hardly seems like a fitting word; death would more accurately describe it.  I know thatīs a strong statement (youīre probably thinking now, "Asaf`s travels have made him crazy") but itīs just that in comparison to the super-living I have been doing, my old life just pales in comparison.  I know that "normal" life back at home isnīt bad, seeing first hand how people live in South America has taught me how lucky we are in so many regards.  I just wonder after all this, will I slip right back in to the rat race and not care or will I start to feel unsatisfied after some time and get the urge to "live" again?  Either way I think I need a job with longer vacations, a week or two a year isnīt enough time to do anything but temporarliy forget that fact that you work.  I know I should be striving to find something I love to do but I canīt count on that, I think itīs more realistic to find something thatīs satisfying that gives you greater freedom.  Actually, Iīm just spoiled and complaining.  I should be nothing but grateful that I had the opportunity to do this and be happy, the reality of work is just that and I should accept it.  I think that way too sometimes but hey, Iīm still young and naive.  At the moment the only thing I know for sure is that the memories and experiences I have had on this trip will stay with me forever.  See everyone soon.

WOW....we did it. We bussed an entire continent, more or less, and went almost to the end of the earth....what can I say?  We rock. I feel just about as excited and nervous to go home as I felt before I left, if that makes any sense. It is definitely going to be a bit of a culture and reality shock to be back, but I know deep down that it is time to go home. The past almost-5 months has been such an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime rollercoaster ride. And though some might say weīve been on one really long vacay I think its more than that - vacations are about relaxation, and though we did have lots of that, we also experienced so much more. Life follows you wherever you go, and things like stress and bad days donīt go away by going to a different continent. There has been so many extremes on our journey - high elevation cities and low lying deserts, the hottest of hots and coldest of colds, sparkling tropics and icy mountains, big towering cities and small rundown towns, wealthy people and children with no shoes...the list goes on and on. It has been such an eye-opening experience for me to see all of these different countries and cultures - looking back on it now, I can see the general similarities that link South America as a whole, and the subtle differences that set each country - and in some cases one city from another- apart. I feel so fortunate to have been able to glimpse into this different world full of interesting people, exotic foods, sights and activities that most people only dream of seeing in their lifetime.
Unfortunately, as I suspected, that epiphany I hoped for never happened - I actually feel like Iīm going home even more confused about what I want to do with my life. This trip and the hundreds of bus rides has given me so much (too much) time to ponder such things, and yet at the end of the day all I really know is that I donīt want to ever stop traveling, and I hope I have the opportunity to explore more parts of the world in my lifetime. I mean, according to Travelpod our trip only comprises 3% of the world. much more to see :)  Even though I havenīt figured some things out I must admit that this trip has been good for me in other ways, like facing fears. I can think of over a dozen times I semi-seriously feared for my life/safety on this trip - and those same things always turned out to be the best memories and most fun - whether it was ziplining through Costa Rica, or sandboarding down the worlds largest sand dune in Peru, or paragliding in Colombia, or the claustrophobic mine tour in Bolivia - we tried so many different, exhilarating things and Iīm glad. Life is too short, as they say. I feel like I am coming home now a little older and a little wiser - we lived a lot of life in a short period of time, if ya know what I mean. I don't think I will ever forget the horrifying night my bag was stolen - it still hurts when I think about it - but that, like so many other things, has been a lesson for me that Iīll take with me on all my future travels.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about our trip is that Asaf and I have been together basically 24/7 for almost 5 months and we donīt hate each other - in fact, we almost sickeningly adore each other (most of the time.) And for THAT, more than anything else, I am grateful. I got to have the adventure of a lifetime with my bestest friend in the world and I know that not only are both of us coming out of this stronger as individuals, but also together. There is no one else I would have wanted to attempt this trip with and Iīm so happy I had him with me to share the best moments and help me through the hard ones.  I know, I know...that sounds cheesy. But anyway, Iīm a lucky girl.

But alas, all trips must come to an end. And Iīm ready. There are some things I will NOT miss, for sure, first and foremost being my backpack which could not possibly be any more full - its like a fat man with a bulging stomach. I look forward very much to coming back to my beloved things and dressing up and going out on the town with the girls - things Iīve been deprived of. It will be weird indeed to sleep in the same bed consistently, to have a clean bathroom with reliably hot water and no flip flops required, to not have to steal and stash toilet paper in my purses because bathrooms donīt provide it. To have clothes not full of holes and ratty. To eat a real, home cooked meal. To hear and understand people speaking, everywhere.  There is no place like home, and I miss it and the people that comprise it more than you know. And so, it is time for this blog to end. But donīt you worry - there will be more in years to come. Now one simple question remains - where to next?
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