Flying home

Trip Start Oct 04, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Portugal  ,
Friday, August 18, 2006

It's all almost over. I keep flip flopping between heartbreak and denial. I don't want ot go home. I'm ready, but I don't want all this to end. I'm scared. And sad. And already nostalgic for hte live I've been leading the last 10 1/2 months. There won't be anymore of those "I can't believe I'm here doing this" moments. I can't decide on a whim to change countries or stay longer in a place I love. No more random meetings with itneresting people. No more me, on my own, wandering the world. It will be starnge to be somewhere where English is mostly everybody's first language, where people don't stare at me, and ordering food isn't an adventure. Life will no longer be a series of stories strung together by long bus rides. Back to reality... a reality that is more foreign to me than the squat toilets of SE Asia. Sitting here in a cafe crammed with little tables, the smell of smoke wafting around me, I find myself paralyzed in time. I can't go forward or backward. If I look to the future, a black hole looms. The big 'What next?' question is so overwhelming and unknown, I can't begin to face it. And then I try to look back over these last months, recalling memories of people and places now distant and slightly elusive. Did it really all happen? Some of it truly feels like a dream, a surreal alternate universe of existance as I now face going back to the States. But I'll try. After all, a trip this big needs a written ending, some sort of summation.

It starts in Sydney where Hilary burst into my room and asked, "Are you guys staying here?" Then the BUNAC meeting. Meeting Christian and almost being roped into mango picking. Romeo and Juliet at the Opera House. All the comparisons to NZ and the last time I was in Brisbane. The Melbourne Cup day - the first of the champagne days. Jaz, then Rue de Paris. Maroochydore and Surfers. Topless on Stradie. Living with the Stockleys and then moving to the boy house. A relationship of sorts. A fabulous Thanksgiving with flare and learning how to shoot a gun at Kenya - another champagne day. Flying cockroaches and Itsy Bitsy. Hanging out with Toby and making Grammie's cookies. The trains and XXXX brewery. Hotest summer on record - a sweaty Christmas. Worst New Years ever with Luke. Nic, dingoes, Choka, the bunny game, and the general craziness of Fraser Island. Chilling out in 1770. Sailing the Whitsundays on the British Defender and watching the beginning of the sunrise over Airlie lagoon with Scot from Scotland. The gay cowboy from Canada and 'A Salty Piece of Land'. Getting stuck with the flu and the creepy Israeli in Cairns. Australia day and the magic show. Six hours wandering around Singapore. Dad in Malaysia. The lightning bugs, days talking, and eating with my hand. Eda and the birthday party. Ramlah and Grannie. Tiger Beer. Tourin ghte countryside. Temples and kite flying. The mosque. Total pampering and scuba diving in Phuket. Nightly dinners at Coni and Anil's villa and meeting Richie and John Isaac. The disaster of Cameron and Bangkok embassies. The third class train and the last bus of the day to Siem Reap. Steve. Sunrise from the top of Angkor Wat. Vanndy, Krum, and the flower girl. The horrors of @-21 and the Killing Fields. The first happy shake. Creepy Lee. The motorcycle ride to the perfect beach with cows. Teh giant Swiss guy and the haunting of Bokor Hill Station. The French hospital where I thought I was going to die and the hellishness of Saigon. Hitting rock bottom and recovering. The Swedish guys, endless cups of coffee, and the hike that almost did kill me in Dalat. Dancing on the beach to no music with Angelique and the braclet ladies. More coffee and tailor-made clothes in Hoi An. Mr. T and the motorcycle ride through the jungle on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Three days stoned in Vang Vieng and re-learning to ride a bike. Bus rides, big jars, and caves. The most massive water fight and craziest party I've ever been to. The trek, the children, Ana and Cheecho, and the famous bug bites. The rash saga, night train from hell with Tina, the frogs, and the adventure in the Lao hospital. Stuck in Bangkok and learning to love it. Yoga, reading, tofu, and de-toxing in Pai. Mom in China. Walking the Bund, the fake market, sampling street food and hotel buffets. The Tibetan restaurant and getting lost in Lijiang. Mom offering me up tot he flash floods. Going beyond hte limits on the Great Wall and Mom's malfunctioning audio guide in the Forbidden City. The most amazing dish of food ever, massages, and canasta to classical music. The smugglers, Dave and the Swedish guys, drinking 2.5 liter beer and playing cards on the trans-sib. The acrobat troupe. Forbidden Vodka in the train station. Drunk and lost in Siberia. Nicolai and vodka in the bus on the way to Olkhon. Piano and wine at night, Natasha, and the Germans. Eating horse meat, drinking tea, and reading War and Peace on the back on the trans-sib. My Russian friends, the English-Russian dictionary and Serge, and the knife 'four cutting cheese'. Bloody Marys with the Americans and the cheese that stopped the train. Mattress on the floor in Moscow. Wandering, flower stands, ice cream, and reading War and Peace in gardens. Tartuffe at the Moscow Art Theatre. Beer and vodka at Godzillas. 'Going out' to the beer kiosks and peeing in the street in Moscow. White Nights. Staying in Fabian's apartment. Watching the bridges. Shostakovitch at the Mariinsky. Going to see Fabian's work with disabled children. Hanging out with Christian and siteseeing in Petersburg. Italy on a whim. First fireworks and the Boboli Gardens in Florence. Galen and the wallet incident. My birthday feast. Dancing and talking until the sun rose. Wine from teacups and the high road hike in Cinque Terra. The night Italy won the World Cup and the Luigi saga. 250 steop up to the Lemon Orchard and Smokey the cat. Wine nights and dancing at Rocco's. Willy's pub and slobberface. Sunbathing on the rock in Ischia. Getting lost in Pompeii. The day I decided it was time to leave in Praia de Mira. The mentally ill group at the pousada de juventude. Fado with the Spanish guys in Coimbra. Port day in Porto. Getting lost everyday while hiking in Serra da Estrella, but still making it up the highest point in Portugal. Suddenly deciding to go home early. Cheese and bread diet. Drinking way way too much in Lagaos. The day of puking afterwards. Toucan burger at the Nah Nah Bah. The best last day ever - beach, tattoo/piercings with the Canadians, and a fabulous dinner. And now here I am. The final couple of hours. 10 1/2 months. There's more questions now than answers. I've had tremendous ups and debilitating downs. I've learned to go with the flow, that everything works out in the end, and if things go wrong to just suck it up. I've slept in five star hotels and a train station. I know this version of myself very well, and yet I know everything's about to change. As this chapter of my life, this era, comes to a close, all I can really say is that it's been one hell of a trip.

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