I've been gone for 6 months I need home for a rest

Trip Start Jul 04, 2006
Trip End Jan 15, 2007

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Monday, February 19, 2007

We're back.

OK, OK...many of you readers will actually be saying "you've been back in Canada for a month and a half."  And this is true.  This entry could have come earlier.  But maybe I wanted to let the thought that "we're back," settle prior to making this final entry.  Maybe I wanted to prolong the trip a bit longer.  Maybe I didn't quite want it to end yet.

And maybe I wanted a bit of time to take in that I can now rest my head on my own bed and listen to my stereo again.

We flew back to Canada on December 31st and rang in the New Year with Tania's parents in Williamstown, Ontario.  We made it to about 12:30am and then were not heard from until about 3:00pm the next day.  We were exhausted, but were very well taken care of by the always lovely Janet and Brian Keefe.  I'd say we were treated like kings, but cats would be more accurate, as we just seemed to laze around in comfort while still getting fed.  Not a bad way to get accustomed to being back.  A quick trip was also made into Ottawa where we got a chance to catch up with not only a few old friends, but a new one that we made while traveling together in India.  Jen had actually remembered all of Tania's rants about Tim Hortons and brought her a cup to the bar we met.  Pretty impressive. 

We then hopped a flight to Toronto (AKA: the centre of the world) to visit with Tania's sister Lindsey, as well as some other friends.  Lindsey again was the perfect hostess, giving up her bed for the weary, and still jet-lagged, travelers.  Jim, on the other hand, was not the most gracious host, deciding that the best way to his friends hearts was not through their stomachs, but through their livers.  Things were not so pretty after the night of reminiscing about Russia with Jim.  We are definitely not as young and foolish as we were when first we all met in Russia - though on that night, we certainly did act like it...(I blame Jim completely).

After TO, there was a brief stint in Vancouver while we found an apartment.  Thanks again to Caelem and Hannah who again put up (and put up with) our sorry, homeless selves as we were getting back into the Vancouver groove.

We then headed to Castlegar for a visit.  More good times, and some sad, as the main premise for the visit was a memorial for my grandfather who passed away last year.  As mentioned throughout the blog, there were times that I could almost feel him along with us during our travels.  Given that we never seemed to encounter any great trials over the entire 6 months, maybe we really did have a guardian angel.

After all that, we're now back in Vancouver.  Back to the ocean.  Back to the mountains.  Back to the hockey (though we actually seem to be winning now).  Back home.

So as mentioned before, we are all moved into the new apartment.  So much so, in fact, that we've already had our first visitor (thanks for coming over Baba!).  We also have a cat (he's an odd one, but I'll leave it at that).

So what now?

Well, now Tania's working at the university, helping to write a book, and I am, well, unemployed.  Somewhat frustrating, but at the same time, somewhat exciting.  Coming back to a relatively hot labour market definitely works to my favour.  If any of you readers have a Marketing and/or Communications job you want to throw my way, please feel free...(we have to pay for this trip somehow!!)

Yeah, being back is nice.  Having our own bed is nice.  Not re-packing every three days is nice.  Having a closet, rather than a pack, is nice.  Knowing what country we're in is nice.  Being closer to friends and family is nice. 

And really, being back is now a new adventure.

But, what you came to the blog for is the big trip, so here are some final (randomly assorted) thoughts:

1. When any Canadian (us included) travels, they wear the maple leaf on their pack.  At times it did seem quite hokey - like we're all trying to show-off that we're part of some type of exclusive club.  But then again, it does make you proud that the simple act of displaying your nationality could actually help you in numerous countries.  Just please, fellow Canadians, when traveling, try to limit yourself to one piece of Canadiana at a time.  Otherwise, you're just flaunting it.

2. This is the time where my inner hippy will shine.  People in the world need to treat their animals better.  The Egyptians, Turks and Indians need to take care of their strays - spay and neuter (the animals, that is).  And other cultures, stop being so damn barbaric, keeping with the "traditions" of animal cruelty just because your grandparents did it.  Stop eating shark fin soup - no matter what you think, it won't help with your erections.  Stop grinding tiger bones and stealing gall bladders - the tigers and bears need them more.  And for Canada - until a seal pup can wield a club as well as a person, stop beating them and get a real job!

3. Now to appease my inner capitalist - Capitalism works.  Communism doesn't.  Yeah, things out west aren't perfect, but when some Lefty wearing a Che shirt comes crying that we're so oppressed here and that Communisim is the only way for a healthy and prosperous society, I'd like to tell them to check out what happened in Soviet Russia, Khmer Rouge Cambodia and what's currently happening in North Korea.  If we really want to see sustainable (this word is key) improvements in the lives of people throughout the world, we need to talk about an open and global economy.  We need to break down barriers to trade (tariffs, subsidies, etc.) and other protectionist policies.  Let people and goods move as they wish, and as the market demands.

Wow - that's probably enough ranting, but I do ask, that you read for just a bit longer.

When many people travel, they say that they're impressed with "how much everyone is the same", or, how afterward, they've "gained a real appreciation for their own country".  Well, I've always appreciated being born in Canada, and having all the rights and privileges (of which there are many) that come along with that - so I can't say that after the trip I really appreciate my country even more.  Nor can I say that everyone that I met really shared my point of view.  Quite the opposite really - many did not.  So I can't really agree that "we're all the same."  What I can say, and what Tania may disagree with me on, is that overall, people are good.

Friends completely opened up their homes to us.  Near strangers opened up their homes to us.  Random people bought us beers, cooked us dinners and showed us around. They pointed us in the directions we needed to go, and usually did so smiling.

Taking this a step (or a giant leap) further. Many atrocities have happened in places that we have visited.  In some places, some of these atrocities are still happening (though on a smaller scale).  What struck me was the capacity for people on whom these atrocities were committed to not dwell on their misfortunes, deciding rather to move on with living.  It really is astounding.  In the movies it's all about avenging oneself and getting justice.  That's not always possible, and I would take that statement step further and say, that it is far more common that justice is never achieved.  I personally think it takes a far stronger person to realize that the pursuit of justice can more often than not, lead to more problems. To have seen people, who could so rightly hate the world around them, being warm, smiling, and living their lives, says a great deal about the human spirit. 

Do they forgive?  Probably not.  But they do not try to exact vengeance, knowing that it could only lead to more bloodshed; and really, what would be the point?  Who wins from this decision?  Themselves to a point, but mainly, their children.  Who else wins?  The rest of the world.  The rest of the world that no longer needs to send in troops to maintain order, that benefits from the goods that can be produced while peace exists, that visits and learns about a fascinating culture without the distraction of bullets flying overhead.

So even though there is all kinds of bad out there (which is far easier to sell in the nightly news), there's also a great deal of good.  We were fortunate enough to see both on our trip, though it was the good, that leaves the most lasting impression with me.

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