A Sort of Homecoming

Trip Start Sep 16, 2002
Trip End May 31, 2004

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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Thursday, June 3, 2004

"A good traveller is one who does not know where he is going to, and a perfect traveller does not know where he came from." - Lin Yutang

"Take only memories. Leave nothing but footprints." - Chief Seattle

When I returned to the old world it felt strange. The journey homeward came without warning. It was as if some invisible hand was gently coaxing me back to the beginning for some inexplicable reason. It just happened. Something in the universe had shifted
and one morning I woke up and felt the change. It was time to go home. And so I did a few weeks of sight-seeing and then flew out of Lima.... leaving the wild continent for the "civilized" world. As I changed flights in Atlanta to catch my connecting flight I had a reality check ... literally. The very suspicious US customs officers were not sure what I could possibly be doing in Latin America for a year and a half. "Where did you get the money?" they asked. "I saved it" I replied. And then he stunned me with "Do you have a problem with reality?" ..... now there's an interesting question. I mean what is reality ...? Lets not go there now but maybe its all in the mind. Eventually they decided to let me go. They had teased me and perplexed me with bizarre questions. Maybe this is their new strategy for weeding out would-be terrorists. To confuse them into submission.

After spending 2 months in Canada I finally decided to make my way back to the beginning. And now when I look back, travelling through Central and South America was like a re-awakening of the senses. A sometimes chaotic and noisy world. Music blaringly loud so you feel it and streets so busy you forget where you were going or what you were doing. Of pink cloud sunsets and radioactive moon (in the south anyway). Where lakes are blue, green and red. And deserts give way to seas and mineral coloured rocks ascend into yellow plains thousands of feet above sea level and then higher still into jagged mountains. It is a land of extremes and I believe that God had decided to enter the world of surrealism when he created South America. There are places where you can loose yourself. You can walk into worlds where it seems the only heart beating is yours. A wild and beautiful place which I will miss, but am sure to return to one day. I will miss the vitality of it all. The suicidal bus drivers skimming past 800 metre drops, children running towards you shouting "Hola Gringo!", the friendly smiling faces .... oh and the showers which electrocute you. And the feeling that "anything can happen". One of my earliest memories of this was in southern Chile. I had just stepped off a bus and was preparing to enter Torres Del Paine park for a seven day hike. As I slowly started walking my ears picked up a gentle rumbling sound which gradually became louder. Suddenly I could see a cloud of dust approaching me. Something was moving in this cloud and with great speed. Quickly I realised that a team of horses was running .... straight towards me. I ran out of the way just in time to see them disappear into another cloud. It was this sort of experience which was common throughout my travels, the ones that make you feel very alive.

As I sit here now I find it difficult to put into words my feelings on returning. Everything is the same and yet it is not. Travelling has opened up my eyes and allowed me to venture out of one world and into another. Into a world where there are less distractions and mortality doesn't seem so abstract. Where life is more about survival and self-expression. Not mortgages, BMWs and holidays. And I know the next few weeks will take some getting used too as I adjust back to this way of life. To be honest, coming home has been tougher than I thought it would be. But I have a feeling I will be going somewhere else sooner than I think...

Hasta la proxima vez .....

While travelling Al sent me this which I thought was very apt while I was travelling (and living). Goethe once said:

"Until there is commitment, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiation (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: That the moment one definitely commits oneself then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues forth from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings, and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now."
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