using my inside voice
December 7, 2009
6 months - who knew it would all be coming to an end so soon? Well, I suppose that I knew, since I booked the tickets home and all, but still, it does seem to creep up in a weirdly unexpected way.
Today is our last day in Central America. After a mad dash to San Jose to pick up Luke's new passport, we have had some time to relax and reflect on what this trip has brought into our lives and and what it has taken out. I guess the top of the list of things that were taken out would be Luke's Macbook and money belt, but these are simply materialistic things (that we hope to be appropriately compensated for by our travel insurance company).
More philosophically, it has removed a great fear I had of traveling to strange and more 'dangerous' parts of the world. When we were first planning this trip, I figured we pretty much couldn't go anywhere in Central America other than Costa Rica, because the other places all sounded too scary. A quick look at some of the government websites listing the robberies, assaults, kidnappings and other unsavoury activities in these nether countries of the Americas and you may understand some of my hesitation. But, soon after arriving down here, we realised that while you certainly must remain alert and take certain measures to fade the bulls-eye that all foreigners have emblazoned in red across their foreheads as prime targets for pick pocketing and robbery, you can also do almost anything you like in safety and relative comfort.
It has made me realise the value of certain things which I most certainly took for granted in the past, such as a vibrant, safe, fun and beautiful city to live in (yes, I'm talking about you Vancouver). To be able to cycling down a well-known road, with the springtime sun on your back and a bottle of wine in your basket, knowing that in five minutes you will be relaxing on a patio with some of the best people you are likely to ever know is, well, irreplaceable. To arrive at work, knowing that while the job itself may not inspire moments of pure, unadulterated joy, you will more than likely laugh your head off multiple times throughout the day, because the people you have the privilege of working with are just plain awesome, is not only hard to come by, but precious beyond compare.
There is also the flip side of the coin on journeys like ours. We laughed with Mark and Kate as we shared a bottle of rum and watched the rain thundering down on the beach outside, as a bunch of rowdy local teenagers in their underwear screamed and kicked soccer balls on the wet sand, stopping only to pose like juvenile David Beckams when Kate lifted her camera to capture their ridiculous energy. We dove into cool cenotes in the Yucatan, and hassled new-found friends for their fear of the 3 meter plunge. We made a spur-of-the-moment decision to jump on a bus to Yosemite with Mia and the boys who we met just the night before because they seemed like a bit of a laugh. These friendships are epic. They are formed fast and hard, like quick-setting concrete, because circumstance dictates that unless you jump in with both feet the fleeting moment to engage and bond with what were previously strangers will be gone.
This trip has given me the realistion that contrast is the building block of happiness. To travel constantly would degrade its beauty and freedom, because once it becomes normal life, the lustre soon disappears. To know some tedium makes traveling so much sweeter, and the journey so much more powerful. It brings insight and passion back into your daily life, and excites the mind for future adventures to other unknown places that you simply must conquer (but with a smaller backpack next time).
As I sit here in a hostel in San Jose, with sun streaming in the front windows and red taxis rushing past on the road outside, I know already that I will crave this trip before too long. The rice and beans, the completely unsafe (but incredibly exhilarating) adventure activities, the thought of rising in the morning and being able to do whatever it is you feel like that day, whether it be sitting around the hostel, or zipping through the jungle canopies of Costa Rica like a modern-day Tarzan. I will miss the irresponsibility that having no ties can bring, with only a backpack and a vague idea to guide you.
But, I am also looking forward to having a home base again, having my own things around me that are constant and familiar, having more than three sets of clothes to wear on any given day, and having family and friends around at any time, for any reason. I'm not quite sure what to say now that six months of traveling has come to an end, but I would like to think that the adventure is not over, and that as I move to another phase in my life, opportunities of different kinds will present themselves. I hope to have ridiculous stories for future blog entries, that while not as exotic will still challenge and inspire me and, maybe you too.
Bay's career has been many and varied due to a penchant for traveling the world. After completing a double degree in Business Management and Journalism at the University of Queensland in 2002 she was lucky enough to land herself a job at Brisbane's Quest Community Newspapers. A year of roving reporting brought the epiphany that journalism and Bay didn't jive.
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