A journey, after all, neither begins in the instant we set out, nor ends when we have reached our door step once again. It starts much earlier and is really never over, because the film of memory continues running on inside of us long after we have come to a physical standstill. Indeed, there exists something like a contagion of travel, and the disease is essentially incurable. ― Ryszard Kapuściński, Travels with Herodotus
I’m struggling a bit for words with this post - what is likely my last post from this journey. (Whether I keep writing, we’ll see, but I have enjoyed the process more that I ever expected.) I started planning this trip in January, but I know that it will shape the way I see and do things for much longer. It has been many things - adventure, challenge, inspiration, frustration, relaxation, an education and full of many, many serendipitous surprises.
I was reminded that true travel can be hard. The kind of travel where you are ignorant of everything, the spoken and written language, how the most basic things work - even crossing the street seemed daunting at first. Every step was a guess (some more educated than others). Sometimes it was just a hope…”I hope this works…I hope this driver knows where he’s going…I hope I read the map right…I hope I didn’t offend him/her.”
I have some amazing memories, some (I think) have been worth sharing and some were my own challenges, mistakes and achievements. I got to stand in, but still outside another culture. I was witness to other people’s days and lives. I have been awed by the devotion and austerity of the religious monks. I have watched people “make merit” and provide food for the monks. I have also seen these same monks stroll the markets, talk on their cell phones, and sit have a smoke. I have seen poverty. Shacks with corrugated metal roofs and old street banners for walls, but also families sitting in the shade of these metal roofs sharing a meal together in a society where family matters. I have stood at the base of temples and city walls that are over 1000 years old; and stood a top peaks that take your breath away. I have been blessed with nothing but the kindness of strangers. Those who took the time to share with me a story or a meal, point me in the right direction, or were just fair when I was negotiating for ride. I have eaten some incredible food prepared in the most unlikely of circumstances.
I learned to listen to that inner voice that told me when to keep going and when to ask for help, or in some cases, call it day. I loved the challenge, the guess work, the opportunity each day held. I asked myself in the first post “Am I still a traveller?” The answer is a resounding “yes.” But it is time to put away my passport and backpack (for a while). Because each and everyday I was on this journey, something reminded me of home and those things that had seemed painstakingly familiar are the ones I missed the most. So on that note…
All journeys eventually end in the same place, home. ― Chris Geiger