8 months. 5 continents. 16 countries. 20 flights. Too many buses, trains, boats, ferries, rental cars, taxi cabs and tuk tuks to count. Ditto with guest houses, hostels, hotels, lodges, cabins, apartments and houses.
We’ve circumnavigated the globe and, as with many life-altering journeys, finished where we started. Home.
Yet I can’t quite shake the feeling that I am a fish out of water. Everything is simultaneously familiar and foreign. Reverse culture shock is what they call it (whoever “they” are). Perhaps that explains the vague sense of guilt I felt the other day when I dropped a pair of socks in the laundry bin after only one wear – an act that would have been far too decadent when our “washing machine” was the bathroom sink. It’s hard to reconcile living out of a single bag for eight months and then returning to a big house with so much stuff. It’s equally hard to accept that the adventure is over.
All that aside, we are so grateful for having shared this epic journey together as a family. We spent the majority of our 235+ days on the road in developing countries in conditions far removed from our day-to-day lives in Canada. Remarkably, we never once experienced an illness or injury requiring a visit to a doctor. Despite countless moves, we didn’t lose a single thing (other than the hat that flew off my head during a zipline adventure). Incredibly, the kids’ iPads returned home unscathed. Nothing was stolen from us. Not once did we feel personally threatened or even intimidated. Quite the opposite. Again and again, we were treated with remarkable kindness.
One of the greatest gifts of this journey is that our kids have returned home as true citizens of the world. They have learned that while there is incredible beauty and diversity in the world, human beings share more commonalities than differences. The imprint of this journey will be with them forever.
And while I’m on the subject of the kids, I need to take a paragraph (or two) to give them props for being so incredibly adaptable, adventurous and brave as we traipsed across the planet. Let me tell you, some days were nothing short of gruelling. Often the conditions left a lot to be desired. Yet, they rose to the challenge – again and again. After a string of 10+ hour days of driving across the rough roads of Ethiopia (a road trip that wore me down like no other), our driver remarked, “Those kids are always happy.” While that may not be 100% accurate, I can say that they never once whined about getting into that Range Rover.
Their tolerance for long journeys across time zones grew exponentially over the course of our trip. On our very last day, as we prepared to travel from Orlando to Vancouver, Cen asked me, “What’s going to happen today?” I told him, “It’s about an hour drive to the airport. We’ll be there for about 4 hours and then we have a 3 hour flight, a quick one-hour layover and then another 5 hour flight.” He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Oh, that’s no big deal.”
And I can’t end this blog without saying a huge thank you to my love, Karl. He devoted hundreds (more likely thousands) of hours researching and planning every element of our trip. He had a remarkable sixth sense of what we needed at any given point of our journey. And he coerced us to take endless photos and video that will we treasure for years to come.
Karl and I have always been a good team, but this trip proved we’re an awesome team. We travelled the world with three young children and I can only remember a couple minor arguments. We worked together and supported each other through the highs and lows. Best of all, together we hatched this audacious vision years ago and together we made it happen.
One adventure done. Hopefully many to come.
In the weeks ahead, we may post a few more travel reflections, so we’re not shutting it down quite yet!