Fragments of the boy who left exist in the man who returned. To call it a life changer would be an honest understatement. The trip of a lifetime is what it was and I’ll never look at the world the same again. My voyage to Southeast Asia and New Zealand lasted for half of a year and my return home wasn’t even close to the end of it. In fact, I would argue that I’ll be taking the remains of that experience to my death. Looking through the images and allowing my mind to delve into the increments in between, it’s evident to me that I will never let it go completely.
I landed back in Canada in November of 2013. I began sharing the adventure with all of you at the end of 2014. Today, on May 16, 2016 I end these particular literary recollections as I move forward in life, continuing to travel, continuing to explore, and continuing to share this wholly fulfilling aspect of my life with whomever may have just the slightest interest in it.
Teresa is my partner in life; in travel it is no different. We’ve been through many hardships, particularly in the first couple of years of our relationship. We’ve withstood numerous tests throughout and I believe we are more than ready to face the many more that will come our way in the future. These experiences, this journey, would not have been the same without her by my side every step of the way.
We were privileged to visit the small town of Matamata, a couple of hours outside of Auckland, New Zealand to visit the famed “Hobbiton” where part of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies were filmed. I’ve gotten some of the most positive response regarding this experience both online and in person. It was mesmerizing and, simply put, very cool.
Now we had about a day left before finally returning to our home in North America. We would spend it driving around Auckland, taking in the sights and sounds, checking out a movie (Thor: The Dark World) at a massive cinema downtown. We also did a bit of wine tasting at a few wineries north of the city.
That feeling of the end of a trip, the last day before you know it’s over, has been one of the most drawn out sentiments of my life. The experience of the six month journey did not end on the last day or the day we returned, or in the weeks that followed. As I said before, I believe I will take this to my death. It has changed me that much that I will never feel as though it’s over (although every time I return home from an adventure now, it hurts inside to reminisce on it; I miss them, to varying degrees, that much).
I was born to do this and I’ve made it my mission to live a life at home in Canada that allows me to save money, pay my bills, stay in shape, visit my family, and appreciate my own home and my own culture. If I can’t do any of those things, then my travels would really be myself just running away from things that I don’t like. It’s like entering a relationship with another person; if you aren’t satisfied with yourself, if you don’t respect yourself, if you aren’t truly happy, then it will be difficult or impossible to make the other person happy as well. If I didn’t respect my home, if I wasn’t able to make a life here in Canada for myself, if I couldn’t survive here happily, then leaving it to travel would just be a way to mask the unhappiness of my own habitat. If travel has taught me one thing, it’s not just to learn to appreciate other cultures or learn to be happy and content despite immersing myself in levels of discomfort that I’m not used to. It’s taught me to appreciate who I am, where I come from, and how truly great I have it in this wonderful country I live in. I might not wind up living here for the rest of my life, and that’s okay. But after experiencing now dozens of other cities, towns, countries, cultures, and peoples, I’ve never appreciated my own home more than I do now.
This massive trip I undertook back in 2013 is embedded in my psyche, my essence, and I take it with me wherever I go. It wasn’t a vacation, it wasn’t an escape. It was a spiritual necessity that I will never be able to recreate and that I will never let go. The yearning makes me sad, and I’m alright with that. Here’s to a lifetime of travel.