Life After Adventure
The Avianca flight jumped into motion, nudged along the tarmac and headed towards the runway at Bogota El Dorado. I sat squeezed into my end aisle seat swearing that I had had more leg room on the outbound flight. We were destined firstly for the Andean skies and then for Madrid from where I would catch a flight back home to England and to the end of my adventure. I don’t mind admitting that as the engines fired up I began to cry. I took my shades (which hadn’t seen much use in a rainy Bogota) from my bag and put them on attracting curious looks from my fellow passengers. My adventure was over and I felt sad and empty. I would miss Bogota, I would miss its vibrant nightlife and grimey chic. I would miss Colombia and Venezuela and they’re colourful people. But most of all I would just miss the sense of adventure and possibility that was life on the road.
I dried my tears on a Juan Valdez napkin. Juan Valdez is the Colombian Starbucks dispensing over-priced, corporate flavoured coffee in airports and soulless shopping malls. I had gotten into the habit of stealing napkins and keeping them on my person at all times to countenance the shortage of toilet paper in Venezuela. I took out my journal, which had been my one and only constant companion throughout my journey, and set to write. I set about brainstorming a list of things I would do once I returned home, a list-o-rama of little adventures and things to look forward to in order to stay sane. As I wrote, I noted that it hadn’t being only the deluge of new sights, smells and sounds I had liked about travelling and nor was it just the abundance of new, cool friends I liked. No, more than any of this I had even liked myself more. Somehow I had being more open, I had found it easier to connect, to express myself, to make friends and find lovers; I had being me, but me at my very best.
I had reflected on this throughout my journey and discussed it a number of times with fellow travellers who seemed to feel the same. I recalled talking to Al by candlelight in our wooden cabana deep in the Sierra Nevada jungle. He had mused “I find that I’m more relaxed. Free from the expectations and confines of my home town I’m more free and able to be myself and I guess other people seem to respond to that”. I resolved there and then that although my adventure was ending with each mile we tore through the air that I was determined to bring this spirit back with me. I swore that although it may take some time for me to sweat and labour enough to cobble together the pennies needed for my next big adventure I would nevertheless retain the feeling of freedom that comes from being a traveller at all times. I would somehow channel the liberating anonymity of being a stranger in a strange land and wield the powerful abandon one can normally only muster when only passing through.
What Can I Do About It?
I brainstormed and made a list, furiously scribbling away as my hand struggled to keep up with my mind and sketched out my step by step guide of how I would do this. I resolved to “stay nomadic”, to keep living out of my backpack. I would have no fixed abode and would move around. I would spend a few nights at a time here and there with friends or family before moving on. I would find new routines and seek out new places to frequent in my home town and hell I would even make new friends. Then I made a list of places to visit. During my travels I had grown conscious of how little of my own country I had really seen. I had met countless Australian and Americans who had visited Stonehenge, Oxford & Hadrian’s Wall whereas I hadn’t; in fact I now knew more of Colombia than I knew of England. That would change, I would visit these places either one at a time or in some big Great British Roadtrip.
By doing these things I saw that although I would be working (and probably in a very tedious job) and waiting for late, crowded buses in cold morning rain, that although I would be living with family and friends and forced into respecting their house rules, in my mind and in my heart, in my outlook and in my actions I would still be on the road.
Life after adventure would go on!