I’m on a bike ride in Miami and stop for a water break and to take pictures of the beautiful view of the bay. I see a young lady struggling with her bike chain and go help her. She thanks me for helping her. She has just learned to ride a bike a few months ago and the chain had come off during a fall. She is a college student and moved to Miami from Marietta Georgia after high school with only $300 in her account. I tell her I’m from around Marietta Georgia also. She asks about what I’m doing in Miami. I explained to her that I’ve been traveling for the last 7 months. I had one last trip to Puerto Rico planned but the plans fell through last minute, so I decided to come to Miami instead. Her eyes light up and she says, “Ooohhh, is this like an Eat, Pray, Love thing?” as she makes the Namaste greeting gesture. I smile and say, “Yea, something like that.”
We are out doing the same route that goes over the bridge to Biscayne Bay, so we ride and talk for a while. I am a bit uncomfortable talking about myself so much, but she wants to hear everywhere I have been and all my stories. She tells me that this is the way she wants to live her life also. Work and save for a while, then travel for a while, and do it again and again. She has more questions. What has been the best part of your months of traveling? What has been the hardest part? Did I find what I was looking for? I had answers for everything because I had spent a lot of time thinking about it recently, around the time I returned to work. I still continued to reflect on these things for the rest of the day…
It’s been an amazing year with many emotions. Heartbreak. Fear. Adventure. Awe of nature and humanity. New friends. New perspectives. Clarity. Romance.
The best part of my travels? The people I have met.
The hardest part of my travels? Saying goodbye to the people I have met. I have been seen in many airports drying tears.
Did I find what I was looking for? Yes, I know myself better. I have made real connections with people all around the world. I can trust people again. I can believe in love again.
I know that although I’m a little poorer now, I would definitely do this all again.
I know that every time I see a shooting star I will think of my friends in Futaleufu Chile.
Any time I hear the mountains rumbling from a little avalanche I will know that it’s Pachamama putting on a show and I will think of my trekking group in Peru, and our offering to her at the glacial lake high up in the Andes.
Any time I see a trail profile that only goes “up up up” I will think of my trekking group in the Alps.
Somewhere between Rua and Santiago de Compostela on the Camino de Santiago in Spain, there is a stream where traditionally pilgrims washed themselves in order to arrive clean in Santiago de Compostela. I left my old wedding band in that stream. That was nothing I had planned on doing, but in that moment I knew it was the best way to say I love you and I let you go.
No fireworks show will ever top the Parrandas de Remedios festival in Cuba. No goodbye hug can ever top the one Ariel and I shared in the middle of the street in Havana on New Year’s Eve afternoon while we caused a traffic jam in all directions but didn’t care.
I hiked some great trails in Hawaii but the main thing I will remember from there is the first morning when I woke up to the sounds of birds I had never heard before. It’s so remarkable waking up in a place in an entirely different part of the world that you’ve never been to. It’s like being a little kid again where everything is new. I don’t know if the sunsets and sunrise I saw there can be topped, but I know that I will make it a point to sit and look at more of them now.
I’m looking forward to seeing more of our country and the world and I do not plan to ever stop.
Thanks for listening!