It is my final day in Colombia. Tomorrow morning I catch a plane from Bogota to Atlanta. I spend a night there then on the 23 April, I fly from Atlanta to Minneapolis. It has been a rough day today. I am sad this adventure is ending. I keep thinking about going to visit family for the summer, do some consulting work and then hit the road again. I feel like my journey is not finished. There is something missing. My soul is still searching for something. Hmmmm. Only time will tell. I spent my final day relaxing and enjoying the sights and sounds of Bogota. I started with a coffee at Juan Valdez (with tears), a walk through the Candelaria, through the parks. I have lost it for no reason at all. I watch people going about their lives. I sit and enjoy the moments and realize... this is it. I am returning to the USA. I am preparing myself for reverse culture shock. How will I handle it? How can I continue to grow and develop? I return with so many questions and no answers. At the beginning of this journey I thought I would have more answers to these questions and have a clear direction moving forward. I was wrong about that! I feel like I have more questions. I look at life so differently now. I know I will figure it all out. I believe in myself. I trust I will continue to develope relationships with people I meet. I find myself thinking about my hobbies and interests and realizing I need to nurture those desires. So many things I would like to do:
1. Start a traveler tales meetup where I live. Travelers are similar people. We like to talk about adventures, encourage others to explore new destinations and share our stories and dreams.
2. Volunteer with animal shelters. There are many homeless animals that need homes. Be an advocate for them. Socialize with them and encourage others to adopt a shelter dog or cat.
3. Encourage children to follow their dreams. To believe in themselves and their abilities. It is empowering when you face your fears and realize 95% of fear is in your head and only a small percentage is real.
4. Be active every day. Enjoy nature and appreciate the beautiful world/city I live in. Everyplace has beautiful places. Live like a tourist and take it all in.
After a little reflection, coffee and tears I decided it was time to go enjoy my last day. I decided to walk to the university and then to the gondola up to Monserrate. As I walked, I realized I had my idiot smile on my face... you know the one where you are smiling out of pure joy. These people must think I am crazy. My eyes are red from crying and I have a stupid smile on my face. Maybe they think I am just drunk, or hungover. Anyway, I reached the gondola and and was ready for the short ride to the top of Monserrate. As we glide up the side of the hill, I could see storm clouds were on the way and knew I would likely see a little rain. When it started, I stopped and had a snack as I waited for the rain to end. The weather was appropriate considering my sadness about leaving Colombia and a country I had grown to love. I was happy to just have time to reflect and think about my experience. It was a beautiful and serene place to just sit and contemplate everything.
I returned to the city and had dinner before returning to the hotel to pack and prepare for my journey home. I can't believe how quickly this time has passed. I traveled for 14 months and had an amazing and life changing trip. I am so happy I was a risk taker and took the severance package and followed my dreams. When I tell the story to others I get one of two responses:
1. Wow! Way to go! You have guts! I am so proud of you for following your dreams.
2. Aren't you worried you won't find another job? What about ....( start listing all the fears)?
What I realized is the travelers at heart respond with excitement and desire to travel. Others only see fear. When you realize the fear is in your head and not real, it is empowering. Those of us that travel know this. We engage with others and make the most of the opportunities that arise. I have chosen to live my life rather than to dream of someday and live in fear. And I will never return to that way of thinking. I want to live each and every day with excitement and joy. I know I can find happiness in little things.
I felt better when I returned to the city. I stopped for dinner and a beer before returning to the hostel to pack. I was going home. How would that feel?
I awoke in the morning and the owner of the hostel saw me off. Their daughter had bought me a chiva (Colombian bus) to always remember how much I loved Colombia. What a sweet gesture from a beautiful little girl. She waved as she walked off to school and I drove away in the cab. Next stop, the airport.
In no time I was in the sky and headed towards the USA. Up over the beautiful green mountains and over the Caribbean.
I spent the night in Atlanta and relaxed. I was emotionally and physically tired. I slept until it was time to catch an early flight to Minneapolis. I was excited to see my family and hug everyone. It had been a long time. As I arrived in Minneapolis, I looked for my mom, sister and neice and nephew. There they were waiting for me. They had been a tremendous support throughout this journey. Encouraging me to live my dreams and were supportive the entire journey. And now they were standing on the bottom of the stairs with signs to welcome me home.
I laughed when I saw my sister holding a cougar sign. I expected nothing less! We had a laugh and filled our time with hugs. It was good to be back and see them. My neice and nephew had grown and had so many things to share with me. It felt like home. I arrived safe and sound back into the arms of loved ones and I was ready to just relax and get some rest. I was exhausted.
It is always good to come home to those you love.