Twenty-six hours with little sleep on a cramped bus – most of it beside a crying, fidgety child sitting on his pregnant mother’s lap. I’m hungry and weary of cheese sandwiches – the only vegetarian option at rest stops. I forgot to unpack my healthy snacks which are buried in the storage below. I’m under the weather – sneezing and congested and low-energy – from the cold snap that hovered over the region for a few days.
I feel alone in this less-trodden corner of Brazil and miss my companions on the backpacker-friendly coast. I left Cuiabá disappointed by the cost-prohibitive Pantanal wildlife (3-day tours are nearly $800 USD) and the bureaucratic hurdles at Chapada de Guimarães national park that made it very difficult to enjoy.
So I feel the last few days have been a bust. Things just haven’t quite worked out.
Travel is full of shitty moments like this. Like most things in life – a job, a relationship, a hobby – there’s no shortage of let downs. And when on your own it can feel worse, there’s no one to turn to amid indifferent surroundings.
With the battery dying on my mobile phone, I opened my calendar and counted the days remaining in Brazil. Almost home… I tell myself. What a relief!
As if by chance Mary Chapin Carpenter’s song “Almost Home” plays in my random mix:
I’m not running
I’m not hiding
I’m not reaching
I’m just resting in the arms of the great wide open
It’s gonna pull my soul in
And I’m almost home
Almost home… is momentarily forgetting the thousand tiny details that travel demands, knowing things soon will be logistically easier. It’s thinking of those I love and miss. It’s setting an anchor by filling my mind with familiar things.
Almost home… is remembering that I choose this life. Being away has allowed me to let go of the demands and dull routines of home. Knowing home is around the corner helps me to accept the here and now.
Almost home… is not being homesick. It’s part of the journey, a destination too. It’s appreciating the home I carry inside that lets me find comfort in new places and with new faces.
Almost home… is a great place to be. It means I’m out there. Travel is a permanent part of my life and home is what connects all the trips, it’s the pause in the middle between adventures.
Almost home… is time to start dreaming about my next travel destination!
Sometimes I’m not happy, things aren’t wonderful and my surroundings don’t delight. Tomorrow will be a new day. I’m just resting in the arms of the great wide open.
And I’m almost home.