Reflections After Nine Months.

We’re tired…. I’ve briefly mentioned this before, but thought I would try and explain better now. Partially at fault is the fact that Egypt (and a little bit India) really kicked the snot out of us, but mainly our brains are on information overload. We’ve met many other long term travelers on our route, and this seems to be incredibly common for any people NOT traveling alone. Singles seem to make a more relaxing experience for themselves, and seem to spend much of their time making friends and connections while seeing some of the sights. Couples, families or groups however seem to be more focussed on the sights since they’re not typically “lonely” and seeking excessive interaction with others. This is not to say that we didn’t strike up conversations with other strangers easily and often, because we absolutely did. In fact we made some exceptionally wonderful friends throughout the trip that way. It is simply that our primary goal is a little different than singles, and we wear ourselves (our brains really) out at a much faster rate.

Most people we’d spoken with who traveled long term in pairs or more had a breaking point of about nine to ten months. I was always surprised to hear this, and expressed time and time again that such a phenomena wouldn’t occur with my family. We were having the time of our lives! And there was no way we would consider cutting it short, or be “tired” of traveling after only three quarters of the way through such an amazing opportunity. In Egypt we met a great Aussie couple that we spent lots of time with at our eight and a half month mark. They had previously taken a year off to travel the world and had cut it short and went home at the nine month mark. He easily accepted my incredulous testimony that “that “ wouldn’t happen to us, with a knowing smile and the patience of Job. The fact is that the exact same thing has happened to us. We are enjoying ourselves, and are certainly prepared to finish up our last bit of planned itinerary, but we are museumed, churched and general monumented out. If the option to go home for a while (a month or a year, or whatever) and then finish the last three months later somehow presented itself, we would all jump at it.

Our itinerary was lucky to make this phenomena less of an impact. Our last foreign area is Europe, with the last month and a bit spent in our home country, reconnecting with friends, family and indeed, our own heritage and identities. This is the difference between winding up with good overall feelings or remembering our last portion (and thus a stronger impression embeded in our minds of the entire trip) as being not fun and a general pain in the backside. Anyone (families, pairs or groups that is) considering a similar trip would be wise to plan a route in a similar manner intentionally for the the emotional well being of yourselves. The weaning back to a “normal”, civil society (via Europe for us) might sound inflammatory, but is is a very useful step in rounding out the trip. I couldn’t possibly imagine going to South America now (near the end) and being able to give it a fair shake, and be as open minded and embracing of all it has to offer as I was when we traveled there much earlier in our trip.

Changes

We’ve been asked often about what we would do differently or what changes we would have made if we knew before what we knew now. I try to live life without regrets, and therefore tend to ignore most of those kinds of fruitless backtracking in my mind. The one and only thing I would change would be to have purchased an organized tour (GAP or Intrepid) for Egypt. That would have insulated us from much of the hassles and the less than desirable experiences we did have. There were many other little “bad” things that we could have done differently to our benefit, but I generally consider those to be part of the overall life (and learning) experience. Egypt was the only thing I would do differently. Oh, and as I was analyzing and reconciling these feelings, I gave the Aussie friend a call and joyfully proclaimed, “Yes Ron, I understand EXACTLY how you felt, and readily agree now too.” He was very gracious about my previous teasing behavior and we simply had a wonderful moment of shared enlightenment.

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