Sunday, April 4, 2010

...and back again.

I found this sign in Johannesburg. It's a reminder of one of the many lessons I learned on this trip. No matter where you are, someone thinks it's exotic.

A few days ago, I was headed this way. But I was still very much on The Trip. Rambling through the Drakensburg mountains to Johannesburg, walking in the rain with my couchsurfing host while he ran me through some of the contradictions of his hometown. But that wasn't what I had come for. I came to catch a flight.

Half a year a go, I broke my old estimate of "year or when my cash runs out, whichever comes first" so I could see Africa. Three months ago, I made it to Cairo and started my way south.

But this flight wasn't for that. This flight was for something else. Yesterday, I reversed my last three months of travel and returned to Cairo in a little under eight hours. I spent twelve hours there, mostly in a hotel room, courtesy of Egypt Air. Then I got on another flight, to Casablanca.

I'm writing from Morocco.

It could be the start of something new and big. I could loop down West Africa, cross up to the UK, skip across Scandinavia into Poland, across more of eastern Europe like Ukraine, drop down to Iran, the Persian gulf, cross into the safer 'stans, down west China through Tibet and Nepal into north India, across Burma to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and, and, and... That's not why I'm here.

After over a year and a half of adventure, I'm here on a little side trip to see Morocco and to visit some memories in Spain and Portugal. Then, a sentence I've been waiting to write for a very long time.

I'm coming home.

It won't be direct. I have a lot of people I want to visit and thank. First I will arrive in New York City, then make a stop or two in the east coast, then turn to Chicago. After that, it'll be time to come back to Seattle, put down my backpack, eat dinner with my family, pet our cats, and go sleep in the little twin bed I grew up with.

Then we'll get to see how true that sign in Joburg is.


  1. Perhaps a fitting quote to end on:

    "We shall not cease from exploration,

    And the end of all our exploring,

    Will be to arrive where we started,

    And know the place for the first time."

    - Sonja

  2. Let me know if Boston will be one of your east coast stops.

  3. Joel, stop that. This made me tear up.

    Give me a call when you're in Chicago. (And come on a Friday if you're interested in some Improvised Shakespeare!)

    Also, if we're leaving poems:

  4. I'm glad the trip has been so good; and glad you're coming home. Say hi when you hit Chicago...

  5. No no, let me know when you're in Boston!

    - other Sonja, again.

  6. This post is great. Thanks for the story.

  7. I'm glad you're headed home. Watching you go through all of this has been pretty darn inspiring.

  8. And we will miss the writing (and vicarious adventures) so hope you continue it in some way.

  9. Sonja- A good one. Very true, too, just based on coming home from other, smaller trips.

    Sonia- You know, I wasn´t planning on it, but I got a few people reminding me there are people to visit there. And it´s a, what, 4 hour, $30 bus ride? I might come up after all. I´ll make it public beforehand.

    newredshoes- Mmm. Another good one. Those of you who didn´t follow the link and read it should. You will definitely see me in Chicago.

    Count C- Ditto to the above

    L-A- Thank you for reading, glad you enjoyed it.

    Anneka- If I can convince at least one person to go out of their country once, that´s all the inspiration I wanted to leave.

    Catherine- So will I. It´s been «insert superlatives here». I´ll see what I can do.