a turn of the snow globe

An interesting series of thoughts….paraphrased from my journal

Aug. 25 1:00 pm, Puno

We caught a night bus to Puno, arriving here at 6 am yesterday.  Well, now we’re waiting for our bus to La Paz.  It turns out Puno, on the edge of Lake Titicaca, is not much of a stimulating place for us at the moment…

What happened to my ability to explore and soak a new place up?  Or is this really just not a new place?  the buildings are almost all constructed of brick, giving an interesting old world look and the hills are decorated with more of the same.  But…beyond that…I feel like I could be anywhere, and when I lose myself in thought at night, I forget where I am.  

I think I need to rest in one place and let my curiosity brew again.  Or perhaps I need to find a place out in the countryside like Pisco Elqui, Chile and Santa Teresa, Peru.  Cities don’t stir me like those little gems did…

Aug. 25 3:00 pm, Puno

We were about to board our bus to La Paz when everything changed…

It began when the ticket collector saw we were “Americanos.”  He said this word to identify us, making a gesture with his hand to his forehead and his eyes rolled to the sky.  I could see he was annoyed at us already.  He knew English very well and explained with apparent frustration that we had to go to the ATM before leaving, because Bolivia’s visa-on-arrival costs $135 USD- cash only- and there would be no ATMs at the border.  He shued us off toward the ATM but I could see this had changed the enthusiasm Drew felt for Bolivia.  

We are at the end.  At the end of our ability to justify this or that spend.  At the end of having spry and enthusiastic flexibility for things getting turned upside down and perhaps even at the end of our energy at all.  

Finally Drew spoke up. “Then why go to Bolivia?”  he said.  We returned to the bus station to quick collect our thoughts.  Was it going to be worth $300 to see Bolivia?  At the end of 8 and a half months of international travel, $300 is nothing to brush off. Then again… our flight out of Peru exceeded our 30 day Visa allowance by 2 days…so we would need to visit SOMEWHERE.  Our bus was about to go and we needed to make a decision…

This is when Drew looked at me and said that thing you can’t un-say: the thing that won’t leave once you’ve freed it from your thoughts.  

“I kinda just want to go home.”

I can’t believe it, though I admit it makes sense.  The doctors have given Drew’s granny a few more days to live, and if we do this right, we’ll be able to go to her funeral.  

Nothing is planned yet…but I think we’re heading home…

Aug. 27

Well, we came up with a plan.  Saturday after making our spontaneous decision to go home, everything became exciting again.  It’s like somewhere along the road, things flip-flopped and the new places became old while old ones became new; like a snow-globe sitting upside-down so long that the snow stops stirring and settles to the ceiling.  We’re stirring it up again…flipping it around…

Drew hopped online to change our ticket, or see if he could, as soon as we got back from the bus station.  We found a hostel with internet and made a plan.  Here it is: Sunday morning bus from Puno to Arequipa (5 hours).  Monday morning fly from Arequipa to Lima.  Monday evening fly from Lima to Bogota.  Tuesday morning fly from Bogota to Miami, Miami to Houston.  Land in Houston at 5:05 pm, drive to Bay city and teach my art lesson at 9 pm.  

I had a fleeting thought in Arequipa that we could have stayed.  We could have killed time in Arequipa quite happily I think.  But… there’s something almost instinctive about this certainty that it’s time to go home, like the changing of seasons.  Unstoppable.  It’s just time.  Time for something new.  One day travel will be something new again.  In fact, I doubt it will be long before our minds turn outward to the wide open world again, but for now, the adventure is inward.  The snow-globe must be right-side up to stir again.

August 29, noon, Bay City TX

This return now feels providential.  We returned to TX in time for me to hop online and teach my art lesson while Drew went to visit Granny.  Just a few hours later Drew called to say that Granny had passed away.

It felt spooky in a meaningful kind of way.  We drove home from the nursing home in the warm, hazy moonlight with an air of peace and i marveled at how strange it was that our spontaneous decision to come home happened to land us in TX just hours before Dee’s death.  Each day for the last week or so the doctors have been saying “this could be her last.”  One of the nurses, not knowing we’d just flown in from Peru commented, “I think she was waiting for someone: hanging on for them.”  

How did we go from non-stop travel to the deathbed of Drew’s granny in mere days…hours?  Death is mysterious…but I’m beginning to think that life is too.

________________

I couldn’t be more grateful for this: for experiencing travel so long that it became my daily life and my “normal.”  I wanted that.  I wanted to see what it was like to be a vagabond and to wear that title so long that I really knew the rhythms and patterns of that lifestyle.  I didn’t just want a travel adventure;  I wanted the traveler’s life and now I’ve had it.  And Lord willing, I may have it again one day.

 

stay tuned for the next set of travels….

 

 

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