The moment I was most afraid of has arrived. After six months of backpacking I feel tired, without energy and I miss home, whatever that means for me. I was warned about this moment and I was expecting it to happen. The last two months in New Zealand and Australia probably made it happen sooner than later. Bus rides are long, hostels are boring, food is tasteless and people around are all the same. I don’t remember or recognize faces anymore. They are all the same and I’m a stranger surrounded by strangers. Nobody and nothing impresses me and I feel like I’m wasting my time and my money. I don’t even have the mood to speak with people. “Where are you from? Where are you going next? How long are you travelling for?” are questions that I got asked hundreds of times. I even noticed that I am avoiding the party hostels. I can’t even drink too many nights in a row like I used to. Maybe I’m getting old and I find it more difficult now to find like-minded people. I remember during my first few months I was up for everything. I was not missing any night out or social activity. But now I prefer to chill, to sleep or to do noting. Even if I want to go somewhere, I prefer to go by myself. I’m not bothered telling my story over and over.
If I look back at the past 6 months they passed so fast. I remember the moment I landed in Beijing and walked alone at night to my hostel in a country that was a bit afraid of. I passed through a bar to get to the reception. “Hello, I’d like to check in” I said to the Chinese receptionist. It was my first night out of 364 sleeping in a hostel dorm. I was full of excitement and energy. I was looking forward to meeting new people, seeing new places, discovering new cultures. And I did. Christmas and New Years Eve passed, my 30th birthday, Easter, and the excitement of doing something new everyday became a routine. Instead of going to work everyday, I was changing hostels almost everyday. 7 days a week sometimes. And then I was waiting for my day off, for my weekend. And that was my highlight, my memory. It could be a good conversation with someone, a really cool spot, a nice meal or even laying in bed all day and watching movies.
My backpack also got heavier. Not only with more clothes, but with a lot of new memories. And it is full now! Can one’s memory get full and saturated? Do I have to do some clean up before I can enjoy traveling again? I’m going to places and then I realize that I took no photos. A lake, mountains, some buildings… nothing new, nothing special. How are these different from the ones I’ve seen before? Maybe I should take a break and let memories wash out a bit. I don’t want to go back yet, but when you start thinking what to do in 6 months after your travels, it means you are not enjoying it anymore. Mid trip is an important milestone. You are closer to going back than to when you left.
I need to keep going and find that joy. South America is different, it’s exciting and those people have Latin blood like me. I will probably feel more like home. I’m not looking anymore for beautiful places, but memorable experiences. I will go more off the beaten path and try to avoid touristic places. I will look for that spot on the beach with no footprints. The best memories are personal and not shared with thousands of other people. But it will be hard to find a balance. Places are touristic because they offer something unique. You can’t simply go to Rio and not visit the Jesus Christ statue or go to Peru and not see Machu Picchu.
I am living my dream and it is not over yet. A lot has yet to come and I am optimistic. Like in any job, you have to wake up, put a smile on your face and go to work. Face the world with a good attitude and unexpected things can happen. Getting lost somewhere, missing a bus, sleeping under the stars, these are other kind of memories hard to forget. Six more months and a lot of things will happen. It’s the last slope before the roller coaster stops, so you better close your eyes and scream as laud as possible. This is usually the best part of the ride.
Hello South America, nice meeting you. Let’s enjoy our time together and have some fun!