It’s 6.45pm and the sun is about to set on the small sand island of Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. The sun is blazing a bright shimmer across the water towards the beach, still powerfully hot and bright, reminding us all of its strength even at this time of day. Tourists – Mexicans and Americans mostly – are gathered, iPhones at the ready, to capture the ball of fire as it falls rapidly from the horizon, sending twirls of pinks, purples and reds across the sky. Beer in hand, I’m also watching.
I’ve been thinking about this ‘final’ blog for some time and this seems as good a time as any to write it. With only a 8,000 kms flight back to London (not including a short hop to Dublin), that’s it for my third round the world trip. I caught the travelling bug as a naive and ponytailed 17 year old, took off again in 2002-3 (mostly to watch the World Cup in Japan and Korea) and again this time with my brilliant wife, Miriam and my brave, funny and awesome young girls, Arielle and Eden.
I sometimes sit back and think, did we achieve what we wanted to from this trip? Well, yes, I think we did. We wanted to show the girls that there’s a big wide world out there – check. We wanted them to understand that the world is not scary but exciting and inspiring and that there is life outside London – I think check. We wanted to spend more time together as a family, to learn and teach each other – yes, check. And, we wanted to share in an experience of a lifetime and gave the girls lots of memories – definitely check.
So after 56,000 miles, 33 flights, 50 taxi rides, 2 campervans, 14 boats and 18 coach journeys we head home. On the way through 11 countries and 4 stop-over countries, we’ve stayed in 42 hotels, 3 rainforest lodges, 3 eco lodges, 1 hotel car park, 1 school, 27 campsites, 2 restaurant car parks, 1 town square, my sister and relatives and countless other hostels, farms, and others. We’ve had many bizarre illnesses, strange allergic reactions and a good few fevers and tummy bugs. We’ve lost money (still don’t know what happened to that cash in Chile), missed and booked the wrong flights (twice, cost a lot of money!), run out of petrol and been stuck in the sand twice!
We tried to learn two languages – Spanish for us all (went ok-ish but should be a lot better after nine months in Spanish speaking countries!) and I’ve been trying to teach the kids Hebrew (going better than Spanish!), we’ve learnt a lot of coding, finished the school curriculum, surfed, snorkelled and swam so much! As Eden says #notgoingbacktoourlocalpoolagain!
We have also met the most brilliant people along the way. Long lost relatives, who the kids have really taken to and I’m happy that they’ve now met so many relatives from my side of the family. Other families doing the same as us, traveling different routes, taking their time, but all with the same shared objectives. And, families who have settled away from home, searching for a different, quieter and more open lifestyle. And like these folk, it’s not always been easy and certain moments have been very stressful and difficult but having to deal with that, I suppose, is part of the experience.
And while the world seems a lot smaller than in 1992 – anyone under 30 heard of reverse charging an international call? – it still amazes me that you can stay in touch with friends, family and news of home on a handheld screen. But, honestly, it has also been very liberating to leave all that behind for a while and just have the time to wonder, to think, to be still either alone or together, to wake up early and see the sunrise or walk in the warm evening air. That is what I’ll miss the most.
Thanks for following our trip.
Until next time.
PS – title is from The Edge of The Deep Green Sea by The Cure