Its the end of 181 days of travelling. The original plan was to make it to the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe however my friend Trung and I have run out of time and it's time to return to Canada.
The last few months have been beautiful, frustrating, exhilarating, funny and generally the time of my life. A man once said that time slows down while you travel. That has been true of my time on the road. It feels like years ago I was packing and saying goodbye to my friends in Ottawa, Canada.
After seeing such a small part of the Earth and her cultures and religions I've come to a few general realizations. First and foremost is that despite our differences, the human race is largely the same. People are shockingly similar around the world and share the same hopes and dreams. Its a shame that we've been shown and taught otherwise. Secondly, people are good at heart. Our religious and cultural traditions are what make us unique and in my opinion that is what makes this small planet more interesting. Ultimately we are all different, yet the same core values of peace and neighborliness remain a constant everywhere I've been. We need to celebrate our differences rather than fear them.
I have heard so many times the warnings of fellow travelers or people back home about what to fear and what to 'watch out' for in upcoming regions of my travels. Each and every time the mantra "You'll get kidnapped, your shoes will be stolen and you'll be left in the jungle with no kidneys!!" has not come true. It has never been as bad as people have warned about. The contents of my backpack: computer, hard drive, camera, wallet, often more than a year's salary for most, and a continuing source of curiosity for my countless hosts, has remained safe and sound during this entire trip.
I fear my own prejudice of certain people and cultures has often left me with my guard up. I regret missing out on some opportunities to get to know the people I've come in contact with. These travels have made me aware that I have this limitation and thankfully I have learned to stop my own learned prejudice and to open my horizons further than I thought they could go.
I return to Canada grateful for the opportunities I've had in my life, including the ability to travel freely. So many people in today's world are still living with almost nothing and may never have the same opportunities I've had in my life and yet the happy smiles and conversations I've shared with people living satisfied lives with such a small amount never ceased to amaze me. I have learned a new way of living, far from my Western life, yet somehow infinitely more fulfilling.
I'll continue the experiment now, returning to Canada to my amazing friends and family to finish out a half-complete master's degree. What is to come, I do not know, but I will carry with me the vivid memory of my travels and the beautiful people I've met on the way.
I hope the musings in this blog will purvey some sense of my travels and show you just how small the world really is.