January 10th to December 20th

A last post to conclude and close this blog.
Re-reading my first post “the project”, I would say that my initial goals have been fulfilled: this year off allowed me to recharge my batteries, to take my time, to take stock, to relax after an intense 2016.
I met my desire of long term travel, and my instinct was right: taking a full year allowed me to travel differently, without having to rush, to explore the different countries a little more in depth than if I had only stayed a week or two in each. This desire is not satiated though, and I don’t think it will ever be. I still want to travel, and maybe again over long periods of time.
I met the challenge I had set at the beginning of the year, not to take a plane from the north to the south of the Americas. Along the way, I felt a certain satisfaction when thinking of all the way I had come to the point I was, and all with no planes. And the satisfaction reached its highest when I reached Ushuaia in December, which was my goal since I had left Montreal at the beginning of the year.
The fact I had this goal in mind made me go a little faster at certain times, for timing purposes, although I may would have liked to stay a little more, or to visit more places. Therefore there’s positive and negative in it, positive because it forced me to keep a certain pace and not to stay inactive several days or weeks in a row, because I was motivated to keep going; negative in the sense that several times I left a place with a feeling of unfinished, and wishing I had stayed and explored a bit more.
But I also realized that one can never see or do it all; In every country I met people that told me “You should go there, visit this place, that place is not to be missed, you cannot leave without knowing this spot…”. I wanted to listen to them all but if I had done so, I would probably still be at one fourth of the way. You have to make choices sometimes, it’s not always easy but it’s the way it is.
I met incredible people and spent some memorable moments, which was obviously one of the goals. I was able to couchsurf and be hosted by local people, which adds a lot to the experience. I will not fail, in the next future, to host travelers myself, at home, to return the favor in a way, and to help people in their travels.
The fact I have lived in Latin America and that I’m fluent in Spanish helped me a lot during the trip, in terms of safety (my reflexes are a bit more sharp that the average tourist that doesn’t know the culture), but also of encounters and ability to share, as well as discovery and adventure. I was able to share more than a non Spanish speaking person would with the local population, which allowed me to imbibe more of the culture, and also to go further off the beaten track. I don’t think my experience would have been as intense and enriching in countries which languages I don’t speak.
One of the crucial choices of my trip was to do it by myself, and people ask me the question “did you do it solo?” very often, with astonishment or curiosity. I doubted it a lot and wasn’t sure I was going to like or enjoy traveling by myself, but looking back at it, I do not regret this decision at all. Travelling alone allowed me to define my itinerary, my activities, my pace all along the trip, without having to compromise. Nobody to convince on the days I was super motivated and walked around a city for 6 hours, nobody either to consider when I just wanted to stay one more hour in bed in the morning. Solo travel enables a great flexibility, reactivity, and adaptability: It has happened to me to change my itinerary from a minute to the other, in the middle of a bus terminal for example. Friends and/or family shared a bit of my trip for several days or weeks, and I visited acquaintances that live along the way, on top of the countless people I met during the trip. So in practice, I wasn’t alone that much 🙂
Last but not least, I was able to hitchhike, not all the way for practical, timing, safety and other reasons, but I still did it for almost 7,500km, almost one fourth of the total 32,000km. As I mention it in several posts (here, here and again here), it is a way of traveling I am particularly fond of, synonym for me of adventure, stepping out of the comfort zone, sharing, so it’s not the last time I do it.
To all of you readers, I say thank you, and see you soon to talk about all of it in person!

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *