“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”


I was never sure I was going to make it to the end. At various points, I wanted to give up, to board the next flight back to the States, and friends, and family, and comfort. Comfort in this case takes on a lot of different meanings. I could be talking about a soft bed to sleep in. A hot shower. Reliable internet. Having more than two changes of clothes to choose from. The ability to flush toilet paper down the toilet. Breakfast with eggs and bacon. Real coffee. Walking up to a stranger and starting a conversation in English, knowing they will be able to understand me. Most of all, I wanted to get back the certainty of all those things and to stop worrying about where I was going to sleep at night, when my next meal was coming, and what to do next. Yet I kept going, driven forward by some primal need to prove myself–to myself.


The sun rises over the Atlantic Ocean. I know this; I’ve seen it from João Pessoa, Brazil. And the sun sets over the Pacific. I’ve seen this, too–in Huanchaco, Peru. Each sunset is an ending. The day is over. Work is done. Time to wind down and relax. The sunset of my trip is the opposite. For three months, I’ve been on my own personal adventure. I’ve indulged my whims and fantasies as I saw fit, with no need to consider anyone else. Now it’s time to get back to work. I’ve proven that I can handle what the world throws at me. Now the world needs me to give something back.


The truest words from Semisonic’s “Closing Time” are on repeat in my head. A journey that feels like it just began is coming to an end. But I haven’t left South America. I’m just not physically there anymore. Ten years ago, I spent one month in Brazil. Ever since, I’ve felt a kinship with this strange land a quarter of the way around the world. Maybe I didn’t see it at the time, but there was a spark at the moment I arrived in Santiago. The connection that had been severed was retied. The places I’ve been, the people I’ve met; they are all here with me, now and forever.


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