The thing about long-term travel is you have up’s and down’s just like normal life, but they seem more intense and come a lot closer together. Some days you gaze in wonder as you stand alone at the top of a waterfall that drops 150 feet and feel like you are at the end of the world. Some days you pat yourself on the back for having a successful and enjoyable conversation with someone who speaks no English. Then the next day you discover your card got skimmed at an ATM and you end up on a skype call with Wellsfargo over iffy WIFI initiating a debit card claim for over $5,000.
Some days you think of someone from home and smile and your heart warms and sometimes it burns with the desire to be near that person, to talk to them, to hold them in your arms. Some times you get tired of the roads with innumerable warning signs — sharp curve, more curves, up ahead half the road is gone, and oh yes, here debris can fall on you from the loose mountain side. Some times you get tired of the 6 hour bus rides that take 10 hours, of waiting for the camioneta or collectivo to fill up for hours, of car sickness hovering in the background around your temples as you wind endlessly over a serpentine gravel road.
Then you remember that at home it would be impossible to reach any of these remote, amazing places by bus and that the scenery on the bus journey is sometimes just as incredible as the destination. You are grateful for being able to reach places where snow capped mountains loom, glacier carved in baffling rock stacks and elaborate steps. Where the lecheria truck that whisks you up to the mountains in the wee hours of the morning also collects each farm’s share of steaming milk from the surrounding hillsides along the way.
You remember day walks that lead to views of coffee farms covering impossibly steep valleys and friendly locals offering their moto or horse cart to help you up a hill. You remember places where hummingbirds gather nectar in droves, where local shamans heal you, share their rituals with you and their purifying, hallucinogenic brews. You are grateful for this point in your life where the scenery constantly changes, every day is different, and some days are so special, they will be forever etched in your memory.
Yes, I have days where I just want a clean toilet, my own bed, and simple foods and comforts from home. Some days I want a paved road, a familiar face, to speak in English, and to listen to my own music (currently entertaining someone in Argentina on my stolen iPod) instead of endless salsa and melodramatic love songs.
But then the next day, I get to literally fly with the birds 3,000 feet above an unbelievably immense canyon and I feel like I could travel forever.