|Cabo de la Vela, Colombia|
- writing; although I did do some freelance work on the go, I was so happy just running around and experiencing things that I never even kept a personal journal of my travels. Writing (and editing) professionally was more of an outlet than I had realised.
- my wardrobe; some people return from holidays well and truly in love with a capsule wardrobe. I now know that I will never be that person. Living on basics that become increasingly gross as I crossed into warmer climes, I found myself missing variety, and the ability to express a certain mood with clothing. That said, I found myself pining for specific items in my wardrobe, rather than new things, which I think is a good thing - getting pleasure out of what I already have is something I always strive for.
- dependable showers; it's always a bit of a hold-my-breath moment when I step into a strange shower (in hostels, Airbnb rentals etc) for the first time. The "cold trickle" (unbearable in Chile, Peru and Bolivia, where it was cold), impossible-to-control water pressure and temperature - I'm glad for a break from these.
- food in Singapore; South American cuisine, from Chile to Colombia, even including the lauded gastronomic haven of Peru, is just not competing at the same level as what I find back home and in Southeast Asia. Chinese, Malay, Indian and Indonesian cuisine (not to mention Thai and Vietnamese) make use of spices and flavours in an everyday way that kicks everyone else's ass.
- yes, friends and family; the joy of saying things that require no explanation (jokes, life and pop culture references) - I will never take that for granted again. Yes, travelling is in part about meeting new people, but meeting new people can be exhausting.
I set out about five months ago after quitting my job, in search of something new. No, I did not return with any "Wild"- or "Eat Pray Love"-type epiphanies, although I wished I did because, well, it would have been quite a cool challenge (and potentially lucrative) to write a book wouldn't it? Better yet, I wish I came back with ideas for starting a non-profit that could put a patch over one of the many complicated problems faced by developing countries and communities. Maybe inspiration will still strike.
I do return with a tremendous sense of calm - deeply comforted that I can give up something that was such a huge part of my life (my previous job) and be...fine. I may not know precisely what I want to do next but I also feel no rush - a combination of part-time and contract work will keep me financially head-above-water till I make up my mind.
I have so much to digest from my trip around South America (and Cuba), and it will be a while before I can get it down properly in posts on this blog. I do have some ideas, but I'll also love to know what you guys want to read about.
And if anyone has any questions on travelling in Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Cuba (and briefly Ecuador and Argentina), hit me with an email (someone left a comment about hiking and trekking - if you email me I'll drop you a proper reply!).