And…that’s that. After 8 countries, 255 days, and a myriad of experiences, we’re home. It’s definitely bittersweet, but such is life – you have to ride the roller coaster, with all it’s highs and lows, and take the good with the bad. We had had incredible adventures, but we were ready to come home.
Our flight home was smooth: we flew EVA air through Taiwan, and even managed to get a lifer from the airport, a Eurasian magpie. Grandma had arranged for a limo to pick us up (sweet!) and it was Easter weekend – lots of family, lots of food, lots of chocolate. We were jet lagged but happy. The weather could have been better – in fact, we were pretty much frozen for the first month back, as our bodies reacclimated to a Canadian spring – but the sun was shining, and the birds were singing. It was actually great to see birds that we had missed while we were away. Even cardinals, blue jays and chickadees were exciting, it was like getting reacquainted with old friends.
[Left to right: first day of school; Easter egg; befriending the chickadees]
The jet lag was bad; we all felt like we had been hit by a bus. But we found the best way to get over it is to throw yourself back into the rhythm of life, with regular work and school routines to exhaust you, allowing for sound sleep. The kids had no issues having missed school for 7 months, and reintegrated into the school system smoothly, but the transition from freedom to structure felt harsh. Kevin had a tough time accepting that he was pretty much coming out of retirement and going back to work, whereas I was lonely – hanging with family 24/7 to suddenly no longer having people around for company and conversation was hard. We were all emotional for the first few weeks as we settled back into life, with some mild depression all around. We were dazed; Canada felt real, but the trip felt like it had been a dream.
But it was great to put on jeans and favourite hoodies again, to play with old toys, to sleep in our own beds. And to bake again! Oh, how I had missed biting into hot and freshly baked chocolate cookies, pumpkin muffins, and raspberry scones. And we definitely ate a lot of comfort food, with shepherd’s pie, perogies and sausage, and tostadas on the priority list. Needless to say, the lack of exercise and increase in eating had us all put on a few pounds (totally worth it though). Our bodies have had a tough time adjusting to the western diet, as we’re not able to deal with dairy and bread as well as we used to. It makes for a musical household 🙂
Many long-term travellers prefer the nomadic lifestyle, and eschew suburbia and office jobs and soccer practices and all that a Canadian life offers. We are not those people though: we absolutely love travel, and embrace other cultures, languages and foods. We love to explore old towns, big cities, museums and temples. We love to interact with people who live an entirely different existence than us. We also love to explore jungles and grasslands, beaches and oceans, mountains and valleys, and encountering wildlife that are so weird and wonderful that we couldn’t even dream of them. And yet…we are always happy to come home. We love the nature in our backyard – the maple leaves and trilliums, the warbler migration and raccoons staring at us in the night. Our neighbours on our street kept an eye on our house, our children were so excited to play with their cousins, and the teachers at the school who were so supportive of this journey were thrilled to hear adventure tales from our kids. It’s been awesome to catch up with family, friends, and neighbours. And I can’t imagine not having that in my life. Canada is home, and it always will be.
But now, the wanderlust has set in. And while we’ll never do a 9-month voyage around the world again, we have set our sights on the next adventure awaiting us. Even if it’s only for a couple weeks, and even if it’s not for a few years, the dream is what keeps us motivated. The world is a big playground, and there are so many more places to visit and adventures to experience in the short time we’ve been given on this extraordinary planet.
Thanks for joining us on our journey. We hope you enjoyed the ride as much as we did!
We are still tallying up our expenses, and will post what the final total is, and whether or not we managed to stick to our budget. I can’t wait to see the breakdown of our expenses per country, and per category – the Excel geek in me has been looking forward to this the whole trip! And Kevin will write a summary post to let you know how the birding fared. There were some amazing highlights, some unexpected difficulties, and some incredible surprises, too. If you’re hoping to bird in some of these places, we can for sure give you our two cents on what worked and what didn’t. We also have lots of video to edit, and we’ll make sure to share our montages with you. And we plan on identifying how the gear held up, in case you’re looking for recommendations. So stay tuned; we’ll continue to write posts as we decompress and debrief over the next while.