This is the hardest blog I’ve had to start yet.
This is my last entry from South America, though far from my last entry. The adventure has only just begun.
I found myself in the most unlikely of situations. I went to Mancora, knowing it was my paradise from 2 long, and yet so short, years ago. I left after 8 days, believing that I couldn’t find whatever it was that I was looking for in such an atmosphere: partying everyday with little else to do but laze around. But when I left, as I sat at the bus station, I craved it. I was closer than most of you will ever know to turning around. The bus was late, as usual, and I gave it 5 minutes. If it wasn’t there in 5 more minutes, I was going back. But it came, and I left to Ecuador. As you all know, I was guided back there by whatever force it is that guides me, and reappeared to my friends’ surprise a mere 6 days later.
When I showed up I said I’d stay until the full moon party in June (about 10 days away). So, Tyler offered me my job back. I figured I’d leave a couple days after full moon.
I stayed 5 weeks. And in those 5 weeks I found exactly what I was looking for. I found that thing I couldn’t put my finger on. That thing I needed, so desperately, yet could never find without help. It was me I was searching for.
When I left Canada I was a mess. I was so jumbled, and I couldn’t listen to my gut for a second; how could I when I couldn’t hear it? I had no idea where I was going or what I wanted. I felt disconnected from everyone because I felt utterly disconnected from myself.
Who would have ever thought that a party hostel – a place where I drank, smoked and toked every day, all day, would show me exactly what I craved? Clearly, I didn’t think it was possible. But it did. Truthfully, though, I know I was guided back there not for the wicked parties we had, but for the people I met.
My last night at the Point hostel was Canada day. I was the only Canadian, yet everyone got totally into it with me. I attacked everyone with canadian temporary tattoos, and they all put up with it. I rounded up the troops for an epic game of Beer Olympics (quarters, beer pong, and beersby) making sure we were all nice and hammered by the time night fell. Then we had the usual Sunday night BBQ and bonfire – except this time with s’mores to toast Canada. I’ve never seen so much of the hostel out on the beach at once – I swear not a soul was left inside. It was amazing. But, before long, I longed for the thing I loved the most here.
You see, the party nights were amazing. Covering ourselves in body paint, jumping in the pool (sometimes with more clothes than others), playing drinking games… but those were never my favorite nights at the Point. No, my favorite nights were the small ones. The nights when it was just a few of us at the bar – usually all or part of the staff, and maybe a guest or two. Those nights when we just drank together and chatted. Sitting at the bar with my favorite people; those were the best nights. So, long before the bonfire ended, I headed in to chill with Ed at the bar.
Eventually others joined and at some point I made a Mancora martini a la Cyril, and the night becomes a wee bit fuzzy at that point, though still remembered. I definitely decided I needed to jump into the pool in nothing but a thong one last time, though barely anyone was around to see it. But come on, it was for me, it was always for me, and for no one else. Things took a turn for the unusual when I was given a rather unexpected Canada day present, but it was definitely an enjoyable one.
And, alas, thus concluded my last night in Mancora. The next morning I said my goodbyes. I walked around to each person who meant so much to me holding tight onto the stick. Have I yet mentioned the stick? Well, it can’t really be explained. Let’s just say, I have a stick. ¨Rowan went to Ica………¨ Those of you who are meant to understand understand very clearly. But this stick contains all the energy of all those who mean the most. It was Theo’s stick, and before he left, he told me I was in charge of the stick. I told him I would bring it home with me, and bring it on my travels back home – on the ferry ride to Victoria, hitch hiking to Shambhala, and wherever else I land. The stick will join me, and gain more and more energy. The morning I left I spoke to Theo on facebook, since he had already gone back to Europe, and he said to me, ¨I think it was always meant for you.¨ That stick… well, if you meet it, and you’re the right kind of person, you’ll understand it all without me saying a word.
And then the journey to Bogota began. I left the Point hostel at noon on Monday, July 2, to catch my bus for 12:30pm. Armed with a pack of crackers (all eaten within 2 hours…), some pudding, and of course, the stick (you know you’re a stoner when…), I waited at the bus station. Naturally the bus was an hour and a half late. So we left at 2pm. As the bus drove away from Mancora, I felt a bit of sadness, but mostly I was in denial at that point. I couldn’t even imagine not seeing them all. Not waking up to their voices, or waking them up with mine, not seeing them behind the bar, not watching the sunset with them… it didn’t feel real. Nonetheless, I knew. But there was a strange new feeling; I didn’t regret leaving. I have left Mancora 4 times now – twice on this trip and twice on the last one, and I had regretted it every single time before this one. I wish I was there now, sure. I wish my Hanna, my Theo, my Ed, my Rowan, and my Sandra were here with me right now. But I don’t regret leaving. I have a new adventure ahead of me. That being said, I miss them like crazy.
The bus crossed the border with us, stamping us out of Peru, then driving to the Ecuador side and stamping us in. A lovely woman who worked for Cifa, the bus line, took care of me, as apparently I needed to switch busses in Huaquillas (the border town where we got stamped into Ecuador) to get to Quito. We arrived at the Ecuadorian side at 5:05pm and she rushed me to immigration – imagine me running with my big backpack, little backpack, and the stick. We got through there and caught a cab into the town, just 10 minutes away, but it was too late. The 5:15pm bus had left. So I was to catch the one at 7:40pm. Well, that wasn’t too bad, I thought. So I left everything at the bus station… except for the stick. The woman at the bus station said, ¨It’s ok, nothing bad will happen,¨but I replied, ¨No, it’s just very special to me.¨ So I walked around Huaquillas trying to find food for a while, armed with my stick, getting the strangest looks – just as I like it.
That’s when the real sadness began to set in. I started to realise I had really left. That a chapter in my life had really closed, and that all was left was the memory. Ah! What beautiful memories we created! Still, it’s hard.
Eventually I caught my next bus – from Huaquillas to Quito. That bus ride was about 12 hours, landing me in Quito at 7:30am. I caught a taxi to the bus terminal that would take me northbound. As soon as I got there I heard one of the men at the booths shout out, ¨A la frontera!¨ Yep, I needed to go to the border. I asked if the bus crossed with us, but I wasn’t so lucky this time. So I hurried to the bus which was leaving for Tulcan, the border town on the Ecuadorian side. It was a 5 hour ride, so I arrived at 1pm on Tuesday – over 24 hours since I left the hostel. I really can’t sleep on busses, so I was pretty loopy at this point. I asked someone at the Tulcan bus terminal if there was a bus that crossed the border from here to Colombia, but there was not. I had to take a taxi to immigration on the Ecuadorian side to get stamped out.
What a bloody sight. The most epic of lines, oh lord. Lucky me, however, as there were two gringos at the end of the line. So I walked up to them, stick in hand, and asked if they spoke english. A little bit, they said, so I asked where they were from. France! Oh glory, we could communicate! So we started chatting, and then one of them went off to find out if this was even the right line. It was not. Thank god he asked.
So we headed to the exiting Ecuador line, and waited. We chatted away, me being incredibly happy to be dealing with the border with fellow travelers. After a bit a very familiar looking fellow came along and asked if he could bum a smoke. We soon figured out that he was from Belgium, so we could all speak french together. Hurray! Then I said to him, ¨You look really familiar, but maybe you just have one of those faces,¨and he replied, ¨No, I’m sure we’ve met…¨ Soon we realised he had stayed at the Point a few weeks back, and of course I’d been his friendly bartender!
So there we were, the 4 of us, chatting away in french, a pile of backpacks, and a stick. It took nearly 3 hours just for them to put a bloody exit stamp on our passports! If I’d been alone, with how tired I was and all, I would have been quite frustrated. But with these wicked new friends? Nah, it was just an adventure. The only problem was that when I have long bus, boat, or plane journies, my stomach issues start acting up. So I had major stomach cramps. I started thinking perhaps I should take a plane from the Colombian side of the border to Bogota. I popped a tylenol 3 (codeine anyone?) and soon after started feeling quite lovely again.
Finally, at about 4:30pm, we walked across the bridge and VOILA! We were in Colombia. Anticipating another 3 hour line to get stamped in, we approached immigration to find… about 3 people in line ahead of us. Ya, it took 5 minutes to get stamped into Colombia. Explain this to me… the same number of people were exiting Ecuador as entering Colombia… I just… don’t… get it!!! But, alas, it was a win. I asked someone about flying to Bogota, but the price was unholy and the flights were only on Tuesdays (it was a Tuesday but the flights were earlier) and Fridays. No go. So the four of us caught a taxi into town and headed to the bus station where we purchased a ticket.
We were now at 5:30pm, and mine and the two french guys’ bus to Bogota was at 6:30pm (Quentin, the one from Belgium, was headed elsewhere). We had a bite to eat before hopping on the 22 hour bus ride. Somewhere along the line I popped another tylenol 3 for the stomach pains, and was quite happily surprised that I had a seat next to my new french friends in comfy, roomy seats. I popped 3 valiums, horribly deprived of sleep by this time, but they did nothing. So I popped 2 more.
I dare you to manage to stay awake after two T3’s and five valiums. No, finally, I got my much needed sleep. I just can’t sleep on busses, damnit! But I did it, I did it! Woooooo!
So, today, Wednesday, we finally arrived in Bogota around 5:30pm. The french guys and I caught a taxi together as they were going somewhere close to Ivette’s, my lovely Peruvian friend who’s hosting me once again.
I left the hostel at noon on Monday. I arrived at Ivette’s at 6pm Wednesday. That’s 54 hours. Sure, there were stops in between busses, but never stops in transit. I was on the go the entire time. Worn out? Yes, yes I am, and I’m going to sleep as soon as I finish typing this.
Ivette and I had a tame night but shared stories. She asked me to tell her about my trip, but I had no big stories. No, just descriptions of the people. I could have told her about the motor breaking down on my boat in the Amazon, or of the art exposition I saw in Lima. I could have told her about the random guy coming up to me on the street in Huanchaco and kissing me. I could have told her a million stories, but they weren’t my trip.
My trip was you guys. Hanna, Rowan, Ed, Theo, and Sandra. Every story I told her came back to you guys. And how I found myself directly through you bunch. It’s so much more feelings than stories.
And so, I prepare to leave tomorrow afternoon. I will fly out at 2pm and stay in Vancouver for a few days before heading back to Victoria, and frolicking around the island and Canada in general for summertime.
I’m sad to leave South America, but I’m mostly sad to have left you guys. But it’s strange – I don’t regret leaving. I got what I needed from Mancora, though I’m sure you guys have much more to teach me. But you will when the time is right. For now, the time is right to return home. I have a whole new life to build. I have lessons learned to incorporate into everyday life. And I have a million ocean sunsets to watch, each one imagining you all by my side.
I am, at last, on the right path, able to listen to my inner me, and I’m excited for all the new doors you have helped me open up.
So, I bid you guys, and South America, adieu; See you on the other side, my friends. It’s a beautiful place, I’m sure.