I was sitting at Overland Oasis in Tule, Mexico one afternoon last August, listening to two travelers, Jason and Toby, discuss their travels. Both had been through South America already and were headed north — Jason and Lisa on BMWs, Toby and Chloe in their Ford F150 camper. They both seemed to be suffering from some version of sensory overload, I suppose. They were somewhat lamenting what life was going to be like after the trip was over. I think it was Toby that said he had arrived at the point during their South America expedition that even the most majestic mountains and waterfalls became “just another mountain” and “just another waterfall”.
Then he said it. The line that hit me like a brick to the head:
“You see and do all of this incredible stuff and you get to the point where amazing becomes the norm.”
Wow. Mind boggling. Dangerous. I’ve always been an adrenaline junkie. What will life be like after seeing all of these amazing sights? Then what? Can you accept a daily routine in one place? What will it take to keep you happy? What will provide the adrenaline rush?
I’ve attended seminars and presentations held by people who have traveled the world by car, motorcycle, bicycle, boat, or on foot, and often there is the question of how to adjust to life after the trip ends. Most of the time the answer I’ve heard is the same: they don’t. They go back to work for some time, always with the goal of going again. But are they happy to be doing that? Or has it become a necessary drug to feed an addiction?
After seven months, I’m still fairly new to this, but the thought of how you handle life after amazing becomes the norm has me a little bit nervous.
But not enough to pass up the amazing.
Just a few days ago, I was sitting at a campsite on the beach with Daniel and Joey. They’ve been traveling together for 22 months now. When we last spoke in El Calafate, they were uncertain of what was next for them. They were discussing shipping the bikes home to Germany from Buenos Aires, and taking some time off from traveling. They were facing difficult decisions about starting a family and settling into a “normal” life.
Joey spoke up over dinner at the camp north of Rio Grande, Argentina: “Well, we have some exciting news.”
This sounded a lot like the introduction to “I’m pregnant and we now know which direction we’re headed”. Turns out it was quite the opposite.
She said, “We’ve decided to ship to Africa!”
Wow. Didn’t see that coming.
They said they were basically broke, and didn’t know how they would afford Africa (remember, this is the same Daniel Rintz that left home six years ago with no money to start his journey), but they were going anyway.
And then Daniel uttered a line that became the second time this trip that I had to immediately jump up and write something down:
“The thought of going back to a regular life is more terrifying than facing Africa with no money.”
Truer words have never been spoken.
Note: When I first drafted this post, one month into my trip, it was difficult for me to see beyond the amazing sights that I anticipated over the next several months. However, since riding the length of South America, and seeing some truly amazing places, I’ve come to realize that there is enough amazing in this world — even in your own backyard — to last more than a lifetime. If and when this trip ends, I believe there will still be amazing weekend trips to local places that I have yet to discover.
And that’s more than enough to keep me going.