On Leaving South Asia

Does everyone weep as they leave Nepal? I am full of sadness as we go through immigration at the airport. I wanted to work here, learn some of the language, hike to one of the base camps. When can I come back? It would help if I knew. And we are leaving all of Southern Asia. I had my last cup of chai this morning. I forgive the guy who stole our motorbike in Myanmar, I forgive whoever took our laptop from the street in Sawai Madhopur. It doesn’t seem to matter now. Everyone who overcharged us or pestered us to buy something- all is forgiven. Just someone tell me when I can return. It is the nature of travel to be temporary. It is my fate to return to the US and the east coast in the fall. None of this comforts me now. I know most people in the countries we have visited would love to be in my place, but I don’t think they notice the beauty of their everyday life. And in America, I hear so much complaining, anger, anxiety. Yes, in these countries where we have traveled there is poverty, lack of education, poor treatment of women, little personal space, trash and sewage issues. But there is pulsating life, humanity, calm, an openness, sincerity, simplicity, gentleness, a meshing of the sacred and the ordinary, beautiful outdoor spaces, and people have been so generous and sweet. One thing I especially notice is the cheerfulness and camaraderie of everyday work. A man may be standing next to a fruit cart all day or women may be pounding gravel by hand, but they have an easy pace and friendly interactions with co-workers and passers-by. Men hold hands or play-fight and women smoke and spit without stigma, it’s just part of a day going by. I will miss this cheerfulness and acceptance of life. My family continues our trip and soon we leave all of Asia. I do not look forward to being just a bunch of tourists, and kind of shabby underfunded ones at that, in Europe. We’ve been told to deny our nationality in Russia due to its strained relations with the US. And then there will be the transition back to work, bills, our house, etc. I am the luckiest person in the world to have traveled like this. It is hard to leave this place and this time in my life, but the earth turns, time goes on, every trip has an end, and we hold the memories and enjoy the present wherever we are and rise to meet the challenges of our surroundings. Right? But, still, I just am not ready to leave Nepal.

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