And so it begins. When we stepped off the plane in Nicaragua our family’s epic adventure officially began drawing to a close. With 16 months of international travel behind us, we have just one left. We’ll spend this month sharing a home with the family and friends coming in for visits. Then we’ll board our last flight of this around-the-world journey and head home. It’s a surreal time for all of us.
Throughout this trip I’ve been the travel agent for our crew. I’ve researched towns, poured over online rental listings, figured out flight plans and made the final bookings. As of today our family has stayed in 79 cities in 24 countries, with almost all of those being orchestrated by yours truly. That is, except for this amazing house in Granada.
I had very little to do with the process of selecting this country, city or house. Friends from Chattanooga who are joining us for this last leg of our journey took the lead, and I happily handed over the reigns. Our place here in Granada is without a doubt the nicest house we’ve stayed in on this trip. Maybe even the nicest we’ve ever stayed in on a vacation period. With several groups scheduled to come and join us over the course of the month, we were able to combine our funds and rent a gorgeous place with a large garden, a pool, a prime location and even a housekeeper. We’ve been seriously living in the lap of luxury since arriving at our rental on Granada’s popular Calle Caldaza.
Our friends, the Perrys, were already here when we arrived. Emily, Jay and their daughter, Maddie, joined us almost a year ago as we traveled to Prague. Back then we toured castles and strolled through medieval courtyards together. This tropical trip with them is very different, not only in climate and surroundings, but also because we get to have the Perrys three-year-old son, Benji, with us. This kid’s laugh is totally infectious.
Our first few days were spent catching up with our friends and watching the kids play in the pool. We got to know Granada a bit, but mostly we just relaxed. The house has a huge space for my morning yoga. Then I can sip coffee while watching birds peck around the garden and listening to the church bells chime throughout the city. Our location is perfect, situated at the top of the Caldaza pedestrian walkway lined with shops and restaurants.
Given all the friends and luxurious surroundings, I was very surprised to find myself in a bit of a funk our first few days here. I had to fake my typically genuine good mood at times, and little things, like the kitchen getting too hot when I was cooking or the shower head not working quite right, would leave me in an uncharacteristic seething rage. Here we were enjoying a beautiful place with our good friends, and yet I felt like a grumpy old man inside. What was my problem?
I finally realized I was just sad to see this trip coming to an end. Before it was even over, somewhere in my brain I was already grieving the close of this chapter in our lives together. As Brian and I started the process of figuring out our housing in the U.S., researching car models we might want to buy and planning out the logistics of our return, I would get a nagging, irritable feeling in the pit of my stomach. Despite being in a new country with lakes, volcanoes and markets to explore, I was already bracing myself for the realities of normal life. Snap out of it, Tracey! Look where you are!
There are so many things I’m excited about in this “post-epic adventure” chapter. Obviously seeing family and reuniting our girls with their grandparents is at the top of the list. Having our sweet dogs with us again is also up there. I’m looking forward to starting fresh in a new home and implementing a more minimalist approach to our lives. Getting the girls back into school and our family back into a social life will also be fun after so much time with just the five of us. We’ll relish all the little conveniences of American day-to-day living, everything from clean tap water to kitchen gadgets. We’ll appreciate things we once took for granted, as well as the new things this trip has brought to our lives. I’m going to keep up with my writing through this blog and maybe a book. Brian will keep exploring his passion for photography, and our family will continue with our quest to complete 100 service projects. I know there’s so much to look forward to when this month in Nicaragua is over.
Yet, there’s also so much we’ll miss. Exploring new cultures and seeing beautiful areas of the world are certainly part of what we’ve loved about this adventure. We’ve definitely done a lot of cool stuff. However, more than anything, we’ll miss the simplicity of nomadic life. Granted, given my previous comments about all the hotel bookings and transportation schedules, it might seem that traveling the world with three kids is more complicated than the normal routine back home. Yet, we’ve learned through this journey just how complicated we’d let our modern American life get.
Our nomadic world doesn’t include a busy schedule of sports practices and activities. There aren’t any committee meetings or report deadlines. I’m not baking cupcakes for class parties or driving the car in for an oil change. No home repairs and no landscaping work. So many of life’s hassles have been removed, and in the absence of all those obligations and errands we’ve realized just how much of our time had been dedicated to them. Part of me doesn’t want to let go of the smooth, undemanding rhythm we’ve fallen into in each of the places we’ve called home. This uncomplicated life on the road is what I’ll miss the most, and the idea of leaving it is the reason why arriving at this last stop on our journey threw me into a little bit of a funk at first.
But I’ve shaken it off! Rather than subconsciously stressing myself out about our return to the real world, I will be enjoying these last weeks of our journey to the fullest. Once we’re back, the challenge will be to bring our nomadic outlook to our American life. We will live a much calmer, slower existence than we did before. Implementing that philosophy in the U.S. will likely be our biggest cultural hurdle yet, but I think we can handle it.