I’ve written and deleted this first sentence a half a dozen times. In fact, I’ve attempted to write this post on several occasions since we returned to the UK in May, but the words would never flow. During that time, I have neglected Spud on the Run, I haven’t done justice to some of the amazing experiences we had in Latin America (or the great stuff we’ve done in the UK since we returned) and I regret that and plan to change it. Firstly though, I need to write this post, clear the blockage of words that are stuck in my ‘throat’… or should I say keyboard?
Travel bloggers write about adventure. We talk about the wonderful people that we’ve met, paint the sunsets with our words, and attempt in earnest to share with you the beauty of the world in which we live. We want you to love this little rock of ours a little bit more after reading what we have to say.
I’m really proud of the success of Spud on the Run. What started out as a tiny little blog site to keep our parents and friends calm (“you’re going to COLOMBIA?!”), grew into something that has hundreds of views a month and thousands of social media followers. We’ve had lots of engagement from people that we’ve never had the pleasure of meeting to say that they’ve been touched by a post, or found one of our guides really useful. I find a great satisfaction in knowing that something I’ve written has been able to help someone make their own adventure a success. It makes all those hours struggling with questionable WiFi connections to upload new articles and photos worthwhile.
Now, it has to be acknowledged that travel bloggers aren’t that great at talking about coming home. What happens when the rucksack is emptied and stored away, the favourite photos are printed and the souvenirs are loyally displayed on the shelf? Dare I ask… What happens when the adventure comes to end?
For those of you who have followed our blog from the start (catch up on our leaving London blog), you will know that we booked a one way ticket to Colombia back in 2017. While we didn’t have a plan, adamantly refused to have one in fact, we did have a budget and two very open minds. We gave up well paid jobs, our great little find of an apartment in London, and dedicated a chunk of savings to our adventure. Was it all worth it? Of course! We had an incredible time, learnt a great deal about ourselves and our relationship and fell in love with the world even more.
But… there’s always a but isn’t there?
Eight months after our plane left for Bogota, we came home. While I can’t speak for Phil, I know that all of a sudden I felt lost. I mourned Latin America like I’d lost a dear friend; the vibrant colours, the energy of the people, the variety of nature, even the simplicity of just being surrounded so thoroughly by the Spanish language. Suddenly it was all gone and it just felt like a hazy dream.
Now, I’ve travelled before, I was ready for the reverse culture shock but this felt different. Our approach to our time in Latin America was different than to past travelling. We took our time, moved on slowly and paused to really appreciate where we were and the people that we were with. Our time in Latin America changed us, we became better people, we learnt a lot about how we should prioritise things in life, making sure that only those things that matter the most are put to the forefront. We talked about how we were excited to come home, to start the next chapter of our lives with this new found appreciation… at times I know that I personally sounded like I’d swallowed a whole load of those overly positive and completely corny life quotes that you see scattered across the internet. But (there’s that ‘but’ again!), when we actually did return to the UK, without even realising what was happening, we began to squash ourselves back into the moulds of ourselves that we had left behind. We forgot about that bigger picture we were meant to focus on, and we forgot about our new found priorities.
I don’t think we had appreciated how difficult it would be to return to the UK. Our parents kindly put us up while we got back on our feet, but this meant that we were living separately after eight months of continuously being together. We had lots to decide, like where we would live next, not just the house but the location as we were no longer tied to London, and if we wanted to return to the same careers, or try something new. Being apart from each other made it even more difficult to make these big decisions. We came back and we were so incredibly happy, and that happiness felt like it was slipping through our fingers as the days went by.
Now, I know I’m probably coming across as an ungrateful moaner. I’m not, I promise. I’m really grateful that we were privileged enough to be able to go on such an awesome adventure in the first place, and I’m so thankful to our parents who helped us to get sorted. We made some great memories during the exceptionally sunny UK summer, and spent valuable time with our family and friends. I wouldn’t change that.
While everything felt like it was in a state of flux, I couldn’t focus on the blog. I wasn’t able to write about our travels because I was missing it so much and my head was full of all the different things we needed to organise. My numerous half written blog posts were moved over so that I could focus on an array of job applications and interview preparation. The time spent on editing and loading photos to the website became time to catch up with friends. It was like our travels had never happened.
Would we do anything differently? No, not all. We don’t regret any of the choices that we made. We should have been easier on ourselves when we returned though. I think, for me at least, I’d expected to return and have some kind of epiphany, I thought that I’d have all the answers and had this idealised vision that everything would just click into place. I got back and realised that this wasn’t going to happen in the timeframe I’d expected and I panicked. After giving up so much of our lives to go travelling, and then the adventure coming to a close, I guess I had a bit of an identity crisis. Who was I now? What did I want to do next? I felt a lot of pressure to get the right answer first time around.
It took us over five months to find our new home together, and in the grand scheme of things that’s not very long. I’m really happy to be able to tell you that we’ve just recently moved to Manchester and we’re both starting new jobs. While it might not be as warm as the Peruvian coastline, or as brimming with natural wonder as the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle… it is a new kind of adventure all of its own (with less mosquitos! WIN!). While Phil lived in Manchester for six months a few years ago, the city has changed a lot and there is so much for us to explore together. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you – there’s an adventure to be explored in every day if you look for it. I’d never really given much thought to living in Manchester before, but now that I’m here I’m starting to learn what a great little part of the world it is. I’m also learning how to implement the lessons and realisations from our trip into everyday life, it’s certainly a little harder in the UK winter compared to being laid on a beach, but certainly not impossible.
So, back to the question at hand – what happens after the adventure ends?
Well, another one begins, of course!
Do you have experience of coming home after living or travelling abroad? We’d love to hear your story, please do share it with us in the comments below!
If you’d like to know more about our adventures, check out our other blog posts.
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