It has been quite a ride. It is difficult to write this as it was not supposed to be over yet. We were saving some of our favorite locations for last but the corona virus and the hysteria that surround it has been determined to send us home. The countries we were planning to visit (Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador) closed their borders. Parks, monuments, historical sites, transportation were unavailable. We wrangled with our options and thought we could ride it out, but after word that the closures would extend most likely through June, we decided to go back to Alameda. We ended our trip prematurely. Everything was closed for the foreseeable future.
With the trip ending on such a sour note, it is hard to hold onto all the amazing things we’ve seen and done. Kylie cried, saying she didn’t want to go. Alyssa wanted to hold out hope for a chance to see Machu Pichu, but she was also tired of being locked up with us and wanted to return. Sharleen was heartbroken. She had spent two years planning an awesome journey through South America culminating in an 20th year anniversary in the Galapagos. And me, I was pretty dejected. We were all aware that the coronavirus has disrupted and ruined lives and businesses around the world and our problems paled in comparison. Our thoughts turned to some of the people we had met along the way. People who we met that depend on tourism and the flow of people for their livelihood and spread of ideas and cultural exchanges. People like Manda, Martin, and Francis (and Rosemary and Carol), Lao Sun on the Great Wall, or our guide Jai in Chitwan, as well as many of the other people who we met along the way whose jobs depend on travelers for their livelihood.
The world was as big as it was small. At times we were farther in hours than some of the people we had. At other times, we explored only fractions of vast wild places after several days (like the Great Barrier Reef, Krugar National Park , and Gulung Mulu. We saw both amazing human accomplishments (like the Pyramids of Egypt, The Great Wall, Petra, Borobudur, My Son and many more) and some of the worst human failures like air quality in India, the killing fields in Cambodia, or the wartime atrocities in Vietnam’s The War Remnants Museum.
We saw earth under strain (deforestation, massive garbage patches, sea level rise, and horrible air quality) from human pressures. We also saw and met champions doing what they could to create a sustainable balance and reinvigorate natural areas. People like Maria in the Kinabatangan River who was doing everything humanly possible to reinvigorate the wildlife corridor, Green Vet who were trying to save the red shanked Duc Langur, IMIRE who were trying to save the African Rhinos, the Nature Conservatory Trust who were trying to save entire ecosystems in Nepal, and the Whale Shark Monitoring Program that were committed to saving whale sharks in the Maldives while building up indigenous community skills.
I still can’t believe it’s over, how much we experienced and grew, or how much more there was to learn. I believe we drank fully from the cup of life and it my hope that we become better for it.
We are forever grateful for the privilege of experiencing this wonderful world and meeting all the incredible people. We are also forever grateful to the friends and family who supported us in our times of need.
The day after we left, many airports in Brazil shut down. Copa Airlines announced it was shutting down operations for one month. We left just in time.
Thank you all for following our journey. We hope our epic odyssey resumes at some point in the future. Stay well and healthy.