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I have no more tales of giant volcanoes or dense jungles. No more gripes about lost belongings or missed opportunities. And no photos to document the final few days of this dysfunctional pilgrimage.

The story of my final week is probably going to sound dull and uneventful to most, but the past 96 hours or so were maybe the most mentally exciting I’ve had thus far.

Exactly two months ago, I left Los Angeles rife with uncertainty about my, then, impending adventure. Now, on my last morning in Central America, I find myself still rife with uncertainty, but also a calming optimism and focus that was not there at the start.

After wandering out of the forest, back into Moyogalpa, I had a relaxing and enjoyable next two days and nights. I spent most of that time with a refreshingly easy-going group of Germans and Canadians. And anytime spent on two wheels, in a country with no traffic laws, is a good time. From there I made my way to Popoyo, a small stretch of beach with a few hotels and hostels, and not much else.

I sought refuge at an old, beachfront mansion turned surf hostel, and spent the bulk of the next four days binge reading while I swung in a hammock just inches from the sand. I’d wake up early, before the surfers began to stir, when the house was still quiet. I’d make a cup of instant coffee, settle into my book and hammock, and listen to the rhythmic crashing of the waves.

On most days, the next one awake was usually Alex, a 41-year-old, English surf junkie with one leg. He’d wander out in the morning to check the surf conditions, always with coffee in one hand and a hand-rolled cigarette in the other. He and I had actually met briefly in San Juan Del Sur the week before, but just in passing. As friendly and upbeat as anyone I’ve ever met. I gifted him a few zip-ties so he could make some modifications to his “sea leg,” always gotta be ready for an incoming swell.

While I was there, Alex successfully wooed and held the attention of a tall, beautiful, blonde, Dutch, 24-year-old aspiring doctor. After she left, he was noticeably (and understandably) despondent, definitely out of character for him. His brief mourning period, however, prompted a few good chats about virtues and vices, and the women we were sure we never deserved.

I spent my last night in Nicaragua at a hotel in Managua, near the airport. Uneventful, I know, but I did get my first hot shower in nearly two months. Which was even more of a treat considering the house in Popoyo had saltwater plumbing, and the only fresh water shower was outside.

And now, coffee in hand, I am finishing this final post from the kitchen table of my old apartment in Hermosa Beach. An eerily familiar experience, but also a wonderful flashback to the three incredible years I spent here.

It feels good to back. It was the right time to leave. Had I run home a week ago, without actually making the conscious choice to return, I would certainly be sitting here regretful. But, thankfully, that isn’t the case.

This past week, someone was giving me advice and partially quoted author Neil Gaiman, they said, “No matter where you travel, you always take yourself with you.” That was certainly true when I left, and is equally as true now that I’m back. And I think I’m OK with that.

My face

The actual quote goes: “It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. If you see what I mean.”


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