Having travelled the world during a little more than 22 months, it’s been now 2 months since I’m back in France … So, first I warn you, this post is a little bit long, but I needed that to explain all the stages by which I passed before being where I am now! I won’t give here specific advices about « How to manage your return? » or stuff like that. I just chose to share my experience, how it was for me.

My only advice would be « Don’t give up your dreams!”, « Trust yourself and give yourself the means of your ambitions », and « Be opportunistic! »

The return stage by stage

Well, first of all, I was lucky enough to end my journey in a great country, Peru, and with one of the best travel mate I’ve had, Amber, an Aussie girl I met during the Salkantay trek. And I can already start by congratulating her because she had to put up with in a time when I wasn’t really in a good mood, especially after my Bolivian trip… But she was very patient, and gave me very good advices. With the return day coming sooner and sooner, I can tell you that, even me who usually is insensitive to the stress, I’ve had some moments of weakness.

Everything began when I wanted to book my return flight. Peru isn’t the best for internet, it wasn’t easy. I moreover lost 80€ with the Madrid-Paris flight because the prices fly away in last minute. Having chosen to be free till the end, I wanted to book my flight 8 days in advance (which is a lot for me). But as I didn’t have a good connection, it was laborious. Firstly, I spent the first 3 days trying to book my flight on Air Europa website, but always the same message told me that the website was inaccessible … And when finally I believed I succeeded, I received an e-mail from Air Europa telling me that there had been a problem with my payment, that my booking wasn’t validated and that the company was going to contact me within 24 hours… Except that they didn’t, even 48 hours later, which was 3 days before my supposed flight. Not only I had to make something that I absolutely did not want to do, but also,it was as if there was a huge conspiracy for making me not going back to France. All the signs seemed to tell me « You should not go back!” For me who am very attentive and receptive to these signs (doubtless because like many travellers I read « the alchemist »), I needed a lot of strength to not listen to these signs …

Finally, I gathered all my courage, contacted the company and fixed the problem by phone …

Amber, soul-sister 😉

We enjoyed Lima by wandering the streets, (Lima which I really appreciated, just to say), and on the eve of my departure, came the moment when we say to ourselves that this time is time for real… I had to go back, and book my shuttle to go to the airport, (cheaper than the taxi). And there, I think that was the straw that broke the camel’s back, the breaking point or still, the drop that made the vase overflow as we say in France… In any case for me it was too much. Tears began to pour, without being able to manage anything. In short, what passed in my mind at this moment? Well, it was like reliving my journey in my mind, accelerated mode, as if I went through back the pages of a book because I did not want to finish it … I did not want the end of the story.

The snag is that I wasn’t on my own. I did my best to hide my face, and escape from Amber’s look: almost succeeded… but only almost! But thank you Amber for your support in these difficult moments and thank you for your invaluable advices « Allow yourself to follow all the feelings you need », « I think this is dangerous for you » and many more that are still in my mind…

We focused then on our last day together, after a little more than 2 months of common life, not really the most comfortable, but 2 months of shared happiness, between visits and trekking. I appreciated every single moment together. As a result, the following morning, needless to make you a picture to say that the farewells were very very difficult, in spite of all the classic promises: « we’ll meet again, I’ll come in Europe and visit you in France… », « If I come back in South America, we’ll hike together again… »

In brief, classic sentences to say good bye to a travel mate: even if they are really sincere, that is a part of traveller’s life, we all know very well that the chances to meet up again are very low. That’s the kind of thing we get used to. But that time it was different for me, it was not only a farewell or even just a good-bye: it was the end of my journey, and that, it was the first time for me!

As a result, here I am in a nasty state, even the shuttle driver offered me tissue…

My flight to Madrid was quiet, in spite of my morale at the lowest, or rather, stayed in Peru… Arrived in Madrid, after a flight without closing an eye, I took a break out just to smoke a small cigarette: « brrrrrr! Holy shit, it’s freezing in Europe! »

Reunification with my sister 🙂

Then, flight to Paris, where my stepmother will pick me up at the airport … And there, the drama! As soon as the wheels of the plane touched the tarmac, my stomach squeezed up, and my eyes cracked without being able to manage anything (second time, rrrr). A pause in the restrooms, just to redo me a good face before, but nothing can be done, I’m in tears when I arrive towards my stepmother… Nice reaction! Her who was quite pleased to see me again after 2 years, and I who arrived miserable, gutted to be there … Fortunately for me, she was really comprehensive. She even cancelled her afternoon appointment, and so we went to pick up my sister to her school. Ah yes, small precision, I chose 23rd of march as date of return, here in Paris, because it was my sister’s birthday … She didn’t know that I was back, and as soon as she saw me on the school parking, she left everything to run to me and hug me… This time I was receptive to her enjoyment to see me again. For the evening, we celebrated her birthday in family, with my dad. To be honest, I couldn’t have dreamed better for my return.

Family united after 2 years…

The following day, I returned in my region, where even if they knew that I soon had to come back because the day I should work again was coming, nobody knew that I arrived… Except 3 close friends, whose Audrey, who picked me up at the station , and drove me back to my home, or more precisely to my mother’s house who didn’t know I arrived in France. The matter is that when you want to make a surprise, you never know… So, nobody at home upon my arrival! But they were easy to find, and it’s like a flower that I entered in the bar of the village… And in spite of the fears from my friend and my dad, my mother did not need a defibrillator, which is a good thing!

 

Then being back, easy or not ?

So I came back in order to go back to my job on April 3rd, which was not a late April fish. And there, well I have to admit that the return is hard … Then, what’s hard (in my case, but I guess for many travellers as well…) ?

  • At first, there is not disorientation anymore: even if the sceneries change, it’s an environment we know, we have our marks. Our habits are coming back very fast, too fast: no surprise anymore!
  • It miss the travel companions, the other travelers as well, we miss them: being able to speak with someone who understand us what…
  • We miss local people, well, people who smile, people who are not always complaining for nothing… We miss people who appreciate what they have…
  • We also miss the fact of having to move each time we want something, doing everything by foot, the fact of having to adapt ourselves permanently … Nothing is ever acquired, if you want something, you have to do what need to be done to get it : the autonomy, the freedom, the independence, we miss all of it!

Plainly there is that everything is easy! Not that to travel is hard, but too much comfort, no more mental or emotional stimuli… Not smiling people… And that, it’s boring, even depressing sometimes!

In any case, for me, coming back wasn’t a picnic. With always this question in my mind, « Am I still able to work in an office after all that adventure? »

I thus let the weekend pass, and the Monday as well, and then, I couldn’t wait anymore… I contacted my employer in order to know which possibilities I had. We were on Tuesday morning, they told me it was possible to get a appointment on Tuesday afternoon, on Wednesday or Thursday. « Tuesday afternoon of course », I want to know as soon as possible!

There, they told me the options I had. In this case, I was lucky enough to work for a big company. I had in fact 3 possibilities:

  • Going back to my job
  • Getting a reclassification leave, for the next 6 months and then quit my job
  • Resuming my studies for a degree course

As you can guess, the only thing I have in mind is to hit the road again. But, to travel again, I need to find a way to earn money while traveling. Learning pastry or cook were attractive, but too long for me. And there, I remembered a German girl I met in Peru who had made a bartender formation. For the anecdote, she made me enjoy my 1st Pisco Sour, and the best I’ve drunk so far. I had put that in a corner of my head, thinking that could be a good idea to do it, to be able to find a job almost everywhere. To be honest, I had already looked for more information on internet… This formation can be done in Paris, but also in other big cities of Europe, Asia and the USA. I inquired for Paris, and a session started on April the 20th. Do you remember when I spoke about sign earlier? I think meeting that girl was one; well, definitely for me it was one! But then, by the end of the appointment with my company, I learnt that I had only until Friday to make my decision, for many reasons… And remember, we’re Tuesday afternoon. A very short time to take this kind of decision, one that will affect your life !

Anyway, on Thursday, I contacted again my company to announce my choice: I’m going to take advantage of the reclassification leave. Good or bad decision? Anyway, this is mine. And if there is a thing the travel taught us, this is to do what we want, without worrying about people thoughts or opinions … Because, for me, travel gives us this feeling of freedom, the freedom to make what we want, when we want, without owing something to anyone: « Free and No Limits ».

What’s about now ???

Today, I’ve just finished that bartender training with EBS Paris (European Bartender School). A special post about it is coming soon 😉

Graduated  of European Bartender School

I passed 4 wonderful weeks in Paris, where I met people from many horizons, and also met several times (every time it was possible) some travellers friends, all met in Mongolia almost 2 years ago at the beginning of my journey. And I can say that they were a huge help in my French reintegration. Every moment spent with them was simply awesome, a real breath of fresh air! Then yes, friendship between travellers post-travels does exist, and seriously, this is happiness: being able to speak with people who understand us, who lived the same experiences, who knows what the return in the « real life » is, and everything that goes with … Impossible to describe, but so great!

Mathieu, Céline, Magali and Valérie, a very big thanks for all these moments … And I know that there will be other one! Today, back in my countryside, I’m really looking forward to meet us again !

The Mongolian team….You’re the best guys !

What’s next ??

For the continuation, during the next weeks, I’ll have language courses (I still had budget for that from my company). Although my English level is rather good, I still want to perfect it, and would like to reach my current English level in Spanish … So, some language courses before leaving for the 2nd act, my reclassification leave being of 6 months, this one will end on October 9th. Then, I’ll have some administrative procedures to carry out, and later, I shall be free to travel as long as I want (or can)!!!

Thus later, it is simple: « Enjoy and Feel the life », that’s it. We shall see what future holds for me, but at least, I would have tried, I would have given myself a chance to do what I wanted … And even if one day I fall, I would never regret not having tried to live another life!

I am used to say that everything is matter of choice: today I chose to live MY life … By inspiring myself with this quotation from Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer’s adventures’ writer:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain

Graduation night, Hard Work Spirit & Soul, and I can say, « hard work », is not only for the quote, you really have to work hard…

About the author: snookmam

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