So, we’re back in Sweden. We’ve been back for almost two weeks now and I have to say it feels much better than I thought it would. We had been dreading going back simply because it’s always difficult leaving the paradise of Vilanculos and coming back to the mundane every day life in Stockholm. But this time it was different, we have been away for so long and it has been quite tough at times. We have been away long enough to start missing the good things about life in Sweden. Also, normally we return in January, from the tropical heat straight back into a gray, cold winter, but now we timed it perfectly. A long and hard winter had, apparently, had its grip on Sweden for months but had just let go and burst into spring the week before we got home. Stepping off the plane at 7am was a bit chilly but heading back to the apartment we gratefully enjoyed the warmth and sunshine.
As we reached the parking lot outside our apartment building we had another one of those moments… A moment where you realize what you have just done. We were standing in that very parking lot with the Land Cruiser packed and ready saying goodbye to my parents on the 3rd of September last year. Coming back to that exact spot really brought on an emotional moment for a second or two. It was a full circle. We had left, done an amazing journey and now we were back. We did it! We really did do it.
We stepped into the apartment, after a colleague of Brian’s kindly helping us fetch the keys, and it was a little strange coming into a furnished but otherwise empty apartment, knowing that people that we don’t know (in fact have never met!) have lived here while we’ve been gone. But it was such an excitement coming back. Instead of coming home to all our old things, bringing back memories, we came home to a fresh start. It was almost like coming home to a new apartment, but having the comforting feeling of knowing that all our belongings would be put back in. And after 7 months on the road and 8 months of being away in total it was pretty awesome coming home to our own bed, the privacy of your own apartment, cold tap water, no mosquitos and fleas, a grocery store full of goodies around the corner, cooking in your own kitchen, more clothes than what fits in a wooden box in the back of a Land Cruiser and so many other things.
The emotions kept going up and down of course as it was super hard leaving the family in Vilanculos. As much as we now had all those things I just mentioned, there was no little niece laughing and screaming my name for me to come play, no dogs to sleep in our bed, no family members to chat to… But my folks soon came for a visit, mom bringing food to last us for days and dad bringing the huge pile of mail he had been collecting for us, which he went through with us, making it so much easier to catch up with the monthly paper work of life. They were very happy to see us back in one piece and it was such a nice feeling being able to just sit down and have dinner and talk, far from the hectic stressful days and worrying when they were here just before we left in September. We now also met with my nephew Adam and his new born baby brother Rasmus – and I was asked to be his godmother, so that was a very special day in many ways and also a feeling of a beginning of something new.
The first few days I just felt great about being back. That feeling soon turned into something else, however. After the weekend Brian went back to work and I got on the bus to go see the editor at newspaper Expressen where I’m starting work in a few weeks. And suddenly, sitting there on the bus on a familiar route through the city, wearing my old clothes, going back to my old job… I suddenly thought to myself “Did the trip really happen? Did the last 8 months really happen? Or was it all just a dream?” But then I remembered I had a document (the carnet de passage) in my bag with stamps from a quarter of the countries on the African continent. It did happen. It was a scary feeling though and I haven’t been able to shake it since, it all still feels a bit unreal!!
At the same time I have experienced a feeling of tranquility as well. People are talking about their vacation plans, updating their lives on Facebook, mentioning fun things they’re going to do. And I haven’t felt even the slightest bit of envy or wishing it was me, on the contrary I’ve just felt happy about pretty much everything, just very… content. I’m starting to believe the other traveller’s who have told me that life only gets better after the trip. It may take some time but it will only get better and better, they say.
Brian had mixed feelings about coming back and going straight back to work pretty much, knowing that would mean a big change after such a long time away, but at the same time he’s extremely grateful to still have his job! It would have been very hard on us if we got back and he had to start over from scratch. And having spent a few days at work he seems perfectly fine, enjoying being back with the guys he knows have missed having him on the work force. Meanwhile, I had to dive straight into a hectic mess of things that needed sorting out as soon as possible after our return; tax declarations and other paper work mainly. Unfortunately we also realized the workers who renovated our bathroom while we were gone did a crap job, so now we have to deal with that too, which really sucks. We started unpacking all our boxes of things out of the storage almost straight away and mom and dad brought all the stuff they have kept for us, so now this place is slowly starting to look like it used to but two weeks in it still looks a mess and we need to search for things sometimes…
“I miss the cruiser” Brian said yesterday morning. He is really missing having that project to work on in his spare time. I said I’m missing that time when we had the cruiser because there was so much excitement around it, with the trip coming up and everything. I never thought I’d be missing a car but oh yes, you do get attached to them on a trip like this. You try live in your car for 7 months and then see how you feel!
We still don’t know our future plans, all we know is that we will be in Sweden for a while now and work up a bit of money again. Whether we then move to Africa or head out on another trip first, we’ll see… Stay tuned for lots more photos, a map with our exact route and lots more!