June 12, 2016 – The Long Voyage Home

June 12, 2016 – The Long Voyage Home

What a night. Each leg of the three flights are short. About an hour from Cusco to Lima, three hours from Lima to Bogota, and then three and a half to Orlando. But the layovers kill me. Two hours in Lima where I broke down and had dinner – US$13 for chicken skewers that paled in comparison to the trout dinner at Los Balcones the night before. Then I had seven and a half hours in the Bogota airport, from 1 am until 8:30 am.

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It was in Bogota that I really blew it. I had visions of walking a half marathon, circling the terminal floor with multiple laps, a la a Mainly Marathon or Savage Racing special. But my ankle is … tweaking? I noticed something the other day as the puppy dog ran with me on the streets of Cusco. Not sure if it’s arthritis, related to changing air pressures both with regards to cities rising above sea level and flights at 35,000 feet. It could be a lingering thing from some long ago minor injury that just hasn’t healed properly. I did try and listen the physical therapist but too often find their “science” to be “new age-y” for me … And billed at astronomical prices to boot.

Whatever the cause, the ankle was bugging me a bit as I began my circuits of the airport floor. I was also incredibly sleepy, feeling as if I were somehow sleep walking through the route. To make matters worse, the cleaning crew (I think) tied to tell me one hallway’s stores were closed… But they only spoke Spanish and I only spoke English and I couldn’t convey I was just trying to keep moving and walk after sitting on a plane for too long. Their solution was to put up “Cuidado: Piso Mojado!” sandwich boards even though they hadn’t washed the floors. The net result was my circuit was cut to about 0.6 miles per lap, meaning I’d have to loop the airport 21.8 times to hit 13.1 miles.
This all would be doable if the airport wasn’t installed with some weird pseudo energy saving measures whereby the overhead lights, some two or three stories above me, would shut off if there wasn’t movement detected and then power on as I approached. The passengers sacked out on the hard plastic chairs in the terminal were trying to grab some sleep and gave me a deserved stink eye as the lights would flicker on as I strolled the terminal. To be fair though, it was infinitely more palatable than the cleaning crew hoovering, buffering, loading and unloading stock, etc. There were far more things to be eyeing stinkily is all I’m saying.

So in the end, I racked up a measly 4 miles. It’s the first “race goal” I haven’t achieved in quite some time. A DNF (did not finish). I’m trying to think if I’ve ever quit a race that I started. I’ve had bad races, races where I’ve struggled through to the finish long after goal times. I’ve had to flat out miss races because of flight delays, unexpected work commitments, or life in general getting in the way. But have I ever toed the starting line, heard the gun, and set off only to drop out of the race? I don’t think I have.

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And so there’s an odd sense of… Melancholy? Failure? I had a series of great adventures. Got to spend time with my Mom. See one of the seven new wonders of the world. Ran a marathon on Rapa Nui, even if I found the race itself to be woefully, and dare I say maliciously incompetently managed. But this silly little self-imposed goal I failed to achieve.

Part of this sense is the voyage blues that accompany the end of any long trip. There’s relief at heading home, exhaustion at all that came before, and yet a sadness that this particular journey is at an end. But there’s a movie quote I’ve long used since the days of my high school graduation speech. I’m sure I’ve used it on this site before; there are only a few quotes I have at the memory palace ready. This one comes from the 1987 Golan Globus production of “Masters of the Universe.” It’s a sentiment often expressed in art but I find this so succinctly put that it’s my preferred quotation:

Live the journey, for every destination is but a doorway to the next.

And while this is true for each of my traveling adventures… And I’m excited about what’s to come… It is also true for failures. Failures and disappointments are but the building blocks for future successes. That’s all inspirational, motivational sign verbiage but cliches carry power due to the kernel of truth they contain. I’m jet lagged and under slept and that’s contributing to my mood. The screaming child in the row ahead of me on this final leg back to the City Beautiful isn’t helping matters. I can connect the dots to form rationalizations for setbacks, funks, and attitudes.

But I can also stand upon the failures of this late night in Colombia (“Colombia, not Columbia” as trademarked knickknack souvenirs blared in dormant gift shops of the Bogota airport). The next super long layover I have… and let’s be honest, every flight is but a doorway to another long layover… the next red-eye in a terminal I’ll strive to achieve my half marathon distance once again. Perhaps I will again not finish, but I’ll do my best to improve on the 4 mile mark for dropping out if that’s the case.

Always, ever onward.

Always, ever improving.

Always, ever seeking the next doorway to another great adventure.


POST SCRIPT: As I re-read this entry today (June 16, 2016), adding in the last photos of the journey, I’m struck by how kinda negative it reads. I think the jetlag got the better of me… but I didn’t want to rewrite it as it felt important to leave the contemporaneous feeling of the weight of time and mileage to exist. Arrogant? Lazy? Who can say? Well, I can say, I suppose… I mean, it’s my blog, right? But for the record, I had a great adventure, hitting two of my bucket list “would love to see” places in one extended trip. And as I’ve said before, I got to spend some time with my Mom and that’s worth any hassle or hardship.

In a bit here I’ll try and get the “Reflections of Machu Picchu” post done. There’s a draft written but I’d like to let it simmer a bit more to make sure it reads as I would like it to read before unleashing it on the roads of the information superhighway.