The last time I was going to my next destination was very different. I was stressed, annoyed, scared and rushed.
After frantically packing I was trying to match Kim's timing demands. As usual back then, I missed by two minutes.
Belfast International (or Aldergrove) is a very special place - often the start and end to my frequent cross-channel expeditions to further a blossoming romance. It must have worked.
But that is not the point of this trip. This trip is an essential part of our journey as, even though we have come back, met friends, and even visited the dreaded 'work', we have not really come home. Yes I hasten to add staying with Caggy has given us a whole new improved perspective on city living (and we are LOVING IT, and her of course!), but we haven't got into our flat yet. And actually, even if we had, we still wouldn't be home.
No, that won't happen until I'm sitting down to my Mum's fry. And then whinging afterwards that I've eaten too much, and am fat. Again.
But there is still the small matter of the wee bit in-between my two trips to Belfast airport. I say my, as unfortunately, like many of you predicted, me and Kim have arrived home separately.
Thankfully the separation is not as dramatic as you think. No, Kim is a part-timer now and hence went home a day early (tho there were some hairy moments durin the first few weeks of travelling!).
We are asked some key questions of our travels, ones which I will endeavour to answer here through my 'Match of the Day' edited highlights.
Too many! But Patagonia has to be the best area. Stunningly beautiful, breathtakingly awe-inspiring. Our favourite country tho was Bolivia, for reasons I can't understand, much less explain.
Close. Hanoi was brilliant, la Paz was phenomenal, but how can we not choose Buenos Aries!?! Steak, wine, tango. Great people, great times. And what a last night - River Plate match!!! Amazing atmosphere and a night never to be forgotten.
Hiking in Barriloche. So steep you can't see the next step down, winds whipping across you holding 12kg on your back, and an amazing view teasing you to look up! But all that was a walk in the park compared to crossing the street in Hanoi and of course - mountain rescue on the Chilean volcano!!!
While we tried to eat local and on the street as much as possible, the roast Guinea Pig of Peru was too much too soon.
Our own!! We cooked amazing dishes at our Thai cooking course (I even got me a certificate!). But frankly, while my slop porridge was good, my camping cuisine wins this award. (Kim even asked me to make my campers supper - tuna pasta, at home this week!).
Things that we will take away are too many to list. Hobbies now include camping, rock climbing, snow boarding (when it gets cold again), cooking, and.... TRAVELLING!!!!!
I love it I love it I love it!!! I know, shock horror from the corporate hag always climbing the ladder. How things change. But that's not all. I am on time and I now eat vegetables and order different dishes at restaurants just so Kim can try more stuff - she says she has come home with a whole new and improved husband! More chilled now I 'don't sweat the small stuff' and am much more prepared to 'wing it'! I even think it's actually helped me in work! (Tho I've still got a long way to go before I'm in any way close to the good books! - well worth it tho!!). Kim is skilled in a range of activities and think she would say her confidence in herself physically has been the biggest leap, along with a wider perspective.
But apart from the memories, the hobbies, the skills and attitudes, we will be taking away a whole new appreciation for life and each other. So let me buck the trend here just for a short while and get sentimental.
This trip showed us how great life, the world and people can be. But it has also shown us how harsh, difficult and brutal they can be. We very much appreciate what we have, who we are and who we count as our friends and family, without who this trip would be much less successful and enjoyable. On that note, let me thank each of you for your contributions at the wedding and in this blog, in particular Breige, Mary, Lesley, Grianne and Orla. Getting word back kept the blog and us going (you never know, I may start one for real life too!).We have had an amazing time and made great friends along the way.
All that's left for me to say is one big Thank You to my Lovely Wife (who was already pretty great and didn't need five months of intensive rehab to get into marriage shape!). Without you I would never have gone, and without you I would never have got back! (And without your infamous memory I would never had needed to write this blog).
Like I said at the wedding, 'you make me want to be the person I know I can be', and with the little nudges from you I'm getting there. It has been all you said it would be and more. Here's to Damo and Kimbo Do the World Part II!