If I didn’t have an idea for the final trip (it takes extreme to the limit) and if I didn’t have to travel home the end of this book would’ve been the previous chapter. However, there are still some unresolved issues in this book and I do have to get home and I very much want the fifth trip. More on that down the road.
After writing the previous chapter I swam in the ocean once more, perhaps for the last time on this trip (there may be time in the morning and I do have to get past the coral to the edge of the reef!) and afterwards I went into the courtyard area where the pool is and I sat and observed and reflected on all that had been.
Dark clouds descended upon the beach that’s been my home for the past week which in thinking about it I did get lucky with the weather at the beach. Each day had an 80% chance of storms all day but this never came true. Now only if the volcano had been dry…
The thinking continued and I had to dig back and remember all that I had done on this trip. This was the most active I’ve been on any of the trips and I all but forgot that I had gone to Mauritius. Mauritius! How could I have forgotten that? Perhaps it was this; when I landed in Reunion I was nothing short of scared. Yes, I was frightened because the lack of GPS was something I had not predicted and navigating with signs that aren’t in English nor knowing any town names or even how to ask for directions was daunting. I actually thought this would paralyze the trip and lead to one of the most boring writing experiences ever. It was so bad, the first night, I cried before I went to sleep because I was sure the trip was doomed and I told my dad, “I should’ve just stayed in Mauritius because I would’ve been happier!”
As those thoughts rolled on about where I was when I began and now my ability to drive up mountains with just a slight bit of navigating help (I learned SPS, sign position system, it’s actually effective when going to Le Maido because when the arrow points right at a roundabout I went right. Signs, helping people navigate for hundreds of years so who needs that newfangled GPS?) without fear. With that so I wondered if this would’ve happened had I stayed on the true island paradise of Mauritius where the hotel was a resort, they had windsurfing, and the latest technology with everything (when the TV was turned on it said, “Welcome, Aaron Likens!”) and it was just so… so… it was so vacation-like. At the end of the day, or rather week, is that I wanted?
The purpose of these trips is, one, to give something remarkable to write about, but the writing is because of the turmoil and growth the situations are putting me to. Mauritius would’ve been great, I’m not denying it, had a vacation been what I wanted but as I opined many times in this trip that essentially, “I don’t vacation well.”
Realizing that I don’t vacation well I wondered, when people checking into the hotel walked by me, if the new people are here to simply vacation or to truly experience life because that’s what I did on this trip. This isn’t my quote, but the comparison between these two islands is this; if you want a vacation you go to Mauritius and if you want an adventure you go to Reunion. This trip was an adventure on many levels and one need not try to ascent a volcano in the pouring rain to have an adventure because the language barrier alone is one to make a person a but uneasy, but besides that, there is every possible adventure out here on this island. I don’t mean to sound like an employee of the Reunion Tourism Board but you could spend a month on this island and not touch every trail, or road, or beach.
Person after person walked by as they checked in and they all had the same expression I had less than a week ago; a look of bewilderment at the pool, the bar, the rooms on the beach, and the look of, “what is to come”. I witnessed that look many times as people have come and gone and the people that were here when I checked in are gone and there’s been a flux and tomorrow I’ll be one of those persons that is no longer here. I wonder though, I wonder if those that left and those that got here today will have anything like the story I had? I wonder if they’ll grow as a person, to push their boundaries, or if they’ll be happy to just sit on the beach and watch the rest of the world go by?
It was then that I realized just how sad I’m going to be to leave here. I mean, just as I was starting to learn the roads, and just as I grew to accept that people won’t be able to understand me, and now in 24 hours I’ll be on a midnight flight to Paris. If you would’ve asked me 72 hours ago if I wanted to go home I’d have said, “YES!” but I’m glad I didn’t have the option. I’m glad I didn’t give up and that I began to feel as if, even as a language outsider, I belonged here.
This is going to be a long night and it will be a long wait tomorrow until my 9:40PM flight. I know I’m going to think back to all that I could’ve done and all the photos I didn’t take. I wish it wouldn’t have rained so hard whilst in the crater at the volcano (not the crater of the active volcano, but the crater from… Okay, I know nothing of volcanology) to remember what it was like with the fog, the sheets of rain, the skin piercing winds in the midst of all but nothingness. I also wish I had pictures of more of the towns I drove through but having a car really changed the complexion of the format of my trips. This isn’t to say it was for better or worse, but it did change things up.
So it’s upon me, it’s time to go to sleep. With each trip leaving becomes harder and harder because with each trip I uncover a little bit more about myself and I understand just a bit more about Asperger’s and it’s even more difficult for this trip because I didn’t just come here to vacation, this wasn’t one in the slightest, I came here to have an adventure. Sure, most people come to experience the parasailing, the deep sea fishing, or the tens of thousands of hiking trails but my adventure is within the unknown and self-discovery. Could I have had a grand time elsewhere? Perhaps, but after all I don’t vacation well and I wanted to push myself and I think, by those terms, this trip was a success.