...he asked, as we took off from Lima and headed toward Miami.
'It's not the end till I'm home and asleep in my bed', I answered.
Even the flight home is part of the trip, in as much as the flight outward bound always is.
I was sitting next to Ozzie, a Happy American, the type that is all brimming with smiles even though its stupidly early and everyone is stupidly tired, and he should, within rights, be a miserable bastard at that time of the morning. He was not, and not only was he not miserable, he was great company and eased the pain of having to endure a flight on American Airlines, which is always shit.
Ozzie was also part of Marc Anthonys' band (for those of you who don't live in South America, you won't be familiar with Marc Anthony as a hugely successful Latin American Singer with a following of thousands of screaming girls, you'll know him as J Lo's fella.)
Ozzie is one of his trumpeters, and he kept me entertained with his rock n roll stories, while I apparently kept him entertained because I could identify Cirrus clouds, and I read a novel about Simon Bolivar, so he thought I was 'waaaay smart'. As well as thinking I was 'awesome', he was all round great to talk to, and the 5 hour journey was more of a pleasure than I expected.
So by the time I was ready to board my connecting flight from Miami to London, I was mega tired, and looking forward to getting some kip, and maybe watching a film.
Not so. I sat next to Martin, who had just come back from a worldwide Mosaic Art Convention in Miami, at which he was one of the key speakers. Now this would make most people fall asleep instantly, but the nerd in me wanted to know more, and before I knew it 4 hours had passed of us talking art, education and glass melding (or whatever its called) and we'd both drunk alot of wine. He was really interesting, and after much banter he recommended I join the Chelsea Arts Club, cos apparently I was 'just the sort of person they were trying to attract'. I smiled politely and took his card, knowing that my chances of getting membership to a private art club, where you have to pay shedloads a year to get in and needed to be recommended to even be considered, was quite low. But his work sounded really interesting, and I took his card knowing it would interest some of my other artist friends too.
It seemed like a good omen that I spent the journey home having great conversations with two very creative people, and despite my fatigue, it fired me up for getting on with all of the ideas that have developed in my head while I have been away on this trip.
And it reminded me of all the impressive people I met while I was away.
South America is like no where else in the whole world. The hospitality of the people is amazing, the history is mind boggling, the landscapes are breathtaking. So many people go only to visit and end up staying forever, and I can see why. I barely scraped the surface of what it has to offer, and I know I am going back. When I do return, my Spanish will be well up to scratch!
So till then, thanks for following my journey. Getting messages and emails from people I care about so much meant a lot to me while I was so far from home. But for now, make spaces in your diaries for me, because I can't wait to see you all.
I'm home, and it feels great.