The sun rose over Mexico like every other sunrise we had seen for the past 11 ports. It was beautiful, but this one was different. The hug from former colleagues, now great friends was a little tighter and meant a little more. We were entering our last port. The end of a journey started 110 days prior.
We could see parents, family and friends holding banners, waving, and cheering on the dock. Welcoming us back. Students recognizing their parents and calling them on the phone. Emotions were high. Everyone had tears streaming down their face.
In the days before we had packed up all of our things, we had prepared for this day. While packing you could hear the students reminiscing of where they bought a shirt, a dress, a hat, a back scratcher. How they haggled with the vendors. All of their stories now memories. We placed all of our items outside of our door and they were collected and brought down to the belly of the ship to be brought out into the customs area for us. We would then just identify our items as we cleared customs ourselves.
Though I would remain on the ship for an additional day, when we finally departed and cleared customs, I sat there with all of my things waiting for my friend Daoud to come pick me up. He sent a friend to collect me, we loaded all of my luggage and bags and he drove me to Daoud's apartment in San Diego. As I left the port I could hear my heart pounding. I thought I was going to cry again, and just like that the ship was out of view and we were in a residential area. Within the next few hours I was doing laundry at Doud's and repacking my luggage preparing to fly back to Providence. The time flew by.
And just like that the next morning I was in line waiting to board my Southwest flight to Providence. I arrived to Providence on Dec 17, 2009. 120 days after I had departed from my own house. Left behind everything that I knew and was as familiar to me as my own hand.
Now here I was back again in the home I had grown up in, and though I looked the same, everything was different. All of a sudden the world seemed so much smaller, and I knew that I wouldn't be here for too much longer. Because there was so much more I wanted to see and explore, and I was going to continue to do so.