Returning, but not going back.
Home. A place or a feeling?
Our 50+ hour bus ride was guided by our memory of a place we visited over two years ago. Neither of us minded the long hours of travel as we needed to renew our tourist visa in Peru. So it was decided, we’d return to the beach we called home for a month in 2011. We’d return to Montañita.
For us, home is not always the physical place we go to sleep, it’s how we feel about the place, externally. But more importantly, it’s how we were feeling about ourselves internally when we are in the place we are calling “home”. Together, Miro and have a joint experience the world and together, we create memories that for years to come, we associate with a particular place. This is the case with our relationship to Montañita.
For many, Montañita is beach-surf-party town.
For us, it’s not any of those things.
Two years ago, Montañita is a place we came to after three expensive months traveling through Colombia. By the time we arrived in the sandy Ecuadorian beach town two years ago, we were (once again) almost out of money. We had $400 to live on for one month which had to cover all of our costs, including food, housing and transportation. We found a little casita for $250 for the month, and we cooked most of our meals. Ultimately, we had the most amazing month, filled with rich memories, so much laughter and creativity.
This really was one of the first “returns” we’ve done on our travels, with the exception of passing through Nicaragua a year after our first visit. But for me, the sun was second to the emotional response I had to the place. In all honesty, I was a bit worried the experience may not match up to our expectations even though we were trying to be free of expectations. I know from a rational perspective, that “things change”, but I had hoped the charm of the town remained, as I had remembered it.
However, things did change.
The town was more built out. There was more traffic coming in and going out of the town than I remembered. There were a few more restaurants, hotels and hostels. But much of what we remembered remained the same.
We’ve been here for 3 days already and although there isn’t much sun shining through the clouds we are having an amazing time. We find ourselves really enjoying ourselves, revisiting our memories and being in a general state of happiness.
Our walk along the beach prompted a game that kept us in stitches. Lovers love to declare their love through their messages in the sand. Miro and I loved to be mischievous and change their messages… So “Patty, te amo” (Patty, I love you) became “Potty, te amo”. Every message we came across, we altered in some clever way and found ourselves in a state of continuous laughter. We even attempted to write a few messages of our own, watching the waves erase our thoughts reminding us how temporary everything really is. But the laughter remains…
And being recognized.
It’s been surreal and affirming in some strange way. “Our presence” is our memory, but somehow we are reminded we’ve touched other people’s lives too.
Miro and popped into the DVD stand where we bought (and traded) tons of movies last time we were here. The man liked us, so he let us buy two and trade them back for one more, a service he didn’t offer to others, but because he liked us, he let us do that. I remember he loved chatting with Miro. The smart- Spanish fluent speaking kid who was living his life on the road must have made an impression on him. Yesterday, when we popped back into the shop, he greeted us with an ear-to-ear smile, like we were long-lost family.
Then there was the 20-something Argentinian man that used to work in one of the clothing shops in town. Miro and I chatted with him a few times before he invited Miro to play a game of chess with him. Then for the days that followed, Miro would visit him and play chess before we headed to the beach.
Last night, as we were walking down the avenue, we heard someone call “Miro!”
It was him, and not only did he recognize the now growing teenager, he remembered his name. It was so lovely having that kind of recognition and Miro smiled from ear to ear.
On many levels, this is what “coming home” feels like.
And our casita we so cherished as a central part of our experience last time we were in Montañita? Unfortunately, the property is run down and unkept. We looked at the space, of course, with the idea of staying at the same place we did 2 years ago. But with holes in the screens, people camping in tents all around the property, we were prompted to look for a new place to call “home”.
But home isn’t the place we rest our head. Home is really a state of mind.