Suddenly, time's up and my Peru stint comes to an end..Hard to believe I've been on the road for 4 months, but the Endeavour Award has run its course. The report is written and officially presented to the Ministry. There is a combo birthday-farewell party consisting of small speeches, gifts and kisses, coca-cola, chips and a huge cake. Peruvians like to eat and it is not polite to refuse.
It's time to don the rubber gloves for a final clean of my digs in Miraflores. Only last week did I discover a new funky Lima neighbourhood and I feel I've only scratched the surface of this town, and country. I pack up my gear and head for the airport. Am flying to Santiago, Chile where I will spend the night with a mate before flying on to Oz the next night. Easy enough to do, but the first leg of my return to Oz ~ I later realise ~ sets the tone for the rest of the journey. What should have been a 4-hr flight turns into a 12-hr journey. Yes, the transfer part of travel is definitely overrated.
But then I have a very relaxed day in Santiago and think how nice it is I get to dip into the Santiagoan (?) culture, brief as it is ~ this part of travel is definitely not overrated..
Only two more legs to go before I get home, surely that can't be too hard? As if on cue, new obstacles arise. There are operational issues. There is a cyclone alert and we cannot lift off before we know that we can land. Sorry, but outside of our control. Yes we're aware you'll miss your connection to Melbourne, but we have a solution.. (not!). It is as if the airline staff can't to make up their minds which story to tell us next about the eternal delay of the flight from Santiago to Auckland. At 3:00 AM in the morning I am thinking of the recent dust clouds and snowstorms over Europe that stranded thousands of people for days on end. I know just how they feel. By now another 10 hrs have attached themselves to the already 30 hr journey, so yes, airline travel from A to B is definitely overrated ~ but I am whingeing!
Then, suddenly I find myself on the antipode.. A new culture to (re)adjust to. Life as I once knew it just isn't quite the same. It hasn't changed, travel has changed me, my thinking, my opinions, my priorities. It wasn't always easy, but it sure has broadened my horizons.
In some ways my work is just beginning. I am compelled to explore new avenues to progress what I have started. It's global, local. It's about women; it's about men; it's about culture, equality, equity, and education; it's about using technology to disseminate and share knowledge; about building partnerships to tackle injustice; and above all, it's about change.
The need for women's empowerment is everywhere, so the work (and the blog..) will go on.