I’m on a bus from Seattle to Vancouver. It’s the last leg of an exhilarating trip around the world, and I’m excited to return home. Will the city be as I remember it, or will things have changed? And more importantly, will it still feel like home, after such a long and eye-opening adventure?
The final border
I take the Bolt Bus, which is an express coach service run by Greyhound but branded to appeal to tech-savvy youth, similar to Megabus. It stops briefly in Bellingham, but otherwise makes a beeline to the Canadian border. When we arrive, we all file off and line up to clear customs.
I’m a bit nervous. What will the Canadian government think about my trip? Is my Iranian entry stamp a black mark that will doom me to interrogation every time I reenter Canada? Will they search my luggage for undeclared souvenirs? In fact, the agent is very friendly, and is fascinated by my trip. She spends several minutes asking questions about being a tourist in Iran and Central Asia, and the logistics of planning a round-the-world trip. She barely shows an interest in my customs declaration card. Once again, I am surprised at how curious and open people are, even those employed as professional grumps, such as border agents.
We all file back on the bus and then continue on the highway towards Vancouver. As we near the city, I see a familiar backdrop of the north shore mountains, followed by the skyline. The driver navigates along streets I know well, streets I used to walk and bike and eat on, and then finally pulls into Pacific Station.
Three flights to paradise
I walk out of the station into the clear air of Vancouver. After some fiddling to get my cell phone working again, I locate a nearby Car2Go, a by-the-minute car sharing program popular in Vancouver, and then drive myself home. I park the car in front of my apartment in Kitsilano. Everything looks the same as I remember.
I dig out my keys from the bottom of my pack, let myself in, and climb the three flights of stairs up to my apartment. I let myself in, drop my dusty bag on the floor, and then walk outside onto the balcony. Everything is laid out before me like a painting in the sunset — city shining in reflected light, ocean sparkling white and orange, mountains silhouetted against the sky, birds riding the wind. I have traveled around the world in exactly 120 days, heading always into the west, and I’m home.