Landing in D.C. after another full day of flying was like exhaling after holding my breath for two months. I had no idea how much I missed the familiar smell of D.C. urban decay, and plastic suburbia of my parents city. It was like smelling spring flowers after the dust, pollution, and rotting fish and veggies of developing cities. Though even this I grew to love after several weeks time.
As much as I enjoyed my travels, it felt good to put my bag down and leave it. It was a curious feeling the first morning when I awoke in my own bed (well to be fair that's untrue considering I don't have my own bed anywhere, anymore), and was able to reach for a fresh t-shirt and a pair of jeans which I hadn't worn since traveling! Denim on skin! What a bizarrely comfortable sensation, though much more restricting then I remember.
Traveling is amazing, and really makes you appreciate everything you have at home, such as long showers (or showers in general), familiar food, and most importantly friends and family. I couldn't even imagine how much I would miss people. D.C. is full of transience, but I've been lucky to have formed pretty stable friendships during the past six years. I didn't realize how much I would miss the comfort of them and their stability when everything else, including where I would be the next day, was up in the air (sometimes literally, if I was en flight).
But another wonderful thing that occurs during traveling, is the friendships you make. Oftentimes they are sincere but fleeting, knowing you may never see the other person again. This is an unusual scenario considering you end up spending days on end with someone; sight seeing, walking, eating, and sometimes sleeping next to them. And suddenly they're gone!
Alejandro was one of those friends I made. I honestly could not fathom backpacking without having met him. I think he really changed, and shaped the experience of my trip. Definitely for the best too! So when his work brought him to the states, and he was able to get a few days off and booked a flight to D.C. from Miami, I was thrilled.
Being the best person ever, he brought me cookies from Argentina! And I, in turn, forced my friend in D.C. to provide him accommodation in his house, where we all stayed in the same room for the weekend (just wanted to recreate the familiar hostel environment for him, obviously).
Needless to say, it was a fantastic time had by all. I ran him around my Nation's Capital like a crazy person. The first day I put him on a bike on D.C. streets and lead him around the Washington Monument, WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Capital, and most importantly ended the day with a skate board session brought to him by my dear friends.
But I made sure he didn't just see the new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, and Jefferson and a few of my favorite Smithsonians. I forced him to take a bite of a Ben's Chili Dog and eat some Chili Cheese fries. I took him out with a few friends to the Potomac at Georgetown and we kayaked and paddle boarded, all the while careful to not fall in and catch any of the diseases I know float down that river.
It was really lucky to be able to continue a real friendship with Alejandro, even after traveling. Often times those friendships become just memories of your trip, but being able to show him a bit of my life at home was a privilege most travelers may not get to experience. I look forward to taking him up on his offer of hosting me in Buenos Aires someday in the near future.