So, the trip home was fairly uneventful. I had a 12 hour layover in Amsterdam which consisted of me going to a hotel room, reading for a bit and then going to sleep. I finally got home around 6:00 last night and Carrie and I settled in for a night of TV watching.
The trip itself was the perfect way to end a period in my life where it was changed completely. Losing weight (150 pounds), moving to Pittsburgh, getting divorced and meeting Carrie all in 18 months. While all of the changes were for the good, it was a lot of upheaval and having this trip to look forward too (and then doing it) was a huge help. Additionally, getting to go with my sister Alice made it extra special. Over the last few years we haven't seen each other as often as we'd both like because our holiday schedules never seem to line up.
When we were in Builth Wells, we were talking to a nice older couple who were in town as vendors at an antique fair. Out of the blue, the woman said the trip must be incredibly spiritual... and I was completely taken aback. Only one other time in my life have I had someone say something to me so innocently that was also exactly what I needed to hear right at that moment.
The other time, I was working at a job I was miserable at in downtown Pittsburgh. The stress at the job was giving me acid reflux and insomnia very badly. It was a perfectly miserable time in my life. I was in the elevator coming back from lunch and feeling bad for myself and the doors suddenly opened and there was an woman there who appeared to be in her 90's and very, very frail looking. She looked up at me with cloudy eyes and said "What are YOU doing here?" And then, as if on some kind of cue, the doors closed immediately.
Clearly, she'd mistaken me for someone else... but that innocent mistake really took me for a loop. That day I started looking for another job, and within weeks I'd found one and had moved on to a better, less stressful life.
Sitting in a pub in Builth, I had a similar feeling. It really hadn't occurred to me that this was a spiritual thing but in reality it was. Seeing the mountains that seemed so permanent, and going through towns that had been settled since the 1200's or earlier. (One town on that day had evidence of being settled since Neolithic times.) Even the path we were following the Las Lon Cymru is mentioned as far back as written history. That night I dreamed of the mountains from their perspective... sitting there for millions of years, and then in a few seconds (from their perspective of time) these strange little two legged creatures moved in, built homes, hunted the forests, turned to agriculture, shaved the tops of the peaks for pasture land and built castles using the skeletons of the mountains themselves. Right up to the present day...
It really put things in perspective for me. We don't have long here and we should enjoy the time we have with each other as best we can, but we should also remember the effects of our stay can last and last.
Just a last note. If you've been following this, its pretty clear that I had a great time. The company I worked with to organize all of this is Drover Holidays, and they did a just fabulous job of organizing everything, booking us into some just fabulous B&B's and getting our luggage from place to place and perhaps most importantly giving us easy to follow directions and maps for each day. The do both walking and cycling holidays, and I just can't recommend them enough. So if your interested in seeing Wales up close, these are the people I would recommend.