Maybe because I was 4,200+ km away from where I grew up in, yet I felt like I was finally home the moment I stepped out of Tribhuvan International Airport.

Maybe because this trip was more about the people I met than the places I saw and took a photo of so I could post something in Instagram, Facebook or wherever. This was the only trip I didn’t anymore bother getting a local sim and subscribing to mobile data 24/7 as I wanted to immerse myself in the world and not in my  phone. Months later, I still vividly remember a lot of things about this trip: from the moment I was fetched by Hem and greeted me with warm smiles; to when Binita welcomed me when I first arrived in Dormitory Nepal; to walks around the city with my dorm mates Maria, Tanja and Matthew; to that barbecue night with everyone in the dorm arranged by the only two Iranians I know, Mamas and Hemad; to meeting Monica, one of the most awesome human beings I’ve ever met; to daily conversations with Sameer about anything under the sun;  to a very memorable trek with Uzol, Tyler and Mark; to almost getting a tattoo in Thamel with Fatema and Ali; to that day I was happy I was finally able to talk in Tagalog again with Sheryll, the only Filipina I met during the trip; and to getting lost with Hendrik while trying to follow Lonely Planet’s guide around Thamel.

Or it could be because this trip opened my eyes to a lot of things. I learned that I am stronger than I always thought I was. Many times during this trip I was reminded that you are only as strong as you think you are, and it’s true. “Mental strength is more important,” as Uzol and Sameer reminded me.

I learned that at some point we all get lost and it’s okay, because every so often this is what directs us to things more beautiful than we ever planned or imagined. At times, being lost gives you enough courage to follow paths you would not have known existed for you if you were not diverted by life’s circumstances.

I loved this country because I was surrounded with positivity and kindness even at 5364 m above sea level. Locals lived simple lives yet they are happy and rich in things not even money can’t buy. And isn’t that how it’s supposed to be?

So why did I eventually come back home?

I terribly loved being in Nepal. So much in fact that I actually extended my stay for another week to maximize my visa. I eventually had to take that flight back home to formally talk to the company and submit my resignation. If it wasn’t for that reason, I would have stayed in Nepal indefinitely.

On my last day, I was dragging myself towards the cab that would take me to the airport while Sameer helped me with my luggage and I wanted to cry like a child. It was heart-wrenching that I had to leave but it was after all right to just face reality, face your fears and deal with it like an adult.

I came back home, cut my ties with the company and spent some time still in transition. I dealt with what’s keeping my heart heavy, helped myself find peace (as someone in the mountain once told me that peace is only found within yourself) and I was led to a path no one ever imagined me taking. And you know what, I am happy. I have not been genuinely happy for the longest time. Well of course, that’s another story. . . 🙂

See you soon, Nepal ❤

– Dianne Carla Trinidad Antonio

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