The end was in sight. 
In just three weeks my circumnavigation would be [more or less] complete. 
After 4 awesome [and challenging] years of hitch hiking on other peoples boats across the Indian, the Atlantic, and now the Pacific, I could just about smell the accomplishment.
S/V Fiddler.
60 Foot steel sloop
On which [not entirely against my will] I was forced to be a vegetarian.
I sailed her across the Indian Ocean and rejoined again in the Caribbean
S/Y Nereid
47 foot Beneteau
We survived the freezing cold of  the Atlantic and the Pirates who stole everything including my birthday plans
Although it wasn’t all bad celebrating at sea! 
S/Y Yoldia
27 foot toiletless Albin Vega
I hitched her to Panama but then forgot to get off and stayed on board [through loss of autopilot and propane and rigging] all the way to Tonga.
Schooner Sjostrom
96 foot gaff rig
I sailed her through the glassy, windless waters from New Zealand to Fiji
S/Y Yacare
25 foot fiber Beneteau.
The waves were frequently bigger than the boat.
I sailed her from Fiji through the Solomons and PNG
But epiphany strikes when you expect it.
I was casually sailing through some of the most phenomenal islands in the world when one hit me with vengeance.
I suddenly knew what I wanted to do.
(As a woman that’s just about unheard of)
And I was so excited about it, it couldn’t wait!
Sunset in the Louisiades
It wasn’t an easy decision. 
But when more-or-less-civilization struck (Port Moresby), I jumped ship.
I watched Yacare sail off to Indonesia and had tears roll down my face as I realized I was giving up on one dream in the quest for another.
For years I have been helping other people chase their goals and build their projects and float their ships. 
I’ve sweated and toiled and pushed myself because I don’t believe in doing anything half-hearted, 
but at the end of the day I’ve walked away with only memories (and warm fuzzy feelings).
I’ve loved most of it, and learned a lot but, and this sounds selfish, it’s time for me to build something myself. 
Time to start my own exploit.
I’m quite literally exhausted by “aimlessly” floating around the world.
And even more agonizing is my dire case of homesickness 
I missed the people.
The colours.
I missed the culture.
The animals.
I missed the braais.
The beaches and mountains and forests.
Even the jaapies.
Instagram photo by my incredibly talented baby brother Jeandre’ Gerding
(Follow him @Umlunguish)
Photo by @Umlunguish
Photo by @Umlunguish
In fact, I also had a rather peculiar realization;
one that will save months of my life:
And so I gave up trying to wangle my way onto cargo ships (or other random means of transport) and bit the bullet.
Although it’s not quite as easy as it sounds!
I flew from Papua New Guinea to Cairns.
From Cairns to Bali.
From Bali to Bangkok.
And my final flights have just been confirmed.
Tonight I fly to Addis Abba and in the morning, for the first time in three long years,  I’ll be home.
Photo by @Umlunguish
I’m quite terrified!
I have no idea what’s waiting for me in South Africa.
I’ve been gone for so long that I’m not even sure my family will recognise me, let alone friends.
I’ve seen, experienced, learned and grown so much that I don’t even recognise myself.
Beetle nut for breakfast
In the last 9 years of Part Time Professional Gypsyism (PTPG), this is the first time I’ve decided to go home for me. 
Not for a wedding. Or by accident. Or for any other reason.
Just because it’s time. 
It’s where I need and want to be.
I always thought I’d return fit and lean, with excessive bundles of foreign cash…
Instead I carry a squiggy sailor’s build and I’m broke (but fortunately not broken).
But if you wait for perfect conditions, you’d better by quite good at knitting.
I’m can’t knit!
I’m not sure how long I’ll be back for.
I’m not at all sure of the practicalities of what I’m setting out to do…
(The “epiphony” still carries some haziness)
For so long I have taken solace in knowing that I’m a good gypsy.
I’m good at scumming it; scavenging for food, hitching, exchanging skills and muscle for shelter and adventure.
I’m used to migrating. To moving. To letting life distract me.
But I crave a base. A home. Community.
I might be 27 degrees short of a circumnavigation, but for now 
I’ve had enough of licking foreign soils. 
Enough stories. 
Enough challenges and new places.
 For a while at least.
It’s time for something different.
It’s time to catch up and reconnect with old friends (if any of you remember me?)
It’s time to remember my roots.
It’s very much time to go to the airport.
It’s time to go home!

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