Day 180. Finis
All good things must come to an end, and so does this diary of a most remarkable trip. I will cherish forever the joy I experienced visiting with my European families. You have met them all through these pages, so I don’t need to repeat their names, and as I write these words they all stand vividly by my side. My only regret is that I didn’t have a chance to visit my dear friends the Cockiewicz in Poland, or to see the vast expanses of Russia. I guess I will just have to come back in a couple of years.
I also remember fondly the new friends I made in Africa, and the friendly welcome afforded to me by the peoples of Asia. Both continents have transported me to the dreams of my youth, and they were as exotic and intoxicating as I had dreamed reading the stories of Rider Haggard or Salgari, or the exploits of Cheng Ho and James Cook.
For six months I have lived in luxury in some of the richest countries of the world, have despaired at the ravages of tribal warfare, have wonder at the marvels of antiquity, have shared bread with the poorest of the poor, have seen landscapes of incredible beauty, and have sought beauty in the slums of the world. I have lost hope when faced with abject poverty and disease in some African countries, and have regained hope by witnessing the solid steps that are being taken by other African countries. I have admired Utopia in parts of Asia—and shuddered at its draconian control over people—and have reveled in the happy disorganization of other parts of Asia.
I have seen with regret the devastating inheritance that the British empire left in Africa and Asia, and the understandable loathing that the peoples of the world have for the new imperial ambitions of the United States. On the other hand, I am glad to report that everyone likes Mexicans, largely due to the stunning success of our telenovelas.
I have listened in rapture at the music of French and Tagalo, German and Swahili, or Hindi and Setswana, and have whetted my appetite for learning one more language (I think I will work on my rudimentary Portugese). From a selfish standpoint I will say that I am happy that English is the lingua franca of our age, but will encourage anyone who asks to learn other languages. They are the gate to wonderful literatures and cultures, not to say anything about the advantage they represent in the modern global economy.
So, what have I gained in this tour of the world?
1. I have put a face (or rather many faces) to the peoples of the world. I have spoken and laughed with them, so they can no longer be just “chinitos”, “güeritos”, or “negritos”. They are now my friends, and an integral part of my worldview.
2. I have strengthened my abhorrence of war and empire. I believe the people have the right to decide their own affairs, and should be able to do so without outside interference. I also believe on the old rule we teach children: Keep your hands to yourself!
3. I have strengthened my belief that the greatest plague of the world is poverty, and that other “evils”, such as environmental degradation or epidemic diseases, are but a consequence. I am energized to do my little bit to fight this plague, through education, water resources development, and fair-price trade.
Yes, it has been a thoroughly satisfying and worthwhile adventure, but now it is time to bring it to a close. May you, my readers, have a chance to do a similar voyage of discovery some time soon.