On their final day, they boarded the plane with a mixture of relief and regret, the not un-typical emotions travelers face after a long time away from home.
One of them hugged a large wood carving to her chest that didn’t fit into her luggage and was not large or sturdy enough to be checked on its own. A few of them scratched at mosquito bites on their ankles that would serve as a physical reminder of this excursion for days and weeks to come as they scabbed over, healed, scarred. Some looked wistfully out of their windows and wondered how long it would be until they set foot in this place again.
For those who had lived there once, a new layer was added to their preexisting memories of this place, a layer that held sweeter images than some of their predecessors. For those who had never lived there, the new memories compounded with the old stories, and they gained a new kind of understanding.
They left behind the clinging humidity, the succulent fresh fruit, the dusty red roads for a drier heat, microwaves, crowded highways.
They were changed.