Travel Update: Back to San Diego for a Short Visit

Stephen F. Dennstedt

I’ve been back in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico for 3½ months. This is where it all started 5 years ago. I left the United States in early 2012 to begin my world travels and self-examination adventure and to pursue my photography and writing. Merida was my first destination of choice and I ended up staying 2½ years before moving on. Wow.

So returning to Merida for a brief visit seemed like the perfect ending to the Latin American portion of my travels—and its been that and more. Renewing old acquaintances and visiting familiar sites has been the perfect way to bring phase one of my adventure full circle. Ending where I started. What seemed like a long visit at the time is now over in the blink of an eye. Again wow.

Leaving Merida will be bittersweet. I’ve come to think of this city as my second home and the concept of home has become more important to me now that I am technically homeless—location-independent. I came to Merida a broken but determined man. Broken in that I had lost everything (materialistically) in the United States but determined to rebuild my life on my terms. I have been successful beyond my wildest expectations.

Now it’s time to return (briefly) to the home of my youth, my dissatisfaction and my perceived failure. I don’t know what to expect but I am keeping an open mind. Part of me is filled with excitement but another part of me is filled with trepidation—but if I’ve learned one thing it is to face fear (and the unknown) head-on. As I’ve said many times here in this blog: fear is a mental construct and when faced squarely usually disappears in an ephemeral puff of smoke. I am better equipped now to face that fear.

My country is in turmoil: politically, culturally and financially. It is fraught with uncertainty, fear and anger. I don’t need that drama in my life ever again. Those were among the reasons I left in the first place. But I think I’ve moved beyond those concerns for the most part (if not entirely). My worldview is much broader and global these days. Emotionally, spiritually and physically I am in a much better place now. I am healthy in body, mind, spirit and heart. I credit this healing to my travels and the many new friends I’ve made along the way. I am grateful beyond measure.

What am I excited about? I am excited about seeing my son again—its been way too long. I am excited about the prospect of listening to him as he plans the second phase of his life (he recently retired from the San Diego Sheriff’s Department after many years of selfless service to his community). I am excited about a new relationship with him as equals, as friends. I am exited about seeing my granddaughters again—kids when I left and now young women entering into adulthood.

And I am excited about seeing old friends again. Friends who have (for the most part) suspended judgment and supported me in my efforts to find myself—my true self. I’ve come to realize that I have many more friends than I ever thought possible. Thomas Wolfe is famous for saying: You Can’t Go Home Again. I’m not convinced he is right—things will be different for sure but I also know that I have a new and different perspective on life. I will spend 3, 4 or maybe 5 months back in San Diego (no set plan) and then it’s off to see the rest of the world. WOW.



10 responses to “Travel Update: Back to San Diego for a Short Visit

  1. Welcome back to America 🙂 We are moving out to SD in June. My wife received orders to CLB 11 on Camp Pendleton. Enjoy your visit with friends and family and I am sure you are looking forward to getting that new gear too I wish you safe travels.

    • Thanks Jesse. Ah, Camp Pendleton, I remember it well (and NOT fondly). Climbed every damn mountain there when going through infantry training and then again during staging battalion before I left for Vietnam. At that point I knew the air wing was a good choice. 🙂

      • I am looking forward to terrain that isn’t flat. This will be our first time experiencing Pendleton. When I was in I was an air winger and was Stationed at Cherry Point in North Carolina. My wife is a Ground Supply Officer so her Marine Corps experience has been much different than mine. She has spent the past three years at Camp Lejeune. We are looking forward to getting out of North Carolina though, we have spent enough time here.

        • I think you will like California. Pendleton isn’t a bad duty station as long you’re not humping the hills. And of course things may have changed, I’m talking 52 years ago. 🙂

          • We love California. My wife is from Los Angeles and her family still lives there so we travel out there often. Looking forward to living there for a bit.

  2. Steve, I love hearing about your adventures. I hope you enjoy family time when you get back here to San Diego.

  3. Hi Steve, I hope you can find time so we can get together. Please e mail me and I’ll give you my cell #. Have a safe trip back to San Diego. I look forward to seeing you.

  4. Hi Stephen, just come up here and enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about political, financial stuff because you can’t do shit about it anyway. The places you have been living in the last few years are just as fucked up as this one if not more so.

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