David, so sorry to hear your backpacking trip resulted in so many bumps in the road! I know what it’s like to reach for a huge dream and then feel like it doesn’t live up to your hopes (as I suppose this essay showed, ha!). It’s good that you heeded your need to go back to an easier place for recovery though. A lot of people push themselves extra-hard when things start getting difficult, and that’s not always the better choice.
I sincerely hope you can get back to Europe in the future. And, of course, that your next backpacking trip is WAY more fun and fulfilling than the first one. :)
Thanks for sharing such encouraging words… and for reading at 3am!