I left Serra Grande in the morning, after folding up the tent and sweaping clean the forest house, and Silvia kindly drove me to Itacare.
It wasn´t until around 12.30pm - and more out of necessity than hunger - that I had my first meal for three weeks.
I had ahead of me a 6 1/2km walk along the beach to Piracanga, carrying a rucksack which probably now weighed more than I did. Given how physically frail I´d felt during the ´Process´, I had some doubts about the wisdom of such a trek.
So I had lunch, sticking mostly to fruits and salads, and after I had given myself time to digest the food and for the tide to go down, I set off for Piracanga, not attempting to break any world records.
To my surprise, I completed the walk quite comfortably, aided by a tail wind, and found that the mental sturdiness I either had or acquired to complete the ´Process´ carried me without complaint to Piracanga in one piece.
In spite of my new greyhoundesque, super-lean physique, my energy and strength had returned. And when I finally reached Piracanga, with the wind howling into my back, I found the balsa to cross the river stranded. Yet I just threw the rucksack over my shoulder and, against a strong current, carried it across.
If physically I was back on track, mentally my head was sent into a tailspin when after arriving back at our rented house I discovered, to my shock and dismay, I had been burgled whilst away.
Worst of all, they had stolen Jamie´s Apple Mac laptop which contained ALL of our family photos that, through our own fault, we´d failed to back up. We had our spare camera taken, too.
Suddenly, having been in a calm, strong space, I was faced with a haunting predicament. ´Welcome to the real world', was the phrase which flashed through my mind.
For the rest of the night my mind, as you could imagine, was occupied in thought. But I did find that my experience in Serra Grande helped me more quickly reconcile my deep loss and any guilt I had for failing to make safe the computer.
And after a night of processing the reality of being robbed, I found in myself peace, acceptance and forgiveness. I realised there was no point in dwelling on what I could and should have done, because those thoughts lead only to self-destruction and wouldn´t bring back the computer.
I reported the incident to the Itacare police and the matter is under investigation with a suspect, a local worker, already identified.
I have no idea if I will ever see the laptop or photos again and I thought about what I wrote in my ´Week 3´ blog about how I could understand more clearly how éverything is perfect´. I tried to relate that to this incident. It was hard. But I accepted it had happened and that I can´t change the past.
I gave thought to our possessions and our desire to have valuable items and how while they bring us joy and happiness, there´s a price (not just in terms of money) to pay with worry over damage and theft. ´Do I want to own anything valuable again?´ I questioned.
It took me a while to regain my emotional composure as I returned to Piracanga life, especially to be back in a home where I had never stayed without my wife and kids.
There was an emptiness, not just in my heart but within the borders of the property. I could see remnants of Zenchai´s presence, but where was his voice, laughter and energy?
I had things to do. Staying present and finding stillness, which was simple in Serra Grande, proved a challenge. Being aware of the time even felt strange, as was getting used to eating again. The only clock that really mattered was my body clock.
My stomach didn´t react kindly to the first meal. I either made the wrong choice or consumed too much. The next day I felt as if I had eaten the hottest curry imaginable.
I tried to keep my portions to a need-only size, but even this required much self-discipline. With each day, though, things became easier. I could see, however, why I was advised to take my time getting back to ´normality´ after the ´Process´. Almost everything felt like an invasion on my senses following so long in virtual total serenity.
On my third day back I woke in the night (I still wasn´t sleeping well) with the idea to offer a reward for the laptop. It was worth a try. I had nothing to lose if it failed and I wanted to explore every option and know I had tried my best.
I sat in the kitchen the next day eating my dinner and noticed a message Zenchai had written on a piece of paper for me and hung over the dining table. It said ´TRUST´.
I had posters for a reward made and photocopied (100 for R20) and then spent the remainder of the day distributing them around town. After staying the night in Itacare (R25), I set off the next morning to Caubi. There were no buses until the evening, so I did my best to haggle a good price for a taxi (R40) and made my way there.
Caubi is a small, simple village with a bus stop, convenience store and not much else - and where the suspect lives. I handed out my posters to everyone I saw and then covered the 7km of wet sand and clay back to Piracanga, mostly barefoot.
The next morning, before anyone was awake, I placed my posters around the building site where the alleged suspect had worked, a stone´s throw from the house.
I decided to give it a week. Jamie booked my flight back to England. I remained positive rather than hopeful, even if the difference is only subtle, and waited.
Within a week of the ´process´ending I felt physically back to normal in terms of strength and fitness, even though I was much leaner. Actually, I felt like I had boundless energy.
But controlling my eating felt difficult, as though my body was trying to make up for three weeks without food. Luckily for me, I remained active. But I noticed an interesting and important change - that while I was occasionally hard on myself for over-eating in the past, I just accepted it now for what it was.
Two weeks after the ´Process´ , I was more than ready to be reunited with Jamie and the children. I felt fresh, positive and alive.
Being away from my family for five weeks had certainly enabled me to fully appreciate them. Just as importantly, being by myself all that time had helped me to fully realise and accept myself.
And so I finally parted ways with the eco-village that had been my home for nine months, holding no regrets and only fond memories and lessons in life.
I stayed one night in Itacare and the next day took the five-hour bus (R35) to Bom Despacho, where I crossed the water (one hour) to Salvador by ferry. There I took my plane, via Frankfurt, to London´s Heathrow, ending the longest spell I had been away from ´home´.