I arrived in Juba, in the southern half of a united Sudan, but now leave from the capital of the newest nation in the world.
The first arrival in Juba: five years ago, was a little scary to be honest.
We drove down the main highway to Uganda on the back of an army truck, heading out into steamy, thick and green jungles to meet the Ugandan rebels, the Lords Resistance Army or LRA.
Things have changed so much.
No longer does the grass brush vehicle windows on either side of the road: that track is now a highway, soon to be tarmaced.
The LRA still cause problems on the western border, but no longer terrorise vast areas of the south.
People are farming, building lives, returning home, in areas that were still too dangerous just a few years ago.
But there are many problems here still: the legacy of long years of war cannot be simply solved overnight.
In travels across the south I have witnessed heartbreaking places of people struggling to survive: crushed down by a range of problems, from hunger, rebel violence, cattle raids, lack of hospitals and schools, grinding poverty, corruption, sickness.
Violence against women, of rape or other abuse, remains a major problem.
But South Sudan has achieved what many said back then was simply the impossible: to hold a peaceful, credible referendum for independence, and to have that decision recognized by the government in Khartoum.
Seeing the sea of people jumping for joy and waving flags on independence day this Saturday past, it was something that many thought would never come.
When the flag rose, there was a wave of sound, a roar of a people cheering their new nation.
Seeing people cry in joy, overcome with emotion, people who had waited over fifty years for that moment, was a deeply humbling and moving experience.
This was not something that in any way was inevitable: independence was something fought hard for.
There are more than enough international experts and advisors in South Sudan telling the country what to do and how develop: it is does not need a reporter to add their voice.
But I do have a dream: and that is to come back to visit South Sudan in years to come and see the change for the better: to watch the growth of nation, a generation of children living in peace and going to school, under a government and security that serves the people and is accountable to them.
But the road ahead for South Sudan will not be easy: forging a nation takes more than unfurling a flag. There will be tough times ahead my friends.
The words of the world’s newest president Salva Kiir, speaking after raising the flag, is a message that must be remembered.
“Let all the citizens of this new nation be equal before the law and have equal opportunities,” President Kiir said, adding that corruption cannot be tolerated in the new nation.
“We are all South Sudanese: we may be a Zande, Kakwa, Nuer, Toposa, Dinka, Lotuko, Anyuak, Bari and Shilluk, but remember you are a South Sudanese first,” he said.
Independence alone won’t solve the many problems, but it is a start, a real start, and the people of this long troubled land have at last a fighting chance for a better life.
I am deeply sad to be leaving at this extraordinary, inspiring time, knowing too the many challenges ahead for the people here.
For three years I have ended radio broadcasts with signoff: this is Peter Martell in Juba, South Sudan.
Now, it is a new country at last.
So though I will miss the people of this land greatly, it is with enormous happiness and pride that I can say a simple farewell that means so much, by being able to say for the first and sadly final time, for BBC Network Africa, this is Peter Martell, in Juba, in the Republic of South Sudan.