The aroma of vanilla, cinnamon and chocolate wafts through the living room, and as I lean back on my recliner, waiting for an enormous batch of Nigella Lawson’s really chocolatey chocolate-chip cookies to bake, I check my emails on my laptop and find one from an obviously concerned friend.
‘Hey Laura’ the email read’ Just wanted to check in on you guys and see how you are going? Are you OK being still for a few weeks…are you bored yet? Are you suffering travelling withdrawal symptoms at all?’
I have a chuckle to myself and turn to Chris to reiterate the message. He’s lying on the lounge with a cup of coffee in one hand, a book in the other and an incredibly relaxed expression on his face. He seems rather comfy under his chenille blanket. He smiles; I take that as a resounding no.
Nope. Can’t see any signs of suffering from where I’m sitting.
My friend’s reaction and anxiety is not all that surprising. When I first mentioned on FB that Chris and I were about to stop in a rental apartment in Georgia for three months, I did get a few comments from people who feared how we might cope with the sudden change of pace. Yet what many don’t realize, is that change of pace is exactly what long-term travellers thrive on the most. Variety is indeed what we appreciate, above and beyond all else. You can get me to do anything for a certain amount of time…but god only help you if you try to make me do it forever.
Sometimes, when you’ve been riding a motorbike, camping, cooking on a tiny petrol stove and freezing your butt peeing in the bush for over a year…you may need a break. Twelve weeks’ worth of ‘break’ to be exact.
What will we be doing during this time? LOTS! First of all, we will both be working overtime, so that we have the chance to increase our financial cushion just a little for next year’s ventures. Then, of course, there’ll be everything else. Today, I’m baking. To be honest, I actually baked yesterday and the day before yesterday and I will probably bake tomorrow too. The oven has, as usual, kidnapped all my attention and affection. Cooking is one of my other fervent passions and baking is what I miss most when we’re on the move. Although I may be able to whip up some wicked meals on a camp-stove…pizza, lasagna and Nigella’s cookies don’t really turn out so great in pots. Urgh. Most foodies will agree that the one major kitchen item one misses when overlanding would have to be an oven.
Aside the baking I also plan to take on a 3-month fitness challenge, which I like to do every couple of years. I can actually get quite competitive with myself when it comes to exercise and love spending two hours a day getting myself in tip-top shape. Then, there will be all the mundane health checks & fix-ups which most people do at home in drips and drabs. The personal 15,000km service I call it. Complete head to toe medical checks, dental etc. We find doing all this intensely over a travel ‘pause’ to be much more feasible than trying to find random docs and specialists in different countries.
Then there’s also the cooking and the eating, the taking of hot showers, the indulging in restaurants, theatres, walks, sleep ins and day long sessions of watching movies in bed. The rewards of a sedentary pause amidst the chaos of travel are near endless.
Travel imparts some truly invaluable lessons, especially if there is a great deal of physical and emotional discomforts along the way. Let’s just say six months’ worth of 5* holidaying may not be as emotionally enlightening as 6 months wroth of overlanding…although personally, I would be more than happy to take a stint of each, thanks very much.
When it comes to enjoying our winter break, when we’ll have a chance to recuperate from the last year on the road and recharge for our mammoth Stans and China crossings come Spring time, these are just some of the priceless lessons from whence we’ll be drawing our inspiration.
Because before we know it…this too shall pass.
Pessimism is not one of my inherent traits, so please do take this as a simple and objective observation. We (as in human beings) are a rather ungrateful lot. It really is true that we don’t really appreciate what we have until we lose it.
Long-term travel makes you ‘lose’ everything and everyone you care about most, which in turn makes you appreciate them forever more. Overland for a few years and you shall be forever grateful for every bit of comfort you’ll ever receive. I’m not a religious person, but let me tell you that I thank whomever/whatever every single time I go out and come back to our heated, comfortable and safe apartment. It’s been a month now and the feeling of appreciation hasn’t waned…and hopefully it never will.
Enjoyment of the moment
I woke yesterday morning in a panic. I realized, all of a sudden, that I had not thrown a single thought towards the general direction of Pixie in almost four weeks. It really seems that the moment I parked up my beloved bike, and wrapped her up for the winter…I forgot all about her.
Travel has a wonderful way of instilling a carpe diem way of thinking in most long-term nomads. I’ve become so used to concentrating my efforts on whatever it is I’ll do today, that the moment I parked up my bike I literally took her out of my head for the next three months. In case you’re wondering…no, I don’t miss riding and travelling because that’s not what I have planned for today. Today I’m baking 🙂 From the first week of March Pixie will once again be at the top of my priorities; but today it’s Nigella’s turn.
Ping! Uh Uh Uh cokkies ready…back in a tick!
Enjoyment of the little things
Having a shower and crawling into bed with freshly laundered sheets…waking up in the morning and going for a pee indoors…making a cup of coffee with a single flick of a kettle switch…getting fresh milk out of the FRIDGE…sitting on a comfy lounge….fluffy slippers…clean clothes…watching the snow fall outside whilst leaning on the heater. These are just some of the little things I luxuriate in every day. I appreciate them all with every snippet of my soul. Travel taught me that.
‘We are transient beings living a transient existence in a transient world.’ When enjoying a superlatively good period in life, it can be depressing to think of life in these terms; yet when the shit hits the fan, this may be the only thing which sees you through the dark, foggy tunnel.
Travel teaches you the true meaning of temporary, especially when you’re out there making a temporary home in a country you’re only visiting…temporarily. Do this for years and you start appreciating all you have and never once think about how long it’s going to last. That’s a totally futile exercise. Before you know it, everything will pass. So you enjoy all that you have to be grateful for today, and only think about tomorrow when you’re there.
Oh Pixie I love you to bits…but you’re not part of my plan for today; you’re just going to have to wait a little longer. Enjoy the rest my faithful companion, ‘cos we’ll have many more kilometres to cover next year.
We wish you all an incredibly inspiring new year…may 2014 bring you a wealth of totally unpredictable and transient surprises. May you appreciate them all.