Sunday, 12 September 2010

There's something wrong with this picture

Back home I awoke this morning, climbed out of bed, went to the bathroom, then put the kettle on. It didn't seem quite right somehow.

I spent the rest of the morning opening letters, sifting through junk mail, putting on washing and buying a few groceries. I bought my regular weekend newspaper and after a quick glance through, skipping past the death, rape, murder and general demise-of-the-world stories, it ended up in the recycling just a half hour later.

What I felt I should have been doing was stuffing my sleeping bag into it's sack, packing away the tent and loading the panniers onto my bike ready for a new day on the saddle.

I recall saying before I left Santiago that the first thing I would do on Saturday morning was to have bacon croissants. Which I did. The idea of it seemed more attractive than the reality to be honest. I looked at my list of things that I have to do over the next while which create a busy schedule, and realised at that point, that, in reality, they are all just distractions. Things that we think are so important are in actual fact just time fillers, keeping ourselves busy, distracting us from what is really important because of some bizarre hidden fear that we may actually like what we find and give up everything to have it.

For the past three weeks I gave it all up and I never felt so alive. I had very little to consider or prioritise each day other than buying fresh food, finding a place to pitch my tent and planning tomorrows destination with Pauline.

Life back here seems so unnecessarily complicated. We shape our lives gradually, collect possessions and prioritise the most pointless and boring things. We all do this of course. I do it all the time. And I'm bored. I long to be out there, cycling again and being able to say on arrival somewhere new every day: "...and we rode here!"

There are things I really enjoy at home too, of course: the proximity of the beach; coffee at the Beach House; my friends; the convenience of familiar things and places; the highlands of Scotland. I don't take these for granted and indeed appreciate what I have to a fuller degree than before. But the simple way of life that I have just experienced, a way that is entirely sustainable and achievable, and very me, is what I crave. At no time was there an element of everyday stress or worry.

Pauline continues on with the adventure, and I have been fortunate to have been able to join her and witness first hand the joy it brings and I thank Pauline for allowing me to share part of her adventure. The three weeks seemed so much longer at the time, but so short also.

The journey home, from waving goodbye out of the taxi window to arriving in Edinburgh, was a brief ten hours. Such is the instant nature of air travel. It plucks you out of the adventure so instantly, and so clinically, and deposits you so quickly back home, that it contributes to the feeling of never having been away, that it was all a dream you had last night. But it's a dream I'd gladly repeat.

After reading my four blogs you could be forgiven for thinking I felt negatively about the Spanish experience, but actually, on reflection, I would say it is up there with the greatest adventures I've had. It was made all the more memorable by being able to share it with my very special friend. The contrasts of scenery, colours and smells are with me now as I think back. From the vibrancy of the cities to the special little isolated places near mountain tops, bring a tear of emotion for a longing to be there again. Even the challenges of the country's quirks that I laid out in my previous blogs, that now seem trivial, are all part of a sorely missed place.

But most of all, I guess I just miss my friend.

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