I really struggled today.
Normally I wake up naturally around 8am. My eyes ping open, I have some vague recollection of a vivid and bizarre dream (usually involving a dragon) and I swing into action right away.
I reach behind me to unzip the tent a little and let some air in (and perhaps the odd pasta fart out). I sit up, unpack the clothes from my makeshift pillow, stuff them into dry bags, remove myself from the sleeping bag, stuff that away, let the air out of the sleeping mat (enjoying the ride down to earth as it deflates)… It’s a routine that I do on autopilot every single morning. And usually with a little smile, or not much going on in my brain at all.
Only, this morning, something is different.
I open my eyes and stare at the ceiling. I let out a sigh, a long deep sigh. My limbs feel like lead and are reluctant to any kind of motion, but worse than that – there’s a fog on my brain. A brain which says: ‘Do I have to?’
Today I am missing home. It could be to do with the fact that the sparkle of passing the halfway mark at Santiago has worn off, or that the scenery the past few days hasn’t been especially spectacular. It is also likely to do with the fact that Jamie is launching his first book, something which he’s ploughed his heart and soul into, and I’d really quite like to be by his side today. Or that my adventurous Mum had a skiing accident and has mashed up her knee and I’d love to be able to give her a big ole daughter-hug. (Although in reality I know she’s fine, despite having a torn cruciate ligament and a chipped thigh bone, she’ll have already worked out how to bench press her body weight without hurting the knee…).
I’m reading Lois Pryce’s book about motorcycling through Iran at the moment, and she sums up the feeling perfectly by referencing Fernweh and Heimweh – two German words which describe a for the longing for the road and the longing for home. It is part and parcel of any adventure to be caught between the two, and today I am firmly stuck in the middle.
It’s not a dramatic, throw myself at the side of the road and burst into tears kind of feeling – it’s just a numbness. Every minute feels like an hour, I want to stop and sit, and stare into space all day, but the world keeps turning, and so must my wheels. I know it will pass and so I spend the day in quiet reflection, running through things I have to be grateful for, of which of course there are hundreds.
I’m actually amazed I’ve made it four months into the trip without having a day like today. And that in itself if a triumph and something to grateful for.
When I make it into camp that night, I send my usual 140 character GPS messages to my loved ones. I pull on my new favourite Elmo hat and feel a little bit better. Faye, bless her – gets it, and has been chipper all day. Elmo and his yellow wobbly nose, he also gets it. And so Elmo and Faye do a wonderful job of reminding me that I am a very lucky girl, and that tomorrow is a new day.
Metres ascended on bikes so far: 62,838m