These Places In Between

Back on the road

I’d been regretting for a while now that my blog finished so abruptly 3 years ago on my arrival in Ushuaia, the most southern city in the world after my 2 year bike trip through Latin America. I regret that I didn’t take time to reflect on the blog about the trip and how my life had evolved since that time.

On my return to the UK I found myself eyes wide open taking in my once familiar soundings with an new perspective. I’d cycle around London and feel exhausted there was so much to take in- not just traffic and hazards but so much life on the street and people to watch, there was a buzz to life that I was appreciating again. Whilst cycling in the English countryside I’d stop to take note of how old the buildings looked, the cathedral in my home city is about 400 years older than Machu Picchu, and just how green the whole island is. There are no extremes in climate or landscape in Britain but it is rather lovely.

I’m left with such special memories of those two years, and I’d like to think it taught me a few things about myself and changed my perspective on the world and how I make sense of people and situations. I even got a husband out of being a dirt bag bike tourist for 2 years! It was true for us that we found each other doing what we love. I think the trip had given us such confidence to pursue our dreams and have faith that things usually work out, we knew living on different continents and visa red tape wasn’t a serious obstacle. Lee is the ying to my yang, he’s calm when I’m hot headed, he’s always happy and he’s kind, patient and outgoing. He’s shown a lot of courage to move to a new part of the world and begin a new life with me. He’s also a pretty ideal travel partner- he’s tends to take care of the technical bit and I deal more with logistics.

We obviously share the passion for cycle travel and since we met in Patagonia 3 years ago have travelled by bike in Colombia, Cuba, Scotland, Spain and plenty of places in the UK. Another trip was always something we’d imagined but were waiting for the right time. We’re ready now and I’m writing this in Yerevan, Armenia at the beginning of a 5 month cycle trip in Caucasus and Central Asia.

The truth is, I’ve really appreciated having a home and a community since returning. After years of cooking on a camp stove and not being able to access all the foods I would have wanted to be healthy I really value having a kitchen and being able to cook. I love having my friends and family within walking distance. In Hackney we live in the epitome of a political and social bubble and it’s a symbol of gentrification and hipsterdom in all is might; to me it is those things but it’s also something different. I live and work there, I’m invested in the community though my job working with children with disabilities and their families. I get to be part of so many peoples lives, lives that are so different to mine and it’s an honour. My job has been and still is one of the main pulls of staying in London. During my last week at work I cried several times as I struggled to tie things up at work, I felt so emotionally involved in what I’d been doing, and saying goodbye to some of my patients and families really made my heart heavy. I’m glad to have a job I want to come back to.

In so many ways this trip feels incredibly different to the last- before I left for Mexico it was all so unknown that I didn’t even know what to worry about… Leah and I laughed about how we just imagined we’d be cycling in summer dresses and sandals and sleeping on the beach every night, we worried about sexual predators and whether we would come back alive. I remember the tears at the airport thinking there was a real chance I might die on the trip and never see my parents again and how guilty I felt at making them worry.

This time I worry about different things- that I can’t even read the script in any of the countries were visiting let alone speak the language. I’m worried about living off carbohydrates again and how it may take it’s toll on my body- I came back from the last trip about 1.5 stone heavier as I’d taken to comfort eating biscuits and chocolate when I felt cold or uncomfortable. I’m worried about feeling the cold and camping in the snow. Also, maybe I’ve become more anxious and cautious with time.

I wasn’t sure about writing a blog this time as people digest information in more bite size pieces via Instagram than they do via blogs which are both giant commitments for the writer and the reader, but I want to keep a record of my thoughts and feelings and how that links with where I am.

For all the things I’m afraid of, I’m also excited. To travel by bike is to sleep tired, eat hungry, drink thirsty, and dream alive.

2 thoughts on “Back on the road

  1. Nathan Haley

    Brilliant… you’ve done this blog thing before! I’m so proud to have cycled my bicycle alongside, slightly behind and sometimes in front of you. I am and will be thinking of you and Lee over the sea on your bicicletas. Imagine how different life would have been if we’d known then what you guys obviously know now about packing light. Wouldn’t swap it for the world though. Have fun and keep it gnarly!

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