The First 20,000 Kilometers
What a ride.
On July 25, 2012 Phil and I set off from Vancouver with one simple goal. To ride our motorbikes from the top of Alaska to the bottom of Argentina. We had done remarkably little research and really didn’t know what was in store.
That was over 3 months and 20,000 km ago.
I sit here now, in Southern California,Â reminiscingÂ over the journey so far, and I realise that not only did we not know what was in store, I am now a different woman than that one who climbed on my heavily laden motorbike out the back of my parent’s house with tears in my eyes only a few months ago.
I’ve realised that I had become hardened, closed and cold surviving in London for so many years. I had joined the ranks of corporate slaves avoiding eye-contact on the tube, and shying away from strangers who dared to smile in my general direction. I cannot imagine going back to being that person.
Needless to say, I had many moments of enjoyment in the time I spent there, great friends, good jobs, the opportunity to travel. I lived however in a bubble, and there was something in the background, blowing in the wind. A restlessness saying “Jayne, this is not where you need to be, this is not who you are…”
The past 3 months have humbled me, opened me up and spilled my inner being out. I now smile at everyone I can, I not only trust in the kindness of strangers – I depend on it. I say “yes” to every suggestion someone makes. What a HUGE difference it makes just saying “YES”! Saying yes took us to Mexico City, landed us at parties, down different roads and most of all has introduced us to wonderful new people and places.
We haven’t even left the USA yet. With about ten more countries to go through, I can barely contain my excitement.
I’ve started to meditate. I’m terrible at it. Thoughts plague me when I’m trying to not think, but it’s a process. I am invigorated by all the new things I am learning. The lack of familiarity and comfort is sometimes challenging, but I find the constantly changing scenery leaves me in awe of this world we live in. I wish everyone would travel like this, with no timeframes, or set route. It reveals the world in such gloriously unexpected ways.
The breathtaking views of the Pacific ocean from Highway 1 down the coast of California, the waiter who asked that we send him a postcard, the 12 year old boy from Russia who met my parents and is now writing about our travels in his spare time, the many strangers who have opened up their homes, hearts and fridges, the many wonderful new friends I have made, my own personal transformation. All these things can’t help but change my perspective, transform my priorities, and make me want it to never end.
It hasn’t all been fabulous though. The 6000 km of Phil’s bike not working, and the associated frustration and bad moods were no small challenge. Phil and I are still holding a fragile truce when it comes to my willingness to travel difficult roads. I often feel like he doesn’t think I’m skilled enough (especially when he tells me that) – and his lack of confidence in me upsets me greatly. I foresee that we will need to split up for a time or at the very least have some other riders join us for a portion of the journey. His frustration at my slow u-turns or unwillingness to jump curbs etc infuriates me. I have been riding for ONE year and I am improving every day.
I know that I am perfectly capable of doing everything I have to do. I know that it will not always be executed perfectly. I stay within my comfort zone and skill ability and that means that sometimes I go slow or take the easier route. I believe that to be the sensible and best option. Phil’s frustration disrupts my desire to maintain calm and focus on making the best of every moment. It is understandable that he would rather be travelling with someone who is an expert rider, but that’s not who I am.
Travelling with another person is like any other relationship one has. Your boss, your husband, your friends. Except we spend almost every minute of every day together. That kind of pressure is always going to cause some strain at some points. It is only to be expected. I love Phil, he is one of my very best friends, and that is not ever going to change. I do wonder how couples manage to do trips like this. They must have VERY strong relationships to survive that much exposure to each other.
We are taking a break here in Los Angeles before we head down to Latin America. We are going to get the bikes in tip-top shape and do as much research as possible so that we are as prepared as we can be.
My biggest concern? My inability to speak Spanish. I have been half-heartedly studying for months now, but without any real commitment I have barely progressed past numbers and basic phrases. I hope that necessity will provide me with more motivation.
The highs, and lows, of the past 20,000 km have transformed me. For the next 20,000 km (or however far I go) I am going to concentrate on living in the moment, on developing myself, on connecting with people on more than a superficial level. Of course we will see amazing things, great places, long roads and varying weather, but those are all given, there is more to the journey than the physical journey. There is the personal one as well.
Thank you for being a part of it!