I am hunched over in an awkward crouch. If I stand I will smack my head on a concrete ceiling that is dotted with spider nests. This culvert underneath the local highway provides us with shelter for the night ahead but is somewhat more cramped than previous editions. An added challenge are the spiny thorns from something nearby which have embedded themselves in our bike tires, shoes, ground sheets and bottoms. We conduct an eradication, vainly crossing our fingers that no punctures will occur in tyres or air mattresses, but alas, I stir from my slumber well before the gentle light of dawn to feel the cold concrete of the drain floor pressing through my flattened mattress. I have jumped headlong into this adventure and for now, while the mind is fresh and everything novel, I find this more amusing than annoying.
I have already surmised that it will be difficult to capture the extent of this journey in prose. Perhaps that is the thing about adventures, or even life in general, you can glimpse and admire or even enjoy the experiences of others, but it belies the actual living of it. While it will be futile to try and describe all we will experience in the coming months, perhaps in sharing just a few moments that capture my imagination, it may, in a similar vein, capture yours.
While my body is feeling the efforts of the first week of riding, I am pragmatic. I always knew adjusting to life on the bike would take time and these first few weeks would be a challenge on the body (and mind). It says something of our level of fatigue at the end of a days riding that a few nights ago we failed to notice the decaying carcasses of two goats lying at the entrance of our chosen drain. It is further testament to our fatigue that upon noticing the presence of said goats (and the slight aroma that went with), we simply continued unpacking and made our home for the night. I am incredibly thankful to have joined Rebecca and Sarah of @thelongwayhome.nz on this journey. The girls have spent the last five months on their bikes riding to China, where i have joined them, from Switzerland. To my inexperienced eye, they are consummate pros, working together like clockwork, sharing the duties of touring life and embracing all that the local culture throws at them. I have plenty to learn. No least of which is my speed of pannier packing and loading, which currently earns me the nickname `snail`.
After the months of planning, preparations and training, it feels so good to finally be underway. I look forward to these next few months. The slowing down. To letting the days and moments be, letting experience and wonder be my teacher. To having my worldview challenged and remolded. I do not know what lies ahead. Whether I will be successful in my fundraising goal. Whether this journey will shed light on the work of World Bicycle Relief. Whether the journey will become something that defines or simply refines me. But I hope that I can simply be, to enjoy. To embrace the moments. Drink in the sights, tastes, and experiences.
Oh and I hope I learn. And moreover, I hope that in my learning you might experience something also. That somehow, in sharing my experiences there will be beauty in it that transcends a simple bicycle journey of a slightly over ambitious kiwi lass.
At any stretch it will be an adventure. And at the heart of it, that is exactly what I signed up for.