Sunday, February 17, 2008

A few final thoughts - Feb 17th

"Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory or defeat."
Well it’s all over now and it feels just a little odd. It’s almost anti-climatic, and certainly more than a little surreal.

For the past 18 months we’ve all worked hard: we had to buy and prep the bikes, make all kinds of travel arrangements, buy extra parts in case of a break down and complete any inoculations and other travel medicine requirements for travel in the Third World. We had to each in our own way, come to grips with being away from friends and family for over a month as well as making arrangements for the necessary time off from work. If you say it quick it doesn’t sound like much now but at the time it was a huge endeavor and took a lot of our time and energy as we approached our departure date.

I can’t speak for Steve, Brad or Kevan but I was bordering on obsession during the last 90 days. The trip was all I could think about and all I could talk about, and I know there were more than a few people I work with that were very fed up with hearing about it before I left.

And then there was the trip itself. In was much harder and much different than I imagined, and in other ways it was much easier.

I had a leisurely itinerary in my mind before we left, that would see us leaving at 7:00, riding for 400 – 500 klm by 1:00 or 2:00 and then spending our afternoons lounging by the pool or frolicking in the waves at some small beachside resort. I was sure we could complete the trip in 20 days and still have lots of down time for site seeing and relaxing.

The reality was vastly different. Up at 5:30 for a 6:30 start, breakfast at a roadside taco stand or scarf down a donut at a gas station, a quick break for lunch and ride until 3:00 – 5:00, then search madly for a decent hotel with the all important and overriding factor of secure parking. Instead of rum and cokes and playing cards each evening we dealt with whatever maintenance issues rose during the day and collapsed into bed by 8:30. Our average overland speed, including stops, maintenance, fuel and lunch was never any better than 50 KPH and often as slow as 40 KPH. 400 klm meant an 8 – 10 hour day, plus whatever time was lost due to border crossings or the inevitable getting lost while leaving town syndrome.

But in some ways it was easy. Easy in the sense that we all got along well given the circumstances, we had no major mechanical issues, no one got hurt (even Kevan made it home safely), no one got arrested and not one of us, not one single one of us, would have traded it for the world.

It’s had a profound impact on my perspective and it’s affected me more than I thought it would.

I tried to go into work today to catch up on things and I found myself having a very difficult time dealing with all the e-mails and correspondence of the past five weeks. As I caught up on my reading, and learned about the latest sales targets, or newest product offering, I couldn’t help thinking of the past five weeks; and that brought me back to the young girl on the side of a Honduran road, waiving at a surprise parade her grandfather held her aloft to see. Did she sleep in a warn bed last night? Eat a decent meal? Have an opportunity to play or go to school? These things are what’s truly important, not whether or not Walmart chooses Blueray over HDV or how much Canadians can put away in RRSP’s this year.

I had to do some running around to take care of a few things before going back to work and I couldn’t help but overhear people talking to each other and complaining about this or that – all minor stuff in the big scheme of things – and I wanted to grab them and shake them and try to make them understand what I’d just seen and experienced. An act that would only get me arrested rather than imparting any kind of profound enlightenment. So I had to content myself with shaking my head and feeling pity for their limited understanding of a much larger world.

Tomorrow I go back to work and none of this will matter. By 9:00 no one will know I’ve been gone, nor care, and I’ll be right back on the treadmill with the rest of the world. But at least I’ll have a small understanding of what’s really out there and memories to keep me company until I can do it all again.

And for those of you that say I’d love to do something like this, but……

I just completed a 7,000 klm journey on a 26 year old used Honda and a VERY tight budget. You may not go but it’s not because you can’t. It’s because you won’t.

Or, as Johnny Depp would say… Are you a Mexi-can, or a Mexi-can’t?

Tierra del Fuego – only 2 ½ years to go – I’d better start my planning right away

1 comment:

  1. Dale- I love what you wrote about people not going because they can't...but won't!
    I lived a dream for nearly four years because my husband convinced me I could!
    I never would have done it on my own..but now I have the courage to face anything...
    To anyone that reads this- don't ever hold back or say "I'll do it some day, next year, tomorrow..."
    Love, Cousin Colleen