Dear followers of Different Parts of Everywhere
The last month of this year has been a quiet one here on the blog. Chris and I are taking a break from cycling to rest, to take care of practicalities for the future journey, for Chris to work on his book (both promoting the first one and writing the next which is in good progress), and for me to spend some time with friends and family in Denmark. We will resume travelling and writing more about it all in the new year. Now it is time for reflections and absorbing this intense flow of constant moving through new surroundings that is the mode of bicycle travelling.
I have been creating some more Flickr Albums for our old blogposts (so far there are more pictures from Turkey and Georgia) and doing so I have been looking through the many, many pictures from the last eight months’ journey and the memories they hold. I feel so incredibly fortunate to already have such a heavy bag of new experiences, meetings, outlooks and insights with me. I have already learned so much and gained much more confidence, for example I now know I can fix my punctures, build a wheel, deal with my knee problem, camp in cold temperatures, modulate my mind’s reactions to difficult situations, keep pedalling when it feels like I can’t no more, climb big mountains and cross empty deserts and vast countries. Things I did not know when we started back in Edinburgh in March. And most important, I now know that I really love to do this more than anything else, so that doubt no longer hits me in the most difficult moments like it did in England one year ago and in Macedonia six months ago.
And while I have learned things about myself, I have seen a slice of the world with my own eyes and moved through it with my sensing body. Felt the sun and the wind on my skin, the hills in my legs and the sweat cooling in my clothes on the descents. I’ve followed the rhythm of the day and the night and adjusted my practices to the changing of the seasons and the weather. I drank elder flower drinks in May, ate cherries and apricots in June, peaches in July, grapes in August and apples in September. The Rhine led me to the Alps and the snow forced me through Liechtenstein and Austria over my first mountain passes into Italy where people spoke German and the apple orchards were in bloom. The Europe I knew expanded with the forested hills of Slovenia and Croatia, the respectful people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the natural wonders of Montenegro, the crazy road life and welcoming people of Albania, the cultural mosaic of Macedonia and the sleepy peace of Greece. And the entangled strings of Asian cultures was revealed when Turkey’s homogeneous culture was swapped with Georgia’s cha-cha, only to reappear as a melody in the language and tea of Azerbaijan before crossing the Caspian Sea and entering The Stans, where friendly generosity and proud traditionalism mixed with Soviet structures were to be seen in architecture, politics and minds as I cycled through my first desert in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and over my first grand mountain ranges in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. And everywhere I have been met by smiles, curiosity and generosity.
Looking back at all this I feel rich, although there is less money in our account than when we started. I think we have exchanged money for memories and experiences to a very favourable rate.
As I’m writing this I am back home in Denmark where I am so fortunate to constantly be surrounded by family and friends all so dear to me. They are the foundation of who I am, and yet by travelling like this I am becoming something else, something more than who I used to be. And this other life of mine lived in the saddle and tent far away from Denmark is difficult to bring back home. I can only convey fragments and vague sensations of the reality that they are not a part of. I feel like I have two different lives, both of which I am very fond and grateful of.
To my friends and family back home I am a person in flesh and blood, in real time conversations face to face and in the memories from the past that we share, to them I’m not so much a name and a voice in words from the internet and many of them don’t follow this blog. And that makes me see that by becoming this voice of words on a website a new part of me has emerged. It relates to more and other people than my old friends and family, people who mainly know me like this voice in words. It relates to you who follow our stories and you who encourage me with messages and comments. I love to be able to write about our journey, and I love to force myself to try and write the best I can and form our experiences into this story decorated with pictures that I can look back at. It is certain that I would not make such a great effort doing so if there was no one to write to. You who follow our story are a great motivation for me to do that. I am so grateful that you are giving me something to aim my writing at, that you are encouraging me and inspiring me to keep writing, and that you care at all even though we never met or only met once. It is truly incredible. It means so much. Thank you.
Therefore I want to wish you all, friends, family and followers, a very Merry Christmas. I hope it will be a peaceful time for you wherever you are in the world, and I look forward to a new year that will bring more stories to share.
Thank you so much all of you