Where do you sleep? What do you eat? What about visas? Isn’t it dangerous? These are probably the 4 most asked questions since we said some weeks ago “we are leaving soon”. Well, maybe together with how are you going to buy beer with 3 Euros a day?
All we can say in return is that we have endured over two years of road training as a team, and some more on our own. Not that we were going to the gym and improving camping skills in our living room. No, we don’t have all visas, in fact we do not have any. And we do not really know what we will eat. Neither how we will come back. What we do know is that we carry some essential things that will prove useful on the way.
The first thing we have is thousands of miles together, hundreds of travel stories, cold nights under the rain, walks with wild animals and opportunities to fight our fears, our prejudices, ourselves.
The road provides us with chances to tick items off the “learning wish-list” that we drew when we met. So by now we are quite good bread bakers, we can forage some of our food, and make allergy remedies with magical herbs. We know that jackals like human presence, and that not all snakes are poisonous. We have suffered the consequences of carrying too much stuff and of taking too little water.
Libraries brought us medieval stories, fairy-tale books made us fly, travelers showed us that every path is “walkable” and any road “hitchhikable”. But only outdoors we have understood that monsters really live where electricity fails to reach and why Mongols were afraid of storms. It’s still a mystery for us, though, how a knight canned in 40 kilos of metal crossed Anatolia on foot.
We have been tea-makers, pirates and storytellers, apart from having normal professions too, and have run workshops just to be taught by the youngest explorers that knowledge does not follow one direction.
One of us plays more chess than the other, walks faster than the other, and is better at talking about football. The other, in turn, is the one that can handle maps. Unfortunately we cannot read the stars yet, neither have we planted a garden, and we are far away from drawing people’s portraits with any accuracy, but we know now better than before, that we can learn anything like children, because we are just bigger versions of our smaller selves.
We know just a bit more about geography, history or politics and about the borders we will find on our way east. And yes, the dangerous areas are marked in red, but we also want to see what’s behind the tv news. Many days outdoors have helped us choose carefully what to carry – and many others will help us leave things behind. We know how to find our way to healthy food, and promise not to stay hungry as we walk.
In the last few weeks we have been drawing the final plan, checking visas or vaccinations, filling the backpacks, getting new shoes. We have been downloading maps, asking for good music or updating this blog among hundreds of other little tasks. But much before that, maybe since we met, maybe for a lifetime, we have always been “getting ready”. So this travel is just a road that continues.