On Friday, October 19, we unexpectedly went home by plane. A benign tumor in Zoë's ovary was the culprit. The news came as a blow and can be read in a captured free bird. At that moment we had brought ourselves from Amsterdam to Colombia, completely self supported . Until now we cycled 19.900 kilometers through Europe and South America, we sailed 6,000 kilometers across the Atlantic from Europe to Africa to Brazil and walked about 300 kilometers along the entire journey. That we had to break all those strenuous kilometers with a simple flight home was an emotional bridge for us. Once at home we picked up life quickly. Everything felt so normal and it is more than nice to see all our friends. With not one, but two surgeries, and the removal of two wisdom teeth, Zoë is literally double checked in three months. Fortunately, there has been more than enough time to remember all the fun. We appreciate our own country and the return turned out as if it should have been 'that way'. Now we are four months further and again ready and fit for a new expedition. On February 22, the plane brought us back to our journey. Freshly departed. A new start?
'Funny, actually' Zoë says as she opens the travel guide. 'I don't know where we are going'. We know our plan exactly but didn't prepare ourselves with booking hotels, reading about top locations and knowing the currency. Olivier takes it easy. "We know we are cycling and we know the first 400 kilometers from Google Maps." We look around us and see all the other tourists, they will soon be baking in an all inclusive resort on the beach. When we see the blue beaches of Cancun flaunting from the air, there is a short stab of jealousy through Zoë. A moment later she realises it again. We aren't on vacation, we travel! For us no butt in the sand, but the butt on the saddle. Sweating on the bike, licking salty lips and pooping in the bushes. Getting to know people, smelling odors, discovering cultures. We don't need a tourist guide, only our bike, but because there is time we read it for a while. Who knows, we may pass something that we really don't want to miss.
At the airport there isn’t any sign which says ‘oversized luggage'. The guards tell us kindly that our bikes will automatically roll up the luggage belt. "That never fits?" We say, but he shakes his head. 'Here it will' is his logical answer. If all tourists have their suitcases from the belt, our boxes appear around the corner. We sprint to it and grab the box, while Olivier’s hand disappears into the box. "The box is broken," he says. When we look, we see that the whole bottom is open. We don't know how it is possible, but everything is still there. "OK!" The heartbeat may drop a little again. We unpack the bicycles and prepare them for our first kilometers. Because of all the waiting we have to cycle in the dark for about an hour. When all the excitement of the flight is over and the bikes are ready, we jump on the bicycles as if nothing special happened. A joyful calmness falls over us but the exuberant emotions stay away. We just find our way, maybe it is quite normal. That is fine too. Or do we do try to hide something?
An hour later we stand in front of Mariëla’s door. A Mexican cyclist that we got to know in Peru. Together with a Swiss she cycled south to Ushuaia. She invited us to her house and with our four month delay she is home before we passed Mexico.
Before we know it we're back in the middle of familiar rhythms. We sit at the kitchen table, eat the local dishes, we share discussions about politics and lifestyles, we help with dishwashing and if there is space we ask for a shower. We step under a strange shower, dry ourselves with a strange towel and sleep in a strange bed, but none of that feels strange. Everything feels so normal. So familiar, like our trip. But still, Olivier doesn't sleep that night. He worries all night. He can't place his feeling correctly but there is a lot feeling wrong. This isn't our journey. This is not as it should be? When Zoë wakes up, she feels Olivier's struggles. Emotional like Zoë is, she also turns her whole feeling around. We are talking about it briefly but decide that the unique travel feeling will come. We just have to start.
This is how we start our cycling adventure after one day of sun and beach. A strange inexplicable atmosphere hangs over our heads. A mix of recognition and withdrawal. Suffer and joy at the same time. A lot of emotions that touch every corner but we don't know what to do with it. Fortunately, there is always something like the rational brain that simply starts us and pretends there are no emotions. We wave Mariëla out, which again feels completely emotionless, but two minutes later on the bike as if we never had a break. Our rational brain hides the emotions away and brings us wonderful experiences the next two days. Then the bomb explodes. Seven days of Mexico prove necessary for a new start of the same trip. That bomb, you will read the next blog.