Today makes four months of solo travel; four months, eight countries and 33,927 kilometers (this excludes the two week trip I did out to the most eastern point in North America with my Harley riding friend David, another 8,535 kilometers).
I was going to celebrate today with fellow riders here in Costa Rica by doing a ride down to the coast and back, but instead I am listening to the heavy rain beating against my gas tank, watching the wind move the tree outside the window and reflecting on the highs and lows of the past four months.
The low point is easy, looking at my bike, practically upside down, damaged and realizing that I had just been violently robbed. It took a while for me to realize what had happened back in Guatemala and then I was caught up in police reports, replacing things and healing. Getting over the loss of “things” was easy; shaking the fear was more difficult. Just yesterday I was startled by some roadside activity that turned out to be nothing more than kids playing.
The high point is much harder to choose because there have been so many. I think of the friendships that I have made, seeing the sky closing in as I approached Prudhoe Bay, people telling me I was an “inspiration” to them, the improvement in my skills as a motorcyclist, successfully crossing into eight countries, and the list goes on. I guess the high point is the adventure itself.
People always ask me why I chose to take this trip alone and I always give the same answer “I have no crazy friends”. The truth is I really wanted to be alone, alone to travel as I wanted, stop when I want to stop, go when I want to go and to choose my own destination and path to get there. Locking down my helmet and being alone with only the open road and my own thoughts has been good for the soul. After only four months I no longer see the world the same way. The “North American dream” is a fallacy; there were no smiling faces on my subway ride to work, now I see smiling faces every day, things don’t make you happy but experiences will, a “challenge” is not more work, a challenge is overcoming personal obstacles and stepping outside your comfort zone, money is necessary but not important. Solo travel has given me time to reflect on these things that I might not have done had I been travelling with someone else.
Reflecting on it now, taking this trip in “midlife” was, for me, the best time. I am young enough to meet the physical challenges that this lifestyle brings, moving most days, picking up a dropped bike, changing sleep patterns, varying time zones and long travel days. I am also old enough to avoid doing really stupid things. I know if I had taken this trip in my 20’s that I would have crashed hard long ago, never of met such interesting people and would have missed the best this trip has offered. Problems get easier to resolve as you get older, life experience makes for less stress and a clear head. Somehow I know that things will somehow work out for the best. The only thing that does not seem to get easier in midlife is matters of the heart, something I was not expecting to be dealing with. Then again, nothing is how I expected it would be – its better.
The rain has stopped and the sun is out, I think I will take that ride now.