… and everything in between.
I’m sat in a little cafe on the harbor front at Dieppe. Wonderful little place that sums up France perfectly. It’s full of locals chewing the fat, drinking extremely strong coffee, with extremely strong cigarettes, whilst a dog sniffs around their feet being greatly ignored by all but me.
Other locals sit in a corner on their own contemplating the rain and cold that has gripped this coastal town. They nurse their larger (you simply can’t call it beer) with two hands, hoping that by clutching it so close they’ll some-how warm it, and turn a 1 euro bier turn into a 10 euro brandy. I do love the French.
I don’t know if it’s the rain, the fact I have 2 hours to kill or the idea that this is the last stretch of time I’ll have on this trip where I’m not within England’s borders, but I’ve been going over my thoughts for this trip; I’m troubled.
It seems that after 2 weeks I’m starting to get a taste for this travel lark. I actually want to head back to Morocco right now and finish what I started. Another part of me is screaming that I’m insane. Perhaps.
I’m coming to the conclusion that travel isn’t easy, it’s not something that you can just pick up and ‘do’. The problem is of course we’ve all learnt that travel is easy, it’s as easy as a few mouse clicks, a trip to the airport and a genial conversation with your tour rep in Tanger to arrange a nice air conditioned bus trip out to the ‘real’ Morocco. Once there you can buy pottery and Fez hats to your hearts delight. In the evening you can settle down to your steak and chips, enjoy the pleasant company of your fellow country men, then retire to your European hotel – complete with bidet – has anyone in the UK actually worked out how you use one of those?
But travel isn’t easy, and it shouldn’t be. When I decided that it was time to come home it was a decision that meant 5 more days on the road to even get back to the UK, never mind home. Had I made that decision on a package holiday I could have been home within 24 hours.
I like the idea that this is hard, I like the idea that this is something I’m going to have to work at, something that doesn’t come naturally to me, and something which I’m going to struggle at.
I’ve worked hard these past 2 weeks, and I’ve learnt so much. The most important of which is that I need to learn French before I even attempt to go away again – and I need more than a smattering of the local language before I even attempt to travel there. Language is so important. I feel I’ve broken the back of this travel lark, that I know what to expect and what I need to do in order to make it what I’ve always dreamt it would be.
It takes work, it takes dedication, and most of all it takes more than 2 weeks before you start to lose the feeling of being ‘away from home’ and instead start to adopt the feeling of ‘on the road’ – I may change all the tags for my articles to ‘away from home’ until todays post; it would be more fitting.
I envy people like Wilfred Thieger and Ted Simon, people who can pick their things up and depart for the wild regions of this planet and enjoy them without the pull of family. Perhaps that’s too strong, Wilfred loved his mother dearly and his letters home show how much he missed her and his brothers. He had no close tie to a wife, a partner, certainly no close tie to anyone other than his aids and comrades on the road.
Wilfred Thieger made his friends on the road, employed them, and took them with him ensuring a constant companion that was there when he needed a crutch. Ted Simon on the other hand, as he says in his own books, has lost several women to his travels; something which he says he doesn’t regret, but still…. perhaps that’s something I’ll never be able to achieve. I must find a way to do this without the heartache of wanting a family who does not wish to travel this way.
I still have an hour before I leave for the ferry, I’ve already drunk 4 espressos, can I stomach another, or should I order another Croque Monsieur? These are the questions that only another 2 weeks on the road can answer. Roll on Russia.