Everything is falling apart. My dry bag is ripped, my spork melted then snapped, my Kindle broke, both my phone and laptop screens are cracked while the ‘a’ key doesn’t work on the latter, my jeans and one pair of underwear have holes in the crotch – if inadvertently worn in tandem old ladies scream in terror when I cross my legs – my one good shirt is torn, one of my tent poles snapped and is held together with duct tape, my tent pegs are bent or lost, my air mattress is riddled with holes, my cooking gear is covered in a permanent patina of filth, I look like a homeless disco pirate and every morning I’m smacked with the stench of dried sweat and wet socks.
Individually none of these bother me but combined they start to grate, reminding me of how long I’ve been on the road and how different my concept of “normal” has become. The other day I calculated that I’ve camped or slept rough over 120 times on this trip, the majority of them in the last 4 months. That’s a lot by anyone’s standards and I’m starting to dream of a life that doesn’t revolve around packing and unpacking a tent and stooping over my alcohol stove eating watery porridge – the saddest of all meals – because I can only carry 2 days worth of milk at a time.
I’ve spent the last few weeks cycling through some of the most spectacular scenery in South America – the kind that any sane person would gawp at – and while it occasionally has me swearing under my breath in awe, it never quite reaches the dizzy heights of days gone by. It’s all very first word problems “boo fucking hoo, I don’t appreciate this incredible scenery as much as the previous incredible scenery” but I knew this day wuld arrive. Whether it’s Renaissance churches, that Pitbull album you love, or that sweet hit of bath salts, we’re only human and fatigue eventually sets in. Michaelangelo gets boring. Pitbull’s lyrics don’t hit you where they used to. You get carried away and eat someone’s face. It happens to everyone.
I have no regrets – this trip is the best thing I’ve ever done – and I’ve still got plenty left in the tank from but for the first time in 10 months the prospect of crossing the finish line doesn’t seem quite so bad.
Tunes: Bad Brains – Bad Brains, Lou Reed – Transformer, The Smiths – The Queen is Dead, Tom Petty – Wildflowers, Full Moon Fever, The Replacements – Let It Be, My Bloody Valentine – Loveless, The Strokes – Is This It, Weezer – The White Album
Reads: Skagboys, Porno – Irvine Welsh, Meet Me in The Bathroom – Lizzy Goodman, If Chins Could Kill – Bruce Campbell, The Circle – Dave Eggers, The Old Patagonian Express – Paul Theroux