Two nights in a row, two different nightmares.
First nightmare, the spirit of someone I hope it’s still alive was moving around my bed, in between the sheets, until I felt it breathing next to me. I woke up and screamed inevitably bringing my hostelmates out of their sweet, and possibly wet (they’re all very young) dreams.
Second nightmare, I visit a child that is really myself. The kid weeps and I cry with him. I wake up bathed in a nasty mix of tears and sweat. Quite disgusting.
Roro is parked outside, patiently waiting for me to get out of my tent and take her to a mechanic soon. She´s making a weird noise and vibrating in an odd way when I speed her up. My assessment: the valves need adjusting, this based solely on my ignorance, of course. But it doesn’t seem that bad and I’m heading to Cali soon, where I know there’s a Spanish mechanic that’s been running a motorcycle repair shop for something like a dozen years. I hope it’s open when I arrive. Roro is Japanese and that means she can get proper care anywhere in the world. I can’t say the same about her German friends, the BMWs.
Colombia. High mountains and the Caribbean coexist in harmony. Cartagena: the zest and poverty of the Caribbean. Medellín: modernity and culture, a city that puts Madrid to shame as the capital of a so-called First World country. Salento: coffee, horses and tourists in search of nature. Here, on top of a mountain and away from the city, I can breathe. It’s almost like being at sea, but with nightmares. After drying my tears and still sweating, I went through the many pockets of my absurd pants, searching for the map of South America so I could trace a new route to follow.
My original plan was to reach Ushuaia by the end of March. It turns out that, according to some people who’ve come from there, Patagonia is friggin’ cold by mid-March. Harsh winds and possible snow.
Since my bike is not equipped for those conditions I have three options:
1- Make haste and get to Ushuaia before winter sets in on the Southern hemisphere.
2- Take my time and forget about Ushuaia, making Buenos Aires my final destination.
3- Take my time and face whatever comes at me in the patagonian winter.
Option 3 is the worst, which means it’s probably what I’ll end up doing. One: because I’m an idiot, and two: because I’m that stupid. But I must reach the goal I set out for myself, or else it’ll be a thorn on my side for years and I don’t think there’s room for more thorns in my memory.
It’s unhealthy to be in a hurry, everyone knows that. My brother used to drive my parents crazy when we were younger and running late for school, and the only words to come out of his mouth were: “No rush, please”. The last thing I wanted in this trip was to be in a rush. I have met too many a biker who seemed to have a rocket up the ass propelling him to Patagonia. Quick, quick. From Alaska to Ushuaia in less than a month, I’ve met a few like that. I won’t dwell on the topic, as I’m sure I’ve talked about this in a different post, but to be honest I consider this a ludicrous way to travel. It has its upside, though: there’s no need to rethink your route or regret not having left a month earlier.
I’ve come across so many young people that somehow find time and money to go around all Continents for months at a time. Hopping from one backpacker hostel to the next without much plan or ambition. Traveling is so easy nowadays that a swarm of kids move around the world meeting each other as they fatten up their list of friends in Facebook, bewitched by the Web. During the last few decades the term ‘Traveler’ has completely changed its meaning. It’s been dishonored, desecrated and stained. You could say that the Traveler now is mainly someone who goes from one place to another. In the past, the traveler was an explorer, now he’s an observer. In the past he kept a log book, now he updates his iPhone. He used to follow a compass, now uses Google Maps. The trip used to transform the traveler, now the traveler designs the trip to his convenience.
None of us escape this: backpackers, motorcyclists, tourists, those in a 4x4 Landcruiser, and the ones taking a cab at the Airport. All of us are modern travelers and hence lazy, controlling and spoiled. We seek experiences so we can share them on our social networks. It’s so cool to post about us getting a flat tire, and then how we got it fixed. We feel so adventurous when we run out of gas in the middle of nowhere, and it’s so much fun to take a picture when the bike is stuck in the mud. It’s fucking great when we fall off the bike, because “We’re road warriors, man!”. Road warriors my ass. We’re spoiled brats with a surplus of time and lack of responsibilities who can afford to go around the world for a year in the back of a motorcycle.
Real adventurers: My friend Amanda, taking care of her Mother who was recently diagnosed with a really aggressive type of cancer. My brother, taking care of his three kids by himself. My parents, working like dogs their whole lives and not once in a while like I do. Adventurers are those who go out on the street and ask for money to pay the rent. Artists who starve themselves because it’s more important to buy a tube of oil paint than a ham sandwich. Adventurers are those who dedicate their lives to try and fix the many problems of our conflicted world. Us who travel, adventurers? That’s a joke. Furthermore, it’s offensive. It’s offensive to those who used to travel without maps, and those who set out to draw the maps in the first place. It’s a punch in the face of those who went into the unknown so we could now enjoy Google Earth. It’s so disrespectful to so many people that I can barely put it into words.
I wish we could go back to the time of the explorers, the time when you would leave and couldn’t tell when you’d be back. No set destination. Exploring, discovering and getting sick in hostile lands, cold and impenetrable. Without the goddamned internet and its shitty Facebook. No cameras, portable computers, iPods, iPads or iBullshit. Just a notebook, a pen, and the excitement of possible discoveries along the route. Making your own way, without hotel or restaurant reservations. To suffer in the midst of rain and snow, dying of starvation and sickness. A miserable life, but free of hurries. And possibly without nightmares.
Without a doubt, it’s got to be Option 3.