For already 3 days, I’m laying at the bottom of the hotel bed, in a charmless Chinese city. The cause : an umpteenth food poisoning. Caroline is killing time by updating the blog.
Please read here the description of the other side of our everyday life ; when the light of touching meetings and the wonderful lively times disappear and the other reality of the trip submits the man on transit.
Me, on the bed. I don’t know where I have to turn myself to find a part of body almost blank of marks of mattress springs. I hope, during these tricks on me, feel a little less that belly that contracts tirelessly for the absorption of this Chinese wine glass, two days earlier. Buy to celebrate the Valentine’s day. My head is spinning, I do not have clear ideas.
Caroline, eyes on the computer, says : « Oh, that’s so cute, we just received a lovely email ».
In this message, Sidonie, adorable adventuress is explaining us that our blog is on the bookmarks of Guillaume’s computer, her partner. In a nice and moving text, Sidonie explains us that our adventure gave them the desire and courage to travel.This is a ray of sunshine piercing the clouds and touches us in the heart. It lights our day of this warmth we miss so much since we reached China.
But, somewhere on the stone mattress, I feel guilty for the choice they will follow. I realize through the blog we convey a distorted picture of the adventure. The choice of the topics and the pix, don’t really transmit the entirety of the trip. So, to reestablish the equilibrium, we have to talk about the difficult moments, the doubts, the crises and the fatigue.
It is then necessary to recount the endless annoyances which, at home would find resolved quickly, but here, without knowledge, without better understanding of our environment, they pursue us for days and exhausts us gradually. We need to better clarify the reality of the trip. And talk about anything, without taboos.
So, where to start? If this chapter has to talk about the dark side of the trip, it is clear we have lot of things to tell.
Proceeding by selected examples:
In addition to my bellyache, terrible itchiness have transformed our hands in battlefields for parasites. Buttons, coagulated blood and crevices distort our fingers. Caroline and I caught something that transforms our hands in sponges at purulent buttons. These buttons itch so much as they wake us up at night. And if they do not awake me, it’s Caroline who will, in spite of herself, by scratching her foot against the bed or with her bloody nails. Scratching unto blood, and continue. The trek in the Annapurna has completed the monstrous transformation of our fingers by chilblains which ultra-sensibilized all our nails.
We will attempt to address these parasites that inhabit us with this cream, banned in France for 10 years. Irritating our hands until not be able to slip into a pocket, or glove without this terrible impression of a chapped hand dipped in a mixture of sand, salt and boiling water.
Finally, while we think the parasites are dead, problem solved, the itching and news burst of spots return insidiously, more will come again colonize our hands and our foot. At the time of this writing, I hear Caroline who cannot bear more longer to scratch herself again without being able to prevent it. Unto blood, her, who heals so badly.
It is also about our relation to others :
Indeed, our Chinese adventure is terribly solitary. Our Chinese vocabulary allows us to understand only “rice” and “no,” which is obviously not enough to sustain a conversation. Here, in the Yunnan, almost nobody speaks English and we met nobody to have a long discussion. Each person who smiles but does not speak to us locks us a little bit more in our impenetrable bubble. Of course, some signs, some smiles permeabilize this, but it is mostly in a hermetic sphere that we are evolving in China. In spite of us, because it is the antagonism of our travel philosophy, it is the technical constraints that are imposed on us. And, unless to learn Chinese by ourselves in 4 weeks, we will stay cloistered there. Fortunately, the couple is stronger day after day, without any hassle. Almost absolute knowledge of the other and greater complicity.
Understanding and support on Chinese roads when Caroline falls and breaks her helmet. In a downhill road where the bumps transform your bicycle in a indomitable horse and the front bag, by the incessant vibrations, is ejected from the bracket and destabilizes her little bike. Caroline falls with her bike on asphalt and hits helmet, knee and shin on the ground with celerity.
I see her fall, I rush to her, but she is on her feet up, frightened. The belongings scattered on the road and large tears of bleakness are running down her little cheeks. She howls of rage, anger and despair. Against this endless dusty road, against these trucks who make screaming their horns in your ears, against those cars that look at you from head to foot as if you were an entertainment. I feel that Caroline is at an end. Yet, we are far from any city and we can not camp here. We have not enough water. And despite all the consolation that I try to give her, my only answer, the eternal, is to advance, advance a little further, the house is at the end.
We are used to think more and more about the end of the trip. Sometimes, Caroline asks me : « where we will live when we’ll be back? » , « Will we have a home to us? » . Or sometimes, often during a makeshift meal, raw Chinese noodle swallowed along the road, we ask us the question : ” if you could eat whatever you want, what would you have? “. Fondue, Cassoulet, Raclette are always among the answers, but it is still our Chinese instant noodles we are holding in our hands and that we swallow without pleasure.
It is a difficult thing to apprehend when preparing the trip, but the food causes terrible situations of lack. Surely, it can be weighed against with the nicotine withdrawal experienced by smokers. At first, that is great, you rejoice at every meal to eat unknown and varied dishes – Don’t remove to China their incredible gastronomic richness and excellent Nepalese Dhal-bat and momos – but after months of travel, the vision of a real pizza with roasted vegetables in olive oil, and cheese flowing and everything, can sue you for hours. And you eat your soup of cabbage and rice bowl while imagining eating sauerkraut as a man would make love to his wife while he thinking to his mistress.
Health, loneliness, lack, but also doubts:
It is also in this cold morning, four days earlier. Lost between Shilin and Mile. The mist covers this strange landscape of stone forests and skeletal trees. The slow fog masks this desert empty of souls. The only town which we cross is populated by huge empty buildings and abandoned highways. Dropped giants scaffolding and highways ended by a low wall turned into a makeshift parking. Our cold fingers are waiting that the sun finally breaks through the darkness. But nothing works.
Only 20 meters separate us from to this hazy invisible barrier. Sky of eclipse, far from home, far from our landmark, the heart is at the edge of the lips.
Caroline is far ahead. It’s cold and she doesn’t look back, she is struggling too.
It is cold, yet I sweat.
By forgetfulness, I have not checked the condition of the bearings during the overhaul in Nepal. Error because the balls have suffered and it is more and more difficult to move my bike. I almost cannot progress anymore. I am reduced to push, even in a few slopes that deign to grant us this limbo of the trip. Weary, tired, I know I can do nothing to repair, not here, not with my paltry tools.
But I can not accept the inaction then I still attempt an ultimate remedy at the edge of the road but nothing can be done here. I can’t. My frozen fingers try everything, but nothing happens. So I scream to the despair. With all my strength. 2 times. I howl in this fog that swallows my rage as he swallows our vital heat since the start. Caroline, looks at me, at length, a convict look. No words are said. We will conduct following the 50 km that separate us from our destination in silence and reflection. Between obstinacy and abnegation.
And those childrens, at the exit of the bus to Kathmandu, absolutely black and covered with grime. Not really children, neither teenagers. They fascinate me and at the same time, they disgust me.
Horrible, hideous, repulsive, monstrous, abominable but hypnotizing. I can’t stop my gaze. I’m invaded by the double emotions they inspire me. Their grins fixe their faces in my memory.
We are bombarded by half a dozen taxis to impose us their service. But however, I decreased the sound of that foreground and I’m literally captivated by this horrible vision.
They are half lying on the empty lot between two buildings. Tall grasses, rubbish and lost innocence. Head in the bag, they sniff glue probably to regain their lost childhood. One of them looks at me. He sees my disbelief, my disgust, my fascination. It seems to me look death. I can not do anything. Such a state of human misery petrifies me. He always smiled with this horrible rictus then plunges again his head in his bag. I will return 10 times, 20 times asking me the same question: What to do?
One month later, except losing myself in impossible conjectures, I have not found an answer.
So, here is a description of hard times, those experiences that we experience, test our will.
But these conditions, these ordeals, this other reality of the trip, we accept it, because it allow us to live a real journey, far sweeteners.
Moreover, as when we laugh at ourselves about our past difficulties, when the filter of the time has made its effect, there are no longer adversity, but experiments that led us to the end of ourselves. Allowing us a deeper discovery of oneself. Should we not have these times of misfortune to raise the moments of happiness? we must know the hell to enjoy the paradise. Is it not a good introduction to the Chinese ying and yang, this dark side and the light that complement one another to compose a whole: Life?
Anyway, let us not be fooled by dreamy projects, articles and pictures. The Life is hidden behind.
The dreamy lives that some travellers can write about on blogs and social networks are inaccessible desires. Only by answering it (poor solution), it changes our lives into virtual procurations via these others – from the other side of the screen.
I don’t think I’m happier during the trip than before, at work. Worries, traffic jam and forget about collecting the parcel at the post office. I realize that which allowed me to be fully happy was the expectation of this dream comes true. My everyday thought was : « how good I’ll feel when I’ll be on my bike, thinking and watching these nice landscapes. ».
But now, I think this trip is not a dream. It felt from its pedestal the day we left. A dream is made to be dreamed. If you accomplish it, it will turn into reality with its ups and downs, as in the real life.
It’s not easy to talk about the difficulties we meet. But it is, to talk about joy and the beauties that surrounds us and our considerations that arise in our heads during the trip and make it more beautiful (learning, the real benefit of the travel, what we will know when we back home). The above article has been hard to extract, like a splinter that is removed, it is a knife I just write it.
This article has been hard to write. Like removing a splinter, I wrote it at the point of a knife.
So, to be honest with you, the next articles, untill the end of the trip won’t speak in the same way as this one. It will only be about the side we want to remember. Only the wonders must be kept. And as the water runs off on a bird’s back, the bad experiences won’t leave any stain in my memory. The world is wonderful and nothing else. Conditioning beyond conscience.