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Apr 23

Feeling Tired

 

Cooking with nopale. Proof that every thorny subject has a juicy tasty morsel inside. Uh... maybe.

The ride to Guanajuato from Ajijic is not very memorable.  Actually, that isn’t entirely true; I will always remember it as being particularly uninspiring.  Long stretches of vista-less roads passing through nondescript farmland, small industrial towns, larger cities that seem to serve primarily as transport hubs, and an oppressive blue haze in the mornings are a few of the highlights one has to look forward to on this road.  One night, as I camped out in an abandoned building site, I wasn’t in the best of moods.  I was setting up my stove to cook dinner for the hundredth time this trip, the bugs were out that night buzzing in my ears, I was feeling sticky and gross, my muscles were sore from the day’s ride, the damn rice was sticking to the bottom of the pan again, and my nose was running.  All of a sudden it hit me: For the first time this trip I felt tired. 

People often think time and money are the main limiters to traveling longterm, but this is not the case.  By far, the biggest limiter to any great adventure is spirit.  Give it enough time and the classic symptoms of traveler fatigue, loneliness, homesickness, and even boredom will always start to creep in.  Traveling solo only serves to exacerbate the situation.  In the short term, these symptoms can be treated and consolidated by employing various ZackPacking techniques, but in the long term the traveler can look forward to far more serious symptoms that include: feelings of extreme disorientation, feelings of purposelessness, a sense that there is no point in doing anything, and a roller coaster ride of emotional highs and lows.  Inside every traveller there is a ticking clock, and when the alarm goes off, it is time to get off the road and plant some roots.  For some, this alarm goes off after a month or two, for others it can take years, but we all eventually run our spiritual bank accounts dry.

"Business route". This makes no sense.

I am no stranger to the emotional and spiritual effects that traveling long term has on the solo traveler.  In fact, my largely nomadic existence the past five years (or nine, depending how you look at) has been a fairly comprehensive education into the complexities of the social animal that is the human being.  In short, I have become an expert on myself.

So as I ate my dinner in silence, staring at my food in the unnatural blue-white glare of my headlamp, I recognized my mood as the first signs of traveler’s fatigue.  But, I was not disheartened by this realisation, rather, I was encouraged.  Having counted out the months on my fingers I realised that it had been over 4 months since Tony and I had set out for our first day’s ride and over 7 months since I had left Australia.  The fact that it had taken this long for my first “bad vibe” to kick in is an unprecedented success.  It is a promising sign that my personal clock still has loads of time left on it.  As I sat there chewing on my rice and my thoughts, I logically deduced that my negativity was the understandable result of being alone again for the first time in weeks combined with the physical fatigue of a long day’s ride.  I concluded that, in the morning, everything would be better.

In the morning, everything was indeed better.  It was just starting to get light when I pushed Tony up the hill from the building site and back onto the road.  Taking in a lungful of fresh morning air (and blue haze) and one last invigorating sip of yerba mate from my thermos, I tuned into a mexican radio station and rode happily off into the sunrise towards Colombia.

It’s the good life.  It’s just that sometimes even the good life can be tough.

As Tony and I got close to Guanajuato, the road once again got beautiful.

1 comment

2 pings

  1. aunt barb

    Beautiful! Everything!!

  1. A Bad Day in Belize » Zack Skerritt

    [...] the road, of course I was feeling the effects.  It happened just like this, though not as strong, 5 months earlier when I left my “family” in Guadalajara.  It happened just like this 5 years earlier when I got back to a freezing cold Beijing after a [...]

  2. Traveler’s Fatigue: It’s Complicated » Zack Skerritt

    [...] first wrote about traveler’s fatigue about 5 months ago shortly after leaving Guadalajara in a post entitled Feeling Tired.  In that post I wrote: People often think time and money are the main limiters to traveling [...]

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