We’re being hosted in Vancouver by a beautiful Italian family. On arrival Francesca made tea and we shared a bit about ourselves. Her grandfather migrated from Italy and started the business next door, a deli, and bought the house we were staying in. Her father grew up in this house, then Francesca after that. She now lives here with her beautiful young family. She has lived here all her life and everyone she loves is nearby. With my family spread all over the world, I imagined how wonderful a life that must be. I mentioned how hard I found it to say goodbye to my girls and puppies…and promptly started bawling. How embarrassing to be crying with a stranger, especially since once I started I couldn’t stop!
Thursday was an exciting day, time to get the bikes through customs and out of their crates! We had to ship the bikes without fuel or batteries, so with motorcycle batteries in our backpacks we headed out on the train. We missed noticing the last stop and found ourselves the only people on the train, stationary in the shunting yard, stuck. An emergency call got us out of our bind and soon we were giggling about our “rookies’ day out”, wondering what else the day had in store. The process of importing the bikes was pretty straight forward, people extremely helpful when we needed to ask for help. It made us mindful though how challenging the process would be in countries where we could not speak the language.
We were like children at Christmas, unwrapping the crates with whoops of delight. Assembling the bikes was great fun, despite the occasional rain shower welcoming us to the Northern hemisphere. We fuelled up and were soon on our way, albeit with an extra heavy load due to also carrying a Canadian friend’s panniers shipped out with ours. Then for the challenge of driving on the right…
Rush hour traffic turned out to be a much bigger challenge than our initial worries as the bikes constantly cut out, leaving us frantically trying to re-start the heavily laden bikes with traffic bearing down on us. We were anxious about the bikes malfunctioning and Paul was stressed like I’d never seen before. With much spluttering and stalling (and swearing!), we got home safely. We quickly unloaded the bikes and headed back to the bike shop, with only minutes to spare before they closed. Then got lost…
There are so many unknowns when you travel, so much to figure out. Paul has wisely said that that’s what this journey is about – figuring stuff out, solving problems and learning. Being rookies at so much of what we’re experiencing is mostly hard, sometimes fun. Everything is easy once you know how and it’s empowering discovering your inner resources. We’ve also found the generosity of others has no bounds.
The previous night I had apologised to Paul that after 5 days’ travel I was still crying at the drop of a hat. I asked him if it worried him that I was not coping as well as I’d hoped. What happened next reminded me why I’m travelling with the right man. He took my face in his hands, looked me in the eyes and said: “Don’t apologise for how you feel, don’t second guess yourself. I’ve seen you tackle challenges before, this is just you being honest about where you’re at, not you giving up.”
Uncannily the following day became my turn to support, to just be calmly present as my husband didn’t cope…just for a moment…when realising the enormity of what we had started.
We changed our plans, deciding to spend another day in Vancouver to sort the bikes out, getting ready properly to start our journey north, the first stop which is Whistler on Saturday.