The Spunky Rooster suggested that a good wrap up for our first 12 months on the adventure would be if we both reflected over the 12 months and wrote down our reflections. Well I hit a brick wall, I didn’t know what to write. Not that I hadn’t learnt anything my personal growth has been huge but in the words of Lulu “how do you thank someone who has taken you from crayons to perfume? A friend who taught me right from wrong and weak from strong” This adventure has change and moulded my mind and body in ways I could never have imagine. It has helped build a relationship with the Spunky Rooster that is solid, sexy and amazingly simple. So instead of trying to eloquently spin my learnings I asked myself some questions and here they are with my answers.
Just living is not enough…
This has been the one statement that I have tried to accept and understand for the last 12 months on the road. We have walked over 4000k which affords you many hours to contemplate sacrifice, freedom, security, relationships, climate change, world politics, inner peace, out if body experiences and whether bears are pescatarians. Needless to say, I’m not ready to end this journey anytime soon. There are things though that I have a better appreciation for; without sacrifice there is no freedom and without freedom there is no life, hence ‘Just living is not enough’.
I have been somewhat quiet these 12 months with publicly expressing my thoughts and feelings. Tanya has been our combined voice. The choices made to leave the security of employment, as toxic as it was, creating an estranged relationship with my kids to forge their own lives and pursue my own dreams and venture off into a world that seems hell bent of imploding has created more internal dialogue than I needed to share. But I’m ready to share, journal even, and start to really share my thoughts to anybody strange enough to listen.
This journey hasn’t been about being a tourist and seeing all you can in 48 hours. The places we have seen, the cultures we have immersed ourselves into and the people we have walked with, talked to and shared our lives with over the 12 months have changed me. I still judge, I still can be opinionated and maybe even self-centred at times. I still enjoy meat, beer, wine and spirits and yes, still dream of playing my ukulele in some random Irish pub. So, change may not be as evident from the outside looking in, but that’s not important. I do care more about our planet, I am happy to be flexitarian (a term I heard today for those trying to be vegetarian and still enjoy some meat), I understand that people are different to me and that’s ok we can still have a conversation, I enjoy helping people and not for what I will receive in return.
That said, there are always highlights, those special memories that reinforce your resolve and will keep you on the road.
The gratitude we have for the hospitality extended to us from so many Kiwis was unforgettable, but our time with Kelly and Jane at the Cable Car Adventure Park (The Flying Fox – Whanganui) was really special. The friendship we formed in such a short time, the lifestyle they are creating, living on the river was simply put, an extraordinary experience.
New Zealand, as expected didn’t disappoint when it came to scenery, the Ninety Mile Beach, Tongariro Crossing were both challenging and rewarding. You certainly got paid for your efforts. Te Araroa was always going to be a challenge for us, but it helped us understand and mould how and what we wanted from this life that was sustainable for us.
Culturally, Japan was something I had never experienced, and it was like an ‘AHA’ moment. Respect and gratitude are the pillars that balance and support a culture that struggles between old and new worlds. I will be eternally grateful for the support offered to us by the Nonomura family. The strange thing for me was the joy and happiness they got from us because we were trying to embrace their culture with our pilgrimage in Shikoku. Temples came and went but I’d like to think that maybe I gained some discipline through worshipping at all 88 Temples. Spending time with a young woman (Elvira from Denmark) who was still looking to find herself in this world also gave me hope that there are still young people in this world that want to contribute and not take from it.
A side trip to Hiroshima was one of those spare of the moment adventures that you never forget. Why and how we got to using nuclear weapons are lessons that are becoming increasingly lost with many world leaders. While we still have a planet that hasn’t been destroyed by ego-maniacs and those who still believe their religion gives them rights above others the journey will continue.
The Scottish Highlands wasn’t on our radar, at least not in the first year. Thank you, Gary and Katie, for your offer and Hanna for making sure we accepted it. On a hill at 9pm in shorts, gumboots and rain jacket surrounded by mountains with the wind howling through the valley I stood there saying to the two dogs I was walking “F@#k I’m in the Highlands of Scotland”. Since walking the Camino De Santiago I’ve become more aware of turning around, smelling the roses and living in the now. The moment you have now you will never get back, another lesson I’m still learning but it gets easier to do and that ‘white noise’, well it’s peaceful.
Year One has ended in Faux La Montagne, France with an English family that took that step to ‘sea change’ and renovate a little bit of French history into a lifestyle so removed from their past. Its not without challenge but life still needs to be challenging. A saying we coined in Spain was ‘Simple not Easy’. We’re not looking for an easy ride, we still want to be productive and contribute to day to day living. The difference is its on our terms.
A true reflection of the year wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging my fellow Hobo. There are plenty of superlatives that would be appropriate, partner, girlfriend, soul-mate, shag, she is simply an amazing individual. I’m certainly, not the easiest person to live with and the ‘simply not easy’ phrase comes to mind, but for two people to spend as much time as we do together, 24 hours/d, weeks on end, and not throttle, kill, or even just leave me is a real testament to her character. Yes, one might say she got what she asked for ‘High maintenance bitch looking for a little bit of bastard’, but it works.
Other photos that made my year
Well I think that’s enough reflection, it’s time to look forward, the next 6 months will be a challenge for us as there will be very little hiking. Instead we will be Volunteering in Germany, England and Ireland before heading back to France to complete the Via Francigena .
Paulo Coelho is quoted as saying “ If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” So with fondness I say goodbye to our first year as Hobos and ask life to make our second year exciting, challenging and rewarding so this time next year we have more adventures and achievements to be proud of and to share with you are friends and our inspiration.
Thank you for coming on this journey with us.