Saturday, September 10, 2011

Longing Swings in Roundabouts

Rides in Italy feel so short. Prior to Venice, ride days were usually a minimum of 6, maximum of 10 hours (including stops, not on the bike non stop). After Venice we spent a couple of weeks riding only to the next ferry terminal and since then the rides have been around 3 hours. We don’t even really need a rest in that time, such as we are used to long rides. The 5 minutes we are off the bike when we fill the tank half way are enough to keep us going to our destination. We find ourselves leaving later than normal and still arriving at a time that feels early.

When we rode from Sorrento to Rome, the ride was pretty easy – until we got to Rome itself. You are well aware how much we love, or rather loathe  our GPS and despite there being a ring road around the city (which we didn’t find out about until later), it took us through the centre of town. We missed driving past the Coloseum by a block but we rode past the Roman Forum, Circus Maximus and across the river. It was by this time the hottest time of day and of course in the city centre there are stupid numbers of traffic lights where we have no choice but to sit in direct sunlight in all our protective layers. Courts was not happy, even after he passed his jacket to me and rode the last half hour in a singlet.

When we did eventually make it to camp, there were a couple of surprises waiting for us though – when we checked in, they handed us a key. We didn’t really understand why they did so, just drove in the direction they told us to, looking for our tent site. What we found was that we had unknowingly booked a ‘tent house’ – essentially a cabin, but with walls made of tent material. In terms of what we normally pay for camping, it was on the high side, but not over the top. Either way, since we had booked it, we had budgeted for it, and it was all ours – real beds, lockable door and all – for 4 nights.

The other nice surprise was that with our tent on the end of the row, we were 3 spaces down from our Aussie friends Richard and Kim - the ones we met in Sorrento – who had ended up at the same campsite as us. After Courts had had a dip in one of the two pools to cool down, we spent the afternoon lying around and the evening at the bar with Richard and Kim.

Conversations of the evening and previous weeks got me to thinking – as the Italian butterfly doesn’t know that it is Italian, and therefore doesn’t long to see how New Zealand butterflies live, it also doesn’t suspend itself in a no-mans land of eternal missing. I had my bouts of homesickness in Sorrento. I’m extremely excited to get home and start expanding my Acrylic Nails business. Now, with the Rugby World Cup starting and RWC Fever plastered all over the internet as well, I miss home. When I get home though, I will no longer live on the road, sleep in my tent, squish onto the bike, and cook on the billy. When I walk into a restaurant and look for a powerpoint, the action will be redundant – I’ll have plenty of those at home. Weeks will be punctuated by weekends instead of long rides to new destinations. I’m going to miss travelling.

It was the same when I lived in Australia – in Aussie, I missed New Zealand, but when I returned to New Zealand I missed Australia. Richard and Kim have been in London for several years and will have a few days there post-Italy before they make the big move back home. They talk of how excited they are to go back to London and visit their friends and see and do familiar things, yet they of course also miss their families in Aussie. In Sorrento we talked to an American couple who had lived in Switzerland for a year. Now on their way home, they spoke of missing Switzerland.

We are spoiled for choice but in taking advantage of it we open ourselves up to yet more longing. Instead of longing for the unknown, we know more of what there is to miss. Unlike the friends we have made, for us we won’t miss countries – we move too often for that – but the bike and the tent and our new habits are home now.

Time to explore Rome so we can miss that too.