And Now, For an Abrupt Change of Plot. . .

5 years ago I made what, at the time, seemed a terribly difficult decision. At the tender age of 25, I had been preparing to leave the sheltered Canadian province of Newfoundland and go traveling overseas with the unequivocal love of my life. Unfortunately, one month prior to departure an ill-timed and particularly heart-wrenching break-up left me with an awkward choice: Should I still board that plane, even though ‘we’ had become just ‘I’? Or should I abandon plans and allow my limping heart time to heal before hurling it halfway across the world, over an ocean and into foreign lands and potentially disastrous situations?

In the end, it just seemed easier to go. Flights had been booked, visas arranged; momentum was behind me and it would have taken more effort to cancel plans rather than just follow through with them. Still, I deliberated the choice up until the very last moment, having approximately 4 panic attacks in the remaining interim. But in the end, I did board that plane.

Lil’ ol 25 year old me preparing to head off.

Making the decision may have been challenging as all hell but actually leaving my home and job to begin traveling with a broken heart actually turned out to be one of the easier things I’ve done. Continue reading

Joy Swing

As I’d picked up my bike early into my Indian wanders, I’d yet to travel in India by train. A couple posts back, I described the anarchy that is an Indian railway crossing. In Patna, I learned crossings have NOTHING on another process involving railways: obtaining a ticket.

Many Indian trains are booked weeks in advance. But for many routes the railways set a couple tickets aside as specific last minute buys; there are tickets designated only for foreigners, tickets set to be sold only 2 days before the journey. . .Pete and I were hoping to take advantage of this opportunity.

Unfortunately, so, it seemed, was the rest of Patna. Continue reading

Cutting bait

I can, at times, be a slow learner, particularly when the lesson life is trying to drill into my head goes against any plans I’ve laid out for myself. But 4 seems to be the magic number.

Siliguri marked the fourth time that whatever is savaging my innards landed me in a hospital. And this particular hospital stay came at the end of an agonizing 10 hour train ride during which I’m fairly certain the Indians sitting across from us were curious as to why I was writhing on my bunk like a woman about to give birth, possibly to some parasitic, alien life-form.
The saline was slower acting this time and new symptoms had joined forces with the usual culprits of severe cramping, vomit, diarrhea, weakness and fatigue. . .I was running a fever that had me convinced the room was 50 degrees one minute and −10 the next. That led to shivering which bordered on convulsions, which in turn caused a rather severe migraine.
Which, in turn, led to the very difficult decision to cut bait, and leave India.

Hence the even-longer-then-usual gap between posts. Once the most recent bout of my body turning against me waned enough to move on again there was still the issue of making arrangements with my insurance provider, selling the bikes (I’ll always love you, Hrithik), arranging flights. . . .not to mention the physical process of actually getting back to Canada; a process that took a couple days in and of itself.
I’m writing now from a friend’s couch in Sydney, NS – a town I didn’t expect to see for another 2 years or so. And you know what? I’m okay with that. Continue reading

Tough luck and hard decisions

It’s an unfortunate truth of the universe that getting frustrated by something, even deeply, passionately, violently so, will not make it simply go away. Particularly when the thing frustrating you is inside your GI tract.

I was hoping the last bout of trouble would be the last. I seemed to regain my strength in Varanasi and, as I walked along the colourful ghats of that holy city, I found myself refilling with a sense of optimism for my travels to come. It hadn’t taken long to catch up on the organization of the photosets I’d fallen behind on while ill, and my journal and computer were filled with notes with which to write my next several blog posts. Furthermore, I was excited to move off the tourist circuit to the lesser travelled state of Jharkhand, and it’s national park, Betla. I’d allowed myself to get more down than I should have for something as unavoidable as intestinal illness, and it had been painting a shadow over my ability to enjoy my time in India. But now, with the sun shining down on me and the open road ahead, everything seemed rich and vibrant and promising once more. ‘Don’t let the bacillary dysentery grind you down’ and such.

And some exciting opportunities were springing up. A Couchsurfer I’d met in Jaipur had invited me on a May trek to Gangotri I was incredibly keen to do, as well as an even more exciting trip – to Ladakh via the Manali-Leh road. It promised to be a beautiful, if challenging, ride, and I’d started sending out feelers to find a riding buddy as Pete was unlikely to still be in India come August. I’d also begun inquiring about farm-stays in Nepal, both to experience a bit of that culture and to stretch out my finances while I waited for the Ladakh pass to open.

In the meantime, I was sitting atop a jeep as it tumbled down the dirt road of Palamau, keeping my eyes out for the unlikely possibility of a tiger spotting. Continue reading