It is a Karmic Voyage. No one ever takes without giving back in one way or another. The same applies to giving and receiving. We've only been on the road for a month and our water bottles must have been filled hundreds of times by shopkeepers, bartenders, folks out in their gardens, or anyone with a faucet. Hundreds of kind Samaritans taking a second, or maybe a minute, to fill our bottles and ask what on earth we are doing, beet-red out in the sun with enough luggage for half a year's time strapped to our bicycles.
On a 4 month expedition with minimal planning, you end up places that are completely unexpected. Currently, we are hung up in the small city of Chester, England. Our bikes need work and the layover is 7 days. Two kind locals, Jane and David, have brought us in for the week so we have a home without blasting our budget to smithereens. Lydia and I would feel guilty simply freeloading on their kindness, so we offered our services in any way we could. To our pleasure we found ourselves helping out at a charity event.
Seventy-five dancing Brits filled a church, older than my country, to the walls in a 100 degree room. The event was a 2 hour Zumba extravaganza in support of breast milk for premature babies or mother/babies without access to breast milk. Lydia and I were able to help set up. Lydia loves Zumba, so she got to participate.
I was nominated as bartender and concession attendant. The majority of my time was spent, ironically, filling water bottles. I knew what each dancer felt like who walked up to the concession stand, red-faced, empty bottle in hand. And now I know exactly what all those folks felt when they said, "sure I would love to fill your bottle," with a bright smile: delighted.
The greatest danger anyone can make while traveling is to have expectations. Creating expectations just leaves me with a guarantee of being disappointed. When I throw them out and do my best to be self sufficient, someone always reaches out to give me a hand. And if no one happens to show up, I've already begun the process of solving the next problem at hand.
In regards to Jane and David, their generosity could not be overstated. I don't know too many people who would let 2 strangers into their homes and put them up for a week on the fly. I cannot deny that we've been very well fed, too. None of this I expected by any means, it simply has been chalked up and pure grace.
It was not our plan to stay so long initially, we thought we were just passing through. When we received the news that the bike parts would take 4 days to arrive, we had already been staying with David and Jane for 2 days. After they heard our bikes wouldn't be finished for another 5 days, my plan to get a hostel for the layover was disregarded. We were welcomed into their home until everything worked out.
Chatting with David and Jane over dinner, they expressed that if their children were over in some foreign country they would feel so comforted to know that someone there was looking after them. Or kind enough to ensure their well -being. No one likes to dream of their children roughing it too hard for too long. I know my parents immensely appreciate all the kindness Lydia and I have been so openly given. Even though we have no blood connection, in this short week we've started to feel like part of a little family thousands of miles from home. We venture off soon for the road again and I must say, it feels like I'm leaving for the trip all over again.
Life on the road can be very taxing. We gave up the burden of the daily grind, major responsibilities and accountability, but have traded them for others. The amazing versatility of experiences and freedom is not taken for granted. And when you're roughing it days on end, something like a good hot meal can really bring up your spirits. The mountains and oceans are beautiful places, but sometimes it rains for a week. And you’re wet. Very wet. Everything you own is wet and you just ate a generic brand microwave Hot Pocket.
It all comes full circle. The Karmic Voyage ensures that the sun will still shine; our needs are more than met. I find that whenever I keep my expectations to a minimum I am always blown away at what comes into my life. If I hold a sense of entitlement, I am always let down. Keeping my expectations lows keeps my options open for better things to spill in. I don't always know what is good for me or what I want. So some days I need to let all the demands and wishes go and just accept. I'm always amazed. It will all work out in the end - whether I'm kicking and screaming or whistling in the wind. How I enjoy life, or don't, is up to how I accept what is, because Karma never fails. The budget will balance, the clothes will dry and equal shares of generic gas station
dinners and home cooked meals will be enjoyed. Everything always balances out in the end.