The wind tugs and moves the tent in intermittent waves, mixing with the repetitive transient sinusoidal sound of the oceans waves. No matter what time is it, it's time to restart. Slipping out of the comfortable cloth earthworm is tough, when waiting for you are only wet clothes soaked with even more humidity than the day before. There is no need to cover up more, it's useless, just one layer to go out where nature - robust, rough, wild and unforgiven - awaits you.
The coffee ritual gives you time to reaccustom your mind to focus on the next 30 km, which everyday are there in front of you. What you achieved yesterday doesn't count, if not for the Achilles tendon, cold sore and brutally aching, to remind you of it.
Listen to your step in nature.
During the weeks of walking, the pace is improved, as well as the packaging and the priority of objects in the backpack, the balance on the body and on the soul for the over 40,000 steps to put together. In the long and endless roads one can even close one's eyes - a real luxury in a world contaminated by cars. Often one alienates oneself by walking, repeating the movement, focusing on the muscles. Trance.
A Hill, a fucking upwind hill, with the rain on the side leaving you half dry and half soaked. Gravity is an infamous force, which you fight by raising your knees, raising the point of support of the trolley, pushing on your forefeet up to the tip of your big toe, a titanic and unbalanced battle that you know how it will end.
Resilient. It's the only adjective that matters. You are here for this. There is no breaking point, there are no shortcuts and you know it from the moment you get up, so you walk. Resilient. You are here for this.
It's not a battle against nature and it's not a trip of loathing humanity. It's not a challenge-against. It is a path of reappropriation of one's spiritual self, which is built with effort. Hard work. Gong-fu, for the Chinese.
The animals stare at you, certainly more accustomed to cars than to this human on foot, they observe this slow and lost alien in this nature far from home.
Memories of the geographical antipode resurface strongly, Tasmania. Bizarre encounter made only 7 months ago. The most distant point on earth but tremendously close, in conformation, in its wildness, in the cliffs and the ocean wind. I walked both poles of the world in the same solar year.
What do one think about as during walking? About everything. And then, magically, finally, about nothing. To anecdotes, sometimes smiling thinking of them, while the goats observe you with their super wide view. Without losing sight of you, the lambs are constantly hiding behind their mothers.
To the people one cares about, what went wrong, to dwell on the details and in a game of divide et impera, to untie accumulated skeins of feelings and frustrations, of misunderstandings and joys. The more this tetris fills up, the more one erases the lines that make it up and only isolated pieces remain floating in an amniotic liquid, with no connections with feelings. There are no conversations that one postpones, because as the only interlocutor, time doesn't dictate priorities, the time for all possible thoughts is almost infinite in this walk.
As if thoughts, kilometers and time merged. Walking of foot is marking time in kilometers. it's your personal pace, the clock of your gait, the ability to predict where one will be, based on a personal natural speed.
Breaks. From walking it means stopping, quickly covering up, as if the moment one stops the body suddenly discovers itself in the cold, as if it weren't the same temperature, as if it weren't the same feeling. It doesn't take much to freeze. Breaks don't last long, physical tiredness isn't measured in breathlessness like when you climb a mountain. There is no mountain here, there is no peak, there is no finish line - even if for convenience you have given yourself one. But once one reaches that, immediately the next one is at the horizon of events, be it a house, a rock, a hairpin bend or just the thought of the next day.
Details. The plane flies over, the train hurtles, the bike runs. And then there's you, naked in the territory of infinite detail, just walking, at the speed of your stride. Each object has a time of sighting, magnification, distant and then close observation, meticulous photography of its faces as you approach it and then magically disappears once it is passed. The value that each of these elements has is impressive until one physically crosses them, and then they have no more value than that of perennial memory. An imprint that ends at the time of overtaking, which leaves room for the next one.
Distant horses. I don't know if it's their curiosity that brings them closer or my raw dreamy illusion of empathy, both towards these marvelous beasts, but above all for my rediscovered emotional balance. But now that I'm there, I unhook my house on wheels and run to pet them. Docile they allow me the luxury of important physical contact in these days of solitude.
There is a part of me that would like to let it go and collapse to the ground, another part would like these kilometers to end soon, like in a scene of a thriller movie where the tension is unbearable and you wish to skip to the next scene. But time cannot be accelerated, which is why km and time are fused together when you walk. You know, you huff, you grunt, then you keep walking. Resilient. You are here for this.
Who are you Wanderer with this strange appendage following you? If the trolley in the city has aroused more suspicion than curiosity, seen as symbol of a degradation, as if it recalled a social precariousness, a homelessness, as if this were a sin or a wrong and an affront to society: my appendix as a tumor at the center of their conquered social position. Society, have mercy on me, I hope you're not angry if I disagree, Eddie Vedder.
If this was in the city, in the scenario of a remote and empty nature, the trolley was an important opportunity to attract smiles, disbelief, funny news and perhaps even a little admiration, but certainly a starting point for conversion, of people who join to inquire, those who stop the car to ask, those who recognize the trolley in the shop, not you, and start with a "I ran into it the day before yesterday", others who in the rain and wind ask you if you want a lift or if they can refill you with water, just in case.
There is no judgment here, i am not a danger to their already remote and isolated life, "no worries, he is just a walker" - I hear from afar in the valley where every voice is a megaphone, where every leaf in the wind is a tornado, where, if you stop, there isn't that infinite silence you expect. Instead you are surrounded by a symphony of imperceptible noises in the distance that are difficult to identify. Everything is amplified due to the absence of a background noise and makes harmless elements ghostly.
When you finally manage to identify them, you often laugh at your own stupidity for all the scenarios you built up, like the time you were crossing the Wadi Rum desert, that a piece of plastic had haunted you for half a day. Ridiculous for a desert.
You asked yourself to reach 400 km, it was the time you gave yourself for the distance you wanted to cover, but in years you learner to listen to yourself well: if you have to choose between a long, flat and smooth road, or an ugly uphill off-road, you know the answer already, with no wanders.; Childish, you smile, being rhetorical with yourself almost to spite yourself. So the 400 are just making peace with the idea you had given yourself. That might be enough, but since your body is responding well, you know that you won't stop at a number or because you've actually reached the northest point of the islands - that's just a detail. Here the adrenaline changes a bit, the effort you made, when you see the tip of the very last cliff, gives way to a simple emotion, not real teardrops, but it's a satisfaction of the soul, which wets your eyes. There are still a thousand roads, thousands of situations and you know you want to do much more. Habit, ritual, the ability to adapt and surrender to pain, they build a subtle pleasure that you know you want to keep from feeling. You had a remnant of escape from loneliness, just one day and, although a part of you rejoiced in it, it was a glitch in your journey. It suddenly transformed your solitude into feeling lonely; not to blame, but you're not here for that. Then it is time to resume your journey, look for other ways to rebalance this decision and there will still be 160 Km.
Choosing to walk on foot doesn't make you better than those who choose a different path, it's just a different journey; I've been to the other side several times. But as a walker, when you don't walk on foot and cross someone who is, you smile, you're happy for them, you empathize and press your nose on the window as you see them rush by, you go too fast, they keep their natural pace.