As the doors of the train were closing all of my loved ones were left standing on the platform. The train started to move slowly at first but as it picked up some speed I felt kind of relieved -the hardest part up until now was over.
The preparations for the trip, because of some unexpected and expected reasons -unduly prolonged, were finally over. The idea to leave all of my ordinary life in order to embark on an adventure was finally starting to come to life. As with all ideas that actually live up to the point of being realized, the idea to travel to the furthest inhabited place from home evolved and changed dramatically during the last 15 months. This thought presented itself on January 2013 when I unexpectedly realized that I cannot continue to live my life as I have done up to that point – I could not afford to waste my time doing things which may not be meant for me (or doing things which I am not sufficiently qualified to do). The idea evolved during the long and somewhat tiresome preparation process and finally it gained a definite form – to travel to the furthest inhabited place from my home in Riga, Latvia – Pitt Island, New Zealand.
Before starting the preparations I was quite confident that also this part (preparations and planning) of the adventure would be a hell lot of fun. Maybe our experience was somehow different. First of all, we did not have any experience whatsoever about planning something as big as this and we were either too shy, too lazy or too arrogant to consult anybody with such experience. Our preparations consisted mainly of collective or individual staring in the computer screen which we practiced at least one a week. The headquarters of our little company was the office of a medium sized law firm (at least for Latvian standards) after its working hours. We started with researching the possible routes, collecting information about the requirements to acquire needed visas, drafting a list of companies which could be interested in supporting our project, editing taken video footage and other similar boring/interesting activities. But, as it usually happens, a huge amount of work was done in the last few weeks before our departure and as usually happens we did not have time to finish everything.
How professionally I can leave the most important things to the last possible moment is perfectly illustrated by the fact that two of our bicycles with the help of our friend and main technical advisor Juris Kroics were assembled only on the 14th September (1 day before the departure) and on 15th September at 16.30 o’clock I was still working my ass off in the law office. I don’t even want to think about how fucked we would be now if Juris had not agreed to help us back then. We would not have gotten anywhere outside Riga without his help. As usually, all of the most important tasks were taken care of, all of the stuff that could be useful was thrown in Ortlieb panniers and dry bags and finally we were ready to head to the central train station.
Nothing could prepare me for what I had to face at the train station. Maybe that is when I understood, that I will see all of my loved ones and friends only when I return to Latvia. I guess it is always like that – we pay attention to the important things in our life only when we realize that we have taken them for granted. On the other hand, too often in my life I have been afraid of changes, afraid of letting somebody down and these fears have often hindered me from accomplishing an important goal. I really don’t know why, but every time I have to say farewell to somebody, even if I am leaving for a very short time, I feel like it could be the last time I see them. In this particular case the feeling was even stronger because I did not know and still don’t know when I will be coming back.
90 minutes before the departure of the train I was standing on the platform completely disorientated and confused because there was not enough time to be together with everyone who has come to say goodbye. It felt like each of my friends and relatives was entitled for all these 90 minutes. Because of this unwanted confusion I was like a blind man stumbling from one corner to the other, continuously saying “I will not disappear and nothing bad will happen to me, so will you please stop worrying about me?” All this awkwardness made this process even more emotional and even harder to cope with.
In the last few minutes we managed to load our baggage and bicycles into the train (as usual this was done in the last second), the last farewell words, kisses, hugs and photos were taken and the doors of the train were finally closing. The last two minutes were the hardest, the train was not moving, but the doors were closed and nothing could be said in order to ease this moment. Words can only diminish the emotions that I was feeling. A lump in your throat and a brick on your heart!
I swallowed the lump and the brick fell off just as the train started to move in the direction of Minsk. My home and my previous life was left standing on the platform. Life goes on and in reality, nothing much has changed except that starting from 15th September 2014 I had become a tramp, a nomad, a vagabond and a dreamer.