The pre-trip terrors have started and are exacerbated by the fact that my internet is still down after more than a week with no resolution in sight – just a daily update informing me that the issue will be resolved by ‘tomorrow’. It goes without saying that I can’t afford this technology breakdown which is quickly contributing to my own. I’m trying to be all ‘everything happens for a reason’ about it but the only reason I can fathom is that Exetel sux and 3 Mobile is even worse (I tried tethering my phone to my laptop to use as a modem but that would require a reliable connection and reasonable coverage, neither of which I have)! Days seem to have been lost trying to remain calm whilst on hold to people whose ultimate advice amounts to “have you tried switching it off and on again?”.
I’ve booked trips pre-internet but I can’t remember how. Even if I could, I think it’s safe to assume those methods are now redundant and require far more lead time than I have. I’ve booked most of my Cambodian accommodation; only the first and last night in Italy; Iceland is sorted; London is sorted; New York is yet to be booked and Vancouver is sorted. So that’s not too bad but my destination research is practically non-existent as may be a travel insurer prepared to properly cover my Mum following her operation!
I should be used to this pre-trip tailspin – it happens every time – I reach a tipping point and then just go into emotional tumult – excited to be going, fearful of all that could go wrong, lonely to be planning by myself, anxious to say goodbye to people here, thrilled to be seeing friends over there, fear of the unknown yet the exhilaration of the new, not to mention ghosts of past happiness popping in at the last minute to totally discombobulate me!
I also have to say, to this point my best case scenario hasn’t come to pass. For example, I had imagined migrating this blog to my own website, to have gathered a bit more momentum and traffic through it, to have raised more funds via initiatives that just didn’t take off and so on. But I have to remind myself that the way I’ve gone about this has been very experimental and as I often tell my nephew – the point of an experiment isn’t to get the outcome you want but rather to see what the outcome is. I suppose, therefore, my expectations have been unrealistic and misplaced, especially in the time frame I’ve given myself.
All that aside, it really is quite obscene for me to complain at all when there are billions of people on this planet who would be lucky to have my problems. I’ve had my tears and tantrums and now it’s time for me to step out from under this thundercloud and show some gratitude for it’s far greater silver lining!
I should probably start with the most fundamental acknowledgment – in less than a week I’m embarking on an around the world trip to visit people and places I love and to (hopefully) see natures most spectacular light display, the Northern Lights! Furthermore, all of this is happening because I have the freedom and privilege to make the decision to do so. I may not have ample means right now compared to my peers but my current lack of financial resources are more than made up for by an abundance of good will and generosity from those all around me.
Although I owe a debt of gratitude to so many, I want to mention a few in relation to this trip who I’ve not yet given due credit:
- While my dear friend Keith is off galavanting around India, he has left me with sole custody of his car – without it, there’s no way I could have accomplished all that I have in as little time. It’s funny to think that before he left, this trip was still not locked in – now I’m leaving the day before he returns!
- During a recent catch up with the always a-muse-ing and constantly inspiring Isabella Ruby, she slipped me a handsomely padded envelope containing a card with best wishes and the means to carry them out
- A similar envelope was left behind after a recent visit from my friend Sandy (who may or may not actually exist – our circumstances are so similar and in step that we’re starting to suspect there might be some kind of Fight Club scenario going on)
- My recent shout out for the loan of a fancy camera resulted in the proffering of several – thank you to all who offered and an extra big thank you to Gabby whose lovely Canon 450D and all associated kit AND little point & shoot are all coming along with me for the ride. Also, as I write, Gabby is tailoring an itinerary for Mum and I to follow around her favourite city, Rome.
- In terms of learning to actually use the camera, my thanks go to yet another Instagram connection – former professional photographer, Steve, who has patiently tried to explain to me the basics of aperture, shutter speed and the ISO thingy. Time will tell if his words of wisdom have paid off.
- Just this morning I spent time with the ever-munificent Rachel who had apparently been busy spending on time for me… well, on a timepiece… what I’m trying to say is that she gave me a supercool watch!
- A general, though by no means diminished, thank you to the many who have allowed me to maintain a lifestyle far more lavish than the one I deserve. While I’ve been scrimping and saving, my purse seems to have grown cobwebs from the number of bills that have been whisked away from me at restaurants and cafes all over town. I’m not going to list everyone for fear of missing someone out but it would be remiss of me not to single out a couple of major sponsors…
- Rachael, Marlon and Madiba – they’ve been paying my way for a long time! If you want to see a picture of them, look up “generous” in the dictionary! On top of that, they are sparing me these six weeks away without so much as a word about the difficulty and disruption it causes them in terms of looking after Madiba (which I ordinarily do). I have to admit, I’m having a little separation anxiety!
- and to Rebecca who has kept my Patches McGee empire afloat with both writing work and other odd jobs to bolster my travel fund. Also, just yesterday I had a pre-trip haircut on her dime (or loyalty voucher from her hairdresser). And another thing that she doesn’t even know – right now, I’ve broken into her apartment and am using her internet!!! Thanks Bec!
Stay tuned for many more thank you’s around the way as the pieces of the puzzle come together to hopefully create a bigger and better picture than the one I’m able to see right now.
Naomi Doyle, aka Patches McGee is a writer, traveller and phone-ographer in desperate need of your help to make her next trip to see the Northern Lights a reality. Join the journey here by subscribing to this blog, on Facebook at Patches McGee, Twitter @patches_mcgee and Instagram @patches_mcgee