If you ever find yourselves in Ushuaia, may I recommend the Double Decker City Tour. Not least because the English translation is now written and read out by me! (We stayed with the couple who run it, and we offered to replace the version that they had as a thank you – Mike is the editor!)
I’m now on the plane back to civilisation and real life. A wave of sadness crashed over me as I took my seat on the plane, and I looked out over the beautiful bay of Ushuaia and cried and the thought of all this being over. Half tears of sadness – leaving the bike was much harder than Mike or I had anticipated, as I watched it pull away for the last time, again I shed a tear. Mike kissed the tank to wish it on its way, also for the fact that I’m cross with myself for wishing away the last month on the road, which now I long to do over (just as I knew I would). That said, they were tears of happiness too, at the thought of all the people that we have met along the way, all the places we have seen, all the things we have learnt. It’s been such an extraordinary trip for the fact that we are far from tourists, we never see the things that the travellers we meet talk about, but every single location we have passed through has been brought to life by the people we have met.
Mike and I spent our last night on the road, at the end of the world, arguing. And really pretty hard. I’d say that it was our biggest argument in months, in fact. After a day spent largely apart (he was working on the bike with Dean, I was translating the City Tour guide voiceover), we reunited for dinner, having bid the bike farewell, and the realisation of this trip being over having hit both of us in its own way.
I told Mike that though I had not put the results of the envelopes on facebook, I had emailed 3 of our friends to tell them what the envelopes contained. Mike was very angry about this. Why hadn’t we talked about it? He asked. The decision to share the contents of the envelope with anyone, he said, was one that we should have made together. I have never felt as strongly about what the envelope contains as he has, so it’s true, I should have consulted him. But I felt cross that he had had such a go at me. Inevitably, the argument spiralled and we found ourselves on a freezing cold, dark street outside a pub where we had planned to meet our friends to celebrate the last night on the road.
I’m guilty of silence in arguments. I don’t like to argue (a characteristic which is very unhealthy in relationships – arguments are vital, we’re told, for expressing and resolving differences of opinion) and so I tend to go very quiet. It’s horrible for Mike as he is almost totally unable to penetrate my cloud of stewing resentment. One of the other things we have learnt during this process is that while men experience a sudden burst of rage which passes, women’s neurological processes mean that they are unable to let an argument go so quickly and are left festering long after a fight is over.
Well, that was where I was. I felt so distant from Mike and like we had learnt nothing during these 8 months on the road. I felt like I was the one who relied on my friends (wanting so desperately to share the results with the loyal few who have followed us) and that he was able to be so much more distant, and calculating almost. I was, of course, wrong. We have learnt mountains about each other on this trip, and actually, arguments are almost the way that a couple learns. Mike really wanted to tell his friends to their faces. Which is a totally reasonable desire. He worries that people just aren’t going to be interested in what we have done once they know what that envelope contains – why not keep a bit of suspense for the return party? Fair enough.
The argument ultimately stemmed from our total exhaustion. Not just from the stress of the last week, but the stress of the last 8 months. And the pressure of what awaits us now. We live in a kind of shadow, under the terror of what now will become of everything that we have worked to create. Mike is much more practical about it than I am, but when I think about how little we have been able to capture of our own relationship dynamic (through lack of a third person to film us and our interactions as they happen), I get very stressed. I feel the pressure of all the people who have believed in us to make something of this trip. God, I hope we can…