I am by nature, a planner. This at times clashes with the fact that there are ceaselessly a multitude of "loose ends" and unknowns before us as we travel. Improving my ability to relinquish control is something that I've had to work very hard on during our trip. When we first left, I would regularly concern myself with silly things like how fast we were going, when we would reach our destination, and how long it would take to get to the next.
After nine months on the open road (and plenty of intervention from Tara) I now find it mostly effortless to let go in most situations, focusing wholly on appreciating the present moment. However, it still takes a monumental exercise of will to accept my inability to rectify problems when I think things aren't going our way.
Today was rough, and tonight I don't feel like a particularly intrepid explorer. Instead of being excited about the adventures before us, I am uncharacteristically consumed with worry and frustrated by my inability to step back from my negative thoughts, letting them pass by unscrutinized.
At the moment, the knowledge that all of these problems are of my own privileged creation is crushing my morale. I hope that by getting these things out of my head and on to "paper" I will be able to regain the perspective required to accept that the only real problem is my perception that we have one.
Our wheels arrived in Tunisia several days ago. According to USPS, they cleared customs only to return to customs a day later. We don't know if they are in Tunis or Kerkennah. There doesn't appear to be any way to locate them outside of actually visiting one of the two places. It has been nearly a month. I am sick and tired of dealing with our wheels. I wish we had a support crew who could take care of this.
Two flat tires (both of which were easily repaired) on our Mobylette today have shaken my faith that we can successfully make a 130km ride to Ksar Ghilane on Monday. After our second flat, the repair shop informed me that our rear shock absorbers were toast, labeling them the cause for our flats. This seemed plausible given our short ride on terrible roads yesterday, and the age of our scooter. We agreed to have them replaced for 15 dinar.
In the process of replacing the shocks, they knocked our Motobecane over and it landed heavily on the flywheel. The chain now clicks loudly as though something were out of alignment when we roll it backwards. While putting our rear wheel back on they messed up the rear brake and then tried to say the brake cable was the problem. All the while they were offering to buy it from us.
This classic BS repair shop tack drove me insane but I couldn't communicate with them to do anything about it. For two hours they alternatingly tried to fix the problems they created and refused to admit they were the cause. Ultimately neither the brake or the chain issue were fixed. Our Mobylette still runs great and the ride is fine, but again my faith is shaken that we can make it safely 130km through the desert on a lightly trafficked road.
Even though we've had some wonderful experiences with our scooter, and we're doing fine financially, I feel like we're foolishly hemorrhaging money on this endeavor.
Back at Carla's house in Tunis, she said we had to visit the Pansea Hotel in Ksar Ghilane. A four-star Bedouin tent affair in the middle of the Saharan desert was an experience not to be missed. Heeding her advice, we booked an expensive three-night "vacation" there thanks to generous donations from friends and family over the holidays. It is really important we make it on time. There is no public transportation available and we are planning on riding our Mobylette.
We've tried to contact the hotel to explain our plan, hoping they'll be willing to come pick us up if we don't arrive by some predetermined time. Unfortunately, they never answer the phone numbers listed on their website so we can neither confirm the reservation or our intended route. We sent them an email so hopefully they'll reply with good news. I am weary of dealing with businesses who are unable to perform the most basic functions of their establishment.
Several months before we left, we rented our house. Ever since we've been out of the country our renters have been consistently late in making their payment. Blatant lying about when they will make a deposit has become the norm, so much so that my father must regularly intervene to ensure the rent is collected. This nagging concern always makes an unannounced appearance when I feel like things are going poorly.
Now that I'm done complaining, it is worth noting that there was plenty of good today too:
Here is Josu, a Spanish cycle tourist we met:
… and a group of Italian cycle tourists on holiday:
UPDATE: Posting this the morning after. I feel much better :)