Before embarking on our journey, we blithely lived in the land of "everything you could ever need or want, 24 hours a day" and completely took it for granted. While preparing to leave, if I couldn't find an item we needed in one of the six outdoor stores in our smallish city, I could find it online and have it sent directly to us in minutes. The next day if need be! No longer.
All of this really hit home a few weeks ago when Tara and I had a good laugh at the prospect of her being giddy about acquiring two brand new pairs of underwear. Not only did it seem ridiculous to be excited about such a basic item, but she'd be waiting for well over a month to receive it! Having everything you own strapped to a bicycle really can make life easier in some ways but like so many things in life, there is a give and take. The simplicity we've gained by living this way comes with plenty of its own difficulties to contend with.
For example, we spent hours today at a rather unwelcoming coffee shop trying to figure out where to ship Tara's precious underwear (and some other fun stuff like new non-stick cookware and Windows 7 for my laptop). Send them to a family friend in Palermo, hoping it arrives before the once-a-week ferry to Tunisia sails, leaving us waiting on Sicily for several extra days? Buy ferry tickets to Tunisia and send the package to the local post office? Do we trust the post office? A hotel? A very distant family friend in Tunis that Tara's parents are trying to find?
Ultimately we chose to head to Tunisia (we're on the November 7th sailing!), opting to stay in a hotel for as long as it takes to have our package arrive. Though costly, we rationalized that I could spent lots of time programming, hopefully earning well more than the price of our stay. Once we decided this, it took nearly two hours to find a hotel, confirm they'd be able to do something with our bikes and ensure they'd hold a shipment for us if arrived before we did.
At home we could accomplish all of this with a simple phone call. Not so easy on the road. Our internet connection was crappy so we couldn't use Skype and our phone wouldn't complete the overseas call until we dug out a third SIM card from deep inside one of my panniers. When we finally got through to the hotel in Tunisia, Tara had to solve all of our issues outside the very noisy coffee shop (amidst only slightly less noisy traffic), all while speaking in French.
In the end, things always work out, but the process of getting there is rarely straightforward. We're not complaining though; the waves still lap on the shore, the beautiful fall leaves still rustle in the wind, and it isn't blizzarding here like it probably is at home. We even managed to find a campsite in Catania that was still open, allowing us to enjoy the precious few remaining hours of daylight before the 5:30 sunset. Also, we're on the trip of a lifetime!
I just want to make sure we remember that it wasn't always easy when we get home and start dreaming about our next adventure.