It might be hard to believe, but it came again differently.
First days are always exciting! But how about the Second days?
It almost seems as if some people were gesticulating wildly and begging the universe to do something so that I don’t do a bicycle ride by myself. You remember? After the heart operation of Klaus we wanted to go to Muscat in Oman. There he should recover, or better his heart, at least 6 more weeks before we went on with our bicycle world tour.
Klaus was to travel the distance to Muscat by bus. An accommodation from a bicycle colleague, whose brother also wanted to pick him up from the bus station, was provided.
Some of you, incl. the universe (I do not believe in the nonsense of something like this by the way, but that is also totally irrelevant) did not trust me to do that, or thought I was irresponsible towards Klaus or simply did not understand why I wanted to be on the road alone.
Good gracious! I am 54 years old now. Have some experience in traveling by bicycle, love it indescribably with Klaus together to be on the road, rather than alone, am certainly ready to change everything again or give up the trip if it is necessary and certainly do not take any unnecessary extra risk, just to enforce my will. On the contrary. Oman is such a safe destination. And of course, I had a plan. We worked out a route, I knew where to buy water and where to sleep (mosques are perfect for that), some cans of different beans I had with me. It would have been quite easy.
Even the Auswärtige Amt has not a lot bad things to say. That’s not happening very often.
And how we got along with the Second Days?
We then crossed the border to Oman together with the bicycles and my neatly grumbling skull. And then we took the bus to Muscat together.
The first days I spent in bed in the dark. An accident shook my brain and us.
We thought we were invulnerable. What happened?
After 6 months on the roads we have experienced a lot and we pack all our experience into our travel days. And with all that ballast of experience, we make mistakes. Should we maybe go back to being simpler on the road? Lighter, a little more uncertain, more thoughtful and switch on our gut feeling again?
We had used the day before to check out the route from our accommodation to the border crossing from UAE to Oman, a kind of test drive. Where can we take side roads, where can we drive on footpaths, where can we use traffic lights. In the UAE, cycling is forbidden on the main roads, helmets are compulsory, high-visibility vests are compulsory. A bit absurd, since you are supposed to ride on the completely deserted footpaths anyway.
The roads are huge and the traffic rolls moderately over the 4-6 lane car routes. A country created for car traffic, wrested from the desert. Pedestrians and cyclists almost nothing is provided for. So we quickly realize that it is actually better to drive on the footpaths. These damn huge cars, they seem to me like fire-breathing dragons, making their space, having no regard for anything near them.
There are hardly any drop-offs at crossings and those curbs become a climb even for pedestrians, so we want to check out the route ahead of time. With all the luggage we will also have to ride on the road from time to time.
And exactly the traffic circle that will force us to the ground the next day, we are already worried about it the day before. But we decide that we will cycle around it on the road.
Still on the day of our test tour we learn back from our hosts in our accommodation: sorry guys, the border crossing is only for locals. The one for tourists is another 20km further.
I am very worried. Will Klaus make it? Even if we leave early, we will be exposed to the relentless sun again until we reach the border. Then the excitement at the border crossing and then waiting for the bus, which should only take Klaus to Muscat. I want to do the next 5 days alone on the bicycle.
I just want to ride by myself, alone. Get on the bicycle in the morning before sunrise, wait out the heat in the shade at noon and then a little cycling in the evening until dusk. Find a place to sleep. The mosques offer themselves there. Having a can with some beans before going to sleep. The next morning further and further and further. Until we meet again in Muscat.
Every now and then I want to shout into the world, insult the desert, get angry, have no empathy for anything or anyone, be allowed to cry, whether with or without reason.
All I wanted was to let out for a few days everything that was so stuck, that had nested for the last few months and so made no effort to move on. It sits so firmly in me that I am paralyzed. With everything I can, I try to move on, to fly, but it keeps me tenaciously on the ground.
So that just such accidents might not happen. My gut feeling works again. I listen to it again.
I had a bad feeling about the roundabout from the beginning. But hey, that’s just a feeling. The alternative would have been to get one bicycle across the street at a time, lifting up and down the curbs together. But we are cool, after all. We survived Tehran. What’s the point of a traffic circle like that…….?
That’s what they were like, the Second Days!
Bang. We are lying on the street. Another 2m and we would have made it. Suddenly, white sheet metal appears in front of us. So that nobody overtakes us hair-sharply we drive easily shifted next to each other. Klaus rums first purely, then I. The bags fly around, the useless stuff from my handlebar bag spreads on the road. What came then, I do not know it any more. At some point I sit on the curb, still in the traffic circle and have a grumbling head. The lady has stopped and says something like „you have been so slow“ and was then also quickly gone again.
A lady, very likely without a license, a tiny person. Probably she would have had to stand behind the wheel to be able to look in all directions. But she could not have overlooked us. After all, she passed us on the left. Probably turning another round in the traffic circle was not an alternative. Or brake? In one of these huge SUV’s, completely overwhelmed, she still had to take the exit from the traffic circle. Instead of behind us now in front of us. Slowly, but we had no chance to brake in time.
In fact, I don’t remember how we said goodbye to our hosts from the last accommodation in the morning, how we got to this place. I remember the white sheet metal and then sitting on the curb.
We have to keep going and we still have a few miles to go. My solo trip is history. Somehow left behind in the traffic circle. With the headache I can’t cycle anymore.
We went together by bus to Muscat!
We manage the border crossing, we manage the bus and arrive at our next accommodation in Muscat.
The next days I can’t stand light and noise. I lie around and get bored always focusing on the boom, boom – boom – buuuummmm.
And even now, after 7 days, I have to take a break. The writing, the thinking… it hurts.
What makes me really sad, my helmet is broken. Idle to think about how it would have looked without helmet. It’s enough for me to know that it would have been worse.
Now we lick our wounds, the strains and bruises and wait for the visa for India. Our third attempt.
And as I write it goes pling in my mail program and there it is. The visa for India. 90 days. How I would love to sing and dance like Rumpelstilzchen, but that will have to wait.
We have a plan again: on December 27th we take a ship to Mumbai and spend New Year’s Eve in India. Wow.
And as Manuel, our Dutch cycle buddy said, it’s going to be colorful there. And even if he is a bit annoyed by the idea of India and color powder allover, I’m looking forward to it.
To the next big part of our journey.
By the way: for all those who also have difficulties to apply for visas, looking properly grim seems to help 🙂
That’s how we coped with the Second Days!
To lick our wounds, de-stress the body, we eat lots of chocolate, drink fruit juice and go swimming every morning. Things could be worse.
And our accommodation is also a real stroke of luck. Our bike colleague gave us his entire apartment for free for the entire time. A beautiful little apartment with everything you need. He said: it is important to him that Klaus gets better soon and that we can continue our journey.
And exactly these people are the reason why we do not stop the journey. They exist, everywhere in the world.
And for many other reasons, we are such lucky persons: Klaus is doing so much better, a friend is coming to Oman in December and he will bring some spare parts for the broken ones from the car crash and a new helmet and it is winter time in Oman. Perfect time of the year. Only around 30°!
Summery: Second days are not so nice as First days, but maybe they are worth to be noticed.