Oh no, not again
25th of January 2024, 7 pm, the power is off
Yes, of course we are looking for adventure and we also know that the words “now we have a plan” often make everything inside us tighten, we should knock on wood for success and almost wait to see what it will be this time that thwarts our plans.
Sometimes our journey feels like that of the little sea turtles that are left to their own devices from an early age. Every year after laying their eggs, they dig themselves out of the sand and run into the sea to see how they get on. Many of them will not live very long. And yet they waddle awkwardly yet determinedly into the sea to live a dangerous life.
The winter blues
We are back in Australia, in Townsville. Where we interrupted our journey 7 weeks ago and where all our equipment was waiting for us.
We were in Germany, in Franconia, in Wertheim. We are not bears, so we don’t hibernate. For us, this meant getting out of our cosy beds and onto the dark grey streets every morning, outwitting our inner weaker self and listlessness with an extra portion of exercise. Unfortunately, the one or other portion of sweets, the attempt to compensate for the lack of happiness hormones with sugar, also took its toll. And this has clearly affected our weight.
We survived the grey winter in Germany, the icy roads, the food that was far too good. We made it to Frankfurt on time for our flight departure by train. The strikes didn’t start until a day later. An 11-hour flight to Shanghai, a 13-hour layover on hard and cold benches and a 10-hour onward flight to Brisbane. You can endure all that. And we even got a flight to Townsville on the same day. Our original flight had been cancelled.
It’s working, we thought
We knew there was a cyclone coming to the area. But we had no idea what the cyclone meant. The streets were empty, many shops closed. The airport got closed one day after we arrived, sandbags filled, buses cancelled and very few taxis running.
It’s not just a warning that something bad is coming. It’s being taken quite seriously. The shelves, especially the one with the cans, are bought empty. And out of fear of maximum loss of control, strange behaviour occurs again and again in order to regain some kind of control: the mass purchase of toilet paper. Hoarding as a substitute behaviour for a type of fighter? No, I don’t want to make a fool of myself about all this. But the fact that I’m not one of those fighter types certainly shows that we ride bicycles and not cars. As a cyclist, you’re more on the run. In a car, you’re more the fighter type.
Of course, we also did a bit of shopping
And we went out to Peter and Louise. They have our equipment with them. And because we got the jitters, we got there far too early. While Peter was deeply relaxed, Louise was full of worries and fears. Totally justified. We might have been better off in our hostel. A stone house has more to offer against such a storm than this wooden house.
But honestly, we felt safe with these two, who know what to do. The rest of the day was spent clearing, securing, covering, screwing down, ….. Actionism to combat nervousness. Instead of emergency chocolate, I eat emergency yoghurt. But only because I didn’t have any chocolate. And then we waited. Sitting around, moving from one chair to another and then to the armchair. Watching the news and waiting to see how bad it would get.
On Windy (an app with very good wind data) we could see the hurricane approaching. Every now and then we ventured out cautiously, looked up at the sky and were fascinated by the spectacle of the clouds, when they somehow spiral into each other from different directions, it’s scary. At first it just rained heavily. At 7 pm it was quiet. A little wind, no more rain. The storm is over. But of course it wasn’t. We were just right under the centre.
The radio finally said: don’t worry, we’re here and we’re prepared to help. The power turns off, headlamps are put on, candles are lit. Then the internet is also off. The power can take up to two weeks. Ohh. And what about the internet? We don’t know anything for sure. And then we go to bed and it’s actually quieter than we feared.
The next morning
The next morning, the fence is broken, the road is closed, the police is present, a power line is lying on the road, two cars have been crushed by a tree like tin cans. No people were injured in this street. So there was my first cyclone and I can at least say that I don’t want to experience another one and especially not a stronger one. There’s not that much yoghurt.
We prepare for our departure
All the bags are neatly packed again, mirrors are fitted to the bikes, tyres are pumped up and a few dog photos are taken. But unfortunately we still have to stay a little longer, because Klaus’s front wheel is getting a new rim that we brought from Germany. This has to be spoked. We don’t have the confidence to do this and the shop that was supposed to do it is now closed. But we are prepared and can react quickly and get going. We want to be in New Zealand by the middle of March. We still have 1400 kilometres ahead of us.
Oops, there it was again: our plan.
Run little turtle.
3 pm the next day: the power is still off
Addendum: Louise and Peter wanted to drive into town to see if there was any major damage, to see their friends briefly and to clarify whether Louise is working tomorrow. She is a taxi driver. What they had completely forgotten is that the gate won’t open without electricity. There’s a device in the engine box that allows you to do it by hand, but the screws are all tight. I’m afraid it’s going to take some time and my mood isn’t exactly improving.
Maybe we should practise getting along without electricity for 2-3 days. Well, at least we can always make a nice fire with all the secured toilet paper.
27.01.2024: Latest update: the rim has been spoked. We’re ready to go with a lot of power.