84. Time Alone

Time Alone: Bodies in motion stay in motion. That’s true for us, hopefully through December 2007, which is still the finish line we’re ambling towards. Somewhere in Laos, we both came to the conclusion that we hadn’t really been doing something we promised we’d do – take time for ourselves. A few hours or even a full day alone doesn’t give us a real taste of solo travel, an idea that makes our stomachs jump and our hearts pound a little bit harder. It’s exciting, it’s terrifying, so we talked and talked about it, much in the same way that we talked about starting this trip in the first place, and then it happened. We bought plane tickets. To different countries. Round trip, with a planned reunion in two months – early August. Yowza. Can we possibly last that long?

Amy: We pre-purchased plane tickets for less than half of our yearlong trip and the last one was coming up fast. For months we had cursed those tickets because they were like carrying around tiny bossy secretaries telling us where we needed to be and when we needed to be there. We resented them and wished we hadn’t purchased so many. Then as the last one started nagging us for attention we realized how much easier they had made everything all along. Who would tell us what to do now? The empty calendar for the final seven months of the trip weighed on us. We talked about it often and it was both thrilling and overwhelming because the options seemed limitless. Then one day in Luang Prabang while we climbed the 239 steps to the top of Phu Si Hill, I blurted out, “What if we just go to different places for a few months, then we get that solo time we keep claiming we want and we don’t have to compromise on which countries to visit. I could go to Ireland.”

And that was it. We debated back and forth some more for good measure but the path seemed paved already and we had the smarts to follow it. Sloan soon decided to go to India and I was set on Ireland. I’m not at all looking forward to leaving Sloan for almost 9 weeks and I’m dreading that last day together but with a little luck and some guts I can do this. It’s scary to be without him after so much intense together time. We can finish each other’s thoughts at this point and we are grossly annoyingly in love with each other but this is a good thing. We’ll kick each other out of the nest for a bit and then anxiously wait until we can fly back home. So, who wants to meet me for a pint in Ireland?

Sloan: I’m going back to India. At last check, the high temperature in Delhi was 106 degrees, so I’m likely to touch down there and almost immediately head to the Himalayas or at least some very high hills. The conversation I had with my mom sums up popular reaction to my decision to go back to India:

Me: I’m going back to India.
Mom: Really? That’s surprising.
Me: What? Why?
Mom: I thought you were really frustrated in India.
Me: I was.
Mom: And I thought you were happy to leave after a month.
Me: I was.

But no experience since India has been as rich or rewarding, because navigating that chaos requires that you really work for your prize. I’m excited for the adventure of going back down the India rabbit hole alone, but I started missing Amy the moment we made this decision. No amazing moment will pass without me wishing she were there. I’m a little afraid of being alone, especially when I think about the panoply of illnesses awaiting me in those jungles and city streets. But I also know that the only way to exercise my craving for the unpredictable, unreliable, incomparable joy of India is to take my time there and only there. Excitement, sadness, fear, joy – Reasons to love, reasons to wander.

Note: If you’re following along on the “Route” page of this site, this is where it all goes to hell. Version 2 of our route, which includes these solo adventures, will not include that trip on the Trans-Siberian railway, though it may yet include a similarly ambitious rail trip across the Tibetan plateau in August or September. Version 2 will also not include five or six months in Europe. We know now that we were naïve to assume that our budget could handle the jump from $50 a day in Asia to $150 a day in assorted European countries. For Europe, besides Amy’s two months in Ireland, we’re shooting for December in Spain before flying back to New York. Everything in between August and December is likely to be Asia and is, as they say, up in the air.

 

  1. Anonymous says:

    i do love you two
    please do be good to yourselves out there
    -whip

  2. Anonymous says:

    My god, you guys, this is an amazing record of some amazing traveling. Buddhism, food, politics, rivers, mountains, alcohol, books – it has everything. It will be interesting to see what the solo traveling is like – brave move. Wish I could meet you in Ireland, Amy. Who’s got extra frequent flier miles????

    Shannon

  3. Molly & Dan says:

    What’s a trip around the world without a few improvisations, right? Who schedules a year in advance, anyway. We wish you guys the best of luck on your solo travels! And Sloan, it sounds like you’re as enamored with India as we are (and, based on the conversation with your mom, developing the same kind of love-hate relationship). Although we couldn’t blame you if it’s really Charles’ spacious pad that is pulling you back …

    If you happen to venture south, we’d love to give you (more) recommendations based on our ’04 trip. And if you can grab a copy of William Dalrymple’s City of Djinns while you’re in Delhi, it is a great travelogue through that city’s rich history.

  4. Molly & Dan says:

    What’s a trip around the world without a few improvisations, right? Who schedules a year in advance, anyway. We wish you guys the best of luck on your solo travels! And Sloan, it sounds like you’re as enamored with India as we are (and, based on the conversation with your mom, developing the same kind of love-hate relationship). Although we couldn’t blame you if it’s really Charles’ spacious pad that is pulling you back …

    If you happen to venture south, we’d love to give you (more) recommendations based on our ’04 trip. And if you can grab a copy of William Dalrymple’s City of Djinns while you’re in Delhi, it is a great travelogue through that city’s rich history.

  5. Molly & Dan says:

    What’s a trip around the world without a few improvisations, right? Who schedules a year in advance, anyway. We wish you guys the best of luck on your solo travels! And Sloan, it sounds like you’re as enamored with India as we are (and, based on the conversation with your mom, developing the same kind of love-hate relationship). Although we couldn’t blame you if it’s really Charles’ spacious pad that is pulling you back …

    If you happen to venture south, we’d love to give you (more) recommendations based on our ’04 trip. And if you can grab a copy of William Dalrymple’s City of Djinns while you’re in Delhi, it is a great travelogue through that city’s rich history.

  6. Molly & Dan says:

    What’s a trip around the world without a few improvisations, right? Who schedules a year in advance, anyway. We wish you guys the best of luck on your solo travels! And Sloan, it sounds like you’re as enamored with India as we are (and, based on the conversation with your mom, developing the same kind of love-hate relationship). Although we couldn’t blame you if it’s really Charles’ spacious pad that is pulling you back …

    If you happen to venture south, we’d love to give you (more) recommendations based on our ’04 trip. And if you can grab a copy of William Dalrymple’s City of Djinns while you’re in Delhi, it is a great travelogue through that city’s rich history.

  7. Molly & Dan says:

    What’s a trip around the world without a few improvisations, right? Who schedules a year in advance, anyway. We wish you guys the best of luck on your solo travels! And Sloan, it sounds like you’re as enamored with India as we are (and, based on the conversation with your mom, developing the same kind of love-hate relationship). Although we couldn’t blame you if it’s really Charles’ spacious pad that is pulling you back …

    If you happen to venture south, we’d love to give you (more) recommendations based on our ’04 trip. And if you can grab a copy of William Dalrymple’s City of Djinns while you’re in Delhi, it is a great travelogue through that city’s rich history.

  8. What a dramatic twist in your itinerary! Best wishes with the solo ventures, and may absence/abstinence make the heart grow fonder. Amy mentioned Thanksgiving in Portugal; I’m off 11/16-11/26 and would love to meet up with you guys wherever you are. I’ve been dying to visit Barcelona for years.

  9. Anonymous says:

    You two are amazing. I love reading about your adventures. You are doing the coolest things and having the greatest experiences. These stories will amuse people forever. Good luck traveling apart. You both are so strong.

    Denise

    P.S. I saw evidence that the polar bear wasn’t the only beating up Matlock!