Hi everyone! I realize I haven’t been posting much recently (except on my Facebook page, that’s been very active), and I apologize for my absence. I had reasons, I swear! But I’m back, and the posts will be a’flowing.
But first I feel like writing an update that’s more than “I went here and did this”. I would like to explain to you, my wonderful readers, the things that are going on in the background. After all, while there’s certainly a lot of action in travel, there’s also a lot of inaction composed of planning and processing.
How is the traveling going?
The actual “travel” part of the trip has been far easier than expected. Almost all of my previous travels have taken place in developing countries, where nothing runs on time, comforts are in short supply, and the showers sometimes electrocute you. In comparison, Western Europe was (yes, past tense, I’m in Turkey now) almost like being on a guided tour–so easy. And honestly, I miss developing countries, but that’s a discussion for another day.
How is the project going?
The project has been…interesting. It’s certainly more of a challenge than I thought it would be. One of the hardest things about this project is remembering that I’m doing it! For example, I spent all day today wandering the Taksim Square area of Istanbul, and I never once thought about Richard Halliburton, even though he almost certainly walked the same street as me back in the 1920’s. Whoops. On the other hand, what kind of trip would this be if I didn’t have my own experiences along the way?
I also haven’t been able to “recreate” as many of his experiences as I’d originally hoped. There are a number of reasons for this. For one, it ends up I’m pretty wussy about breaking rules and laws, as shown by my experience with the statue in Berlin. For another, the times have indeed changed, and certain tasks, like riding an elephant over the Alps, are all but impossible to do anymore.
In case you didn’t find out via Facebook, I was not able to climb the Matterhorn during any of my three weeks in Switzerland. The Alps have been receiving non-stop moisture this year, and at the elevation of the Matterhorn that translates to snow. Leaving Zermatt on a glorious, sunny day with the snow-draped Matterhorn looming [unclimbed] behind me was a serious low point.
Now I’m just six days out from the Hellespont swim, and I’m really nervous, not because of the swim itself, but because of how the event hinges on the weather. Three of the biggest events of this trip were 1) Elephant over the Alps, 2) Matterhorn climb , and 3) Hellespont swim. I’m 0 for 2 right now, and I’d be crushed if it becomes 0 for 3.
But that’s just my negative side talking. Truth is, my own experience at Great Saint Bernard Pass was incredible, even without an elephant, and those who know me have no doubt that I’ll be back to climb the Matterhorn within the next couple of years, perhaps under my own steam instead of guided.
Which brings me to another point: even though the purpose of this trip is to compare how things have changed since Richard traveled the world, I still struggle with the concept of “failure” when things have changed too much. Nevertheless, not a day goes by that I don’t smile about how incredibly cool this trip is. I’m being guided around the world by my dead gay soulmate who traveled these same places 79-95 years ago. It’s awesome.
How’s the writing going?
Better than you know! It’s a bit tricky writing an entertaining blog that people will want to follow while keeping some stories to myself for my future book, but I think I’m managing. In addition to my blog I write long journal entries covering all the sordid details of my trip, and I have a little notebook on me at all times where I scribble down little observations in Sarah Shorthand, like “my back to history” and “could have done without the waffle caress”. It will all become clear.
When am I coming home?
Well…funny you should ask that…
Even before leaving on this trip I was uncertain about spending 14 months away from my amazing and incredible boyfriend, Ryan. That inkling became certainty when he came to visit me in Switzerland–the preceding two months without him was plenty, thank you very much.
I have two options: 1) cram the entire adventure into a shorter timeframe, or 2) break the project into two separate trips. I’ve decided on Option #2. Traveling in a hurry isn’t my style. Ryan is supportive of my decision, though he had one requirement: that I definitely go on Part II of the trip and finish the project. Did I mention that he’s amazing and incredible?
So the Uneven Tenor project now looks like this:
Part I, July 2014 – March 2015: Europe, Middle East, Northern Africa
Part II, ~2016: Asia (and the Matterhorn!)
So, that’s how things stand at the moment! I’ll leave you with this: I can see Asia from my balcony :-)