Easter Sunday was the 5th of April. A very important day for Christians, but also an important date for us. The 5th of April marked 9 months since our little red Honda, towing a heavy net covered trailer, drove down the driveway of a little house in North Altona with ‘Florence and the Machine’ blasting through open windows and 2 children sobbing (for different reasons) in the back seat. The 9 month mark is an important date for us because that is our half way day. From there we have 9 months left of our trip. At home I used to call Wednesday ‘hump day’ because during the school week I knew, when I got to Wednesday night, we were closer to the weekend than we had been on Wednesday morning. We were over the hump of the week and gliding towards funtime Friday night.
The 5th of April didn’t feel like ‘hump day’ and it’s actually quite difficult to believe that we are half way through ‘The Trip’. Time has been a funny thing since we left. We think back to last week and it feels like months since we were in Lithuania, but we look back at photos from Dili and it seems like yesterday. It feels like we have been away from home for ages, but I know that after we’ve been home for a week it will almost feel as though we’ve never left. Regardless of the tricks of time, I wasn’t as happy to get to our half way day as I often was to get to hump day.
But, being from the Outward Bound school of … – well, lots of things – Matt and I saw this half way point as an opportunity. An opportunity for a mid-trip review (I can feel half-smiles cracking all over the place). How have we been going? Are we doing what we set out to do? Are there things we could be doing differently/better? What do we want the second half of the trip to look like? (You can imagine what our wedding anniversary dinners are like, can’t you?!).
We went out for a celebratory dinner and then on to an ice-creamery. Over mint chic chip in a waffle cone we all talked about what had been the highlights and lowlights so far. What we were loving and disliking, what we were finding hard and what we were looking forward to. Although it sounds, I don’t know, a bit clinical or something, you have to imagine the entire picture. ‘Tully, can you please get your feet off the seat. So, what has been the best bit so far? Zo, watch out, it’s going to fall …ooops, don’t worry, just put it back in. Who’s got my beanie? Probably left it back at the restaurant. Crap, I’ll have to go back. Ellie, what’s been the hardest thing for you? Maybe something other than the bed in the youth hostel in Xi’an or the pillow in Tagong. Does anyone have anything they want to do more or less of? No, less school is not an option, and almost impossible.’ So a pretty casual chat really, but recapping with everyone where we’ve been and what we’ve done is a fun and important exercise. The girls realise all of the things they HAVE done and how much some things have changed in the last 9 months.
‘Remember the first time we had to take our anti-malarial tablets in Darwin? How we cried and carried on for over an hour because they tasted so horrible. And then by the time we got to Thailand we were swallowing them down with a mouthful of water and not batting an eyelid?’
‘Remember getting on the really late train in Mui Ne, when we had to have a plan for moving luggage and people so we could get everything on before the train took off again? And then by the time we got off the last train in St. Petersburg we were like a well-oiled machine.’
‘Remember getting to Indonesia and not wanting to ask for anything in Indonesian, even though we’d learnt the language at school and knew exactly what to say? And then being in China and going up to the counter of the restaurant by ourselves to ask – in Chinese – where the toilet was?’
‘Remember not wanting to go anywhere without Mum or Dad? And then the three of us walking around to the bakery in Tallinn by ourselves to get some croissants?’
The recapping is a fun and important exercise for everyone.
‘Remember when we were sh@&ting ourselves before we flew to Dili, wondering what the hell we were doing taking 3 kids on a trip like this? And now how effortlessly we all navigate a new underground system from the point of arrival in a new country to our accommodation.’
We’ve all learnt some stuff. We’re travelling with less than half the luggage we left with and will downsize again at the end of April; the daughter of mine who only wore ‘sneakers with pants and sandals with skirts’ and no crinkles please! has been living in the same attire for literally 2 months (minus wash days); I will never be a school teacher; all we need is some glue, scissors, paper or clean waste and something with which to draw and we can be entertained for days.
Berlin is absolutely beautiful at the moment. The tulips and daffodils are bursting forth in the garden beds, the grass in the parks almost needs mowing and there is a green haze across the Tiergarten from the fresh young leaves soaking up the more regularly visiting sun. We can smell Spring in the air every time we leave the house and we get excited about what it will bring.