The stuff of dreams

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I’ll be honest, when I thought up this plan to walk round Menorca on my own, with all my stuff on my back, I probably didn’t really think it would happen. I don’t mean I had no intention, it’s just such a scary and alien thing to do, so really, why would I? But I am, I’m doing it, right now, In realtime!

Actually, I don’t want to sound like a fraud but what I’m honestly doing this minute is lying on a hotel bed enjoying the luxuries of electricity and a can of cold beer. Complicated logistics involving viable camping locations, amassing supplies and running out of clean pants (jokes, although my room is literally festooned with ALL of my clothes on makeshift washing lines) meant I had to stay in a hotel tonight because tomorrow, exactly halfway (96km and 5 days) through my walk I hit a 35km stretch that has ‘No services’, which basically means there isn’t even a road in or out. Once I get about 6km out of town that’s it, onward into the abyss. So I need to take at least 6 litres of water – have you any idea how heavy that is?! VERY is the answer. And all the food I’ll need for 2 days.

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As someone who only pays attention to the fun bits of anything until the last minute when I might glance at the dull stuff, I only found out 2 days ago exactly what this stretch entailed. Not only is it long and lonely, it’s also the hardest, highest, craggiest and most dangerous section of the 200km walk. I read this while applying compeed to feet I could hardly walk on and I honestly thought ‘that’s it, game over. I can’t do that without a get out, carrying all that water on these plates of meat’ (not rhymning slang, that’s what they look like now). But the good thing about walking for hours on end is it gives you a glorious amount of time and space to take an ariel view of a situation, without anyone rushing you, without life getting in they way. And so after various scenarios were dismissed I decided if I had time to gather my supplies while not also looking for a camping spot (major worry of each day folks) at the end of an already gruelling days walking (and if I had clean pants) I might be able to pull this off.

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Red arrow is where I started, yellow line what I’ve walked

I haven’t actually tried to pick up my bag with 6 litres of water in yet, because I don’t want to be disheartened. But come 6.30am tomorrow I am going to do everything in my power to set off, safely, and conquer the next 2 days. And you know what? Unlike when I thought this adventure up and couldn’t see myself going through with it, I can 100% visualise me finishing this walk. In the last five days, two days, hour even, I’ve discovered my capacity for growth and self belief is stretching, reaching out it’s tentacles to new borders. I started yesterday morning literally hobbling, doing the ‘Ooh, ahh’ dance of someone walking on hot sand because my feet were that painful. But this afternoon I marched into town, the anticipation of my first shower in five days and taking that bloody bag off my bag, making me fleet footed.

So many strange and wonderful things have happened on this walk (I’ll do a blog post about mirages soon!) But the most useful revelations have been these (don’t get too excited, we all know this, it’s just I experienced it first hand):

Firstly, if you set yourself a challenge (and I’m not saying you should, but if you do) and you plan it, start it and complete it without several moments of upset, self doubt, dosorganisation, apathy and panic, you didn’t set yourself a hard enough challenge. Once that dawned on me everything felt easier, because I realised all the the pain and fear was part of it, and I embraced it.

Secondly, take yourself away from your life. Next time you’re planning a holiday, don’t look at 2 weeks all inclusive in Cancun, in my humble opinion it will not give you the true rest and recuperation you need. Yes, it’ll be lovely to spend time with the kids and that swim up bar is awesome, but its almost like putting yourself on hold. Cancun is life’s hold music. Because you come back, switch on the TV, go to work, leave that suitcase in the corner of your room for roughly 16 days, and what’s new? How many times have you said or heard others say ‘ooh it’s like I never went away’? What if you spent those two weeks doing something where all you can do and concentrate on is that thing? Where you are unintentionally meditating all day? Where you are reconnecting with your body and seeing it as the amazing machine it is? Where you grow to reach the boundaries of what you thought you were and stretch over those self imposed borders and come back more than you were when you left (And not in the 10lbs more sense, damned all inclusive)?

As I think about seeing if my pants are dry enough to pack, I ask you to ponder some of that nonsense I just spouted, it might be my final request!

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