We are taking a much needed rest day in Wuyuan. It’s SO BEAUTIFUL here. This past week we’ve been traveling through mountains filled with fields of Cole flowers. These back mountain roads sometimes create difficulty for Annimal, pulling her trailer; but they also provide some stunning views. It is cleaner here than most other places in China. There are hardly any piles of trash and the air is fabulously clear. The very white clouds and bright blue sky make a crisp backdrop for the luscious green mountains and seas of yellow flowers. It has also been WARM AND SUNNY! FINALLY, we aren’t bundled up, hiding under ponchos and bracing ourselves against the cold wind. We could not ask for better weather. I was born in the New Mexican desert on the first day of summer; perhaps this is why I LOVE the HEAT! I am a child of the sun. Annimal, on the other hand, would rather be back in the arctic weather where you can’t feel your hands, but you don’t break a sweat while walking either. I don’t get it.
We are moving steadily toward our goal, currently sitting at 938 kilometers. This coming week we will break 1,000 kilometers, marking the halfway point to our goal of walking at least 2,000 km. Hopefully the next 1,000 will go more smoothly now that we know what we’re doing, and we hopefully won’t have as many troubles as we did in the beginning (walking the wrong way, terrible blisters, freezing weather, etc…). Though, I’m sure we’ll get a whole new set of problems to figure out. Bring it.
Yesterday was holy. We didn’t really plan to walk at all. Annimal and I were both exhausted, depleted, and feeling altogether miserable. We’d made hotel reservations in Wuyuan, so we needed to get there but neither of us could fathom the 28-kilometer trek. We decided to swallow our pride, call it a rest
day, and take a bus to our reserved hotel in Wuyuan. We took one short bus ride, then just started walking out of habit. We weren’t feeling any better, but for some reason we just decided to walk the rest of the way. I’m so glad we did. We came across a Taoist temple nestled in the mountains. It was such a beautiful temple that I was drawn in.
There were new, extravagant, colorful buildings in the making, but we were more interested in the original structure that was OVER 1,000 YEARS OLD! We lit incense, paid our respects, and then walked on. Shortly after, we came to a HUGE rockslide that had completely swallowed up the road. There was no going around. Some clever entrepreneurs were profiting from the madness; for just 60 RMB we could
take a bamboo boat to the other side of the blockage. We accepted. The men hoisted Annimal’s trailer down the steep mountainside to the water, and onto a bamboo boat. It was such a beautiful, peaceful ride. I positioned myself at the front of the boat, took off my boots, and enjoyed every second on the water.
If I’m being completely honest, I’ve been absolutely homesick. The feeling washes over me about 20 times a day- every time I have to use a disgusting outhouse toilet OR I hear someone loudly hock a loogie (a man literally just did outside of my window as I wrote that sentence) OR while everyone I love is on the other side of the world at a bar together watching the March Madness NCAA basketball tourney without me. In these moments I want the comforts of home: mashed potatoes and ice cream, a hug from my mother, people with Western manners, drinking a beer (that The food I wish I had- green and red chile smothered burrito actually tastes good) with a group of my friends, drinking expensive drinks out of fancy glasses, climbing mountains with my dog, Kai, eating New Mexican food, and most of all, well- I’m a lady, so I won’t tell you that part.
But once I snap out of my green chile daydream, I remind myself of the bigger picture. I take a breath and remember that this homesick feeling is a byproduct of chasing after a dream by offering literally everything I have. In return, I get the world. For these five months I’ve chosen adventure over comfort. I’ve proclaimed that I want views that take my breath away more than I want warm hugs, late nights, and to finish each day in the same comfortable bed. ‘Past Darrah’ made this decision for me months ago, upon saying ‘yes’ to this walk. Sometimes I think ‘Past Darrah’ is an evil bitch that hates ‘Present Darrah’ and is trying to kill me. But, let me tell you, yesterday while we were sitting on a bamboo boat being chartered through the calm, clear mountain river with the sun shining down- its rays kissing our noses and illuminating the water all the way down to the smooth stones on the river bed- I was sure that saying ‘yes’ to this walk was the right decision. And I was very appreciative of the crazy girl who was brave enough to make that call.
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