Wednesday, April 25, 2012

i'll remember what i forgot

i have pages of notes.
pages and pages of notes. pages litter every surface of my room.
top four things i want to see/experience in china, steps to obtain a pakistan tourist visa, sketched outlines of mongolia's aimags, currency conversion tables.
in my bed i sleep on the right. on the left sleeps my collective library pillages. colourful post-it notes stick out from each book.
this week one of those books is walking the gobi by helen thayer.
when i was reading the book i followed helen and her husband bill as they encountered everything a summer trek through the gobi could throw at them. thirst, logistics, border patrol, smugglers, scorpions, mongolian hospitality, sandstorms, nomadic lifestyles. i was captivated. she was 63 when she crossed the gobi. her motivation, determination and dedication are all things i want.
yesterday while zipping through the last couple chapters of the book, i remembered that i forgot.
that i forgot about what led to me having a bed coated in books about chunks of asia. about what led me to spend my free time in cafes with highlighters and guide books. what pushed me to read travel books recounting other peoples adventures to countries that i want to experience.
i had forgotten why i was going to asia in the first place. mongolia was becoming a passing thought. just another country on my growing list. just another 2 weeks here, train there, new country.
reading reading thayer's book brought me back on track. it reminded me that this trip, this yearning to tramp around mongolia started with me reading a book, watching a docu series, becoming transfixed.
now i am realigned. now my focus is back on mongolia. just getting there. i just want to arrive and see where the country will take me. that's what i did when i left for ireland, and it couldn't have turned our better!

reading walking the gobi made me wish i had just a little bit of thayer's expedition knowledge and experience. thayer has skied to the north pole by herslef, lived among wolves in alaska, kayaked the amazon, walked across the sahara, represented three countries in track and field, is the author of three books, awarded the prestigious vancouver award, and was named "one of the great explorers of the 20th century" by national geographic. i find it important to mention that most of these achievements were made after she turned 50! when i was reading the book, i just kept thinking, 'this woman was in her SIXTIES!?!?! her sixties?!'. i kept having to remind myself that i wasn't reading about some teenager and her boyfriend, looking for some kicks. i was reading about a 60 some year old woman and her 70 some year old husband...walking across a desert. over 2500 km in temperatures around 50C. it boggles my mind.
i really can't do justice to how amazing helen thayer is and how inspiring this book was. maybe you will just have to read it yourself.

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