When I hear someone say, “have an attitude of gratitude”…….. cue eye rolling. That is one of my most disliked phrases. #blessed comes in a very close second. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because I don’t believe in being grateful. To the contrary, I believe I show genuine gratitude to those in my life as I am all too aware of what it means to have nothing. However, I do think through our competition with each other to create an outwardly ‘perfect’ life online, we may have forgotten what we should truly be grateful for.
This past week has reminded me what it feels like to be truly grateful for other human beings. In particular, a group of people who only weeks ago, were total strangers.
Firstly, Darren, who I bought Yogi off. What an absolute legend. Let me give you a little bit more background. Last year, about November, I looked into hiring a bike to ride 10 days through Spain. With the weak Australian dollar it was looking very expensive. I thought to myself, for that price I could buy a bloody bike. I let that thought actually set in, and that’s what I did! I found the bike I wanted on gumtree, messaged Darren and we agreed on a price. Being the middle of winter he was happy to hold it for me until I arrived in the first week of February.
However, as most of you know, after an unfortunate incident in Vietnam over Christmas I had to delay my trip. I emailed Darren straight away and said please let me know if you need to sell the bike, I totally understand. Without a hesitation he came back with concern over what had happened and no way was he going to sell the bike on me. I couldn’t believe my luck. So, for the past 6 months we have emailed back and forth, getting papers ready and making plans for me to visit and pick up Yogi.
Last Saturday I arrived in Kings Lynn on the train, Darren was there to pick me up! It felt like meeting an old friend after spending so much time on email planning for this. We set off to his mums (Linda), who is also a badass motorcycle rider herself, where we all spent the afternoon in the unseasonably hot English sun fitting a luggage rack. If there was something we needed, mum had it! With a big hug goodbye and best wishes from Linda, I very cautiously rode the bike back ready for taking off the next day.
The following morning, I was to set off on my way to Essex. After a quick test ride to confirm what I already suspected, the bike was too tall, we set about loading my obscene amount of luggage onto poor Yogi, making it that much more difficult to manage. Darren graciously agreed to come for a ride and within in 10 minutes on the road, Yogi decided it was all too much, tipping over for a quick nap and wedging himself into a petrol pump! With a smashed mirror needing to be ripped off and my confidence at rock bottom, Darren continued with me the entire two and half hour journey down to Essex. I genuinely think I would have had a meltdown on the side of the road without that support and I will be forever grateful.
Arriving at David’s we were met with big smiles and cold drinks before poor Darren set off on his way back. Both Darren and his gorgeous mum were truly lovely people to have met and I know they are both cheering Yogi and I on as we continue our journey.
This brings me to David and his wonderful partner Elain, the kids, neighbours and friends in the quaint English town of Loughton. David and I came to be email buddies through Rex, owner of Himalayan Heroes, as David had undertaken a journey by motorcycle from London through Russia to Mongolia as I plan to do. He reached out and has been an endless source of information, tips and advice ever since. I was welcomed into their home like family, made a wonderful dinner, shared stories and laughs like I had known everyone for years. That however was only the beginning as he so graciously offered me help to fit the much-needed aftermarket guards and electrics to ensure Yogi and I have the best chance of making it across the world. I wouldn’t have known where to even begin without his help. Not only did we make Yogi more ride-able via an ingenious plan to hang him from the ceiling and change a suspension part, but he was totally kitted out and ready to take on the endless miles ahead.
David has ridden hundreds of thousands of miles across Africa, the Sahara, Russia, Mongolia and most of Europe and our time spent in the garage was an amazing line up of interesting and insightful stories. Based on his extensive experience I was also very much schooled on the art of motorcycle packing! As a result, I had a total re-arrangement of luggage and packing style with David once again coming to the rescue lending me practical gear and the coolest set of leather saddle bags to make me look the part.
After 3 days it was time to go out on my own. Photos taken, goodbyes and hugs had, I set off towards the port of Dover with a good few tears in my helmet. I felt totally overwhelmed with gratitude for these wonderful people who had welcomed me into their lives and given me so much of their hospitality, time, knowledge (and belongings!).
It’s not often in our ‘busy’ lives we get the opportunity to experience this level of generosity, much less from total strangers. I hope one day I will be able to pay it forward as I will never forget what it has meant to me.
I came on this trip feeling very much like I was out here, on the other side of the world from home, on my own and in less than a week have gained a new bunch of amazing friends I will have for life. For that, I am truly grateful.