A Return to the Task at Hand
At long last, we prepare ourselves once again for the open road (well, open except for an estimated 12 police checkpoints between us and Baku). My passport came in a couple days ago, and we have dallied here in Tbilisi since, I think from an unspoken sense of comfort and familiarity that we haven’t been afforded in the chaos that is the Rally.
I haven’t made the best use of my extra time here, in terms of getting out and seeing the city, doing the touristy things that I’m supposed to want to go and do, but I did at least go to the zoo yesterday. To my extreme disappointment, it was the most depressing thing we’ve yet seen on our trip. The animals seemed underfed and possibly a bit mangy, while the zoo itself, the stairs, fences, even the ferris wheel, was falling to pieces. I had to honestly wonder if there had been any attempts at upkeep since the end of the Cold War. It was a far cry from the happy times I can remember at the Little Rock zoo as a child.
Still, I have had a great bit of time to sit and read, watch the games, and just generally relax, all of these things likely adding to the feeling of weariness at the thought of moving on from so easy a stop as Tbilisi has been. While I wouldn’t trade my experience here for anything in the world, I am not greatly practiced in the habits of deprivation that accompany a life of constant travel; many nights in tents, getting into a town late and leaving it early the next morning, days on end without a proper shower, these things wear at me much more quickly than I would like, but I suppose the only way to build a tolerance is by repeated exposure.
Especially in this setting with so many of the luxuries we haven’t had previously, I am beginning to get homesick. It’s not the overwhelming, all consuming desire to return but occasional remembrances of what are really very simply pleasures; drinking coffee next to Eleanor, a cool shower after a hot day golfing, being able to read the signs on the sides of the street. No, it is nothing I cannot get past, but I do think it will make returning home all the sweeter.
Today, we set out for Baku. From there, the three day ferry to Aqtau in Kazakhstan. Alyx will join us on the 10th, and hopefully it is a matter of less than a few weeks to Ulan Bator. Luxuries such as internet, AC, and even electricity are going to be in continually shorter supply, and, in a way, I feel as though the Mongol Rally is only just truly beginning for the Arkansas Chuggabugs.