I´m lying here, in my lonely little tent, amidst Croatian trees. The birds are whistling their goodnights and the sun is finally sinking low. I have clocked a record amount of ks today, around 130kms. Without time to check, I am up earlier than ever, thinking to myself ´it must be late!´ when in fact morning has just broken.
Having arrived in Budapest, after more than a month of cycling, I had little time to rest and just enough time to buy my brand new bike and all its gear. Shopping for it was horrible, but owning it is wonderful. Soleil was left with love in a park, along with a big poster that read `Free Bike´.
This marked the beginning of a new chapter for me. The Charlie story was coming to an end and I was about to set out S.O.L.O. Those terrifying letters! My last attempt at riding alone had failed miserably, dinting my courage so much it was ready to cave in.
The last few days in Hungary´s capital were spent broken hearted. Not only did I doubt my ability to cycle tour solo, but the brown eyed Wisconsin man had finally gone, leaving only my tears as a replacement. We had shared a hell of a lot together over the past few months and still felt strongly for one another. Nevertheless, a commitment to our own goals, our journeys and our innerself beckoned. So goodbye it was and alone was me.
It took a few more dawns for me to dry the salt and become unstuck, but finally Saturday morning, I began. The weather was shitty, the wind in my face. My strength still felt shaky, but on I peddled.
Needless to say, the universe provided. The whole day unravelled into an endless stream of the kindness of strangers. Around 6 Oclock, I was just beginning to search out a campsite (and feeling twitchy about it) when up ahead is a man with a flat bicycle tyre. Of course I stop to help and discover he is Robert, 30 something, from Germany. He is visiting his father who has a holiday house by Lake Balaton, not 20ks away, and by the way would i like to stay?? The night ends in much wine, good food and many a story from his ever so charming family. Full of questions, their pride and curiosity in me a reminder of the courage I had forgotten.
So now here I am, 80ks out of Zagreb, camping alone and happy. To all the people who endlessly speak of my `courage´ or my `bravery´, I hope only that they know it doesn´t always come from within. Your help in pushing me along the road is worth its weight in gold, and I thank you all so much. I have begun to grow back and my strength feels trippled. A good lesson in facing my fears.