“Have you worked out how to get past the Darien Gap yet?”
“The…. um…. what?” I said, trying to hide my complete lack of knowledge of any geography to the seemingly very intelligent and worldly, Hugh.
32 years old, always wanted to travel and really I knew next to nothing about most areas of the world.
It had been less than a week since my heart had been broken into a million teeny pieces, after I had to very suddenly leave what had previously been the relationship of my life. I hadn’t eaten or slept for 6 days, and had been sat on my friend’s sofa bed in my pyjamas for at least 48 hours just staring out of the window, when I picked up the phone. With tear stained cheeks and a croaky voice, I was making possibly the biggest decision of my life so far, not to mention spending more money than I could possibly afford, and I was trusting the softly spoken, Irish Hugh to do most of the work for me. I could barely think straight about how to maneuver myself to the nearest toilet, let alone the other side of the globe.
Hugh had been quite grumpy up until this point. Probably stuck in a call centre and sick of talking to another posh-sounding young girl wittering on about her trip and then not buying anything. But it was the mention of the Darien Gap that seemed to give him some new life. His voice sparked up, and he began regaling tales of little known traveller boats and beautiful islands between Panama and Columbia. It turned out he had just got back from the very place I was going and he talked for maybe twenty minutes about all the different routes, buses, treks and how it wasn’t dangerous or at all difficult and that I would be fine. That last bit, I am still dubious about, but Hugh’s positivity made me feel brave and also added several extra stops to my list of places to visit making me wish I had years available and endless buckets of cash.
“So…” I said, after the fun bit of our chat, “I haven’t really thought about this that much, or planned it or… anything… Do you think it’s OK to book it now? Or maybe a little crazy…?” I put my life in Hugh’s hands again, my stomach churning with nervous butterflies.
“Ah no – your plans will change anyway when you get there. You’ll be fine. Lets get you on this flight”
I think I love you Hugh, I thought. You might have just saved my life…
Well, at least given me a future that isn’t just festering on this sofa bed, covered in snot. I possibly would have given him anything at that moment, but he just needed my credit card number and that was easy enough.
So… it’s booked. The wandering cat has been born. I’m really going. How quickly things have changed.
The 28th December 2013 cannot come soon enough. Hugh called it my ‘epic journey’, and that’s what I hope it will be… Life changing, exciting, adventurous, challenging and most definitely EPIC.
First stop Guatemala….