Thursday, 1 September 2016

The Voice of the Comfort Zone

Two days ago I went fishing for the first time. Then yesterday I went for the second time, on my own. Whatever I snagged was clearly both strong and pissed off as the constant tugging knackered the bobbing mechanism in the reel and resulted in it having to be consigned to the bin.

Not wishing to admit defeat, I decided to replace it but the only ones in the village I’m currently in were covered in dust on the shelves of supermarkets, next to the phallic gods pottery collection and the “I love Crete” fridge magnets. Not sure on the quality let alone the breaking strain, I bit the bullet and took a trip to the nearest big town around 35km away.

No big deal but I also decided to get there and back by hitch hiking.

The bus takes 45 minutes, runs 5 times per day and is around 5 Euros. However, that’s 10 Euros that I could save…by thumbing it.

There was and is a conflict of interests in me right now. Almost 3 weeks into my epic journey to spend my medical retirement money on backpacking, I find myself torn between wanting creature comforts and wanting to try and actually live like I am someone with no further income who’s living off his savings.

The usual little voice was nagging in my head:

“It’s hot, you’ll get heat stroke. And sunburn. You’ll have to walk to the hitching point on the outskirts of Plakias and when you come back it’s AN HOUR from the centre of Rethymno to the hitching point. You might have to stand there ALL DAY without getting a lift. And just how embarrassing is it to stand there with people just driving past you. Some of them might even be sniggering as they leave you stood there, clutching your handwritten sign. What if you don’t drink enough water and dehydrate?!!”

You get the picture.

So I was torn between the comfort factor and the desire to prove to myself that I could actually do something that I’ve seen a group of four 18 year old French girls do with optimistic abandon (despite the paternal protestations of the taverna owner where they’d just had their lunch).

I thought about taking the bus and just saying “fuck it”. Then I thought about taking the bus back. Then I thought about not going at all. 

Eventually I decided to go.

Walking up to the hitching point was reasonably mundane, and as I self consciously got my hand scrawled sign out saying “Rethymno” and pretended not to be arsed when car after car drove past without sparing me a glance I wondered if I would ever get a lift. Then a car appeared that had, 5 minutes earlier, driven past with the occupants making apologetic hand gestures. Driver had done a U-ey, explaining as he pulled up that he knows how it feels to hitch and he felt sorry for me so could take me to a road where I’d have a better chance of getting a lift. Chatting away about his life (running walking tours for German tourists), his wife’s (giving dancing lessons) and my plans for the future we shook hands and said goodbye on the better road and within 5 minutes a French couple stopped to give me a lift right into town. 

Looked at my watch. 90 minutes since I’d left home. Good going.

Got the fishing reel from a helpful chap at a store selling everything from pump action shotguns to Ninja throwing stars, had a browse over some very strange knives in a souvenir shop, nipped into the tattoo parlour where I occasionally indulge, got a new battery for my Dad’s watch then leisurely strolled the hour to the return pick up point. Within 5 minutes a cheerful Albanian guy picked me up and it turned out we had a couple of mutual friends back in Planet P.

Got back in need of a quick siesta but otherwise feeling pretty good. I’d spent  just under 20 Euros, my “Self Discipline Test” limit for the day. 17 for the reel,  50 cents for a banana, 50 for a bottle of water and 1.20 for a bottle of Gatorade.

I had not spent much and had fun doing it. The comfort zone voice had been chipping away at my resolve but in the end I walked miles, trusted the kindness of strangers and it was good.

Now having the first of 4 beers and writing this as Hot Chocolate sing “You Sexy Thing” on the taverna’s music system and the breeze blows in gently off the sea.

A good day.

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