The most difficult question I’m struggling to answer these days is ‘what was your favourite part of the trail?’ I’m also facing some common misconceptions from people who know nothing about the PCT; like assuming that I slept in motels the entire way, that I travelled with a group, that I must have flown parts of it; or my favourite is simply the silent, no further questions your honour type response that you receive from somebody who simply can’t comprehend what you’ve just done.
The oddities of the Middle East never fail to amuse me, and Abu Dhabi hasn’t failed to deliver. Here’s just a sample:
I had two pigeons stuck on my balcony this morning that I thought would become my new feathered friends because they couldn’t fly up and over the glass barrier. Sadly they were gone when I returned this evening. Who knows what happened to them.
I have called reception at my hotel on two occasions to try and get some cutlery for my room. The first time they brought a frying pan, the second time they brought a pot and two wooden spoons which were still wet from the kitchen. Still no cutlery.
I had to laugh yesterday after I ordered room service and they took my credit card to process downstairs. The guy later called my room and asked for my PIN number so he could enter it into the machine. I politely declined and said I’d pay cash. Luckily I kept the knife and fork that came with the sandwich so now I have something to eat with.
We have a door to our office at work which only opens 3/4 of the way, which means we all have to walk through sideways to squeeze through each time. It will encourage me to keep keep off the pounds!
I also got hit by two children on 3 wheeled bikes and had to avoid some very near clashes with cyclists speeding along the corniche during my nightly stroll yesterday on Friday (my only day off during the week). Mental note: do not walk the corniche on Fridays!
It’s taken me a few days to rid myself of jet lag and shift my brain into a completely new gear (I think that may still take a little longer). I finally have my own space again, but it’s very different to the solitude and tranquil silence I experienced on trail. You often feel more lonely in busier places where the world and the people rush around you. Instead of waking up to rustling sounds outside my tent, I’m often woken by music from the nightclub within the hotel, or the constant sound of traffic and horns beeping outside my window.
I definitely need to walk more and generally do more exercise. Although my legs and back hurt after a couple of hours, it definitely felt good to move again. There have been so many changes to my life since the end of the trail that I need some form of constant to keep myself sane; and in this place, the only answer is walking!
Here’s two more videos by Leigh Swansborough from our interview in Southern California…
Mind, body, trail mantra: