By Alex Mehlin
Travelling without The Gypsy Train is odd. I have become so accustom to the dizzyingly dynamic day- to-day events of the bus it is hard to adjust to a more passive travel experience. It seems that without the bus travelling is simplified down to restaurants, hostels and tours.
It’s a far more relaxing existence, but I’m not sure that the relaxation is for me. I miss the bus, at the same time I am enjoying the comforts and leisure being an average tourist allows. My new found free time has allowed me to think back on The Gypsy Train and how wonderful it was.
I would have to say there were a couple of things that made the Gypsy Train so hard to let go of; the nightly dining experience, the freedom to roam and the sociology of the bus.
The first thing that people would always mention when they joined the bus was the food. It took me till now to understand what they really meant. Going out to eat is one of the best parts of travelling. However, this day to day adventure into unknown eateries can take their toll. Many times you are surprised with amazing food but most of the time it is lacking something. Mike coined it best when he said, “it needs sex”. It seems funny to prefer a meal by headlamp to one under a roof and with service, but dinners on The Gypsy Train had SEX. The ingredients are simple and we managed to perfect it night after night; caring cooks, fresh ingredients, cocktails and warm conversation.
Travelling without the bus means using public transportation. This has been the hardest adjustment for me. It is the lack of control, there was something so special about looking at a map and deciding where we were and where we were heading. Being a passenger allows access to places the bus could never go, time to read, naps and is far less stressful. However, it comes with; cramped conditions, bad music, time tables and sketchy drivers.
The bus did something funny to people. Everyone lets loose when they travel its part of the beauty of it, but the Gypsy Train did something more. Looking at photos a transformation takes place in each person. The longer the person stayed on the bus the more they developed a Gypsy persona. When we walk into a bar I now feel a lack of presence without the Gypsy entourage, it’s just not as exciting to go out. Because of these alter egos, we developed roles and rules of the bus. Being back in the real world means living by the rules of normal society; this takes getting use to but once comfortably adapted it is refreshing.
For Alaena and me our lives now orbit tours and meeting up with friends. Much of the time I felt like the bus was waiting for us in a dindgy garage awaiting a joyfuly reunion.
Our most recent activity took us seven days into the Cordillera Real. As we passed over 5000 meter passes and dropped down into glaciated valleys, I slowly adjusted to life without the bus. Following a guide and taking public transport finaly broke me from the Gypsy Train. The break was not pretty and resulted in a childish temper tantrum. When I came out of my episode I was humbled and had a greater appreciation for the accumulation of effort and the help we needed to make the last year so extraordinary.
Thank you to everyone that helped to make our dream road trip a reality.
Our families, thank you for all your; financial help, emails, doing taxes and other various paper work, sending much need packages, constant love and for being our biggest fans. I would especially like to thank our parents...Pam Mehlin, Tim Bateman, Bill Watson, Tom Mehlin, Lori Taylor, Al Czeck, Kelly McNet and Michael Redecker.
Tio Tom, for believing in us when we were just getting off the ground and always having a beers ready and something positive to tell us when times got hard.
Matthias and Mike. I’m not sure who was on the bus longer, but thank you both for your daily contributions and sticking around when times got hard you guys kept us going.
Everyone who rode and loved the bus, without you The Gypsy Train would have died as an idea: Andrew, Lucas, Matthias, Tom, Tor, Monkey, Tabitha, CC Boom Boom, Nick, Marta, Kate, Mike, Teagan, Bernadette, Karren, Kerry, Hilla, Charlie, Cesar, Mike O’, Huburtus, Kate, Botchi, Ben, Jake, Roa, Hannah, Heather, Bianca, Carla, Chelsea, Jonny, Vicky, Zoe and Emily.
I would also like to thank a few people who helped us along the way; Ivan our trusty mechanic in Santo Domingo, The Grinn House, Edwin, every tire guy who miraculously appeared and all the mechanics who did not rip us off.
We would have never gotten the blog rolling without you the readers. Thank you for your interest in our adventure. It was inspiring to see how many people actually read what we had to say!
Most of all without the heart, dedication and fearless financial input, The Gypsy Train would have never come to fruition. So, thank you Alaena and Zach. You guys are amazing friends and I’m still buzzing off the year we lived on the whims of South America’s highways.