Ja hem caminat aproximadament uns 15.000 km!
Aquesta distància ens ha permès fer la nostra ruta a través de Tailàndia, Birmània, Bangladesh, Índia, Pamir, Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Azerbaidjan, Geòrgia, Turquia, Grècia, Macedònia, Albània, Montenegro, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croàcia, Eslovènia, Itàlia i ara estem creuant França amb la mirada posada en la nostra destinació final, la nostra estimada Catalunya.
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We reached a new milestone! We have walked approximately 15,000 kilometers (about 9,320 miles)!
To date, we have crossed Thailand, Burma, Bangladesh, India, Pamir, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and Italy. We are currently in France, and if we squint we can almost see our final destination, our beloved Catalonia.
(English version below)
Doncs ja tenim fets 15.000 km aproximadament (ja fa dies). Insistim en l’aproximadament doncs és difícil comptar tot el que fem.
Aquests 15.000 km inclouen els que fem amb les motxilles entre punt A i B, més els que també caminem amb totes les motxilles quan cerquem allotjament o quan sense elles, alliberats de tant de pes, lleugers, visitem indrets, perseguim visats o fem qualsevol altre tipus de gestió necessària per poder seguir caminant pel món.
A més ha estat curiós arribar a aquesta fita tot creuant el Coll de la Madeleine, als Alps tot deixant enrere Itàlia per entrar a França. Un pas, un lloc emblemàtic per una xifra de quilòmetres caminats molt, molt especial!
Al llarg de tots aquests mesos hem estat en diferents estats de salut. Hem estat molt bé, bé, normal, fotuts i força fotuts, però afortunadament fins ara, mai molt malament.
Com ja vàrem fer en l’entrada referida als nostres primers 1.000 km, 5.000 km i els nostres primers 10.000 km, aquí deixem un petit repàs de l’estat de la nostra salut i equipament:
(Més detalls a la versió en anglès)
Genolls, cames i esquena sorprenentment bé. Estómac / sistema digestiu, regular. Espatlla esquerra i dreta, malament.
Alguns dies, els peus i els turmells van bé, altres dies, malament, depenent de la quantitat d’aigua extra que porta, les sabates i si tenim una vía plana o moltes pujades i baixades.
De totes maneres, l’estat general de salut és d’una sensació de cansament general que no aconsegueix recuperar quan podem dedicar dies a descansar.
Jenn ha canviat molt el seu equipament i segueix en una constant ‘evolució’. Ja després de Tailàndia i el primer mes a Birmània, Jenn va canviar la motxilla gran i va incorporar alguns altres canvis. Després la principal ‘revolució’ arribà quan abans de començar Bangladesh va substituir la motxilla penjada a l’esquena, per portar-ne una de nova amb un munt de coses noves dins, tot sobre un carro agafat a la cintura i que rodava sobre una roda. Aquest carro va durar Bangladesh i fins a Benarès (Índia). A partir de llavors ha tornat a penjar-se la motxilla a l’esquena i així segueix fins ara. Aquestes motxilles també han anat canviant. Portava una molt gran entre Turquia, Balcans i el nord d’Itàlia, però pel tram final d’Itàlia a Catalunya ha tornat a la motxilla que feia servir per Àsia central (Pamir, Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan…).
Botes: Des del principi del viatge ja porta 9 parells de calçat. D’aquests parells volem puntualitzar que 3 han estat de qualitat molt dolenta, doncs era tot el que va trobar llavors, i per tant, aquests 3 parells van durar molt poc.
Peus, turmells, genolls, cames, estómac i sistema digestiu, sorprenentment bé. Algunes butllofes i ferides dels peus han arribat a complicar-se molt, trigant fins a sis setmanes a guarir-se, però tard o d’hora es tanquen i cicatritzen. Coll, regular. Espatlla dreta fa mal. Esquena, normalment fa mal al final del día. Sembla ser el seu punt més dèbil, però entenem que és el cansament normal acumulat al cap de tantes hores de caminar amb una proporció de pes massa alta pel seu pes personal. Ara porta uns 20 quilos a sobre i sense saber exactament el seu pes, segur que tot aquest equipament penjant representa més d’un 40% del seu pes. Això segueix sent masssssssa.
Lluís segueix amb el 80% del mateix equipament amb el que va sortir de casa. El més important que ha canviat han estat les botes (quatre en 15.000 quilòmetres), mitjons, dues tendes de campanya i dos telèfons. La resta és gairebé el mateix d’inici.
Botes: Des del principi del viatge ja porta 4 parells de calçat. Els parells han aguantat (o els ha fet durar) aproximadament així: 1r parell, 3.500 quilòmetres, 2n, 6.900 quilòmetres, 3r, 4.000 quilòmetres i ara ja porta el 4t parell.
Motxilla: La motxilla ha estat cosida i recosida, reparada i reforçada mil vegades. Encara aguanta.
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Slowly but surely, we have come a long way. The Bangkok Barcelona on Foot journey has reached the amazing 15,000-kilometer mark! That’s about 9,320 miles!
We hit this new milestone pretty close to the Colle della Maddalena, the 1996-meter mountain pass that serves as a border between Italy and France. We worked for this mile-marker, inching our way up and over the curvy road, bundled up against the near-freezing cold, pausing along the way to admire the snow-capped peaks and repeating a mantra of gratitude that we were there in-between spring snow storms (a few days after we crossed the pass, 50 centimeters of fresh snow covered the road).
For the official record, Lluís walked every step of this estimated distance… Walked, no hitchhiking, no alternative transportation, no cheating. I have walked roughly 2,000 kilometers less than him–an estimated 13,000 kilometers–because I took a few weeks off in India (for a meditation retreat and post-surgery recovery); went a different way in Turkey; had to skip about 150 kilometers in Azerbaijan when the heat became absurdly unbearable, and rested extra days in Bukhara because I didn’t feel the need to walk 80-ish kilometers to the Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan border we could not cross.
As was the case with our first 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000 kilometers, this is an approximation. We don’t walk with our GPS on all day (it would exhaust our cell phone batteries in a couple hours). But, we do add up our kilometers every day, measuring and cross-checking distances with Google maps and Maps.me apps, and use the tried-and-true low-tech method of counting mile markers along the roads we walk. Our mileage includes walking with our backpacks from Point A to Point B plus the distances we clock when searching for a place to sleep; walking all over cities collecting visas and supplies for our trip, and strolling to places we find interesting along the way.
Where have our feet taken us? So far, since Jan. 16, 2016, we have walked through Thailand, Burma, Pamir, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. We are currently in France, and every day, we’re getting closer to Catalonia. We expect to walk into Barcelona on Saturday, June 29, and we will be posting more details soon about the celebration we are planning to have that day.
And, how are we doing? Our states of being range from very good, good, normal, screwed, and completely F*#!Ed, sometimes jumping being all those states in a single hour. Fortunately, this last phase of the walk, which began the end of March near Verona, Italy, is off to a great start. Italy and Italians have been very kind to us, and that has helped tremendously in keeping us energized. Being invited into people’s homes to take a shower and being offered a bowl of pasta and a hot coffee makes the forward-moving motion so much easier to bear. We have only been in France a week or so, and we have had some beautiful walking days and help from locals at the exact moment we needed it.
The biggest issue these last few weeks has been the weather. Italy and France had a mild, dry winter while we were on our break, and, as Murphy’s Law would have it, spring has been cold and rainy. While we have had many sunny days with good walking temperatures that we cherish, we have struggled with the near-freezing temperatures at night and frequent rain showers that soak our boots, socks and tent. Some days, it feels like we spend a large portion of our day adding and removing various layers of clothing.
Generally, though, we’re doing better at this milestone than the others before it. Maybe, after three years, we have finally gotten the hang of voluntary vagabonding :-).
Here is a brief summary of our health and equipment status to date.
My knees, stomach/digestion system and back continue to do surprisingly well. Stretching during rest breaks and in the tent before falling asleep is now a mandatory practice and helps a great deal.
My feet and ankles shift between feeling strong and feeling screwed, depending on how much extra water I’m carrying, and if we are walking on flat terrain or going up and down hills. Again, stretching and frequent foot massages go a long way in easing the soreness that flares up by the end of our 25-kilometer day.
Since early 2016, my left shoulder has been my weakest point, and Tiger Balm is often my quick fix. My right shoulder is in better shape, but I usually end the day with sore hips, especially on the days when I’m carrying more water and extra food to compensate for the long stretches between towns and water sources. I normally have about two liters of water and two or three days worth of canned food and bars; in some places (especially in the summer months), I could have have to 4 liters, and back in Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, I was hauling 5-6 liters a day. Water is our heaviest necessity.
I try to hang tough mentally and emotionally, and now that I can almost see Barcelona if I squint hard enough and because we have had such great experiences during this leg, it’s easier to stay in a harmonic state of equanimity. However, I still find myself often feeling physically and mentally tired, and always willing to find a reason to stop and sit. Thankfully, bird songs and silence found only in nature help me turn off the exhausting loop of unfocused thoughts and negative self-speak and stay in the present moment. My mp3 player is another shortcut for cutting off the self-created moments of hardship… I don’t think I could survive this walk without a frequent dose of 70s, 80s and 90s hits… Yes, U2, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Bob Marley, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Def Leppard, Journey, Tears for Fears, Sarah McLachlin, Pink, and Bruce Springsteen are in Playlist rotation.
All in all, though, I remain immensely grateful to have a chance to experience the world and its people in this slow-moving way.
I have changed my equipment several times since starting out. It’s proven to be a constant evolution. This time is no different.
I started in Thailand in 2016 with my favorite Gregory backpack that, sadly, broke along the way, and the repairs I had to do in Burma limited the way I could adjust the straps. I bought a new Deuter bag when we returned to Thailand to renew our Burmese visa, and that worked well enough for many months. Then I decided to try out a walking trolley along with a new backpack and harness system. But that was a fail in the crowded streets of Bangladesh and India, and I sent the trolley home. I continued with yet another, bigger Gregory pack for most of 2017 and 2018, which was fine but it is an awkward round shape that made me feel like a turtle. For this last 2019 stage, I am back to the Deuter pack I bought in Thailand as my main pack, and am carrying smaller waist-strapping, fanny-pack instead of small backpack for my front bag. b
Regardless of the bag, my base weight remains about 16-18 kilograms, with my sleeping bag, mattress, various all-weather layers and basic food and water needs. Some days, when I’m loaded up with extra liters of water, my total weight climbs to 20-22 kilos, about 40% of my body weight. It’s waaaaay too much weight, but I have used nearly everything I’m carrying multiple times, except, thankfully, most of the stuff in my medical kit.
Shoes: I’m on my 9th pair since we started, and I’m currently using Merrells I bought in Croatia in the autumn of 2018 for this last stretch through Europe. My best pairs last around 2,500 kilometers, and then I start feeling the wear and tear. I retire them, even if they may have some life in them, in the name of keeping my feet as happy as possible.
One day soon, in between footsteps, I may post a more detailed list of gear that’s with me. I have to take a new inventory because I added a few cold-protection items in Italy a few weeks ago… My fancy ski underwear and a merino wool sweater have proven to be incredibly worthwhile investments!
Feet, ankles, knees, legs, stomach/digestion system and shoulders are doing surprisingly well.
The left side of his neck is so-so, and his back, particularly his lumbar area, continues to be his soft spot. He thinks its soreness more than pain, is more related to the normal tiredness of so many hours walking with weight (we typically are out 11 to 12 hours a day). On non-walking days, his back, like my shoulder, doesn’t hurt.
He carries about 20-22 kilos; we don’t know his exact weight right now, but we estimate that his backpacks represent more than 40% of his total body weight, which, again, is way too much! But, he is also struggling with how to cut weight and what items could be left behind.
Lluís continues with about 80% of the things he started out with since we left home. The most important latest changes were new shoes, new socks, a lighter, more technical tent that is better at withstanding rain and cold, a new jacket, shirt, thermal socks and a hat.
Boots: He is on his 4th pair of shoes. He uses them until they are literally falling apart. His first pair lasted 3,500 kilometers; his second pair 6,900 kilometers, and the third pair went 4,000 kilometers
Backpack: He has been using the same backpack and day pack since January 2016. He has made several major repairs, sewing holes and reinforcing the stitching in the hip belt and straps, but they are holding up pretty well and he hopes that patched up packs will last these last few weeks of the journey.