I remember November 23rd very very clearly in my head. It was the day I was stranded in the little town of San Pedro Atacama in Northern Chile without any money, fairly hungry, sun burnt, tired and wondering. Id bid farewell to the Colombian friends in the Bolivian border a day ago. Id said goodbye to Roy about 10 days ago in the Peruvian border. And for the first time in a long long time, I was truly alone and broke.
Id lost my wallet in Peru, my own stupidity. Roy had left his credit card with me. But, my stupidity did not end with just losing the wallet. When I crossed over from Bolivia to Chile, reluctantly, I forgot to exchange Bolivian currency for Chilean. I thought I was safe with a credit card and a 10 dollar note I had. Well well well.. the ATMs did not work. The 10 dollar bought me a night at the youth hostel and nothing more. Credit card forgery (signing as Roy to buy a bus tikcet), some startvation and lot of yearning to see things I couldn’t afford is how I landed up passing the day.
I was quite miserable that day. I remember. I wanted to eat and hang out with people. I wanted to ride a quad bike into the dunes. I think I even wanted to go to the Valley of the moon to see the sunset. Something like that… But, I had no money. For the first time in a long time, I really knew what it felt like to be totally broke. Walking around aimlessly with truly empty pockets seemed like an experience every backpacker would go through sometime or the other. You turn them upside down and you’d see sand trickle out… But, its also pretty distrubing. That day, I did not see any positives. I was just cranky, hungry and tired. I cried a lot. I just wanted to board the bus to a city where I would meet friends and eat good food. In the entire 7 month trip, if there was one day I moped a lot, it was Nov 23rd.
Why do I remember this today? I wandered into office at around 9 30 am and its a monday. For the first few minutes, I make my coffee and just stare at my laptop watching the white screen turn partially red with the highlighted unread mails. As this turns into a blur, my mind wanders and lands up with collages of landscapes from my trip a year ago. Yes… this morning, I looked at the date on the mailbox and sipped coffee. And it was a dusty blur. The images were all a dusty blur like the sand storm in San Pedro De Atacama. And I was alone in the office, with the whrrrrrring sound of the air con keeping me company.
Shit.. what a long way….. Im not broke. Im not alone. But, Im in a cold cubilcle wishing I was alone and broke in a dust strom.
I would have spent the day very differently, smiling and carelessly strolling around had I known I was going to be sitting in a freezing office a year from now.