It feels like the real countdown is starting with less than 50 days to go before we set off on our trip.
Here's the to-do list we are working through so that we can start our big adventure:
1. Pannier Packing
A few months ago we laid out everything we would take if space were not an issue. When we put all that stuff in the panniers it magically fitted fine.....but was ridiculously heavy. We have been whittling it down since then (and occasionally adding items) which we will keep working at until we get the right balance. We want to pack enough gear to have relative comfort but also be able to push it up a hill.
2. Equipment Testing
We splurged at Christmas on lots of good gear but have so far only tried out our tent in the garden (cold winter in Uzbekistan). We are heading on an overnight ride with some friends to Tashkent Sea (which is really a reservoir) next weekend where we hope to test our tent, mats, sleeping bags and stove.
We have been making an effort to leave work on time to come home and work out most days. We are playing less contact sports and doing more strength training in the hope of building muscle and avoiding injury before we head off. Some weeks are more successful than others (depending on how draining school is) but we have managed to keep a decent base level of fitness.
The shipping company have already been to our house to give a quote and will be coming back to pack everything up in the first week of June, a few days before we finish work. Then it gets sent to my parents' house in Ireland where it will sit in boxes for a couple of years.... or until I come home at Christmas and need something to wear other than bike shorts and sandals.
5. New website
As much as we want a total break from work, we are passionate about education and would like to stay involved while we travel. We are working on a global citizenship project through our new website where we will be uploading stories from children we meet along the way. Schools can also upload stories from their own students who can use this resource to learn about children all over the world. This project is still in the early stages but we should have plenty of time to develop it over the next couple of years.
As an international teacher you do grow accustomed to goodbyes. Both students and teachers live transient lives, often moving countries every couple of years. But even though you grow accustomed to these goodbyes, it doesn't make them easy. In about 6 weeks time, we will be saying goodbye to students, colleagues and friends. Some, we will probably bump into in this small world. Others, we won't see again. And with a few, we will make the effort to see each other again sometime and somewhere in the future.