It has been famously said, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
It is so true. In fact on an expedition like A Slow Boat Around Sri Lanka, I look at it like it is not so much a journey of a million paddlestrokes, but a single paddlestroke repeated a million times. I have made this mistake on the Ganges when I was too focussed on the end of the day’s paddle, and not on completing the next five kilometres. Consequently I could not complete the day’s quota because the task seemed to be bigger than it actually was. One needs to look at life one step at a time, one agenda at a time, one goal at a time, one paddlestroke at a time.
I took one small step today. I booked my ticket to Colombo and back.
The date to fly to Colombo was fairly easy … Mar 1. This gives me a week to tie up loose ends and relook at logistics, make some purchases, etc. But the return date was a lot trickier. The aim is to complete the expedition in Colombo on Apr 17. Plus Timm has his return flight to Germany on Apr 22. So we have till Apr 21 to complete the journey. Just in case there are still a few kilometres left to paddle and Timm has to abort so that he can catch his flight, I will still continue for the next two or three days. Alternatively, if we complete on time, it leaves me with some additional free time to travel the island which I really want to do. Given the tight schedule we have set for ourselves, I doubt if we will have too much time to do the touristy things while on the expedition.
So I have booked my return ticket from Colombo to Delhi for Apr 25. Small steps. And there is a definite sense of satisfaction now that step has been taken.
Over the past couple of days I have been struggling with one decision. How to take the canoe from Delhi to Colombo. Deflated and packed it weighs about 35 kilograms. And it is unwieldy to carry around as accompanied baggage. I was seriously considering sending the boat via cargo. That would leave me free from the encumbrance of the boat, and I hoped would save me some money since I had hoped that the costs for cargo would be substantially lower. As accompanied baggage I would definitely need to pay substantial excess baggage charges. I have now taken the decision to carry the boat as accompanied baggage, despite the obvious issues carrying it with me. Luckily the airline is offering me 30kg checked-in baggage. All my other luggage will be no more than 20kg. That is a total of 50kg … and 20kg excess baggage. At Rs 400 per kilo, that means I will have to pay Rs 8,000 maximum as excess baggage charges. This is Rs 4,000 lower than what I was quoted to send the boat as cargo. I am quite happy with this decision.
I will now have to look at my luggage, take another look at it, and then once more. And probably repeat it a couple of times over the next three weeks. I have to be careful to not leave anything that I will need on the journey, as well as not carry unnecessary stuff.
Oh, the other small step I have taken and that has a direct implication on the budget, is food. I have decided to camp out as many days as possible, and that will be fun. But I will also cook my own kind of food that I do while on my survival courses … rice and dal. This expedition not being a survival scenario, I will be luxurious and carry a bottle of ghee and a bottle of pickle, both to add some taste to the food. I might even buy a couple of pieces of potatoes and eat a gourmet meal.
By the time the next first of the month comes around, I will be on my way to Colombo. Now it is down to weeks. Soon it will be days and then the day will come when we will launch our boats from Colombo Port. Me in my canoe and Timm in his stand-up paddleboard. It is becoming exciting, and I am nervous and apprehensive at the same time. I have no idea what the 45 odd days on the sea are going to be like. But I am sure it be one full of memories. I just hope we have a safe and enjoyable trip.
Wish us Godspeed.