The Fault Is In My Card.

3 months to go.  Good feeling that.  I was in town buying supplies for the adventure (half-price hiking trousers, travel towel with the absorption of a business card etc.) when I realised my magic red Cineworld card was going to expire on the first of July.  Not wanting to extend said card as I’m away shortly and they only deal in 12 month commitments, I thought I’d treat myself to a final free flick, a last celluloid hurrah.

The summer blockbusters had all been seen so I opted for a movie whose poster was covered in 4 star reviews like confetti.  Interesting leads.  Quirky title.  Never heard of it before but to hell with it, it’s free.  So I flashed the card and shuffled to my seat in screen 6, laden with bags of outdoor gear and a giant coke, like a Nepalese Sherpa on the wean.  It had been a long day so I didn’t really bother checking who else was already seated.  It’s dark after all, and you don’t go to the cinema to make friends.  Then two groups of teenage girls sat themselves down either side of me.  Then a group sat in front.  Then behind.  Suddenly, the theatre was jam packed with them, right up to the front row, texting and giggling and munching popcorn in excited adolescent abandon.  Apart from my row.  My row were all whispering and pointing at the creepy older guy sat between them with all the bags.  That was me.  I slouched down and sipped my coke harder, which in retrospect gave an even creepier vibe to proceedings.

The film I’d selected was called ‘The Fault in Their Stars.’  It’s a teen-romance about a couple of book-nerds who are dying from cancer.  It is one of the saddest films ever made.  The final act is a series of emotionally wrenching crescendos, each one more painful than the last, washing over you like a miserable tsunami of tears.  I sat through over two hours of anguish; supposed hero Willem Defoe turning out to be a sad drunk, the comedy sidekick going blind, the key love scene taking place in Anne Frank’s house (no joke).  Everyone was crying.  Not just subdued sobbing but full-blown wailing, shrieking, ugly crying.  And there I remained, under my shopping, surrounded by all this, unable to leave as therefore I was turning my back on teenage cancer.  The credits rolled like a funeral procession and I got out of there.  It was raining.  Of course it was raining.  I figured that maybe I won’t miss my cineworld card after all.

The Big Trip III : American Hustle

2 years, 9 months. That’s a long time to have itchy feet and do nothing about them. 33 months of working in Aberdeen, playing rugby, drinking lots of good beer, maximising weekends in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, taking root in Cineworld with my magic red card and getting hairy. But despite all the laughs and the sunny pints on the Marine Harbour wall, the feet kept itching. A scratch wouldn’t do, a healthy dose of verruca-busting liquid nitrogen wouldn’t even do, no – the only prescription to placate my pediatric predicament was to do something drastic. So I bought a one-way ticket to Alaska.

And so did G! So come September, we’ll be winging our way to Anchorage, which will act like Edinburgh in 2008 and Shanghai in 2011 as our official starting block for a grand adventure. This one, I believe, will be the longest yet, taking us overland through the Canadian tundra, the American West, the Mexican…crime scenes?, the Panama Canal, the Columbian foothills, the Peruvian big hills, the Chilean mountains and finally the very southern-most teet of Argentina, Tierra Del Fuego. The same rules will apply from our previous endeavours – no planes allowed…well that’s the only rule actually. The same aim will also apply, which is some foggy quasi-hippy posturing for broadened horizons and inner peace, which translates to making friends and saying yes a lot.

I’m very happy that G is joining me on this quest as we haven’t seen a lot of each other in the intervening years since India. This means we won’t be sick of each other by the time we disembark the plane in Alaska, in fact we should have rather a lot to catch up on. G’s farming endeavours mean that (weather permitting) he’ll have a good potato harvests worth of dosh under his straw hat, making me the pauper this time around. Last time I was granted a very generous bonus by my school in Shanghai – in cash – and became something like his personal bank on legs. I look forward to him returning the favour!

The whole trip should take 7 months in all, tip to toe. It’s all pretty vague logistically, which is how we like it, but G has given some misty nod to motorbiking down Chile, while I’ve drawn a big red circle round the Galapagos Islands (on a map I’d like to add). I’ve also got some friends in California who I’m really looking forward to seeing, while G no doubt is eyeing up the cheaper climbs of South America like the thrifty stinge-merchant he truly is.

So just 3 months and a bit to save the pennies, get the jabs, learn fluent Spanish and practice my motor biking skills. First thing’s first though – it’s beautiful outside, time to enjoy the Scottish summer!