20 April 2010
Part Six: Leather Vests and Plume-Seeing Goggles
Having had breakfast in Dubai, lunch in Tunisia, and dinner in Spain, we were all feeling the effects of non-stop travel fueled solely on adrenaline. Thankfully, a friend in London booked us into a great hostel on the outskirts of the city, which became “Ferocious Five” headquarters for the evening. Now that we had sorted out getting to Calais, the next step was crossing the Channel.
True to form, no websites would process our booking request. Not Eurotunnel, no P&O, and not SeaFrance. It was all “critical errors” and “impossible operations,” much like our lives in general at the moment. As a result, we were up late into the night (or was it early into the morning?). Sleeping just 3 hours, it was once again time to move. Following a mesmerizing free breakfast of dry cereal and bizarre muffins, we loaded all five bags and all five people into a car the size of my thumb. Every single minute iota of space was full of something, as we had emptied David’s bag to stick individual shoes, socks, and shirts under seats, between headrests, and inside other bags.
The next 15 hours of non-stop driving emerged as a real blur, full of inside jokes that probably aren’t funny, kind service station employees drawing maps on the back of receipts, and the same six songs played over and over again on the two radio stations we could tune into. Somehow, the notion of Germans wearing leather vests made us all laugh over and over again, as well as our collective invention: the plumen-goggle-strassen, which is the only pice of equipment that lets you actually see the volcanic plume cloud floating overhead in an otherwise pristine sky. There were more nicknames like Swervy McSwerverson, Countless shots of Red Bull, and even the use of toddler toilets at rest stops top avoid the line. Yes, we are all aware of how ridiculous the whole thing sounds.
Despite the frantic nature of this marathon drive, there was also something particularly beautiful about it. Here we are, five total strangers thrust into an impossible situation, crammed into a tiny car packed to the brim genuinely enjoying each other’s company and relying solely on this intense trust in ourselves and each other. As we pulled into Calais minutes after midnight, the thought of it all ending seemed more sad than anything. Couldn’t the adventure live on forever?