I write this at 4am in the morning, soon to be 3am tomorrow morning. I think. I am on night watch and we are just about to enter the Eastern Hemisphere, 180 degrees from Greenwich. There is no ceremony of fish and slop like that on the superyacht half way across the Atlantic, or Prosecco as was cracked open crossing the Equator by the Galapagos. This is actually even more arbitrary, but personally more important. 180 degrees from Greenwich means nothing until you consider that Greenwich is so close to my flat that my sextant is not precise enough to distinguish the 3 mile difference between the two locations. I’d often run there, although always with the help of Google Maps. Thankfully heading West with a bit of South in it for a few thousand miles is easier.
So this means, as Sam says in Lord of the Rings, I am the furthest away from home I have ever been. And the furthest I will have ever been until I visit the place that scene was filmed. All this way without a plane. It doesn’t seem like much of an achievement when you consider that it has taken ten months and all of my money. But I try not to think about that.
The miles from this point on will be a reminder of the decision to go this way round from the UK – through the Western Hemisphere. I would have overshot Australia now by the same distance I am from it. Every half mile now represents a whole mile extra that this decision has taken me. At least, I think that’s right, more or less.
I began this journey looking to “feel the size of the Earth”, and you may laugh to hear me say that is indeed quite bloody big! It has taken me twice as long as I expected but only given a little taste of the diversity of culture, geography, biology, pride and history that exists in the little isolation that can be found in this modern age. Part of me wants to carry on, seek out new lifeforms, boldly go where no one has gone before. The world is becoming more homogenised each day, from the culture to the language, food, buildings, technology, flora and fauna… I want to see it all, aware of the irony that I become am an agent of the homogenisation by visiting. I’m sure someone has written a song about that. This urge to explore feels primal, and so strong I suspect it served an evolutionary function.
But stronger than this is looking forward to landing in Brisbane, settling down in Melbourne to a domesticated life with my girlfriend, enjoying knowing her and her knowing me, having close friends again, making new places familiar, focusing with longevity on music and discovering what is in me. I have never looked forward to the future more eagerly.
So goodbye Western hemisphere, I am glad I chose you and I will see you again some day.