After almost 7 months of furious pedalling, I finally rode my last, cruising into Yangon, Myanmar on the 9th of June, high as balls on the sudden sense of finality and impending relaxation. The potentially tedious 13 hour cycle day felt like a teatime stroll down a rose scented promenade. The truculent typhoons, which had started to feel like a kind of atmospheric penance for a lifetime of hedonism and suspect decision making, swept through my hair like a Burmese shampoo head massage (which incidentally sets you back about £1.50 an hour). Not even the fact that I’d slept the night before in the back of a restaurant wearing my wet cycle shorts after getting stranded in some anonymous, dirt paved town by a particularly violent storm could mar the day as I rode my sore butt to Marco’s house, pumped up on pride and a dozen sugary mangos.
Marco is an architect from Bolivia who I stayed with for a couple of weeks when I was hitchhiking through Senegal as a younger man. Dakar was a bustling energy bomb, filled to burst with colour and music. I was tripping tits every night on hardcore anti malarial pills, but despite my frequent sleep walks, he was cool enough to throw me a 22nd birthday party which was far too cool for me. I’ll always remember him as the dude who swaggered over to me that night (Marco don’t walk, he sway) and leaning forward to discretely whisper in my shell-like, informed me he’d invited a friend who wanted to meet me. Gesturing over his shoulder with one raised eyebrow, like he was Pablo Escobar or something, I lock eyes with the aforementioned guest, a strikingly tall, stunningly beautiful, impeccably adorned, shaven headed Senegalese model. I felt like John C. Reilly having just found out that my blind date was the hot one from ‘Blurred Lines’- a giddy terror and hyperawareness of my own underequipped inadequacy. I was travelling through the desert after all- I’d barely even manscaped. I ran away like a fat kid at a beauty pageant.
Regardless, I’ve always remembered Marco as a guy who would sort you out, as he did once again when I found out that after stints in India and Haiti, he’d just moved to Myanmar. What a guy.