Thursday, February 23, 2012

Almost the End

The beautiful Nam Ou
Have you ever noticed that root of an argument rarely seems to be about what you're fighting about?  We had a near trip-ending whopper of a fight over...water pressure.  The next morning we got up , sketched out a plan for the day, and discussed our breakfast options, which were: 1) look at the shop around the corner for yogurt and some fruit and buy coffee at our guesthouse 2) eat breakfast at our guesthouse restaurant if not too expensive 3) walk across the bridge to someplace with cheaper breakfast options.  Well, I went out to look for yogurt and fruit, only to find that yogurt prices were exorbitant and the fruit looked like it was much better two days ago.  So I walked back to the guesthouse, perused their menu, and bought coffee.  This was not one of the options.  A minor glitch, nothing we can't recover from.   

More of the Nam Ou
After skipping breakfast and drinking our coffees on the porch of our bungalow overlooking the misty Nam Ou, waiting for the sun to appear through the fog, admiring the gardens before us, we headed inside to shower.  Colin went first.  When I checked out the bungalow yesterday, I saw the on-demand water heater hanging on the wall in the bathroom.  What I didn't check was the water pressure.  Unfortunately, Colin discovered that the water wasn't so much ejected from the shower head as it was sprinkled ever so gently (think holy water), and not near hard enough to actually shower beneath.  Since I am in charge of finding our accommodations, and because I know that water (showers in particular) is an issue in much of the world, especially in very rural areas with unreliable water sources, I should have checked this before committing us to stay another night (when I bought our coffee, I paid for a second night as we had discussed before I left).  While Colin attempted to wash, I went under the bungalow to make sure the water supply line was completely open (it was).  I came back in and gave him the bad news.  At this point, he suggested that we should look for another place to stay.  Except that I had already paid for another night.  Well, things went sour, and we argued for some time.  

The view from our bungalow
We tried to recover and spent the rest of the morning reading on our porch.  At noon, we walked across the bridge to find something to eat since we were both hungry.  Neither of us could leave well enough alone, so for dessert, we continued our fight.  We both decided that now would be the time to bring up all of our perceived slights from the last several months.  It seemed like every time one of us would try to defuse the situation, the other would escalate it.  The fighting continued as we crossed the bridge.  I stopped halfway across and Colin continued back to the bungalow.  As I stood there, looking at the perfectly beautiful place we were, thinking about all the things we've been through, I wondered if our stress had risen to the surface now that life and riding was so much easier.  

I returned to the bungalow and attempted to defuse the situation, but my choice of words was poor.  Colin told me I should go home.  I thought that sounded like a fine idea, so I unpacked everything and divided all the gear so he would have what he needed to go on, and I would take everything else, ride to Bangkok, and fly home.  He suggested that we ride together as far as Vientiane anyway, since I would cross back into Thailand from there, and he would continue south in Laos.  That made sense, so I agreed.  Somehow, I felt calm, it all made perfect sense, and once I had our bags repacked, I sat back on the bed and finished the book I was reading so Colin could have another book to read.  

When I finished it, he said he didn't want me to go, but it was my decision.  He had thought about what I said, very ineloquently, earlier and apologized for taking it wrong.  In India and Nepal, we were in survival mode, with no time to think about much besides how we would ever have the energy to do it again the next day.  Now that we're in southeast Asia, and we can let down our guards, we have time to actually think (and see all the annoying things about each other).  One of the other stresses lately has been what to do when this adventure is over.  We've had a number of possible plans since before we even left home, but neither of us can commit to one of them.  And again, since we have time to think again, we've both been thinking a lot about what to do, what to do.  This is stressful.  When Colin gets stressed, his fuse shortens.  I withdraw and shut down my brain (which means I do really stupid stuff as a result of my inattention).  Aha!  There's that lightbulb!  Not sure whether I really wanted to go home or not, I said we'd ride together to Vientiane and I would decide by the time we got there.  Since neither of us knew what else to do, we went out for dinner together and actually had a pleasant evening.

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