When Tom said I could name our motorbike we’d take from the North to South of Vietnam I jokingly said it should be Jerry. We had seen multiple episodes of the classic American cartoon playing during our short time in Vietnam and I laughed that I’d have my own Tom and Jerry. Well some how the name stuck. Sometimes it was Tom and Jerry, sometimes it was Little Jerry (a reference to a particularly funny Seinfeld episode), sometimes it was the little Jerry or engine that could (mainly when we were questioning the bike’s ability to make it up a steep climb).
Much like the cartoon my experience with this Tom and Jerry was a comedic set of events you’d never find in “real life” involving breakdown upon break down, flat tires, luggage racks that randomly decided to pop off on the road, head lights that weren’t worth a damn at night, the list goes on and on… At points it was as though Jerry was purposely antagonizing Tom. No matter how many times Tom would take this guy to the Xe May, (one of the first Vietnamese words we learned which literally means motorcycle but if we said it with enough emotion of neediness in our faces people usually got the picture and a mechanic was soon to follow), he just wouldn’t run properly. It was a true love hate relationship with those two.
Having Jerry afforded us the opportunity to see Vietnam in a way few have as long as you were willing to pay to play as this little adventure was not for the faint at heart. It was a dirty, exhausting, white knuckle, hair raising experience that would have you sore as hell and cursing one moment and in absolute awe and amazement the next as you looked up and took in your surrounding realizing it’s not everyday you get to see a view like this…
On a motorbike you take whatever roads seem interesting at the moment there’s no obligation to catch a bus or train at a given time, no need to follow someone else’s schedule. Absolute freedom. We wrote our own ticket, chose our own destination and did whatever the hell we wanted. All of our worldly possessions were on that bike; our home was wherever we decided to lay our heads at the end of the day. Sometimes those days consisted of 14 plus hours of travel, because freedom is never really free and when shit hits the fan in the middle of nowhere and the bike has billows of black smoke coming out of it guess who’s pushing it to the xe may?
Apparently Tom is! Kidding, kidding I helped after I “captured the moment” 😉
In the north it was so cold we both shook so hard our muscles would seize up, the wind and pollution that constantly bombarded our faces when our visors were up wrecked havoc on our sinuses, our bums so sore at times it felt as those we were kids who had just had ten lashing for misbehaving, and the knees would start to scream making me very empathic to anyone who’s ever experienced any arthritic problems for that’s the pain I would imagine having.
Far from glamorous and anything but sexy this last month has been a sheer test of determination, humility, honesty, friendship, whit, humor and faith; faith that it would all work out. But truth be told the adversity or more so surviving and working around the difficulties were some of the best parts. Everyday we were on the road we were tested in a new way, challenged to survive. Every single movement and thought had a clear cause and effect on our immediate future, there was no “phoning it in” or “going through the motions” everything we did was purposeful. Everyday WE. WERE. ALIVE. And you know what, I have to retract my former statement because to be alive with your eyes wide open, appreciative of all the grandeur in this world and completely aware of your existence, significance and insignificance in this crazy place well… THAT IS SEXY irregardless of how gross you feel or look.
Today we said goodbye to Jerry. It’s bitter sweet, happy to have made it through and excited for the next leg of the journey while being just a wee a bit nostalgic.