47. Home in the Wild West

We ran through the list with great care. There’s enough food. Check. And there’s enough tools, fuel and spare parts as well. All the stuff we need to go bonkers. Specialized transportation was the only thing missing. My partner in crime saw me pacing up and down and shared some reassuring words. ‘She’ll be fine, mate.’ She better be, I thought. The mountains ain’t a place to fuck around. While waiting, I gazed at the sharp peaks with bated breath. I thought of my Argentinean mate for a moment. Partly thanks to him, I ended up in this remote penal camp. How nice to be in another place where character and attitude count more than a Master or LinkedIn. Only those who have what it takes make it. The big boss emphasized that during the job interview. I smiled kindly. No worries mate, bring it on. I won’t let your trust go in vain. Let me grab this special opportunity with both hands.

An expected throbbing hum echoed louder and louder through the valley. The gusts of wind extinguished my daydream like a night candle. As soon as he landed, the helicopter pilot stepped out with bravado. I took off my cap and nodded. Everyone gathered for a brief chat and some formalities. I hastily signed the paper. I, Ben Zwerver, declare that:

– I trust the pilot and technology as fear does terrible things to people

– All instructions will be obeyed since I’m not a pig-headed Muppet

– Stupidity can chop my head off, which instantly earns me the Darwin award

I took place like a kid in a candy store. I firmly clicked the belt in place – quite a reasonable thing to do in a chopper without doors. Simply put some earmuffs on and get used to a cold nose. With an explosion of power, the kerosene-guzzling behemoth gently took off. Tasmania was far below our feet in no time. An extra pair of eyes would be helpful to truly soak in the almighty wilderness. I looked straight down, straight into the wild sea of green. The icy wind and turbulence left me cold. In fact, I didn’t care about anything else. I was held hostage by goosebumps of the ultimate moment. This special place and time indulged me in ecstasy. So all I could do was raise my thumb up towards Mother Nature. Oh, I love you so much.

The aerial cowboy gave the sign at touchdown: Out, now. I unclipped my belt, carefully stepped outside and knelt in the snow. I kept an eye out in the middle of the hurricane. Just as long until the noisemaker was far gone. Peace at last, if only for a moment. A staircase to heaven doesn’t fall out of the sky after all. It requires hard work. There are so many steps that hounded vloggers, Instagrammers and similar e-folk don’t take or consider. When building hiking trails, we kneel in the mud. To serve hikers, we haul big rocks in the pouring rain. Certain luxuries and conveniences are left in the dirt. The art of endurance is beyond numbers. Plowing in rock-hard soil or absolute shit weather is no drama, no sweat. It makes the more pleasant (chopper) days taste even better. But whatever happens: keep going. Optimism and perseverance rule okay. Put some tunes on and smash it. Simply do your thing in this grey office. Then the flow follows. Just as long as the sun is about to set. That’s how it goes. Tomorrow comes another day to enjoy.

I faced an unpleasant surprise once I got to my tent: it was buried in a pile of snow. Fortunately, it resurrected from a frosty death once I shoved off the white goodness. Thus I was in time to watch a glooming red sunset. I sat and watched like a silent witness. Then I retreated to our cozy mountain hut once the wild void got too dark. There were five of us sitting on each other’s lips. Which was all good. Playing cards, cooking, chatting, reading books, listening to podcasts… and then hit the hay early. Simply follow nature’s rhythm. How sensible ay.

I reflected on our mountain lifestyle as I was tossing and turning in my sleeping bag. So: our pets are some pissing antechinus. Skipping bits isn’t an option – it’s all or nothing. There’s no hot shower or central heating. Colleagues and housemates are one. Wet (rain) clothes don’t dry properly. Except for materials and supplies, everything goes by foot. There’s no Internet. No problem, though. Engineered connectivity will never match real connections. The right path takes you further. On the right track, the murmur of the so-called civilization fades. The scaremongering and distractions, the craziness and fuss about mostly nothing. All tucked away beyond the horizon. The fact remains: everything is temporary. So after every shift, I return to the mad-run world with open arms. Going bonkers and then back on rehab, high in the clouds. This trickery repeats itself. Again, and again, and again. Work hard, play hard. Bloody great ay. Those are the colors that fall outside the spectrum. Living is fun, and then comes the excitement of a double life. Before you realize it, time flies by and you’re a little older again. All good? Time will tell.

Dare to live flexible and with an open mind; who knows what excitement comes onto your path.

> Click here for an overview if you’re eager for more stories <

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