Whenever I told people I have a pen pal, they started laughing. What do you mean, real letters? To a person you don’t acutally know? Yes, real letters. Or rather, electronic messages, written in classic letter style. Did we plan this? No. We didn’t even know each other.
The day after we met, André took a plane to South America, to go on a year-long bicycle trip. That was also the day we started writing. Have a good trip. Happy birthday. What is it like to live in a tent? And somehow, it never stopped.
With no common experiences to look back on, there’s a whole world to be created with words. So we put what we saw into words, wrote about the colors, flavors and the smell of the air around us. The sounds outside our windows and tents. Moments that made us feel whole, encounters that made us think. Meanwhile, months passed and our lives and adventures continued.
One day, somewhere in between a big loud city and a lonely tent in the Argentinian wilderness, words turned into plans. I am planning a trip, would you like to come? I didn’t have to think for a second. Yes. Let’s go bikepacking. Berlin, Copenhagen, and all the asphalt in between.
As the date came closer, letters turned into checking lists. Tent, sleeping bag, spork. Wild camping? Yes. On my side of the planet, in between messages and the adventure I call every day life, I practised sitting in the saddle for long hours and learned how to ride clicked in.
Then one day, André was waiting at the bus station, with his green bike and two big black panniers. I was running late, of course. We said hi and started riding. I felt shy. The world of words we had created for one year felt far away.
Once we had left the city, when the streets became narrower, the people disappeared and we pedaled through the endless forests, we suddenly felt at home. We continued our conversations, now analogue, and it felt like the most natural thing.
Dark green turned into light green. Drizzle into bright sunlight. André cooked mate tea. My rack fell off. We cooked curry. I got a bloddy knee. We watched the stars. My stove broke. We took a ferry. People in down jackets watched us jump into the sea. We hung out with surfers. We took a bigger ferry. I taught him all the Danish I know and some words that I made up. We were told to put down our tent and leave by a friendly Danish guy. We listend to wild boars and deer. We ate Danish pastries. We bathed in the sea a second time.
On the last day, my friend Emma picked us up and we rolled into Copenhagen together. On a bicycle highway. As we came closer to the city center, I noticed that we were now part of what people call the normal life again. I looked at André, in his cycling kit, dirty from a week of wilderness. In the past week, we had managed to have an adventure right in the middle of civilization, or rather, in the forests and fields next to it. We had added more colors to the complex picture of each others personalities. And now, pedaling into yet another world, that lay ahead of us, waiting to be explored, I couldn’t help but grinning. The adventure had just begun.