Life has taken up a unique texture recently. Mortality has discretely made its presence known and starkly felt, while fullness and fullfilment have been materialising out of what previously looked like a void. New friends have dynamically made their devotion clear and solid, old friends have renewed their bonds of endearment, loneliness of exile in the Outpost has become more bitter and biting than ever. Working in this exile has gradually become more satisfying, while Home City more enthralling and enticing than ever, filling me with energy and good will every time I go there and making separation from it seriously annoying and disorienting.
I have become more serious and more boheme, bolder and more fearful, less insecure and more sensitive; I smile more and I hurt more, I have become less moody but more brooding, more equianimous (some even call me Zen) but certainly more muted and sombre, too.
A couple of weeks ago, in a twilit afternoon I saw a six-month old baby sleeping in a double bed and a by now elderly couple dozing off in a living room: suddenly I was no longer 23 (my own perceived age since I was 23), and I turned 30.
Anyway, to combat Outpost tedium and loneliness, a month ago we booked a room at Old Money Hotel, in Most Famous Outpost Mountain Village, up in the mountains (of course). With temperatures reaching 29 even today here in the plain, Jod knew I would have been longing for coolness and mountain air by now (I have told you I am a mountain person, haven’t I?)
So, yesterday morning we set off for the mountains, to Most Famous Outpost Mountain Village. I had never driven beyond Second Most Famous Outpost Mountain Village (‘SMoFOMoV’). I am not a fanatic driver and I was apprehensive climbing to 1600 meters by car. It all worked out really smoothly: mountain roads, even beyond Second Most Famous Outpost Mountain Village, offer scenic views and are ridiculously well-maintained and easy to drive on (better than most country roads in UK, let alone fucking Compatridia). As a result, we reached our destination really quickly: the beginning of a mountain path, running along a stream, inside a forest complete with pines, planes, junipers, alders, planes — the works! The terrain was steep and not smooth but, Good Lord of Heavens, was it exhilarating: running water (water!), cool air, a real forest (not the scorched out assortment of dusty trees they call ‘forests’ here), not to mention a proper and beautiful waterfall. It was beautiful, just beautiful. Pictures? Well, the camera battery gave up before I could shoot a single one. Anyway, I hadn’t gone trekking for some time and I also realised that four years of mild gym use might not make have made me (alas!) look like an underwear model, but they have done bloody wonders for my fitness and endurance.
So, after a modest 2 km downhill and a modest 2 km uphill (climbing an altitude of roughly 150 meters), we got into the car and made our way to Old Money Hotel. It was my second time in Most Famous Outpost Mountain Village and, honestly, the first time I went there, some five years ago, I found it a dismal place full of touristy tavernas and cafes with spectacular views.
Now, Old Money Hotel, built in 1934, looks impressive and Swiss-like from the outside. We parked and I looked at our fellow customers checking in: families and women following Outpost fashion escorted by stupid-looking guys — while Russian pop music was blaring out from the bar area. Our room turned out to be very unspectacular. Although Old Money Hotel had recently undergone renovation, this was evident only if one looked down on the new carpet. The room itself was spacious but truly bland and reminded me of numerous lonely nights in conference hotels. Given that in Most Famous Outpost Mountain Village there is nothing to do besides eating for an evening out, we would have to spend our evening in the room, reading our books: actually, it was so dismally bad value (unlike, e.g., that specimen) and the decor so uninspiring, that luscious baths and long sessions in bed were out of the question.
So, seven minutes later we went to the reception and told them we had urgent business to attend back in Capital City and that we had to leave immediately. We then drove to the sea through vineyards and a Tuscany-like landscape, to the south coast off Aerosol, had some spectacular fresh fish grilled and then drove back home, where a cosy time was had… This was probably one of my best weekends in Outpost.