“I’m stuck here playing the waiting game,” he told me as he slurped his hot tea at an annoyingly loud level in our freezing room.
In some places, English-speaking partners are limited if you are traveling alone. I stayed at a guest house in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan that had two other people staying there – one that spoke Japanese, and Zach. Zach, in his 30s and from California, is still a mystery to me, but I’m amused by the thought of getting to spend some time with him before I moved in with a local family. He seemed so out of touch with life outside of his own personal space that I had to ask how long he had in fact been on the road.
To that he simply answered, “Too long.”
He carried only a small rucksack with dirty and stained clothes, and I’m not sure if he even carried a camera. One day when he was putting on his money belt, it came to my attention that he had only a HUGE wad of American cash in it off which he lived. No credit or debit cards whatsoever.
Apparently, he had gone to the Iranian visa office countless times to not actually be let inside, even after spending hours waiting in hopes of doing so. Zach needed the visa to get another visa to continue his route overland towards Europe, and it was a stress that was getting to him more and more each day.
So, every day, he would come back to the hostel defeated, slurping hot tea because he said it made it taste better, and just talking about how he needed the visa to finish his plan.
I often had my Russian notes out in front of me while the Japanese guy played on his notebook, and Zach would just keep talking until he couldn’t talk anymore. To me, it was another sign that Zach had been out of touch with people for quite some time. He told me stories of how he crossed the border from China — how it took days of waiting and waiting — and I couldn’t quite understand what his purpose for being out there really was to begin with. Zach became (and remains to this day) the most intriguing person I have met on the road.
I offered the idea of flying somewhere else instead on many occasions, but he was stuck in his ways. To this day, I have no idea what became of his plan since I had moved to the other side of town while he was still there… waiting.
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