It is the middle of September 2015 and we are reaching the limits of our patience.
The house was put on the market in May and we are at the mercy of that uncertain process. We cannot make any firm plans, book flights, enrol on courses never mind hazard a guess at when we might land back in the UK for a whirlwind visit before heading off again. We remain in suspended animation until we exchange contracts.
A buyer for the house was found at the beginning of June but that sale fell through after 10 weeks, effectively putting us back 3 months. New buyers were found quickly and this sale seems to be proceeding much more quickly, surveys have been undertaken in record quick time, contentious issues are being rapidly resolved and we are now waiting for the documents to sign and DHL back to the UK for the final nail-biting wait to hear word that contracts have been exchanged and then it will be all systems go for us on this side of the world.
Our UK estate agent has been the model of patience and our lawyer (a friend and ex-colleague) has also been unflappable – both have been a credit to their respective professions in an era where we are quick to judge and stereotype.
Once given the green light, we will immediately give notice on the flat and set about selling everything and arranging for a local charity to pick up the rest. A couple of small boxes will be shipped back to the UK, the garden will be tidied up and our home once again empty of possessions except those that fit inside our rucksacks. I will resign at work, flights will be booked, our first destination decided upon and reservations made (hopefully Donggala, if they have room). We still have a medical kit to put together and vaccinations to sort out. It will be whirlwind of activity but much of what we need to do we cannot begin until we know our departure is imminent.
The Wooky is not working as it seemed sensible not to commit to a job when he wouldn’t be staying for longer than a few weeks although as our luck would have it, this period of inactivity has turned into months and he is climbing the walls with boredom and frustration.
I chose not to pursue a job opportunity in Melbourne at the beginning of the year on that same basis, so convinced were we that we would be long gone by the end of the Australian winter. That turned out not to be the case and I have remained in a mind-numbingly boring job I have begun to hate.
We try to remain upbeat and optimistic but the bottom line is that we are not happy here, we have made the decision to leave and we cannot wait to be on our way. We are ready to leave and in spirit we left a long time ago. The last 4 and a half months have certainly been a lesson in patience. We have used the time to learn Indonesian (OK, so I am only half way through the Pimsleur course but the Wooky has worked hard and will manage well when we finally reach Indonesia opening up the country and the people to us in a way only speaking the language can).
Vital purchases have been made such as dive computers, portable laptops, waterproof bags, hi-viz underpants, hammocks, sturdy walking shoes, maps and a number of other travel essentials.
Untold hours have been spent combing the internet discovering new places in eastern Indonesia that are so breathtakingly beautiful that our destination list has evolved. Although we are sticking to our philosophy of slow and steady travel, we have been exploring the possibility of extending our stay to three months but still restricting our visit to central and south east Sulawesi, Wakatobi National Park, and Maluku (the Banda Islands and the Kei Islands) – this represents only a tiny part of Indonesia, a vast, sprawling and diverse country . We are realistic that many days of our overall stay will be spent slowly traveling from one place to another, either overland through Sulawesi or by boat between Wakatobi and then throughout Maluku. Air travel cannot be avoided entirely but we prefer to make our way over land or water where we can, and where it is practical, we will. We are excited that we will be traveling a little off the beaten track in south east Sulawesi but confident that having some of the national language will ease our passage, open doors, and add to the experience.
Neither of us is sleeping particularly well. As any progress about the house sale takes place during business hours in the UK while we are sleeping in Melbourne I constantly have one ear open for email notifications at night or, if I turn the sound on my phone off, one eye open for the flashing green light which is the visual sign that I have had some kind of interaction from the outside world. The obvious answer would be to banish my phone from the bedroom but the reality is I would just climb out of bed to check for messages. So desperate are we for news that we get up in the morning feeling as if we have been awake all night. The pressure is actually off at the weekend when we are resigned to receiving no news but come Monday evening when the UK opens again for business, the cycle starts again.
So it has been a lesson in patience and both of us are running out of it fast.