My feet firmly connected to the ground I am still standing on, the motorbike feels heavy and strange underneath me. I look down the curvy road that lies in front of me and bite my lip, not admitting that I am scared. Sandy trails cover the streets like dirty blotches and helmets seem to be regarded more as an accessory than a life necessity.
Speeding up and down the hills, I am torn between ultimate freedom and naked fear. I love the wind in my hair but am simultaneously terrified by the many speed bumps and potholes I tend to spot a split second too late. My mouth set in a grin line, I feel my fingers tighten around the accelerator as I try to catch up with my friends. You will fall, my subconscious gnarls at me, you’ll be the one getting hurt.
I keep waking up earlier and earlier and I love it. The sky is a light blue but the sun hasn’t quite made it over the mountains yet. The birds are singing in the trees around me and the crickets are making their music that vibrates through the air. It’s low tide, the water going back behind the rocks that are usually surrounded by it. The dogs are playing on the beach. Nigel and Ricardo are awake as well but it’s that time of the day when no one wants to disturb the sounds of the beginning of a new day with language.
“The sun is back again,” Ricardo said to me last night and I smiled. “That’s a good sign.”
I agreed and we sat in silence as the sun, a red fire ball, gloriously disappeared behind the mountains that framed the horizon to our right. To think that a few weeks ago I worried about not knowing where I would be in a year, let alone five, seemed pretty pointless all of the sudden.
The next time I climb on the motorbike it is dark, the sky covered in thick clouds that promise rain and thunder. We spent the afternoon in a small, wooden view point bar on one of the biggest hills of the island, overlooking the bay and palm fields on the west coast of Koh Tao. My feet dangling from the platform I was sitting on I felt untouchable.
Looking up at the sky a few hours later we know we have to hurry. Since we arrived it hasn’t rained much, yet once it’d start it would be pouring and the dirt roads that led us up the dry mountains earlier, when the sun was still shining, would turn into rivers within a few minutes.
Overcome by an unwelcome wave of fresh panic, I squint my eyes in the dark and try to make out the bumpy path in front of me. Four motors roar to life around me as I turn the key in the ignition. Several headlights shoot up and the situation changes completely.
I feel… different. Relieved. Safe.
My eyes focus on the cone of light that illuminates exactly what I need to see and for once, I let go of the control I’ve never had to begin with. I feel the wind in my hair and I enjoy it. And as the maybes and what-ifs begin to disappear in the dark shadows around me I start to trust the wheels that carry me through the pitch-black night. Little drops of rain land on my face and leave a sensational trail of exhilaration across my skin as we speed faster and faster down the streets and back towards home.