North of Alice Springs, the Stuart Highway stretches across vast plains of unlimited horizons, and I don´t tire myself of getting on top of hills and get the view across these vast lands. The road is dotted with rest areas and roadhouses, all spread out about 50 to 100km from each other, and I have nothing to worry about for water, as I never go through the two bottles racked on Red´s frame before the next water tank.
I do have an objective that I had in the back of my mind since the beginning of the trip. I found out about an eclipse of the Sun to happen on the 10th of May, the path of which happened to cross my route, about 600km North of Alice Springs. It is indeed a convenient coincidence. I didn´t know what to expect though because at this longitude, the eclise would happen very early in the morning, and I could be disappointed by cloud cover on the horizon, or simply not seeing anything! But still I wanted to make sure I would be there, so I kept on riding and clocked in as much kms as possible to be on time. It´s hard to go fast and at the same time stop everywhere to read the information signs and find out everything about the Australian Outback!
But I did make it to Tennant Creek on time, and was an easy ride away from the central spot of the Eclipse. It was indeed a bit of an event and quite a few people turned up just to see it. I even learned about a small festival held for the occasion, but I couldn’t find the place. Nevertheless I was here for the Eclipse and the next morning, I did enjoy the wonderful astral performance, with UV-glasses gifted by a friendly eclipse-hunter.
I emptied my mind as I watched the Moon slowly but steadily glide in front of the Sun. The shape of our familiar satellite slowly reveals itself in front of the bright shining disc, eventually leaving just a perfect ring of sunlight, and after a few minutes vanishing again the same way it appeared. The whole process lasts almost 2 hours, and the Moon is right in the middle of the Sun for only a few minutes. The movements are almost imperceptible, but still you can see them right before your eyes. From our human eyes on Earth, just a bright and a dark disc dancing together in the sky. And from what we know, a ball of rock 400,000km from us that happens to pass right in front of a ball of fire 150 million km from us! And for a reason we can’t quite figure out, we are amazed by this performance of Nature, this process we have absolutely no power on, but are able to admire.
I´m still having a bit of a hard time wrapping my head around how everything falls in place together during this trip. You could say I´m very lucky, always at the right place at the right time. But I try to look at the bigger picture. Bad things happen too in life and there is no such thing as pure luck. Anyone´s life is full of opportunities, and “luck” is more of something like your ability to catch them. When I look back on my trip, I find that what has brought me the most things, the best memories, the best encounters, is travelling without expecting anything. Because I´ll be fine on my own, at worst lonely, I don´t expect anything special from the people I meet or the places I go to. I´m just curious and happy to talk and share stories, and when I expect it the least, a lot of help comes. I know that it´s not always as such. People are far from always being good to each other, and you do have to watch your back. But if you take a closer look, you will find that most people are nice. What you get is what you give, so if you smile, you will probably get smiled back to.