My eyes follow the drops of rain involuntarily across the large bus window. They are like snails leaving their little tracks as they travel slowly down from the top left. Beyond them, it’s already mostly dark. I can’t tell where we are exactly, the Belgian villages too unfamiliar to me to tell them apart in the dark.
We’ve been lucky to have had only two small showers on this tour. Still, the wind chill makes it a lot colder than the tour bus’s LED screen indicates. At times like these, travelling back, I feel saddest, because the weekend is nothing short of amazing and it’s now over.
It’s time to get back to life as it usually is. Safe. Because when you go on a Battle of the Bulge tour and learn about the horrors that brave men faced in the Ardennes, you realise that for them, it wasn’t safe at all, once. And that they laid their lives on the line to make it safe again for all of us.
It’s so hard to imagine what it was like for them. Even as I’m shivering in a forest, trying to stay warm. They were in that forest for weeks, without proper winter clothing, while snow, rain and artillery fire rained down on them from a place off in the distance. Sometimes they couldn’t even see their enemy. And sometimes, sleep deprivation made them see an enemy that wasn’t there at all. Did you know that you lose 25% of your brain capacity every 24 hours you don’t sleep? I sure as hell did not.
And here I am, upset that I missed a part of the fantastic tour guide’s story because I’m the last one off the bus, my wheelchair broke or I can’t cover the terrain in the forest because there are too many roots sticking up. What right do I have to complain?
Let’s be clear… I’m only complaining because I’m hungry to learn these stories and every second missed is a second too many.
But as a whole, this weekend was incredible. Spent with friends, nerds and people I can genuinely say I love. My heart feels warm and there’s nothing a little wind chill can do to change that.
See you all in January.