IN SUMMER 2016, AT THE AGE OF 29 YEARS, I first faced the need to go on vacation in splendid isolation. All my adult life, if I went anywhere, then with my husband, but it so happened that a few months ago we divorced, and I was left alone. I also did not fit into the summer plans of friends. At some point, I realized that this is a problem - I have zero experience of self-planning a vacation, in this sense I am completely dependent and do not know what to do at all. Of course, the most logical and easy decision would be to buy a tour to some all-inclusive and spend a blissful two weeks there, shuttling between a sunbed and a buffet table. But - and I still don't quite understand how it happened - at the end of August I packed my backpack and left for two weeks on the wild Crimean coast, where all this time I lived in a tent alone. And it really changed me.
I remember the terrible confusion that preceded this decision. At my almost thirty, everything on which my life was built suddenly disappeared: marriage, home, belief that there are things that are forever. There were other circumstances as well - affective falling in love with one person, with whom nothing happened. In short, it was a really difficult year, and neither conversations with friends, nor conversations with a psychotherapist, nor work, nor sports, nor even more so alcohol helped to get rid of the feeling of total uselessness. It took a lot of mental strength to keep pretending that everything was fine - I didn't want to look unhappy in the eyes of others, I didn't want to complain. Often in the mornings, I literally persuaded myself to go to work, which I actually love madly. After all, all I could do with full dedication was to lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling, listening to some sad song on repeat.
At some point, I reached the point where I could not really concentrate on anything: reading, working, making small talk, watching a movie and even sleeping. One morning I was on the subway and once again indulged in exhausting rumination. It was then, in the stretch between "Belorusskaya" and "Krasnopresnenskaya", and I decided that I needed some kind of radical experience that would help to rethink everything - this is how the idea arose to go live alone in the wild, in a tent, preferably on the shore seas. Crimea seemed to me the cheapest and geographically closest option. Half an hour later, I flew into the office and from the doorway called our editor-in-chief Yura to talk face to face. I told him: “Whether you want it or not, Yura, I'm going on vacation. And by the way, won't you borrow money for me?"
Immediately, so as not to think once again, I ordered tickets to Simferopol and back with a departure date exactly one week later. It was at the very moment when the money was debited from the card that I finally remembered that I actually do not have a tent.
I was on a very tight budget, and a lightweight, compact and functional tent is something that costs money. Therefore, I put up an ad on Facebook, which was almost immediately answered by a girl whom we had never met in person before. A couple of days later, in exchange for a promise to bring her Crimean wine, she lent me a light and very compact two-person tent, as well as a tube of Sanskrin as a bonus - one more item of expenses turned out to be less.
A backpack, a sleeping bag, a travel mat (aka foam), a gas burner for cooking, a lantern, a metal mug, a folding knife, an inflatable pillow - my ex-husband provided me with all of this. I laid out the equipment necessary for travel on the floor in my room and realized that together with the tent it would take up a good half of my small backpack.In order not to overstrain on the road, I took a minimum of clothes: two pairs of shorts, two T-shirts, a sweater, warm pants, socks and underwear, one pair of shoes, a Panama hat. I twisted all the things into thin bundles, after which I distributed them in the corners of the backpack so that there was room for bags with cereals (buckwheat, rice), spices and cosmetic bags with a minimum of cosmetics (toothbrush and paste, sunscreen, shampoo, soap, coconut oil - without which I am nowhere - and face cream).
The most difficult thing is to give up everything that is not really necessary, because I had to carry all the things myself. However, in this refusal I failed to achieve perfection. For example, at the last moment, for some reason, I stuffed my favorite home dress into my backpack - quite voluminous and heavy.
All week before departure, I listened to stories from others about what a strange and even insane decision I made. Mom threw a tantrum. One longtime fan spent an hour trying to reason with me on Facebook: “Forget it, baby, you're not a man, you're a woman. Why do you need all this? Hand over your tickets, we'll fly with you somewhere abroad, I'll pay for everything. " “Thank you,” I answered him, “but I have already packed my backpack and the day after tomorrow morning I am leaving. While!"
The most difficult thing in a wild mountainous area - and this is what I chose for my trip - to find a flat, spacious enough area and set up a tent there. I reached the desired point about two days, already exhausted by the hardships of the road, and under the scorching sun began to look for where I could settle on this deserted coast. For half an hour I rode from stone to stone and finally chose a small area, partially heaped with boulders. I had to clear the territory of them and put up a tent in a fairly strong wind - not such an easy task, especially if you are doing it yourself for the first time.
The day before leaving, I carefully watched several YouTube tutorials. However, the preparation of the site and the installation of the tent still took me at least two hours - the wind, which was blowing almost continuously, greatly interfered. In addition, it is very difficult to drive stakes into the rocky ground, and I had to secure the tent mostly with ropes, which I tied to large, stable stones found nearby. When I finished, I climbed higher and for a long time gazed victoriously at the fruits of my hands. And then she undressed and happily jumped into the sea. Having sailed from the shore, I rolled over onto my back and looked around: there was not a soul nearby. I was lying on the water and thinking in a circle the same thought: "To go nuts, to go nuts, how did I even decide on all this."
I remember well my first night on the coast. At the end of August, the Crimean sun - crimson like a fresh wound - sets over the horizon very early, around eight, and the whole world around us plunges into darkness, filled with a thousand sounds. A branch snapped, a stone fell, a fox busily squeezed past, and a centipede rustled, sitting in the shade all day. The smallest noises can be discerned - even though the sea is raging at full volume ten paces away from you. Over time, you get used to it and learn not to flinch from every nonsense, but on the first night I sat alone for a long time and stared with fear into the blackness of the night, lighting cigarette after cigarette.
I climbed into the tent and closed my eyes, tightly gripping a tourist knife in my hand - it seemed to me that all the wild animals gathered around my little shelter
During the few hours that I was afraid to fall asleep, I remembered in detail my entire last year, which was so difficult and so important. I thought about my failed marriage, about my divorce, about the apartment and the things I left behind, about the huge chunk of my life that ended, the huge chunk of my life that began. I thought about all this calmly, as I should have thought a lot earlier, but did not have time - everything happened so quickly, so strong were the emotions that prompted me to do everything that I did. It seems that for the first time I sat and did not believe that all this had happened to me.I aloud repeated the names of the people whom I loved and love (which, in essence, are the same thing), I spoke to them words that all this time I did not dare to say. And I wanted to believe, even if it's naive, that somewhere out there they feel that right now I think so strongly of them.
At about midnight, I climbed into the tent, wrapped myself in a sleeping bag and closed my eyes, tightly gripping a folding tourist knife in my hand - it seemed to me that all the wild animals of the world had gathered around my little shelter and were watching me intently through its thin fabric walls. My heart was pounding so hard that I could not sleep for a long time.
The next morning I woke up a different person. I seemed to have changed my skin.
Days passed in a string, similar to one another. I immediately came up with a regime that allowed me not to run wild, in a bad sense of the word, until the last day - I had some travel experience behind me (several times we traveled savages with my ex-husband) and knew how great the temptation in nature to turn into anthropomorphic animal with a slight unobtrusive touch of human. Such people I have met - a bit frightening sight. And I had a plan for how not to become one of them.
Every morning I woke up at about nine, when the sun rose over the rock and instantly heated the tent to such an extent that it became completely impossible to be inside. Then the morning shower - in a small cave by the water, I equipped myself a boudoir, where my bathing accessories were kept. I washed my face thoroughly, then swam for about 30 minutes, smeared myself with coconut oil and went upstairs to a small flat area, where I did short morning exercises. Then breakfast. Then a walk until the heat finally hit.
How to wash? How to wash the dishes? How to wash clothes? How to entertain yourself? How to get your own food? There is a universal answer to all this - at sea
In the most stifling hours of the day, I climbed into the library - a spacious cave under a large stone, where I read for several hours in a row or just lay and looked at the sea. After four, I took a mask and swam again, watching fish and jellyfish. A few meters from the coast, my favorite flat stone protrudes from the sea, on which I loved to sit and look at the black birds that huddle along the coastal rocks and pull their necks, shifting from paw to paw. If the day was windy, I would dress up and go to study the local flora and fauna - I collected and dried leaves, watched insects, fingered stones and looked for artifacts left by my predecessors. For example, once I found a round flat white stone, very beautifully painted with some amazing patterns. I still regret not taking him with me. And another time, in a niche of a rock, I discovered a collection of animal skulls - someone carefully put them together and arranged them in order, from smallest to largest, and they stared with empty eye sockets right at me, as if they were just waiting for them I will find.
At about six - and I very quickly learned to distinguish the time by the sun - I had dinner, then read for another hour and, if I wanted to look at other representatives of the human race, for 30 minutes I jumped over the stones in the direction of the nearest summer cottage village with the only grocery store in the whole district and a small cafe that even had wifi. There, I sometimes chatted with some vacationers, local or the same savages as me, surfed the Internet, and when I really wanted to, I bought something harmful like ice cream or pasties and immediately ate under a small stunted tree. Then she walked back to meet the sunset, took an evening shower in the sea to wash off the sweat of the day, went to bed and instantly fell asleep in the blissful sleep of the righteous. This is how I lived for two weeks, and it is literally the best two weeks in the past few years.
In the sea
There are a few questions that are most often asked of me about life in the wild.Here they are: "How to wash?", "How to wash dishes?", "How to wash clothes?", "How to entertain yourself?" and "How do I get my own food?" There is one universal answer to all this - at sea.
Salt water and tough types of algae are great for washing dishes. For hair and body, the sea is also quite suitable. Standing ankle-deep in water, I soaped myself from head to toe, and then dived deeper to wash off the foam. For the face, of course, it is better to use fresh water, and here springs come to the rescue, which can always be found in wild tourist spots - there were two of them next to me.
Food is also in the sea. Not so far from me lived people who every evening took fishing rods, got into the inflatable boat they brought with them and got breakfast, lunch and dinner for themselves the next day. Fishing is not very good for me, but catching crabs in the stones is not so difficult - sometimes specimens of such impressive sizes come across that it is scary to take them in hand. However, you should not hesitate - the crabs are so nimble that you should gape, and now you are already left without dinner.
When I woke up in the morning, I didn't even think about putting on shorts now or not. I just walked naked about my business and sometimes remembered about clothes only in the evening, when it got cold
I washed with soap - there is nothing special to get dirty among stones and trees, and sweat and rock dust from clothes can be easily washed off with soap foam and sea water. In the heat, clothes dries up in a couple of hours - it is enough to spread them out in the sun and press them with stones from the wind.
However, I rarely had to do my laundry in Crimea - I hardly wore anything. I have no ideology about this - I'm not an apologist for naturism, but I like not to wear clothes when possible. On the wild shore, in the heat, the rags seem to immediately lose their relevance, become superfluous. When I woke up in the morning, I didn't even think about putting on shorts now or not. I just walked naked about my business and sometimes remembered about clothes only in the evening, when it got colder. At some point, this state of affairs began to seem so natural to me that, without any ulterior motive, I began to post on my instagram pretty frank, in the opinion of my friends, photos (which I took using a timer on an iPhone). Already in Moscow, I was repeatedly asked why I did it, what was my goal. In fact, I just walked like that all the time and could not even think that photographs of my naked tanned ass or belly could greatly outrage someone. And there were such cases: for example, at the height of my vacation, a former classmate unsubscribed from me, who considered my account "porn". Surprisingly, in 2016, many people still consider the naked body to be porn, hello Jock Sturges!
But I got distracted. All local raves also take place in the sea. The underwater life can be watched endlessly, and at night the water is highly phosphorus - to see the light show, you just need to put your hands under the water and move them.
Of course, you will not be full of crabs alone, and here cereals, vegetables, fruits and everything else that you can get in nearby stores come to the rescue - therefore, it is better, of course, to settle where they are in relative availability. There is another option for those who live near a village: locals often sell milk from their domestic cow, as well as vegetables and fruits from their garden. This is often advertised directly on the fences.
I bought buckwheat, tomatoes and cucumbers, nuts and dried fruits, herbs, as well as, of course, seasonal fresh fruits - I had to drag all this on myself over the stones to the tent, store it in the shade away from the sun and pack it carefully - the ubiquitous insects, especially ants, all the time they strive to settle in what you actually have in store for yourself.
Cooking is most convenient on a tourist burner (there is a lot of fuss with fires), but a mysterious story happened to mine. I checked its performance in Moscow before the flight, and when I arrived at the place, it turned out that the burner had managed to break down in a strange way.As a result, all two weeks I was forced to be content with cold buckwheat - from the night I filled it with water, and by morning it, saturated with moisture, was already ready. When it became completely unbearable to eat cold, I warmed up buckwheat a little in the sun.
It is better to bring a minimum of spices, salt, tea and coffee with you from home, having previously packed them in the most ergonomic and airtight containers (my favorites are pre-washed plastic packaging from photographic film or round boxes from Kinder surprises) - so, in my opinion, easier and more convenient than buying it all on the spot. In particular, in many small Crimean shops, salt is sold only in packs of kilograms - enough for a company of soldiers. As for the cutlery, the required minimum is one plate, one cup, a pot, a Swiss knife and a spoon. The latter, by the way, I in a hurry forgot at home, because of which I was forced to eat food with my hands (yes, including buckwheat).
The most difficult thing is to learn to trust not nature - you too quickly realize that she is completely indifferent to you, but to those strangers whom you periodically meet. Sometimes idly walking tourists from a neighboring village came across the stone where I lived, sometimes I had neighbors for a short while - all these people (usually men), of course, were interested in a young half-naked woman living in a tent all alone.
In the movie "Wild" there is a very accurate episode on this topic - the heroine Reese Witherspoon, exhausted during the first stage of her lonely journey with a backpack, meets a man somewhere in the field and asks him to help her. They get into the car, and she perceives his every word, every gesture as a prelude to rape. The same thing happened several times with me. For example, once a kayaker sailed to my rock and pestered me for a long time with persistent suspicious questions about how I live here all, all alone, how long I will stay and how far from here can you meet other people. Maybe he didn't want anything bad, but at some point I grabbed the knife - after all, if he had bad intentions, no one would have heard my screams. And once a man in years, a seasoned hiker from Sevastopol, decided to spend the night quite next to me: going to bed, I firmly barricaded the tent with stones - which, it seems, amused him a lot.
I met several girls who, like me, spent their summers in tents. And they all talked to me about it - a lonely savage always arouses an understandable curiosity in the men on her way. Such curiosity is easily converted in your head into a feeling of danger, anxiety is also quite understandable. Here it will not be superfluous to recall the recent flash mob #I'm afraid to say - in particular, thanks to him, hundreds of women learned that they are not alone in their habit of clutching keys in their hand whenever they find themselves alone on a dark street. In Crimea, I carried a knife with me everywhere (you never know) and, whenever possible, tried to avoid communicating with people of the opposite sex, who periodically appeared on the horizon. Vigilance is rarely unnecessary.
It no longer seems to me that my life has failed. The feeling of amazing simplicity and correctness of what is happening now rarely leaves me
But I want to tell you about one acquaintance separately - it seems to be a good story for the finale. It took place on the very first day of my trip. Leaving the Simferopol airport, I got on the bus to Sevastopol in mixed feelings: I was all alone and, of course, worried about what was waiting for me there. There was almost no one in the salon - perhaps a few grandmothers with seedlings and a married couple with a child. And five minutes later, a handsome young man entered with a tourist backpack, who, like me, was driving somewhere wild alone. At the very first stop, we got to talking - he said that he had come from St. Petersburg and was heading to Cape Aya, where a friend was waiting for him.We chatted about this and that all the way, and when we drove up to Sevastopol, I looked at the sky, where thunderclouds were gathering, and said worriedly: “Damn, it seems, it will rain soon, how inappropriate. Then my new acquaintance turned to me, narrowed his eyes, because the sun was beating right in his eyes, and uttered a phrase that I still repeat to myself every time I start to worry about something. He said: "Listen, let it pour."
When we were saying goodbye, he shook my hand and instead of "bye" suddenly issued: "Never be afraid of anything." And then, of course, I could say that after these words I was not afraid of anything, but it would not be true - I was scared many times. But I tried - and still try - to remind myself that if it suddenly pours, then it's okay, let it be. And immediately it becomes somehow calmer. By the way, I was very lucky with the weather - not a single rainy day. So I was completely in vain worried.
I returned to Moscow in mid-September - black, salty and calm as a reptile. I got a second job, furnished the room in a new way, went to drawing courses, went to St. Petersburg, made some pleasant new acquaintances. I don’t know how it happened, only I no longer think that my life was not successful. The feeling of amazing simplicity and correctness of what is happening now rarely leaves me. But if it suddenly happens, I remember that guy on the bus. Or how once in the Crimea a huge disgusting centipede sat on my hand - nothing could be worse.
Photos: Hgalina - stock.adobe.com, yuliasverdlova - stock.adobe.com, Iva - stock.adobe.com, personal archive