It takes a degree of enlightenment, a Zen-like grace and contentment, to be able to yawn, stretch and lie down to sleep just anywhere in the world. Relatively few people are blessed with this capacity—or, anyway, been lucky enough to experience the pleasure. In most cases, if we’re away from home when darkness falls, we’ll panic, while authorities are roused and a search party deployed. In the best outcomes, the lost person is restored safely to the world of sturdy homes, hot meals, soft beds and dependable Internet access.
But there are creatures indifferent to darkness and unaffected by attachments to home. When they grow tired, they sleep. They may be comfortable anywhere—on beds of pine needles, on sandy beaches, on cliff ledges, on rocks—and they care not for the fuss of quilts, pillow cases and sheets. Wild cats, for instance, will sleep in trees if that’s where sleepiness finds them, bears will conk out in caves, and deer will doze in tall grass.
Bike tourists, also, are known to pass a night just about anywhere. We’re nomads who travel for months or years and who simply can’t part with 5, 10 or 20 dollars every night just to sleep. For many of us, our lifestyle depends on frugality. We spend our money where we must—a reliable bike, a few essential items to strap on the back, a plane ticket—and then accept what comes our way. When darkness falls, we do what’s natural: We sleep. It may be on the side of a mountain, or in a dark forest, or in a pomegranate orchard, or on a high and windy pass. Pigs may thunder past us in herds, and occasionally bears chase us back onto the road. We absorb it all in stride.