Monday, 27 October 2014

But I, being poor, have only my dreams...
I have spread my dreams under your feet...
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

It is 2:00 am; police sirens fill the air outside my hotel room and I peek through the corner of the window to see what's happening...  dozens of Hummer trucks with officers armed to the teeth with heavy machine guns speed down the main road to an unknown place from where I can hear shootings and loud noises.  I cannot sleep, I tossed and turned both in my bed and in my mind for the past few days, battling with a very heavy decision.  The situation in Mexico (drug wars, kidnappings, tortures, decapitations, corruption, etc) does not help at all!

News from Canada reached me a day before I arrived in Las Vegas; my mother is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and the family is requested to be by her side before a very sensitive and difficult operation she is scheduled for in few weeks.

I decided to keep riding South and maybe fly to Canada later, closer to the operation.  By the time I was half way through Central America, things were not very positive on the home front and I decided to ride back to Canada instead of leaving my bike in a very volatile place like Southern Mexico or Guatemala.

Since I was a young boy, I hated turning back from anywhere... It might be a deeply psychological problem that I always had, but turning back makes me very unhappy.  Turning back from my Round The World expedition, after 60.000 km done and with only 10.000 remaining was even harder than I expected.
However, there was never a doubt in my mind that this was the right decision to make.  Therefore, with a very heavy heart, I climbed on my bike at 6:00 the next morning and headed north, northeast, for my 5.500 km ride back to Montreal, Canada.  
I rode the whole distance in 5 days, only stopping for gas and sleep at night, with the last 3 days riding through cold rain and sleet with the beginning of the winter in Northern US and Canada.

For 13 hours a day, I had plenty of time to meditate on this situation with my mother, with my family as a whole and my journey so far across this vast world of ours... Flashing images of places kept running through my mind, amazing smells of spices and flowers from the fields of the countries I've been through and sounds of all kinds, filled my head with memories and my eyes with tears.

The shock of my mother's cancer hit all of us (5 brothers and sisters, with spouses and children, about 20 people in all) very hard.  We had to come together to figure out how to deal with this news and I was happy to return to be part of this.  Therefore, this is where it all stops for me and for my journey across this world, at least for now.  Carmen and I did everything in our power to ride this bike around the world and tell everyone about our orphans in Zambia, our project there for them and to raise awareness and funding for this.  Hundreds of thousands of people found out about it, read my articles that were published from Australia to US, Canada, Europe and Japan and from our blog.  

We will continue to support our children in Africa and to offer them a chance to go to school and to have a decent meal.  We thank all those that helped us along the way, provided guidance, assistance and friendship, we will never forget you.

I dreamed the dream of the world, of her mountains and deserts and trees, of her songs and stories, of her tears and smiles, of her perfume and splendor and I lived this dream for 1 full year.

If suffering brings wisdom,
I would wish to be less wise.

When you are old and gray and full of sleep, 
and nodding by the fire, 
take down this book and slowly read,
 and dream of the soft look 
your eyes had once, 
and of their shadows deep.

Monday, 13 October 2014


The time of rest is over… After spending few weeks with my family in Montreal, it was time for me to head on the road again.  Winter is approaching Canada fast and I didn’t want to be caught in the Great lakes region when the snow starts so, in a sunny day at the end of September I left Montreal heading South to New York state.
I was apprehensive about crossing the border into US because I haven’t been to America in few years and now I was coming on a bike registered in Africa and alone.  As I came into the US Immigration booth, the officer look at my passport and when he found out I was coming from Africa, he called few of his fellow officers and they all became very curious about my trip.  They gave me no problems whatsoever, but were inquisitive about my itinerary from Africa and my adventures.  They told me they have never seen an African bike making it into US before, which made me quite proud of my Namibian, beautiful bike!
I decided to head straight West from New York, through Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, towards the Rockies.  The Mid-US states were kind of flat and uninteresting, but as I approached Denver, the landscape became increasingly beautiful and exciting.  The Rocky Mountains were looming ahead and I felt like the settlers of Old going West in search of adventure.
A day before I arrived in Denver I heard a clanking sound at the rear wheel and I got worried I screwed up something there.  As I stopped for the night, I noticed that the shield for the shaft was cracked and a piece of metal was sticking out.  I was sure this was the cause of the sound and I removed the shield.  In the morning, however, the sound was still there.  I rode to Denver in slow speed and I pulled into the Yamaha dealer.  When the mechanic came out he moved the rear wheel  and immediately he realized that it was my wheel bearings and took the bike in for service. 
Once fixd, the bike ran smoothly again and she was purring happy across the Colorado Rockies, not even noticing the increase in altitude.  I camped wild that night in the mountains, on the shore of a lake and it felt good to be in the wild again, but it was so cold I hardly slept that night.  In the morning the tent and the bike were covered in ice and the thermometer showed -4 degrees Celsius.  I packed my stuff while shaking like a leaf.  I was heading to Moab, Utah to see the Arches National Park, but before I reached there, I had to cross the Rockies through the Independence Pass, 4000 m high.  It was the coldest day of my entire riding to date, even colder than Norway and when I arrived in Aspen, Colorado I was stiff as a board.  By contrast, 1 hour later when I reached Utah, it was 28 degrees outside!
From here on, even though I rode through beautiful scenery, like Arches, Monuments Valley in Arizona and eventually Grand Canyon Park, my mental state was not right: I received some bad news from home and I also felt more alone than ever before.  I knew that in an expedition like this you will have low moments, but mine came all together and from different angles and caught me unprepared.  This made the rest of the ride to Las Vegas and California seem more like a chore than a pleasure and serious doubts haunted me for days.  I struggled with the idea of quitting and returning home in Canada and forget about everything.
I stopped in Malibu, California in camp by the sea and for three days I debated whether I should go on or not.  There were more cons than pros…  However, somehow I pushed myself to continue in spite of myself and my insecurities and forced myself to finish this expedition.  I have come now 51.000 km from Africa to this point and I have 25.000 more to go.  It seemed that these last ones would be harder to manage…
I left that Sunday morning to the South, towards San Diego, stopping first at a major biker hotspot in the mountains, called the Rock Store.  It was a great start to my journey to the South; hundreds of bikers meet here because of the beautiful Canyon ride that leads to this CafĂ©.  When the bikers saw me, they were very friendly and interested in my journey from Africa and I got to know a few of them.
I then rode towards San Diego and then Yuma Arizona from where I decided to enter Mexico. 
America was a swift affair, but I loved riding my bike from the East to the West.  I have been to US many times, I traveled to all states except Alaska, but now I saw America on my bike and this, for me, is a big milestone.

The leaves in New York State were just beginning their majestic Fall show
 The magnificent Rocky Mountains of Colorado

 Ice on my bike in the morning
 Crossing the Rockies

 My camp in the woods

 Arches National Park, Utah

 Monuments Valley, Arizona

 My camp at the Grand Canyon
 The spectacular Grand Canyon: 1.6 km deep

 Sunset on the way to Las Vegas
 Crazy Las Vegas

 My camp in Malibu California
 The famous Rock Store

 Glen Du Pont, Adventure Rider on KTM 1190, preparing for his ride to the Arctic!!!