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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Root of my Roots

When you kick off your shoes and put on some pedals, you will find that anything is in fact possible! 

You may have an old rickety bike.

You may camp alone in soggy fields.

You may spend far too much time hanging out with sheep.

But eventually you will arrive.

You too can find your windmill!

⇩⇩⇩ Here's my journey ⇩⇩⇩

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Definition of adventure

  1. 1a :  an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks
    a book recounting his many bold adventures
    b :  the encountering of risks
    the spirit of adventure
  2. 2:  an exciting or remarkable experience
    an adventure in exotic dining They were looking for adventure.
  3. 3:  an enterprise involving financial risk
    wanted to pay off her debts before embarking on any new financial adventures

When was the last time you stepped out of the front [or back] door with absolutely no idea where you were heading? 
When was the last time you felt your stomach churning for you had no idea what you were doing?
When was the last time you were so excited you [almost] weed yourself?
Don't you think it's about time you went on an adventure?
You know, a journey of unplanned, unexpected, unfathomable epicness... 

But what if I'm not ready?

You'll never be ready for a real adventure, it's part of the definition.
Yes take some precautions, make sure you have water and toilet paper.
Don't stress.
Remember to breathe.
And then, once you've successfully tricked yourself into believing you're ready, run out the door.
Most of the stuff you think is important, you won't even need.
Trust me [I'm a gypsy]!

I started my last cycle tour without a bicycle.
I started walking, and I let it find me on the way.

You may not be as [seemingly] prepared as the next chap, but they're probably thinking the same about you!

Can you spot the subtle differences between the other cycle tourists I met along the way and my set up?

But where will I sleep?

Wherever you want!
Seriously, the world is your bedroom!

Take a tent. Find a haystack. Sleep under bridges
Couch Surf, Squat, use Tinder
Beaches, caves, trees, fields, barns, stranger's homes and gardens...
There will always be somewhere for you to rest your weary head.
And if the above list fails, there are always hostels, palaces, and hotels.

A Lekeberg lake, Sweden

A fragrant field of manure, Sweden

A friendly farm. Germany

A forest lake, Sweden

In a field of flowers, Sweden

Living it up on a pile of hay, Northern Germany

In a field of wind turbines, Germany

On some vacant lawn of a wealthy upper-class suburb, Sweden

What if it rains?

It will.
You will dry.

What if I get lonely?

When you head out on adventure there may be times you feel completely lost and alone.
You will often wish that you had someone to talk to, to share experiences and challenges with.
But throwing yourself out of your comfort zone and into the mercy of the world will lead you to some of the most fantastic humans you can[t] imagine.

These legends at iRecycle (Stockholm) gave me laughs, kitted me out with a bicycle, and coated me with hope for the adventure that lay ahead.

My first flat tyre led me to meet my new Iranian friend and a BBQ and a trance party and pizza.

There will be other adventurers of the road too!

And you never know when it might be a friendly refugee or an elderly person [or both] that will take you in for fika (Swedish tea time)

You might run into old friends along the way

Or you may be accosted on the side of the highway and be forced to party and laugh and sing with strangers.

A friendly stranger may see you struggling and simply pick up your 50+ kg bicycle and carry it up the stairs for you.

What happens if something goes wrong?

It will. 
And normally quite badly. 
You can prepare for everything, but there will ALWAYS be something you never thought of. 
There might be tears and a bit of spilled milk/ blood/ or self-shitting, but things going wrong are proof that you are in fact on an actual adventure.
Besides, you need the bad times to remind you how awesome the good really is.

What if I get lost?

This is when adventures are at their best!
You are often far away from where you ought to be, but you will find you are always exactly where you need to be.


What about money?

What about living?
Seriously, you really don't need much to explore.
It's up to you how comfortable you want your trip to be.
You can budget for hotels and fine dining restaurants.
But you can also free camp and cook your own [delicious] meals.
Travelling by bicycle or by thumb are basically free.
But you can also take cars, motorbikes, buses, trains and private planes...
You could spend millions.
But you can also survive seven weeks on $13.70 (tried and tested)

What if I don't need an adventure?
Don't be ridiculous!
Everyone needs an adventure.
Everyone needs to be challenged.
Everyone needs to push themselves to realize what their bodies are capable of.
If you don't ever leave your comfort zone, how will you grow?

Take the first step.
Start your adventure NOW.
You will find what you need along the way.

If you're still not convinced, watch this:

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Hitch To [watch the Czech] Get Hitched [The Secondth]

So there I stood in Germany, thumb poised, hopes high...
Hitch hiking had proved far too easy.
It was probably about time I got stuck in the rain.
And then on the autobahn to be dragged off by the police...
But it didn't matter, the people I met kept getting happier and the epic continued to build.

I was about to set up camp at a petrol station when I got an offer to Berlin.
It wasn't quite in the right direction, but at least I was still moving East.

The [unplanned] Route

I had a couple of days to go and hopes of possibly even having a shower before the wedding.

Here's what happened:

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Hitch to [watch the Czech] get Hitched

"Let's take a short trip to Europe" I said. "I need a little adventure" I said.

So I did.

And after catching up with the British for a pint and a cuppa, I thrust out my thumb and was off...

I had one week to make it to the Czech Republic.
1272 km away (If vehicles were actually heading where I needed to go)
I had no idea of the awesomeness that lay ahead.

This is what happened

So much for settling down and killing the inner gypsy spirit...
Adventure is addictive!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Lesotho for Lunch

A one way ticket to Bloemfontein. Yes, I know what you're thinking...  
But it was good stuffing my measly supply of gypsy essentials into my pack again. 
It felt right stepping out of the front door and taking the hike down the road to the bus station. 
Good Friday is as "good" a day as any for thirteen and a half hour bus journeys. 
Adventure beckoned and once more I needed to heed it's call!

You're probably wondering what adventures could possibly lie in Bloemfontein? 
But did you know that they have a 24 hour disco bar at the tourism office? 
Did you know that Leon Schuster was born there?

And did you know that Lesotho is only a brick throw (two[ish] hours) away from the bustling  Town?

I had [sort of plans] plans. 
I had [kind of] a mission. 
I had a crazy adventure into unknown worlds ahead of me.

And then my mother phoned from China and reminded me that Easter was about family.
[And Jesus also of course]. 

So there I sat in Bloemfontein at 2am with the big questions ploddering about in my head:
Why do they have a 24 hour hour bar disco at the tourism office which also doubles as the bus station?
Why was Leon Schuster born?
But mostly I was wondering where to from here??!?
I'd planned to try and spend some time exploring Lesotho and maybe even venture into Swaziland before eventually heading to Johannesburg to surprise my granny for her birthday. 
But the family would all be celebrating both her birth and that of my cousins over Easter dinner...

I did what any of you might do in my situation.
I jumped into a taxi to catch a bus to the border. 
My brand new South African passport needed some stamps.
I needed a cultural experience.

I followed a friendly lady into a share taxi and explored the markets of Maseru before I clambered onto a bus to the next major town.
The conductor forced us deeper in to merge with the back of the already over-crowded bus.
A human mosaic of colourful blankets and vivid emotions. 
I eyed the rolling hills and tiny villages and building supply shops as more people were added to our human mangle.
Mountains. Goats. Potholes. Puddles. Smiling faces.
A few hours later we stopped.

And then I walked to the border and cleared out. 

I begged for a small portion.
The regular servings could feed a family for a month.

The police pointed me in the right direction, but I was only the third person looking for a minibus taxi to Johannesburg that day and if I was lucky we'd leave before dark.
I walked down the road and started hitching.
I felt bad about hitching after mum had sworn me never to do it in South Africa.
But if mum wanted me to be with family at Easter, there was no other way.
I got a ride to Senegal. 
But before you get too excited, it's actually spelled "Senekal" and that place is is not all that exotic.
From there I got a very entertaining education on the South Africa I did not know as we bounced along a potholed road to Vereeniging (not all that exciting a spot either).

I tried to make friends on the minibus taxi to Jo'burg but nobody paid me any attention.
I wanted to know where exactly we were going? 
I wanted to know there was a way out of downtown Johannesburg in the dark. 
I wanted to know I'd be safe.

But 'safe' became a distant notion.
Monica turned around and whispered to me that she would help me, but it was not safe to talk to people on taxis. The man next to me agreed and told me how the gangs of Jo'burg now operate. 
A man at the back told me never to question anybody anything, because then you owe them. 
You walk like you know where you are going, even if you do not have a clue. 
At almost every corner are touts who want your money, your luggage, and [of late] your dignity. 
And then the whole taxi got involved with helping me make a plan to get to my granny.

As we stepped off the taxi I had a whole load of new friends, but I was not allowed to talk to them. 
Looking more touristy than ever
[With my backpack and rainbow gypsy pants]
 I was to follow them a few blocks to another taxi rank 
but pretend like I did not know them. 
Their helping me would get them into all sorts of trouble. 
This was one ride for me, but a regular commute for them.
I was not allowed to greet anyone. 
I was to stare straight ahead and walk with purpose.

They nodded to the Alexandra taxi and I climbed on.
"Balfour please" I called to the driver.
"I'll hold your bag" said the friendly man next to me.
I declined.
"Do you know the area?" he asked later.
"Yes." I replied, feeling bad for being short.
When we passed Balfour Park, I asked my friendly neighbour if I was remembering it right.
"Yes." He replied and then demanded five rand for the information.
I laughed, asked the driver to stop at the next convenience store and called Ouma.

And then there was family.
And [stinky-two-day-travelling] hugs.
And then a shower.
And then less stinky hugs.
There was an Easter egg hunt.
And church.
And more [even cleaner] hugs.
And laughing. And celebrations. And a feast.

Mum was right.
Family is the best way to Easter.

But Swaziland for Supper?
Who's coming with me?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Good Life

You need a change of job. Or maybe just a job.
You need to lose weight. And build muscle.
You need more friends. Less enemies.
You need more hours in a day.
You need less distractions.

More adventures. More money to afford adventures. More leave. More time.
Hell, you need to find the one. Your life partner. That person that will complete you. And, of course, adventure with you.

You want to be rich. Or at least richer.
You want chocolate.

Free time. Laughing. Hugs. Singing. Dancing. 
Sunshine. Yes. Wine. Good coffee. Unsuspected random acts of kindness. 
Tears of joy. 
Exercise. Giving. Challenges. Music. 
Hammocks. Cowbell. Trust. 

Worry. Pain. Suffering. Wasted time. Crappy TV. 
Guilt. Blobbing. Social Media. Loneliness. 
No. Pirates. Unfriendly sharks. 
Diets. Regrets. Boredom. Gossip. Crappy pop music. 
Rules. Red robots. Fillings. 

Stop wanting more. Stop thinking about all the things you need. Focus on what you have.

The good life starts when you stop wanting a better one.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Find your Passion. Find your Purpose.

“The two most important days in your life are the day that you are born,
and the day you find out why.”
- Mark Twain

I guess I've got a lot to look forward to then...
I don't have a clue why I was born, but I'm quite glad that I was.
This world is a terribly beautiful place and I would have hated to miss out on it.

A good friend recently taught me to make inverse bucket lists so that instead of simply talking about all the amazing things you're one day going to [maybe] do with your life,
you make a list of all the great things you have already accomplished.
Not for anyone else, but so that you can recall them, and remember the things they taught you.
That way you don't have to think and plan too much.
You just have to jump at opportunities and say “YES!”.
And if you don't, your list stays empty.

“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all”
- Helen Keller

I'm sitting in my new room in my new house in my old country and older age contemplating.
There's quite a lot to contemplate.
But as another year draws to a very rapid premature end, I need both red wine and reminiscence and re-evaluation. [And you may think this sentence wrong, but I have two kinds of wine].

Looking back, it's quite easy to feel like a failure, to look back at regrets, failures,
and the bad hair days of 2016.
Personally I'm an optimist.
It may sound like a pleasurable happy thing, but when it comes to making plans and setting out what you want to do with your life, it's quite easy to get carried away.

This year:
I set off to finish my circumnavigation. I gave up just before the end. I failed.
I attempted to find gainful employment. I quit twice, before getting paid. I failed.
I hoped to visit many many new exciting countries. I made it to three. I failed.
I was hoping to work out what I'm on this planet for. I'm even more confused now. I failed.
I thought it might be nice to finally meet the one. I failed miserably.

My life going up in flames [literally]
But the list of things I did accomplish is far longer.
And as far as I'm concerned the only set new year resolution I had was: “Survive 2016.”
I'm doing pretty well on that front.

How did you find 2016?
 What did you accomplish?
Who did you meet?
What did you do?
Who did you become?
How do you feel about all of that?

I got back to South Africa at just the right time to watch the world wind down.
People appear to be in a state of limbo-ed complacency as they count down the days till
Christmas leave.
It's been good to listen to people talk about what they want to do differently next year.
It's been good to remember why I chose a life of professional gypsyism.
It's reminded me even more about what I don't want to do with my life!

“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is,
maybe you should set up a life you don't need to run away from”
– Seth Godin

But still it is good to work. It is good to toil.
It's good to break a sweat and feel like you've accomplished something,
that you've led a life worthy of your calling.
Remember life's not meant to just be average!

“When I stand before God, at the end of my life,
I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left
and could say “I used everything you gave me” “
- Erma Bombeck