Monthly Archives: November 2015

Capturing Moments: The South of Brazil

A Fourteen Minute Readimage

They say that anger is just love disappointed. They say that love is just a state of mind. But all this fighting over who will be anointed. Oh how can people be so blind?” ~ The Eagles, Hole in the World

The hardest part of anything is the start. Committing to something that is new, strange or difficult can be a daunting task. When you don’t know if everything will work out in the end. It is far easier to stay in that comfort zone. We convince ourselves of excuses to leave things as they are, when deep down we are truly unsatisfied. This can be quitting the job you hate, starting your own business, asking someone you like out or even riding a bike around the world.

The hardest part of starting my journey was just that, starting. Saying goodbye to the known and setting out into new territory can be terrifying. This is the same for anyone. Giving up what is comfortable for something you truly want in your heart can be difficult. Once you are off, then motivation kicks in and finally you are alive again. Living something you dreamed of for so long. You are in it. You are not just dreaming. This is the new you. This is your life. Capture those moments you will regret later on and be the person you want to be. Maybe you will fail and the whole world will see. Maybe it will end horribly. But, at least you tried. That is more than most people can say. To try and fail is better than an eternal question.

I have said it many times before. Dreams are dreams because they require hard work. If dreams were easy, then they wouldn’t be dreams.
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Crossing the bridge into Brazil was an interesting mission. When I arrived at the border there was a guy sitting idle on a Sunday in the office. He told me the man who stamps passports into Brazil was not here today. I should go to the next city, Uruguaiana and get it done there tomorrow. I thought this a bit strange, but I biked on. In a shop I stocked up on a few items for the empty road ahead and as I was leaving the nice man working gave me an extra bag of lime flavored chips for free. He gave a bit of wink that only old can people do. I was off riding until the rain came pouring down like crazy. My first date with El Nino. I let it pass under the cover of a random shed and was off again.

Arriving after dark in a city on your first day in a country where you don’t know the language, Portuguese, or where you will sleep can be a bit tough. I was starving, but a safe place to sleep comes first. I walked into a ‘Farmacia’ as that was the only thing open on a Sunday night and asked the girls where I mind find a cheap place to sleep. A man overheard and even spoke English. He had heard of a new hostel and I followed him there. I was eternally grateful with my sore knee and hungry stomach. I took the next few days off to rest in the lovely new hostel called Marques de Carabas. If ever in Uruguaiana I highly recommend it. Follow the link to their page HERE.

After a good rest I was off to tackle the first challenging section of my South American tour. Once I was past Sao Borja the landscape turned into a wavy undulating beautiful nightmare. I was continually blown away by the purity of the scenery and kindness of the people, but exhausted to no end each day. Up one steep hill, then immediately down and back up without ever gaining any real altitude can be a taxing mental kick. In any case, I pushed forward. As I drove I saw lots of giant salamanders on the road, guinea pigs by the dozens and an armadillo that was turned into a big mess on the road. I’ve seen every type of road kill on this trip. It barely phases me anymore. I usually smell it first.

To make an error is human, to keep doing it is foolish” ~ Portugese Proverb

On one night I pulled into a very dark and gloomy looking town, searching for somewhere cheap to sleep. I saw a motel and went inside, as I did the garage door went down behind me and I was trapped in a little area between another garage door. A tiny window opened up from the wall and a man began shouting at me. I yelled back at him to let me out, but couldn’t really see him because it was dark. I was trapped and felt very uncomfortable about what was on the other side of the door. He shouted some more at me, at which point I went to my bag and grabbed my wrench. I threatend him through the window and asked him again to let me out. He opened up and I got out of that strangely awful place. I don’t put up with that sort of intimidation business or whatever he was trying to run there. It was a very unique situation that I still don’t quite understand, but believe I did the right thing given the circumstance. I found a place to camp nearby and forgot about it.

After this it was all positive vibes onwards. Can’t let one encounter ruin the image of a whole country. I found the rolling hills exceedingly beautiful. The further I got from Buenos Aires, the warmer my riding became. One of my favourite things in Brazil was the buffet lunches found almost anywhere and the drinkable tap water. These buffets could be found at even some of the smallest gas stations. I would load up for a few dollars and be ready to tackle the afternoon of hilly hot riding.

After a day I turned down a nice secondary road where I belonged. This is where the magic began. Quiet little villages with beautifully unique central plazas and friendly people. At this point I was blowing spokes almost everyday again. I needed a new rear wheel desperately. The thing was terribly bent and had rolled over 22,000km. It was done. I chanced a quick fix in a small town called Roque Gonzalez. They called a local bike repairman from the gas station and I followed him to his house as I waved bye to the small crowd that had gathered. We couldn’t get the thing fixed with the parts he and I had. He assured me there was a good bike shop in Santa Rosa and I found a place to sleep. It poured rain for the next three days and I rested in a place that cost 5 dollars, had Wi-Fi and an all you could eat breakfast. I wanted to live there.

The really magical things are the ones that happen right in front of you. A lot of the time you keep looking for beauty, but it is already there. And if you look with a bit more intention, you see it.” ~ Vik Muniz,

Setting back out I hobbled along the rutted road on egg shells towards Santa Rosa to fix my bike. On the way a police brigade lieutenant stopped me. Apparently he was a bike enthusiast and from his reaction, not many tourists cross this part of Brazil. We chatted for a while, as you do in this part of the world and I told him about my bike problem. We shook hands and parted ways. About an hour later he came back unexpectedly in the opposite direction and handed me the card to the bike shop. He explained that when I got there later today everything I needed would be paid for. I couldn’t believe it. Something I would have never imagined. I wanted to hug him, but didn’t think that was appropriate.  We took a selfie instead in front of the police truck instead and he gave me a bottle of water.

I arrived very tired at the bike shop to a warm welcome at GAGO BIKES. The guys were expecting me and got right to work. Full service and a new wheel. We chatted a long time about my trip. Some of the most caring and awesome guys I have met. My bike was brand new again. They gave me extra parts for the road and three of them showed me to a cheap place to sleep for the night. No words can describe this experience.

The following day I turned down a dirt road to take a ‘Short-cut’. After a few kilometers it wasn’t looking that good. The gravel became very loose and I had to walk my bike down hills and slid all over going back up. That night I was offered by a man named Pedro to sleep at his house. He owned a tilapia farm and was having a fish fry with friends. Needless to say, I was now loving Brazil. The energy of the people and the landscape had a hold on me. We had a fantastic night and I got a late start in the morning. Pedro told me of a quick boat ferry that crosses the Rio Uruguai. It would save me 200 kilometers and show me a unique part of his province. I was stoked. We said our goodbyes after breakfast and I biked for two beautiful days until I reached the Itaparanga river crossing at sunset. The boys on the boat were thrilled to have me for the fifteen minute journey. In this part of Brazil people were always stopping me on the road to ask where I was from. A conversation with a retired boxer was a memorable one.

From here I would climb up a very steep incline that stretched for thirty odd kilometers in the humidity. Pedro didn’t tell me about that part. Over the next few days I made my way along the Brazilian and Argentinean border with my sights set on seeing the Iguacu Falls. Read about one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World HERE. Every few kilometres I had to stop of wipe the sweat off my face, it was extremely humid and hilly. I crossed back into Argentina and spent the next two days climbing one hill after another. I was whimpering by the end of it. Exhausted and nearly tearing up when I would get to the top of one hill and see the next drop and steep climb. Rolling into Puerto Iguazu, I kicked off my dirty smelly shoes and passed out in a hostel.

It had been a month getting to the falls from Buenos Aires. One of the few tourist sights I had plotted to see on my route through South America. At this time though something sad was happening back home. I found out my grandmother had passed away the day after I arrived. It was very hard to take away from home. It had been a difficult few months for my family with the tragic loss of my cousin Jamie and now Grandma. It was her wish that I not return for the funeral. It would have been quite the challenge given my location and situation. I chose to honour her memory in my own way. Walking along the falls I thought of her and Jamie. Listening for something more than just the crash of water. Here I found the peace and solitude I needed. Loss is a difficult thing and we all deal with it in our own way. For me I deal best with things on my own, writing or thinking. I was told the tribute to her life was a heartfelt event with the coming together of loved ones. Cherish your family. You never know when may be the last time you see them. Enjoy your life and days together. When they are gone, remember them as they were and never forget your times together. Below is something I wrote for her to help.

Your Story
There is a light that burns still awake,
When the call comes from heavens gate.
To a distance place we slowly depart,
Feet caught tripping on a heavy heart.
In the pit of our souls we find our place,
As hope smiles again with a peaceful face.

Clouds divide, bowing way.
Crying their welcome dance of the day.
Greetings to kindred spirits gone before,
These reunions ease the search for evermore.

Peace found on grasses lush and green,
With bright tomorrows yet to be seen.
Remembering your days of glory,
We add them to your book, an endless story.
Forever we will share your light.
The candle will never fade, always shining bright.

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**With less than $500 to go we are at the finish line for fundraising towards the schoolhouse in Esinoni, Kenya. In a recent update from Free the Children, construction has begun on our schoolhouse. A few weeks back some three hundred people from the community came out to see the inauguration ceremony of the first new schoolhouse. With our goal in sight construction is now underway for an excited community of people. The feeling is wonderful. Thank you to all who have made this possible. CLICK HERE TO DONATE.

***From Puerto Iguazu I crossed over into country #26 Paraguay. Updates on that part of the journey to come. Currently cycling in Bolivia.

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The Road to Becoming: Argentina & Uruguay

A Twelve Minute Readimage

“Any life is made up of a single moment, the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges, Argentinian Poet

The idea of becoming has been on my mind lately. As we grow we change. We move forward through different parts of our lives. We become sons, daughters, teenagers, adults and the elderly. Throughout our lives we have labels. They are placed on us without our consent. This is what we are, but not who we are. Later we can choose what we want to become. To become a chef, doctor or waiter. To become an amazing spouse, parent or friend. To be an ear to listen, a voice of reason or the responsible one. The slouch, drunkard or solicitor. We can be many combinations of these things. We can become anything we want, with the cooperation of mind, body and heart.

We change at different stages of our lives and have the ability to become more than we were before, or slip into obscurity. On the contemplative days on the bike, I look back with disbelief on parts of my life. Comments made as a child or recent transgressions. It is important not to regret but learn from past experiences. To move forward and grow. To become better. We must work as individuals as as a society to reach new levels of social development. To become the people we were meant to be. Growing as a whole.

As I left Africa and headed for South America, I had a lot to reflect on. The journey down had been anything but easy. It did however give me deeper perspective on the nature of our people and a continent that is often forgotten, avoided or stereotyped. The journey from Cairo to Cape Town left me feeling like anything is possible. It prepared me for the final leg of my journey. Toughening up my inner resolve to persevere and remember my goals. To ride for the charity, challenge and change I initially set out for. Looking at the map and the intrepid route home was a bit daunting. It would be hard and trying all the same. Each day is what you make of it and I was ready for the next challenge.

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“One must harden without ever losing tenderness.”Che Guevara, Argentina Revolutionary

I arrived in Buenos Aires from Cape Town after a roundabout flight pattern. I elected to fly instead of searching for a boat. I am happy with this choice given my present circumstance. I did this due to costs, time, motivational time-lapse and seasonal logistics. That night in Buenos Aires I found myself putting the pieces of my bicycle together at 11pm after being dumped off downtown from 42 hours of travel. A new land, language and beautiful challenge lay ahead. I biked off in search of my bed for the night.

While procuring travel visas for Brazil and Paraguay I spent some time exploring Buenos Aires. A bustling capital city with beautiful architecture. I enjoyed walking around the many parks and sitting around looking at beautiful cathedrals. During this time there was an upcoming federal election. The Argentinians’ are quite passionate about their politics I came to see. One day I found myself watching drums, trumpets and umbrella toting flag wavers from a high balcony. Everyone was kind of stopping to watch all the noise as the street filled with flyers of the next candidate.

Soon after I was off riding north towards Uruguay. Choosing my route through South America was not easy. There were a few locations I wanted to see very much and I based it on that. The route is always changing, but built on the same basic principles. It was a clean slate and I promised to ride it without any lifts. On the bicycle you are limited in your direction and you cannot have it all. Backpackers seem to flit about on 17 hour bus rides from one sight to the next. What I see and love is what is in between. The things most people miss and the experiences I gain from it. It has never been about the main sights, but the journey itself. The sights are but waypoints on the map. Placeholders and times for a break. I set out with that same old foundation of ideas that has got me to where I am today.

Leaving Buenos Aires on a Sunday morning was a relatively pleasant experience. Traffic was extremely low and the sky was a cloudy cool grey. After a good days ride, I found myself on a country road leading to Campana. I smiled at some unexpected nature and pressed on. Spending the first night with a welcoming young guy named Facu we chatted through broken English and Google translations. I made a promise to myself to truly begin taking Spanish seriously as a personal goal for this trip. The following morning we rode out of the city together towards a massive bridge. Facu waved goodbye and I was on my own again through rolling land punctuated by little streams and lakes.

I spent the first few days in Argentina camping out in nice campsites and eating really delicious sandwiches. I was enjoying the bit of tranquil riding before the real hectic sections of South America began. On one occasion I arrived after dark into a campsite and was welcomed to a bit of Argentinian style barbecue called ‘Asado’. Argentina proved itself to be a very developed, safe and a welcoming beginning to my South America ride.

On one day I pushed too hard with a 150km day and felt a strain on my knee. When I woke up the following day I felt a feeling I hadn’t experienced in a long while. A sheering pain in my left knee kept my days fairly short. At one point I wondered if that was it. Would I need to pack it all in because of a strained knee? I wouldn’t let that happen. Crossing the bridge at Colon I passed over into Uruguay for a bit of exploration while pedaling with one leg. I took a day off, explored the cobbled hilly avenues of Paysandú and rested my knee.

“I’m not the poorest president. The poorest is the one who needs a lot to live. My lifestyle is a consequence of my wounds. I’m the son of my history. There have been years when I would have been happy just to have a mattress.”José Mujica, Former Uruguayan President

(Jose Mujica is one of the most fasincating people I have ever read about. Giving 90% of his wealth away and living on a farm down a dirt road. His country is a testament to his recent achievements and mindset. Read an article about President Mujica HERE)

Now that I am into the thick of chaos I reflect with great romanticism on my days of cycling Uruguay. The hills were rolling, low and slow. The temperature was wonderful with a gentle push from the wind. Camping was welcome mostly everywhere and people were superb. Things simply worked smoothly and there is a certain fluidity about daily life. No one seems particularly stressed out. Sometimes as I ride I feel the energy of the people run off on me. I am now becoming a combination of the many people who have accepted me at their tables and into their lives. I feel a strong sense of belonging in this world. A piece that fits almost anywhere. In every country I have been to, I try to picture myself living there in some way or another. What I might do or who I would be. I always end up being myself in the end. I’ll always feel a connection to the places I’ve rolled through and the people who welcomed me.

One day I asked a family to camp in their yard and they eagerly received me. Unfortunately, the repairs to my tent had given out and two of my poles snapped. The son was an enthusiast of fixing all things and we put together some repairs to get my tent standing. His work still holds up in the strongest winds. The following morning I joined his mother for breakfast. She was completely distraught when she burnt my toast. I told her it didn’t matter and happily ate it. I rode off on my merry way with black teeth. Beautiful stretches of farmland gave way to tiny towns with nice parks and plazas. In Uruguay things simply work. Life is pretty comfortable for the most part and life exudes a style of relative tranquility in the persona of the population. They sip stimulating hot mate on the street in social circles and laugh in cafés over litre bottles of beer. Read about the wonders of ‘Yerba Mate’ HERE.

From Salta I made my way through the sparsely populated northern region with roaming farmland and wild camping for the taking. I was cautious on my weak left knee and took my time to explore the countryside as I rolled forward. I arrived in the border town of Bella Union on a Sunday with a pesky broken spoke. In Latin America little goes on during a Sunday and most shops are closed tight. I stopped a man who was on a bike and he led me to the nearest bicycle mechanics house, who we appeared to have woken up. Clearly this was his day off as he unlocked the shop. He didn’t seem to care and got to work on my bike. When I tried to pay he wouldn’t accept it. I pedaled off from another act of kindness and devoured the biggest burger I’ve ever seen after many days of plain pasta. I will leave the story there, as I crossed the bridge to Brazil and a new land loomed in the distance.

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*We are now $500 away from reaching our goal for the school in Esinoni, Kenya. Looking back at the beginning of my journey, I am amazed with all we have achieved and the impact we have had on the communities we have helped in China, India and Kenya. Updates to come soon on progresss & development. Together we can enact great change. CLICK HERE TO DONATE.

**At the moment I have made it to Villamontes, Bolivia after crossing the length of Paraguay through the sparsely populated, difficult and beautiful Chaco region. I look forward to sharing stories of these days in the coming weeks. I’ve cycled over 3,000km of South America so far and right now it is time for a rest. Thank you for reading and please continue to follow along!

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Enchanting Places: Lesotho and South Africa

A Thirteen Minute Readimage

“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” ~ Danny Kaye, Actor

On the most peaceful of nights the sky and earth seem like they could shatter with the drop of a pin. In the isolated sections, devoid of human habitation are the most vulnerable and enchanting areas to roam. They bring forth feelings of explorations and wonder. We are able to gleam for a moment how explorers of old may have felt looking on rugged new lands. The thrill of the unknown and pulse of the ground give us a unique feeling of belonging. It is as if we are returning to a place long forgotten, though strangely familiar. Collecting pieces of memories, we never knew existed.

Sometimes as I roll through these desolate and forgotten landscapes I feel like I have been there before. The flicker of the sun, howl of the wind and bite of the cold seem all too familiar. I hear a soft tune playing as I roll in quiet isolation through these places. I fear no evil and trust the curve of the road. These places that look like daunting masses of earth are now where I feel most at home, most alive. Time clicks on seamlessly as the Earth groans in old age under my tires. I gaze forward and see the way without the saturation or clutter.
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“Age is getting to know all the ways the world turns, so that if you cannot turn the world the way you want, you can at least, get out of the way so you won’t get run over.” ~ Miriam Makeba, South African Singer

I had a few days off before I got back on my bike in Johannesburg. Staying with a delightful couple and their two dogs, I prepared my route through to Cape Town. I elected to take the decidedly more scenic route to the happiness of my camera and the sadness of my legs. Scenic means hills. I left Johannesburg with my host Dewald and his friend at a soul crushing 4:30am. This is the typical time of their Sunday morning ride. It was hard shaking myself out of bed, but I did appreciate the quiet of the city and was far out of town before the sun even came up. I thought I would make this type of thing a regular part of my ride, until no one make me do it. My routine is fairly regimented, but allows me to sleep until the sun is coming up at least.

I had decided to make my way towards a small country within South Africa called Lesotho. From everything I had read about the remote and natural splendor of Lesotho, it was something I surely could not miss. It also set me up to experience the Drakensburg and Garden Route of South Africa. The route there was met with very long, somewhat monotonous and slow hills of the Free State. There was no shoulder typically and I drove off the road repeated for fear of crazy drivers. As I approached Lesotho the landscape began to change. One farmer I met told me about a huge front put up in the area during the Boer War, that was now his farmland, serving as a main passage to the north in those days. In the border town of Fouriesburg I stayed in a very old guesthouse after a few days of camping and prepared to enter Lesotho.

“If the palm of the hand itches it signifies the coming of great luck.” ~ Lesotho Proverb

Riding into Lesotho was like returning to mountainous and wild Africa. It reminded me of parts of Ethiopia with a touch of Kyrgyzstan to the east. The landscape stretches like a vast carpet, mostly devoid of trees and full of wind. Known as the ‘Kingdom in the Sky’. The name does not disappoint, as steep inclines pushed me and my heavy bike to the limit. I couldn’t help but smile though as I pedaled on through the tiny communities. People were generally very friendly and some kids shouted at me for sweets. I yelled back, ‘Sweets!’ like an insane peraon and usually just left us both confused. Typically, I was alone though on mountain roads that stretched forever as I huffed up massive passes. Just when you think you have reached the top, there is another curve and set of switchbacks. The smile on my face has never been bigger though as I plunged down those large inclines.

I had heard of a guesthouse called St. James Lodge on the other side of the valley on my second day in Lesotho and made a break for it. When I arrive to the supposed location, I saw the sign to the road down a massive hill and back up on the other side. It was a rocky descent but I made it and had the whole place to myself. The quiet serenity of the nature there was deafening as I ate my regular dinner by a kerosene lamp. Stunning sunsets and morning views in the middle of a beautiful landscape. The following day I hitched my way back to the main road in a truck, riding it like a skateboard to the top, not needing to put myself through that madness again. Later that day I lost a dear friend. My kickstand, which had been with me since the start of my journey in China, snapped under the weight of my bike. I am still looking for an adequate replacement for that miraculous eight dollar stand. The following night I slept at a place called Afriski. Basically a one run ski resort in the middle of Lesotho. Who knew that would exist? It was an icy cold night there in the mountains, but the chalet was warm and inviting. The following day brought more climbs as I made my way towards Sani Pass. (Read a little extra about Lesotho history RIGHT HERE)

At times I questioned my logic while in Lesotho. Why did I decide to put myself through this? Then another pass or valley would present itself and it all made sense. It was easily one of the most rewarding and beautiful parts I have seen in Africa and top five of my trip. When I finally made it to Sani Pass, some very cold weather rolled in and it even snowed up at the border. This pass is also known as the home of the highest pub in Africa. An obscure tourist destination of sorts where people come to sign the wall and take silly photos. I was stranded up there for the night and slept by the fire of the nearby lodge. In the morning weather still hadn’t improved and I was fed up with it all by then. I punched out of Lesotho and grabbed the next 4×4 truck down the pass while it poured freezing rain.

On the other side of the pass I found myself in a very beautiful part of South Africa, the Drakensburg. Though weather was variable, the views were very beautiful as I made my way down to the coast. On one occasion mid-day for no reason at all I broke out crying while I was riding. This was the first time something like this had happened. I couldn’t stop and I didn’t care who saw me. Maybe it was exhaustion, recent personal events or simply the fact I knew I was now going to make it to the end of Africa, I am still not sure. The hard part was over for now, but it may have been a realization of how far I still had to go. It wasn’t for happiness or sadness. Tears of confusion and doubt.

Eventually finding my way down to East London, I began my final route towards Cape Town. I put in some long days along the way and had one lift from a friendly man named Linley, when the road became very busy and dangerous. He welcomed me to camp at his house in Port Elizabeth. He had a lovely family who welcomed me in, along with 3 huge German shepherds, two beautiful owls and some other creatures. It was a very nice experience and we took a drive out the road the following day down the scenic route, where I then continued onto Jeffrey’s Bay, one of the surfing capitals of the world. It was a holiday on this occasion called Heritage Day, which is typically celebrated as South Africa’s ‘Braai Day’. (Read about Braai Day HERE). Basically a day off where people get together with family and friends to barbecue the South African way. It was during the beginning days of the Rugby World Cup, so excitement was high around the country.

The road along the Garden Route never cease to amaze me as I made my way down to Mossel Bay. Places such a Wilderness, Plettenberg Bay and Knysna punctuate the ever-changing and stunning coast. The route is famous for a reason and well suited to tourists. I met interesting people each day and had many wonderful conversations. A friend of the family who I stayed with in Port Elozabeth even set me up with my own chalet in their friends water park ‘Adventureland’. Another fantastic of firsts as I joined the terrific Redman family with a fun evening of chatting and food. Hsopitality passed forward from people I had only just met days before. Amazing to say the least.

A few days later I was due to meet my friend from South Korea in Mossel Bay, Dene, who I mentioned in my previous post. She decided I had done enough biking and came to pick me up. I didn’t argue as I was running short on time and had put down a lot of hard kilometres lately. People do not understand how amazing it is to see a familiar face on a trip like this. To have familiar discussions and talk about old times. It had been many years since I saw her and now she had a beautiful daughter and caring husband named Jaco. It is amazing where the people you meet end up, as we chatted about times we had years ago in Korea. When I rolled up on my bike she looked at me and asked, ‘Mark, what have you been doing with yourself?’ Laughing together at my bicycle and the bags I dragged along with me.

I had a very relaxing few days at their home situated nearby to their camping and chalets called Kam’bati River Resort. If you are ever in the area of Swellendam, please check out the wonderful oasis that is Kambati by CLICKING HERE. We had lots of delicious Braai and I attended a birthday party of Jaco’s brother Franz. Like many people in the area, he was a farmer. I found it very interesting that he had even made a special holiday to Canada to look at the ways in which we farm in order to improve his own craft. I found it to be humbling and think any person who is passionate about their work would benefit from a similar experience. It makes you understand better what you have and look at alternative methods for personal growth. Travel truly is one of the greatest educators. I also learned that day I would like my own indoor Braai. It simply makes sense.

By this point my time left in South Africa was now limited. I had booked the cheapest flight I could find to South America some weeks back in calculation of my arrival in Cape Town. However, at the end of Africa I was more keen on enjoying my time with kind people I knew, rather than rushing around to cycle every bit of the way. Dene and Jaco drove me to the next town and set me up with the kindest of hearts in a guesthouse for the night. It was a bit of a teary goodbye and the following day I made it to Cape Town over the final pass where I stayed with Dene’s mother Marina. We had some awesome chats about travel and the world as she graciously gave up her weekend to show me the main pieces of Cape Town. It truly is a stunning city and surrounding region. An excellent way to end Africa. Together we even explored a few areas new to her. I eventually made it down to the touristic Cape of Good Hope and took the important picture at the bottom of Africa. It was somewhat anti-climatic as I forced my way in front of people on tour buses jockeying for position in front of the sign.

“Live your dreams, not your fears!” ~ Albina Hume, Author

At the end of Africa I did feel a certain sense of pride. I remember shaking like a leaf as I stood at the top of a very daunting continent. I looked down at maps and thought it was going to be a miracle if I made it to the bottom. What I found instead was a place full of wonderful and warm people, living amid beautifully unique landscapes. The Africa I had imagined in my mind was nothing like the Africa I came to know. It surprised me, frustrated me at times, but most importantly impressed the life out of me. The question I was asked more often than not about riding down Africa was, ‘Weren’t you scared?’ The answer was always ‘no’. The only time I ever felt uneasy was worrying about the traffic that carelessly blew by me. It never had anything to do with people or threats towards my safety. Sure I had to be on my toes, like anywhere, but I was never the target of anything less than a welcome visitor. What you will realize if you put yourself out there, smile a bit and have an open mind, people will be kind. People are inherently good and they can see that in your eyes from the moment you meet them. Share the good side of your inner human and people will respond positively. That’s all for now. I have a new continent and journey to tackle.
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*A big thank you to a pile of recent donations which have brought us to within $1,000 of our goal for the new schoolhouse in Esinoni, Kenya. Truly awesome and inspiring! We are on the home stretch for the kids in Kenya. Please CLICK HERE TO DONATE.

***On a very sad note, I found out yesterday that my dear grandma, Jean Quattrocchi, passed away surrounded by family and thoughts of love. She was one of the most influential people in my life and the cornerstone of our family. She will be dearly missed by many, as her heart and soul touched them throughout their lives. She was always supportive in helping us reach our goals in life and there to listen. She appreciated the beauty of life around her and loved her family dearly. It is with a heavy heart we all say goodbye from near and far to a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother and friend. Your story does not stop here Grandma. With all of our love, we miss you. Never will we forget you.

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