Some of you may remember hIrSch who Backcountry.com has been helping out in his ongoing bike ride around the world. After a short stint in Africa hIrSch has found himself in Europe traveling from the southern tip of Spain to the northern tip of Finland and most everywhere in between. This is the first of a couple of essays hIrSch has written for the Backcountry Blog.
and so i took a boat from morrocco to spain because riding
my bike is both what i want to do and what i do (a convenient couplet) and those african borders and visas and "independent travel permits" weren't going to allow me to do that.
but europe? aw hell...europe?? first of all, how am i going to do it on my $6usd per day budget? and thirdly, will it even be cool?
well johnny rockets, i am here to tell you one thing right now. a) no, i will NOT be able to do it on my $6usd per day budget, but rather, for less!! (more on this later) and b) europe is cool.
but my europe is not "europe." my europe was spain, but not madrid or granada or sevilla. my spain was ubrique. and saint feliu. no salsa nor flamenco dancing. but goats with bells on their necks. and bread and jam sandwiches under a tree while an indifferent river went where it goes. and france was not paris or wine or crepes and i didn't go to the louvre only to be disappointed by the mona lisa, but rather france was the famous passes from the tour de france and staying with a farmer's family who gave me udderly delicious warm milk straight out of their cow with a chunk of homemade bread.
how i move, how i travel, how i experience this planet is different. the world is my movie, and my bike saddle is my seat. and everyday, i watch. that is what i do. it's what i have been doing for 2.5 years. and what i hopefully will be able to do for about 2.5 more.
so yes, switzerland was the awesome alps, but not from behind a pane of glass at an overpriced hotel with a cup of tea in hand, pinky extended. but rather from the top of an 8,000 feet (high for europe) pass where the declivitous descents dried out all the accumulated sweat from the 30 mile climbs. and italy was not a paid picture with a man dressed up as a gladiator in front of the colosseum, and austria did not have me running around tra la la'ing that the hills were alive with the sound of music and germany was not buying an actual and authentic piece of the berlin wall.
not that there's anything wrong with that kind of travel. i mean, yes, sure, i like to extend my pinky while drinking tea too. don't we all? but this trip is not about that. this trip is about a life of movement and watching places, people, and culture unfold - not as pages - but as reality opening up before me.
like watching that lonely old woman dressed in her robe open the door to her farmhouse look left, and then right, and then lean down to pick up her paper and wondering for miles if she ever looks right first. like getting summoned from the side of the road by those friendly moroccons for some of the ubiquitous mint tea. like that nice family from norway asking me about my trip and then insisting that i follow them to their house for a shower, meal, and bed. that is what this trip is about. if you watch and believe cnn, nbc, etc., you begin to lose faith in humanity. when you travel the world on your bike, you regain it.
and now my three tires have found themselves in the land of scandinavia. sweden, to be exact. norway was first, and it will be again when i cross back over to go to the north cape, the northernmost point in europe. and then? down the finger of finland through estonia, latvia,
and lithuania. into poland and all over, this way and that, eastern europe. utlimately to turkey. and then it's georgia and azerbaijan and kazakhstan and china and i will just keep pointing my front wheel east east east until i lose interest, complete a circumbikeulation (or three), or die.
this trip has become a self-defined norm for me. i can imagine no other lifestyle. the day will of course come when the atm receipt reads $0.00. but until that day, i'm living it up!!hIrSch, who does not own a cell phone, has the amazing skill of sniffing out a town library and has been honing his stealth skills across the globe in order to update his blog from time to time, for free of course and free of suspecting librarians. Check out hIrSch's iFitiStObeiTisUptOmE blog from time to time.
Labels: Dirtbag Diaries, Living the Dream