Sorry it’s been so long since I posted. We are currently in Aswan, Egypt awaiting the bikes coming over on the ferry from Sudan and since I finally have time to post stuff I thought I’d look through some of my old blogs I had planned to post but didn’t have quite enough time. I’m leaving the text exactly how it was so the attitude and feelings at the time of writing is best illustrated. It’s been crazy to read back through them and see where we’ve been and where we are now. Hope you enjoy.
The reason one writes or blogs is for reflection; for remembering and for realizing where one has come from, where one is at, and where one is going. So this is what I’ve decided to with this post. Reflect; and what better place to do it than our “half way” point here in Nairobi, Kenya.
Stephen and I had a great conversation over dinner when we arrived here and this is what came up.
We probably should have never made it this far.
When we both started this trip we didn’t have a clue about a lot.
I have now ridden about 5000 miles on a motorcycle in my life: before this trip I had ridden about 205 of them.
I had never been off the continent of North America.
I had never seen a “middle eastern” toilet.
Shit, I bought my first motorcycle helmet two days before I left the U.S.
I had no idea about African roads, where most countries actually were, or anything about overland motorcycle travel.
I didn’t really know the difference between a 4 stroke engine and 2 stroke engine or how to change the oil on our bikes.
While I feel like my knowledge of the bikes has increased dramatically, I still don’t know that much about them.
I don’t speak Swahili or Arabic and I’ve never had to acquire a visa in my life.
But here I am.
And when I sit and think about it there is very little that separates me from any other person in the U.S. I have no more qualifications or special talents than any other typical mid 20’s American aside from a few more saved up dollars.
But, if my bike blows up tomorrow I will be forever changed from this trip even though it’s only “halfway” done. The trip is no longer about the distance traveled or the countries seen; it’s about the change in our attitudes and approach to life that has been tested, been tried, and strengthened in both Stephen and I throughout the last 4000+ miles.
In Cape Town, when Stephen and I sat atop Table Mountain and looked north east and pointed in the general direction of Jerusalem, I didn’t know what to think and I don’t think I felt much of anything. Deep down, Nairobi, let alone Jerusalem felt more than a million miles away. I had no idea if we’d make it out of South Africa, into Botswana, or how far we’d make it. The only feelings I seemed to conjure up was those of little to no confidence and zero assurance which left me with a discomfort that all of us would prefer to avoid. This unknown so often becomes the hurdle few will jump over; for fear of falling, or probably more so the fear of not knowing where to go after it and wondering if there are bigger, harder hurdles further down the road.
The truth is: I was scared. The morning I woke up the day I left the U.S. I awoke early before my girlfriend and family and was alone; and for the first time fear really hit me in the face. I had no idea what the next 4 months with only a motorcycle, a bag, on a completely foreign continent would bring. I felt fear stronger than I had ever before in my life.
But, I knew I had to get dressed, get on a plane, and try to do something that really had just turned into a sentence of “I’m gonna try to motorcycle across Africa”, which I had no grasp of what that actually meant.
And thank God I did. I’ve experience things that I’d only previously dreamed about and moments we most often precede with “it would be so cool to”. With the push a great friend and support from an unbelievable family I tried what so many warned against (with good intentions) and it made all the difference. So many doubted or questioned the trip with legitimate reason, but thank God I didn’t let those fears stop me. I could be back home safe in my bed right now, but instead I drove like a maniac through Nairobi, Kenya today and am now sweating in a tent at a campground. But my soul is alive.
I’ve been blessed to grasp the same feelings I got to see my best friend experience this past summer. During his pursuit to become a Navy Seal he pushed through countless obstacles from giving up a career in baseball, having a chest injury going into arguably the hardest physical training in the world, and other issues with paperwork J). But he did it, not only becoming Seal, but graduating as the Honor Man (top of class).
I, like him, aren’t absent of fear at all. I felt it greatly the morning of August 19th and still feel it almost everyday. But, this trip has just been a lesson in learning to not let that fear paralyze our desires and control our dreams.
Should I be here? Most people would say probably not. Shoot, we are even becoming known within the overland community here are the crazy Americans; this coming from people who have been to 70+ countries and have unbelievable stories. The thing people can’t get over is that we never rode bikes before this trip. But, this craziness has garnered a respect from them. Why? Not sure, but I think they admire (and maybe even a little jealous of) the attitude of not knowing everything but not letting that stuff you and just going for it and seeing what happens.
I’m so grateful I had a great friend next to me who pushed me to conquer all the fear that surrounded this journey and help me through the time it was much easier to give in and take the comfortable safe option of staying home. We took the path less traveled and it has made all the difference.
Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.
- Mother Teresa