Earthlings Through The Eyes Of A Wandering Biker (RTW Photos!)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by strikingviking, May 11, 2004.

  1. strikingviking

    strikingviking Long timer

    Joined:
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    Sumatra

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    Entering the Aceh province during the military withdrawal

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    Post tsunami Banda Aceh

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    200,000 swept out to sea, 200,000 left homeless after the Tsunami crashed through Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia

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    <link rel="File-List" href="file://localhost/Users/glenheggstad/Library/Caches/TemporaryItems/msoclip1/01/clip_filelist.xml"><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:DocumentProperties> <o:Template>Normal</o:Template> <o:Revision>0</o:Revision> <o:TotalTime>0</o:TotalTime> <o:pages>1</o:pages> <o:Words>635</o:Words> <o:Characters>3622</o:Characters> <o:Lines>30</o:Lines> <o:paragraphs>7</o:paragraphs> <o:CharactersWithSpaces>4448</o:CharactersWithSpaces> <o:Version>11.773</o:Version> </o:DocumentProperties> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG/> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <w:WordDocument> <w:Zoom>0</w:Zoom> <w:DoNotShowRevisions/> <w:DoNotPrintRevisions/> <w:DisplayHorizontalDrawingGridEvery>0</w:DisplayHorizontalDrawingGridEvery> <w:DisplayVerticalDrawingGridEvery>0</w:DisplayVerticalDrawingGridEvery> <w:UseMarginsForDrawingGridOrigin/> </w:WordDocument> </xml><![endif]--> <style> <!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"Times New Roman"; panose-1:0 2 2 6 3 5 4 5 2 3; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:50331648 0 0 0 1 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-parent:""; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} p.CM68, li.CM68, div.CM68 {mso-style-name:CM68; mso-style-next:Normal; margin-top:0in; margin-right:0in; margin-bottom:27.75pt; margin-left:0in; mso-pagination:none; mso-layout-grid-align:none; text-autospace:none; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Times;} p.CM2, li.CM2, div.CM2 {mso-style-name:CM2; mso-style-next:Normal; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:27.9pt; mso-pagination:none; mso-layout-grid-align:none; text-autospace:none; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Times;} p.CM3, li.CM3, div.CM3 {mso-style-name:CM3; mso-style-next:Normal; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:27.8pt; mso-pagination:none; mso-layout-grid-align:none; text-autospace:none; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Times;} p.CM23, li.CM23, div.CM23 {mso-style-name:CM23; mso-style-next:Normal; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; line-height:27.65pt; mso-pagination:none; mso-layout-grid-align:none; text-autospace:none; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Times;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> </style> <!--StartFragment--> Tsunamis <o:p></o:p>
    September 27, 2005 <o:p></o:p>
    Banda Aceh, Sumatra <o:p></o:p>

    Shortly after he turned sixty-three, my father died of a long anticipated, second heart attack. Even though I had left home as a teenager and we weren&#8217;t close, the anguishing aftermath of disbelief and denial lasted years. But since the age of sixteen, learning to cope with fending for myself without family ties fortified an independent spirit. While devastated at his funeral, I recall wondering, what is death of a loved one like for those with deeper roots? How painful is the passing of a child or spouse? <o:p></o:p>

    In developing nations, extended families are so tight-nit they often live together in one house. Elders are respected and depend on those they raised to care for them in their twilight years--the reason for overproducing offspring in countries without government safety nets. Children are Social Security; the ones that live long enough to work will feed them when no longer able to so themselves. Maybe that&#8217;s why natives smile and laugh while complaining less than Western counterparts&#8212; they might like a new color TV but know they will survive without one as long as they have each other. There is also far more open love and warmth between relatives--with that open love comes positive attitudes regarding their fate. <o:p></o:p>

    Throughout Asia, it&#8217;s unusual to find villagers not smiling. Is it the simple life minus anxiety over stock market prices or which conniving politician has stirred more animosity toward the other? There are no worries about evaluating portfolios and counting money--there isn&#8217;t any. As long as the basics of human survival exist, natives enjoy each other. Yes, they would prefer accessible health care, everyone wants to live better and longer but the hand they are dealt doesn&#8217;t include social remedies available in the West. Yet somehow, those of lesser means navigate life&#8217;s complications with little help from corrupt governments conspiring with greedy corporations. <o:p></o:p>

    But how do the vulnerable in a developing nation contend with one of the worst natural disasters in human history? In a ruthless rush of nature&#8217;s fury, on a sunny 2004 December afternoon, enormous ocean waves previously unknown to humankind penetrated three miles inland to pummel and consume all in the unsuspecting path. In a single wicked hydraulic pulse, two hundred thousand innocent mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters were instantly crushed or swept out to sea. <o:p></o:p>

    Riding over rutted trails among the remaining concrete foundations of a city that used to exist is an eerie drift among forsaken tombstones as a silencing hell flickers with smoldering images of eternal agony. Twisted steel rebar poking from jagged brick ruins reach out as skeletal fingers toward the sky, beckoning for remembrance. A gasping scene of heartbreak brings the despair into focus watching ragged young orphan boys with filthy faces, sniffing bags of glue. Gazing into the lingering carnage is a similar experience to visiting the S-21 Torture Museum in Cambodia with the same sense of breathless horror. <o:p></o:p>

    Yet, again, the human spirit prevails. Among sun-bleached, frayed canvas tents flapping in the salty tropical breeze, splintering plywood shelters and makeshift noodle stands are being hammered into shape. Survivors too busy for pity are hauling wood, digging trenches or loading trucks with sacks of cement and homemade tools. And still, workers laboring in the sticky heat stop to smile and wave, pitching familiar questions. &#8220;Mistah wahs you name?&#8221; While reeling from the stomach-churning shock, what does one say to the humble brave who just lost what little they had and everyone they love? &#8220;Salamat siang, apa kabar?&#8221; Good afternoon, how are you? To relieve my discomfort, an elderly, crooked-tooth rickshaw driver paused roadside asks, &#8220;You have come to see Tsunami?&#8221; <o:p></o:p>

    Knowing much can be spoken with just the eyes, I touch mine, then his, &#8220;No, I have come to see you.&#8221; In a moment&#8217;s locked gaze I try to convey that the world has not forgotten the tragedy he recalls every second. Traumatic events that jolt into the mind eventually spew out&#8212;I can&#8217;t help but wonder what could these tormented ones dream of at night. Happy faces and steady smiles can&#8217;t disguise what they relive when clenching their eyes. But with two hundred thousand still homeless and hungry, maybe a world preoccupied with newer disasters, is forgetting. <o:p></o:p>
    #41
  2. strikingviking

    strikingviking Long timer

    Joined:
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    Onto the West Coast Wasteland
    September 28, 2005
    Lamno, Aceh Province, Sumatra

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    Accumulating travel information for roads and places that no longer exist is difficult in Banda Aceh. Since their limited world has ended, surviving inhabitants were unsure of what was left down the next stretch of beach. Trying to convey how I wanted to ride back along the devastated west coast of Aceh province was as difficult as explaining why. Since their answer to everything was &#8220;Soo naam mee,&#8221; it was best to proceed and update along the way. By all accounts, the single lane highway on Sumatra&#8217;s northwest coast was consumed by the Tsunami and the few remaining isolated villages were being supplied by airdrop.

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    Learning the road to Lamno had been cleared was encouraging. Lamno, as the site of the first major bridge collapse, is the last stop heading south along the Indian Ocean with relatively fresh food and supplies. A beat down flophouse hostel became a welcome refuge at the end of the day while gauging the terrain. An optimistic native&#8217;s suggestion that riding the waterline at low tide could connect to more intact roads on higher ground further down was the spark I needed to gamble.

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    There wasn&#8217;t much to go wrong except a time-consuming retreat to Banda Aceh if encountering solid jungle or open sea. UN relief workers insisted &#8220;It takes five hours on the good road just to reach Lamno, that&#8217;s only the first sixty miles. Then comes the hard part, finding a way around washed out bridges to reach the next organized city one hundred fifty miles south to Meulaboh.&#8221; But their five-hour ride was in convoy under military escort, mine, including photo stops was actually three and most of this was passable asphalt that ran from the seaside, twisting back through delicious, isolated coastal mountains. Without using his weapon, a BAM fighter along the way hand-signaled me aside offering tea and rice cakes. So much for rumors of Muslim guerrillas murdering civilians.

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    Investigating a variety of exaggerated tales alleviates apprehension. Two German backpackers killed for violating the curfew were actually accidentally shot by the military and much further south. Tourism has been non-existent since the fighting began and the hikers had been camping in a combat zone when a jungle army patrol stumbled upon them sleeping in their tent. Failing to communicate understandable commands to exit with their hands up, and unable to see who was inside, they were presumed rebels and wary soldiers promptly opened fire. The wounded woman survived but her husband did not. Still, hearsay panics the listeners.
    There is plenty of fuel in Sumatra but unfounded claims of supplies diminishing, caused city-block-long lines at gas stations. But as a Westerner, accommodating attendants assumed I was an NGO worker and waved me to the front.

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    Wild tales of two young un-chaperoned couples whipped and caned by religious authorities were also unfounded. They were actually caught illegally drinking beer together and as a lesson to others disregarding Islamic Law, were unceremoniously paraded around the town square in the back of a pickup truck. Even though regulations regarding male-female contact are strict, Muslim women in groups are always anxious to talk, displaying sweet, open personalities that defy their conservative dress.
    While on an after-dinner ride on the outskirts of Lamno, four young native women waved me over to warn of the 6:00PM curfew outside of villages.

    After pantomiming gestures of firing invisible pistols and rifles, they were convincing enough that staying to chat with them was a better idea. As our conversation progressed to wanting to be photographed, one in particular displayed a noticeable liking for foreigners by standing closer than normal with a longing smile. In surprising contrast to local custom, in front of the others, she invited me to sleep at her house. For wandering motorcyclists, come-ons from local girls are common, but in the past, were always in private, away from prying eyes of gossiping town folk. Yet most of those opportunities were accompanied by optimistic agendas followed by sullen faces when learning I was back on the road at dawn. It has been proven wise to avoid them.

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    Still, specific intent gets lost in translations, especially when using sign language with limited vocabulary. But this bright-eyed, olive-skinned beauty skipping and laughing in the deep silvery moonlight was persuasive. Placing clasped palms together next to her tilting head, then touching two index fingers in parallel while next pointing to her and then me, was a significant gesture too obvious to ignore.

    There may have been another meaning but recalling earlier when examining her recorded images on the camera playback screen, she had pressed a set of very firm breasts on my arm&#8212;combined with not wearing a headscarf, her gestures sure looked like a green light from here. But what may have been okay with her was likely to be reported by nosy neighbors resulting in a public caning or castration or both. In a region that just fought a bloody war to return to biblical values, no matter the lure, the very least of consequence was a machete-induced marriage in the morning.

    Back in the mosquito infested hotel room beneath the monotonous hum of the lopsided rotating ceiling fan, the bulk of the night was consumed pondering undergarment colors and the garden scent of a young woman&#8217;s hair. In the morning, I resisted a hormone-influenced urge to return for reconsideration&#8212;but a lesson well learned is that if turning down a woman once, you will never be given a second chance. (No matter how hard you beg)

    After a cool water-bucket shower and four greasy eggs, I repacked my gear and proceeded to the knoll where the first major bridge had been yanked out to sea. Proving once again mastery over man, aqua tinted ocean waves continued to brush against remaining fragmented pillars. Standing alone on the brim of a forbidding wasteland extending to the horizon, gazing across the gaping expanse was a sobering warning of what lay ahead.

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    #42
  3. strikingviking

    strikingviking Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    Indonesia
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    <o:p></o:p> September 30, 2005 <o:p></o:p>
    Meulaboh, Aceh Province, Sumatra

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    In the summer of 1978, curious about sensational media reports of feuding Protestants and Catholics blowing each other up in Belfast, I boarded a flight to Dublin to see for myself. Was the whole country at war and were Christians, and Irish in particular, somehow more violent and dangerous than the rest of us? Backpacking through rich green farmlands and contemporary cities by thumb seemed a good method to investigate. <o:p></o:p>

    Spending a month hitchhiking cross-country doesn&#8217;t qualify anyone as an expert but while questioning the Irish kind enough to offer a lift and sleeping with families in Bed & Breakfasts, this was a decent way to catch a glimpse into the mind and soul of the people. Yet despite sensationalist US media reports, outside of certain sections of Belfast, I could only find working men and women quietly sharing their lives in white plastered cottages nestled in between sections of neat, stone fences dividing emerald green pastures. What about alcoholism and the proverbial Irish temper? <o:p></o:p>

    It&#8217;s true they love their Guinness and are better than average boxers, but while recording impromptu private interviews using a pocketsize micro-cassette, I could not find anyone who condoned sectarian violence. Instead, like a chorus of typical country folk, they all repeated a slogan hard to forget--&#8220;Aye, it tis&#8217;, it tis&#8217; that we are all God&#8217;s creatures.&#8221; Although the Northerner&#8217;s disagreements and sometimes violent confrontations involved more politics than church, the rest of the otherwise law abiding Catholics and Protestants were being instigated by extremists. With an occupying British government stuck in the middle, violence was begetting violence, but still, only in a few counties of Northern Ireland. <o:p></o:p>

    Religious zealots killing each other is nothing new, but recently the art of mass murder in the Islamic world has been refined with car and suicide bombings. Now, instead of bloodthirsty Christians, images of fanatical terrorist Muslims dominate the media. A similar struggle within Islam between Sunni and Shiite factions rages in Iraq and on a much milder scale between moderates and fundamentalists here in Indonesia. It&#8217;s not a matter of crazies being either from Christianity or Islam; it&#8217;s ignorant people taking religious doctrine out of context to justify extremism. <o:p></o:p>

    But if nine of the finest legal scholars in America cannot interpret the carefully worded US Constitution unanimously, how can simple villagers understand difficult to read Bibles and Korans thousands of years old? No matter how clearly ideas are written, either side can manipulate them to rationalize their position. In the Bill of Rights, US gun laws underscore the point. <o:p></o:p>

    Despite the confusion, brokered settlements over regional conflicts by disinterested parties sometimes succeed. Just this month, in Indonesia&#8217;s Aceh province, optimistic Finns negotiated hard with intransigent political leaders to align government and rebel positions. And finally, thanks to the persistence of interested foreigners combined with recovery from an enormous disaster, there is a chance for peace and a return to Islamic law acceptable to all.

    With most of the International aid workers stationed in Sumatran cities, I&#8217;ve only seen dedicated foreign AMM members out spinning their tires in the mud. An aggressive Aceh Monitoring Mission has dispersed a fleet of late model four-wheel-drives equipped with satellite communications and window stickers showing circled machine guns with lines drawn across. <o:p></o:p>

    Their mission is to scour rural strongholds collecting weapons surrendered by rebels and then trade them to military officials in exchange for repositioning troops. The results are astounding, as everyone I encountered has insisted the program is ahead of schedule. If there is a silver-lining to merciless disaster, it is in pulling sworn enemies together for the good of humanity. <o:p></o:p>

    Today is a new start and even the clear cobalt sky is empty, as a radiating mid-latitude sun holds monsoon rains at bay and soggy trails firm enough to ride. But while balancing motorcycle tires over flexing coconut tree bridges and dragging through the bog, it&#8217;s difficult to understand this need to witness devastation. As the roadway ends again in a swollen estuary requiring another backtrack, I wonder &#8220;What&#8217;s the logic of witnessing tragedy with those whom I&#8217;ll never see again?&#8221; <o:p></o:p>

    Except for AMM personnel, I have not seen any other Westerners. Foreign relief workers in larger cities coordinate from a distance but it&#8217;s the silent, surviving mothers, fathers and siblings who provide the grinding labor to reconstruct their lives. Scattered down the coast, surviving villagers stoop in the heat replanting flooded rice paddies while others hand cut timber to build new fishing boats. None are idle or complaining in a struggle to walk together for the common good&#8212;crisis has brought peace to Indonesia, though it&#8217;s a long road back. <o:p></o:p>

    Bottled water is everywhere but my stash of bananas and canned fish paste ran out yesterday. At a thatched roof noodle stand, an old woman flustered by having a customer, smiles while clearing a place to sit on sawed-off tree stump chairs. Five dollars buys a scoop of cold rice and three shriveled chicken necks refried everyday because there has been no one with money to buy them. If chewing long enough, fishy-smelling flesh cooked hard as plastic turns stringy bits soft enough to swallow. I can only imagine what mealtimes are like for locals.

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    Roads along fluffy, pale beaches were long swept away but as suggested by villagers, at low tide they connected to solid tarmac on higher ground.

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    A Ritcter scale nine point zero originally triggered the main Tsunami but sporadic aftershocks of fives and sixes have continued since. Reports of yesterday&#8217;s are unnerving. With one eye on the waters edge, I constantly measure the terrain for rapid escape routes through shady palm tree groves to higher ground. <o:p></o:p>

    Once above sea level, controlled slides over mud and sand surrender their hold into a euphoric glide through a pulsating jungle reclaiming multi-mile-long strips of asphalt not used anymore.

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    Soaring beneath refreshing canopies of towering hardwoods stimulates troubling introspection as the splendor of solitude in paradise turns grimacing horror. Each time reaching another fallen bridge formally connecting villages across deltas, ghastly reality strikes hard while understanding the reason for this blissful isolation is that those who once lived here, recently perished. I shudder at the irony that it requires dreadful catastrophe to bring such peace and I wonder if this is a message. <o:p></o:p>
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    #43
  4. strikingviking

    strikingviking Long timer

    Joined:
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    Books are in the mail--just received mine
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    EARTH RIDE!
    #44
  5. strikingviking

    strikingviking Long timer

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    What was left of Banda Aceh, Sumatra. (A few months after the Tsunami)

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    It was so difficult to imagine that a city once existed here as aid workers, journalists and a wandering biker knelt in what used to be the downtown center, reeling total shock. It was though a nuclear bomb had exploded.

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    Tossed around and crumpled in the waves

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    Three miles inland this boat came to rest

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    In search of stranded villages

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    The only way out was a low tide ride

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    Heading into Java

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    More tire repairs crossing Java

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    #45
  6. strikingviking

    strikingviking Long timer

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Stumbling Through the Clouds
    November 11, 2005
    Airborne Over Madagascar

    From five miles up, I drift into a sensation of whirling displacement, staring out the dual-Plexiglas window of a roaring jet missile. While suspended in motion among idle puffy clouds, a muted fiery sun rises against the curve of the earth. Trapped in the disorienting daze of the continental-hop, while on a precarious slide into the role of uneasy alien, I wrestle to contain images of primal cultures I&#8217;ll soon invade.

    In 1988, when first returning to California from living in Asia, culture shock did not strike me until re-encountering familiar surroundings. Even promptly barging back into old routines with lifetime friends, social adjusting took a year. No one but other long-term travelers understood the misalignment that occurs when attempting to return home. Similar feelings intensified in 2002 when completing my South American ride, resulting in an about-face from Palm Springs for a four-month retreat to Central America. After that, still restless inside, I embarked on another extended visit back to Mexico, only to return to California long enough to organize the present journey. So where does all this wandering lead?

    There is a psychological line that long-term international travelers cross that marks a point of no return&#8212;that is when we surrender to the lure and take the expatriate plunge by deciding to live in a foreign country. I grapple with these sentiments daily, often by the hour&#8212;what to do once back in the US or where to finally settle and grow old. This morning, when boarding a plane crowded with package-tour Europeans exiting Bali, culture shock exploded like a series glaring light bulbs. One would assume that with time spent in sociable Indonesia, these tired tourists would have adopted some friendliness and lost the unpleasant frowns.

    To smooth jagged edges of a harsh life in the Developing World, no matter their circumstance, everyone smiles. As learned in Tsunami ravaged Banda Aceh, not even the horrors of nature&#8217;s ruthless rampage could smother the local&#8217;s heart-spun smile. If by chance I encounter a native not smiling, I fire one first and immediately that little brown face erupts into a mouthful of sparkling pearls. But smiling at strangers causes suspicion in the West where it signals attempts to manipulate, or becomes a cocktail waitress&#8217;s favorite tool. The most dreaded effect aboard this hurtling capsule is being trapped in the awkward chill of subdued spirits.

    Since most hotels in Bali were empty, it was an annoying surprise encountering partitioned rows of emotionless Caucasians with sunburned faces and worn expressions. And how is it I can be so uncomfortable with my own kind? Have I become the dog who has played with the ducks so long, he thinks he is a duck? In thirty years of wandering seventy countries, from Mongolian nomads to Amazon Indians, I have interacted with almost every major race and culture except Black African. And now, to the dismay of those at home, that questionable exploration awaits when this 747 lands in Cape Town.

    When first explaining to friends and relatives wild ideas of continuing my global ride after unfortunate events in Colombia, there were long faces with forced smiles. They may share the splendor of adventure reading these journals but they also suffer unfairly worrying about the pitfalls. Even though the South American adventure turned out for the best, the horrendous hell my loved ones endured for five weeks not knowing if I was dead or alive took its toll, probably more on them than me. Announcing I was subjecting them to a second round of grating anxiety had a price.

    Although everyone appeared positive and feigned excitement, no one but my closest brothers really understood. Cracks and distances between rock solid relationships widened in the deepening gloom of an approaching departure date. None of us could stand the strain of another emotional train-wreck. India, first of the two biggest risks on this route, has passed with only a stomachache and frazzled nerves. Now, a glowing African sky pulsates with forbidding images of genocide, famine and disease, jabbed with sporadic states of civil war. But somehow, I know it is going to be different and the Dark Continent will welcome this curious Gringo.

    When first committing to embark on this odyssey, I told Brad that I would only be gone a year with no intentions of leaving the pavement. I aimed to confine the ride to developing nations but also to sidestep even the most remote hazards. And today, with recent pledges to be home by January, my course has veered again. So far, I&#8217;ve been a traveler without an established itinerary, just a general direction around the earth that was subject to change by political barriers or weather patterns. Originally, Africa was not an option, but a lengthy conversation with a fellow traveler, stimulated further consideration. &#8220;Glen you have to do Africa, life won&#8217;t be complete without visiting the Masai of Kenya.&#8221;

    That very same afternoon an experience while questioning a cashier in a Seattle convenience store cemented my determination. While paying for a tank of gasoline, hearing a shiny-black-skinned girl&#8217;s unfamiliar accent sparked my curiosity. &#8220;Okay, you&#8217;re not British or Jamaican, where are you from?&#8221;

    In a laughing voice behind sincere brown eyes, she answered in a series of soft jingling bells, &#8220;I an fron Eet tee oh pee ah.&#8221; A homely girl with a happy face--she flowed lithe as a hand-carved ebony figurine and during twenty minutes of dialogue between attending to customers and answering her cell phone, she spoke of a distant homeland. &#8220;I con to Ahmeerica to be weet my famalee but I mees my contree so much. I an goin back to there soon.&#8221; Her comment caught me off guard. From the security and affluence of America, how can anyone miss the suffering of Ethiopia? What could cause such yearning for the tragedies reported about one of Africa&#8217;s poorest nations?

    As of that moment, the solution was simple, I had to go and find out for myself. Now when meeting black Africans while traveling, I startle them by boldly announcing &#8220;I&#8217;ll be in your country next year.&#8221; But I am not proceeding blind--this time I am protected by omens.

    Is there such a thing as prediction and prophets? There had better be. While standing in line transferring planes in Malaysia, an Indian Sikh sitting in cross-legged meditation suddenly opened his eyes to wave me closer. With his bulging head layered in a white linen Turban, he radiated a sage&#8217;s wisdom. From behind a scraggly beard framing a tan wrinkled face, he stared direct into my eyes--uttering simple words &#8220;Many great things lie ahead for you.&#8221; As abruptly as he surfaced, he cast down his gaze and retreated to where he had been journeying, and I, with no further apprehension, took another confident step ahead toward the immensity of Africa.

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    Yes that's a bird's nest

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    And how does one escape an empty desert with a six inch slash in a rear tire--complicated by not having a spare?
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    After a few days pondering and running out of water, the solution became simple. Just use the same sharp volcanic rocks that originally ripped the gash to pound the locks off of a security cable and fashion a tournaquet.

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    #46
  7. strikingviking

    strikingviking Long timer

    Joined:
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    Approaching Namibia from South Africa

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    After near extermination of the indigenous tribes, southern Africa developed from European stock in a similar time-frame, though on a smaller scale than the US. Roads, terrain and architecture look the same except that cities are further apart with less development in between.

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    Entering the Namib Desert north bound.

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    In Namibia, when I am not camping in the desert, scattered remote farmhouses established by eighteenth century German immigrants provide soft spongy beds in hundred-year-old, but polished clean wooden bunkhouses.

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    Overnights with old-time homesteaders are refreshing upgrades with outdoor stone bathrooms and communal kitchens to cook fresh butchered lamb chops that farmers sell.

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    But the repeating scenery grew old as roads toward the coast remained washboard gravel with endless miles of beige colored sand. <o:p></o:p>

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    Then suddenly Africa erupts into the glory of geological splendor.

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    Approaching the celebrated Red Dunes of Sussusvlei, diesel truckloads of young European overland voyagers rumbled in for their share of tourist gouging. Prices are shockingly high. With southern Africa lacking a competitive industrial base, most goods are imported and heavily taxed while greedy merchants also take advantage by exploiting budgeting travelers who have no choice where to shop. Compared to Asia, this region is unreasonably expensive, so trucking overlanders spend most of their trips camping, with occasional evenings in Backpacker hostels for hot showers and Internet connections. Before the rampage of civil war in Sudan made it too risky to traverse, the common route for these hearty adventurers was through Eastern Africa, beginning from Cairo and ending in Cape Town.

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    But recently, combined with the open banditry of Northern Kenya, the new course has become Nairobi to Cape Town. (Now the genocide in Darfur can continue with fewer witnesses.) <o:p></o:p>

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    #47
  8. PackMule

    PackMule love what you do

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Oddometer:
    19,493
    Location:
    New Hampshah
    Because of the loss of photos from the original SV Bumming the World thread and the subsequent removal of the journals due to publishing contracts, Glen has allowed me to compile this thread from various sources in a way that doesn't get him in hot water.

    Think of it as sort of a "photo companion" to the new book. :norton

    As additional photos become available, they will be added in-line with the others. I'll post a note when such additions are made as you'll have to go back in the thread to view them.



    Because of the "Ghetto-IT" that was required to pull this off, you may notice irregularities with post dates and other technical oddities. Let me assure you, the content is entirely SV's and has been in no way altered or censored by us.



    Thanks for defining EPIC, Glen. It's good to have this back. :webers
    #48
  9. PackMule

    PackMule love what you do

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2005
    Oddometer:
    19,493
    Location:
    New Hampshah
    If you'd like to discover more (much more) about the man behind the lens and keyboard, check out Glen's contribution to the ADV Interview Series. :webers
    #49
  10. DataDaddy

    DataDaddy @ the new dad thing

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    7,559
    Location:
    back a'ridin...
    This is one of the trails that led me to Adv :deal

    Thanks SV

    and thanks for all the hard work Pac!
    #50
  11. Stravoxylo

    Stravoxylo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2008
    Oddometer:
    419
    Location:
    LI NY
    SVs travels are what brought me to ADV also.
    thanks to PM for the work of putting this together.

    Just read the new book, and the added photos here compliment it nicely.
    #51
  12. strikingviking

    strikingviking Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2002
    Oddometer:
    2,968
    Location:
    Mazatlán
    Stay tuned for Africa
    #52
  13. japslap

    japslap Japslap

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    143
    Location:
    Not so Great Britain
    Fantastic journey,and some gorgeous women............:1drink
    #53
  14. jposttx

    jposttx Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2006
    Oddometer:
    179
    Location:
    Gulf Coast of Texas
    Thanks again Amigo - this is the STUFF!
    #54
  15. Sergeant Joe

    Sergeant Joe Sitrep=Snafu

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    244
    Location:
    Tasmania,Australia
    top stuff mate:clap , The best world babe fest I have ever seen:evil .
    #55
  16. rawdog

    rawdog Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2008
    Oddometer:
    829
    :lurk
    #56
  17. rockjohn

    rockjohn Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    567
    Location:
    VA
    Ordering the book today. Old boy has an eye for the ladies. :D
    #57
  18. strikingviking

    strikingviking Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2002
    Oddometer:
    2,968
    Location:
    Mazatlán
    Old...boy...now that is a perfect description.
    #58
  19. Thorne

    Thorne Sherpa-ing around

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,206
    Location:
    Lone Pine, ON, Canada
    :lurk ................
    #59
  20. strikingviking

    strikingviking Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2002
    Oddometer:
    2,968
    Location:
    Mazatlán
    Stumbling Through the Clouds
    November 11, 2005
    Airborne Over Madagascar

    From five miles up, I drift into a sensation of whirling displacement, staring out the dual-Plexiglas window of a roaring jet missile. While suspended in motion among idle puffy clouds, a muted fiery sun rises against the curve of the earth. Trapped in the disorienting daze of the continental-hop, while on a precarious slide into the role of uneasy alien, I wrestle to contain images of primal cultures I’ll soon invade.

    In 1988, when first returning to California from living in Asia, culture shock did not strike me until re-encountering familiar surroundings. Even promptly barging back into old routines with lifetime friends, social adjusting took a year. No one but other long-term travelers understood the misalignment that occurs when attempting to return home. Similar feelings intensified in 2002 when completing my South American ride, resulting in an about-face from Palm Springs for a four-month retreat to Central America. After that, still restless inside, I embarked on another extended visit back to Mexico, only to return to California long enough to organize the present journey. So where does all this wandering lead?

    There is a psychological line that long-term international travelers cross that marks a point of no return—that is when we surrender to the lure and take the expatriate plunge by deciding to live in a foreign country. I grapple with these sentiments daily, often by the hour—what to do once back in the US or where to finally settle and grow old. This morning, when boarding a plane crowded with package-tour Europeans exiting Bali, culture shock exploded like a series glaring light bulbs. One would assume that with time spent in sociable Indonesia, these tired tourists would have adopted some friendliness and lost the unpleasant frowns.

    To smooth jagged edges of a harsh life in the Developing World, no matter their circumstance, everyone smiles. As learned in Tsunami ravaged Banda Aceh, not even the horrors of nature’s ruthless rampage could smother the local’s heart-spun smile. If by chance I encounter a native not smiling, I fire one first and immediately that little brown face erupts into a mouthful of sparkling pearls. But smiling at strangers causes suspicion in the West where it signals attempts to manipulate, or becomes a cocktail waitress’s favorite tool. The most dreaded effect aboard this hurtling capsule is being trapped in the awkward chill of subdued spirits.

    Since most hotels in Bali were empty, it was an annoying surprise encountering partitioned rows of emotionless Caucasians with sunburned faces and worn expressions. And how is it I can be so uncomfortable with my own kind? Have I become the dog who has played with the ducks so long, he thinks he is a duck? In thirty years of wandering seventy countries, from Mongolian nomads to Amazon Indians, I have interacted with almost every major race and culture except Black African. And now, to the dismay of those at home, that questionable exploration awaits when this 747 lands in Cape Town.

    When first explaining to friends and relatives wild ideas of continuing my global ride after unfortunate events in Colombia, there were long faces with forced smiles. They may share the splendor of adventure reading these journals but they also suffer unfairly worrying about the pitfalls. Even though the South American adventure turned out for the best, the horrendous hell my loved ones endured for five weeks not knowing if I was dead or alive took its toll, probably more on them than me. Announcing I was subjecting them to a second round of grating anxiety had a price.

    Although everyone appeared positive and feigned excitement, no one but my closest brothers really understood. Cracks and distances between rock solid relationships widened in the deepening gloom of an approaching departure date. None of us could stand the strain of another emotional train-wreck. India, first of the two biggest risks on this route, has passed with only a stomachache and frazzled nerves. Now, a glowing African sky pulsates with forbidding images of genocide, famine and disease, jabbed with sporadic states of civil war. But somehow, I know it is going to be different and the Dark Continent will welcome this curious Gringo.

    When first committing to embark on this odyssey, I told Brad that I would only be gone a year with no intentions of leaving the pavement. I aimed to confine the ride to developing nations but also to sidestep even the most remote hazards. And today, with recent pledges to be home by January, my course has veered again. So far, I’ve been a traveler without an established itinerary, just a general direction around the earth that was subject to change by political barriers or weather patterns. Originally, Africa was not an option, but a lengthy conversation with a fellow traveler, stimulated further consideration. “Glen you have to do Africa, life won’t be complete without visiting the Masai of Kenya.”

    That very same afternoon an experience while questioning a cashier in a Seattle convenience store cemented my determination. While paying for a tank of gasoline, hearing a shiny-black-skinned girl’s unfamiliar accent sparked my curiosity. “Okay, you’re not British or Jamaican, where are you from?”

    In a laughing voice behind sincere brown eyes, she answered in a series of soft jingling bells, “I an fron Eet tee oh pee ah.” A homely girl with a happy face--she flowed lithe as a hand-carved ebony figurine and during twenty minutes of dialogue between attending to customers and answering her cell phone, she spoke of a distant homeland. “I con to Ahmeerica to be weet my famalee but I mees my contree so much. I an goin back to there soon.” Her comment caught me off guard. From the security and affluence of America, how can anyone miss the suffering of Ethiopia? What could cause such yearning for the tragedies reported about one of Africa’s poorest nations?

    As of that moment, the solution was simple, I had to go and find out for myself. Now when meeting black Africans while traveling, I startle them by boldly announcing “I’ll be in your country next year.” But I am not proceeding blind--this time I am protected by omens.

    Is there such a thing as prediction and prophets? There had better be. While standing in line transferring planes in Malaysia, an Indian Sikh sitting in cross-legged meditation suddenly opened his eyes to wave me closer. With his bulging head layered in a white linen Turban, he radiated a sage’s wisdom. From behind a scraggly beard framing a tan wrinkled face, he stared direct into my eyes--uttering simple words “Many great things lie ahead for you.” As abruptly as he surfaced, he cast down his gaze and retreated to where he had been journeying, and I, with no further apprehension, took another confident step ahead toward the immensity of Africa.

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    Yes that's a bird's nest

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    And how does one escape an empty desert with a six inch slash in a rear tire--complicated by not having a spare?
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    After a few days pondering and running out of water, the solution became simple. Just use the same sharp volcanic rocks that originally ripped the gash to pound the locks off of a security cable and fashion a tournaquet.

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    #60