Here are some thoughts about finishing my African trip and about why I’m doing this sort of travel.
During my African trip, every country had brought its challenges and I had never believed I would actually make it. Thinking of the heat and killing mosquitoes in West-Africa, to Ebola and the closing borders as a result, across ridiculously hilly Gabon only to get stuck in Congo Brazza with a visa about to expire, and no way to go. Then DRC with rainy season and 2000 km of impassable road so another flight. All hard decisions, made only after a lot of contemplating. Off-road in Zambia with big rocks and terrible food, extremely boring scenery in Botswana, soft gravel roads in Namibia and headwind all the way down to Cape Town. When stuck in Congo Brazza I was actually looking for a flight back home. Now, I am so glad I didn’t.
In fact it’s just the desire to explore new corners of the globe that makes me willing to suffer a great deal. In the end it all comes down to mind over matter. To not see limits and boundaries where most would. To attempt something big. To just go all the way for it. To just do it. And then to succeed in the end, well it felt very sweet. Arriving at the Cape of Good Hope was therefore quite emotional. I had suffered so much to get there. Motionless, I watched the ocean thinking of the hardship I went through. Was it worth it? Oh yes. While looking at the power of the ocean, I felt strong, just like the thundering waves. Now this may all sound very cheesy, but don’t get me wrong. Cycling Africa is not an enjoyable holiday. Nothing is straightforward. It takes a lot of effort to get through and the bad food doesn’t rejuvenates you. Cycling Africa is a challenge. I’m not saying it’s an expedition. It’s not like pulling a 200kg sledge across Antarctica to the South Pole. It’s just an adventurous travel.
For a young guy like me, I think facing a challenge is essential to one’s development. In order to learn, you have to leave your comfort zone. You have to get all the way out there. You have to know your boundaries and to know you can go even much further. Everything is possible. If you want it, you can get it. Many people tell me they also want to make a big trip, that they are jealous of what I do. Well then, just get off your ass and do it! I find it hard to understand why people in the end never get to do what they were telling, dreaming off.
Regret piles up around us like books we haven’t read yet. This trip made me deal with regret. Traveling is about finding your own way, your own interests. While in South Africa advertisement flyers about game parks, shark cage diving, bungee jumping,… in a way created some regret that I hadn’t gotten everything out of this trip. In general there is so much distraction around us creating regret if we don’t buy or do something. Traveling is about getting to know your priorities. It makes you not feeling bad about doing stuff in a different way. It makes you follow your feeling and instinct. If you feel good in a place, then why would you leave? If you love someone, then why would you take the road?
I noticed during my travels in the last years, that my way of traveling is always changing. If I had the knowledge I have now in the beginning of my trip, I would have had a very different trip. This is a very normal thing I think and one shouldn’t feel bad about it. Only excited about the next trip!
Read more about my African trip over at www.cyclographer.weebly.com