My dear friend Marie is from California but our paths didn't cross this time. Her target is a bike tour from USA until Argentina, exploring the whole America. It's been 2 years... A tour with ups and downs, a rollercoaster of emotions.
I'm not even hiding that I'm her big fan (remember when I first blogged about Marie?) , I can barely cycle 20 km and I'm already done ahah But her stories and pics are so inspiring that now I'm even considering one day to get a bike and GO.
Today she will share thoughts, points of views, feelings, advices, happiness and inspiration with all Shanti Free Bird readers. Marie also explains that not having money doesn't stop her to go on with her dream. There's always a way to get the money we need, believe it or not.
Thanks for sharing your wisdom :) Keep rockin' grrrrl!!!
I met Marta in Panama City at a couchsurfing home. At that time, I was not sure if I would continue my bicycle tour in South America. I was going broke- the 3 digit numbers in my savings account indicated this was so. No longer would I travel comfortably on savings, like the previous year. Disheartened, I chosen to not join my boyfriend to cross the ocean- instead I stayed in Panama CIty. I thought I should work in Panama, and in the most dire situation; go back to the States. Neither one appealed to me- I thought Panama City was horribly loud and I deemed going back to the States a failure to the journey. So, I heavily considered what I wanted to do, and what I had to do. I was not giving up. I was going to continue the tour to cycle to Patagonia. I had to hone up my available skills and put them to work on the road. My friends; Marta, Bruno, my hosts Leslie and Seth gave me much encouragement to not give up, and I was so fortunate for that.
If external support wasn't enough I had reminded myself the tenacity I had for good outcomes. When I was 22, I joined my boyfriend to move from San Francisco to Detroit, on a bicycle. At the end of summer in 2011, I had my doubts before I took off. Was it wise to give up my apartment that many wouldn't dare to lose the rent control? Not transfer to university in the fall? Furthermore, I was going to live in Detroit, the crime ridden city of America, going down into bankrupt hell in a hand basket. Was it some admirable approach to redefine the American Dream by squatting an abandoned, foreclosed house and grow a food garden out of a vacant lot? Or, was it a lifestyle downgrade? And the most dreaded thought; what would kill me first? A car or a gangster? I rode away from the security I thought I had, between a rent and a paycheck; a typical city life. I went to Detroit, to be the change.
The 2 month bike tour across the States was amazing with out any harm or accident. The day we arrived in Detroit, we were welcomed by lovely hippie and hipster folks on Goldengate Ave, and were invited to live on the burned out block with a family, for free, if we volunteered at the vegetarian/ well being center on the corner. A couple months later, I was invited to work at a medical marijuana dispensary. How about that? In the ghetto, I was participating in bringing peace and well being, and in a city with 14% unemployment and growing, the "dankest" job in the world was offered to me. There was abundance of great things in Motown; the projects, the friends, the creativity in the community. I love Detroit and now call it my home!
It was at a summer rainbow gathering that I decided I was going to finally get my ass to travel internationally as I always dreamed of. I decided to tour by bike which began crossing the border of Arizona into Mexico, and all the way until I reached the most southern point of the Americas, Patagonia. I had heaps of doubts, but the major concern was cycling alone through Mexico thanks to the warnings; (Cue the US citizens) "OMG Mexico.. you will die!" (Cue the Mexicans) "Dios mio, you will die.. if not here.. then in Guatemala!" Turned out, that after a week, I found friends to cycle with. And there was no troubles, contrast to many warnings that guaranteed danger. I turned motivated to be the proof that we don't have to fear life but to embrace it and love it. The year and half that I spent in Mexico and Central America, was another chapter of an amazing and liberating year where I learned a new language, fallen in love, and lived in 9 countries- never was attacked but had the pleasure to meet beautiful souls. And the living conditions were way more hardcore to endure, that made Detroit life seem like luxury! The journey was all going quite well.. but I feared it would all be over when the money runs out.
So it was in Panama, that I began to encounter my catalysts for hope.There was Cynthia, an Argentinian girl spinning fire at a main street stoplight, for tips. My curiosity lead to an invite to join her to "work" by taking some turns spinning fire pois. I made my own pair for a couple bucks and teamed up with her on the street. I made enough money in the weeks to finally be able to buy groceries for my host and still have extra money. I gained confidence, that I could still travel, even if I had to preform with fire at every stoplight in South America. I went to the coast to board a sailboat for Colombia via the San Blas Islands (which I don't regret spending what I had to do it). In Colombia, my boyfriend and I reunited, I worked in Cartagena, and the bike tour continued. A few cities later, I met (again) Argentinians, who had a cool business making empanadas and selling them in the streets. They showed my how to make them and invited me to sell them. And thus, I found more inspiration and encouragement from friends, that the solution was in my hands.
I think that many people are to afraid of taking the path that does not guarantee. They "would like to" but they believe the consequences are too terrifying. A common thread of fear is the loss of what brings us security; families, friends, a house; a salary. They too, fear of leaving their domestic lives, perhaps because they wouldn't know what to do, if the money runs out; or would regret to abandon the life they invested into, and fear they won't get it back if they had to return. In my case, the money ran out, so it was time to act, and focus on the way to solve it. I observed what people did to earn money, made time to work, and put a big smile on and ignored the awkward glares. I felt strange to be a "gringa" working on the street. However, most people were curious to know why I was working, and after telling them the money would fund my tour, they were more inclined to help by giving me money. I had something to be proud of; I was living the dream, and working so hard for it, even in a 3rd world country. I think it inspires (at least, I hope) to the people, that they can too.
On the road, I have experience the truth that adventure is at no cost, and security is found in the compassion of people. Adventure is peddling through a rainstorm, and find yourself eating a fried pig ear for breakfast after the restaurant owner let you crash in their undeveloped house sharing the children's room, in Nicaragua. Usually, it's not comfortable and it's not familiar, but wherever you may be years later, you will be telling these stories to your grandkids, smiling back in the comfort of nostalgia. I feel the work of fire spinning and selling empanadas is a fun activity that gets me interacting with the locals. The Latin hospitality is beautiful- the Colombians would invite us to take a break from the road for food or refreshments, and if we needed it- a space to camp or a bed. We had been so fortunate to be invited to participate in some amazing adventures- one, was joining our firemen friends on a mountaineering expedition on the 3rd highest volcano in Ecuador, Cayambe. When I look back, I see that all I ever wanted had came to me, it was all a matter of trying.
Wanna read more Marie's adventures ? Wanna droll on her pictures? Click here to acess her blog.