I quit my job to spend some time traveling the world by bicycle. I loved my work, but seven years in, at 28 years old, I knew I likely had another 35-40 years in the workforce ahead of me. With plenty of time for gainful employment, why not take some time now to pursue this other life experience that called me? Especially when I had good health on my side, and minimal personal responsibilities at home. I recognized this could all easily and quickly change with an accident or diagnosis in the case of the former and children or aging parents in the case of the latter. And, importantly for me, I had a partner who was pretty into the idea, too.
So, on July 6, 2017, Jay (my partner) and I left our home and our life in Washington, DC to begin our cycling journey in Cape Town, South Africa. We spent five months pedalling our way through Southern and Eastern Africa. 5500km’s through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania. Revolution after revolution by the Western Cape’s West Coast, through the Cederberg and the Karoo, across the Kalahari to the edge of the Okavango Delta, toward Victoria Falls and along Lake Malawi, and up and down the verdant hills of Tanganyika. Five months of high highs (sunsets on the beach in Cape Maclear and Zanzibar!) and low lows (hundreds of kilometres on uneven, unpaved roads in intense heat and headwinds), and so many memories on and off the bicycles.
This may seem like an unusual way to travel (and, understandably, it’s not for everyone!), but there are a bunch of awesome people out there traveling by bicycle. In all corners of the world! We’ve been fortunate to meet a few of them, hear stories of some who came before us and follow others on social media. It’s really inspiring to see what people are doing (and how/where they’re doing it!). To see what the human body and will are capable of, the beauty of our mother earth, and the kindness and generosity of strangers the world (and cultures) over.
Jay and I are still traveling the world by bicycle. We flew from Tanzania to Morocco in early December and, with the help of a ferry, we crossed the Strait of Gibraltar from the African continent to the European continent just before Christmas. We’re in Europe now, slowly (some days more surely than others) making our way toward Asia. There continue to be high highs and low lows. And while I fantasized about sitting in European cafes with a croissant and hot chocolate in hand (and unlimited, uninterrupted, fast, free wifi!) when we were in Africa, I now find myself in those European cafes longing to be back in the warm heart of Africa (Malawi!) and her wonderful, beautiful neighbours. I long to be a little less connected and for things to be a little less accessible and comfortable, and for that experience to make me that much more present and grateful.
I was messaging with our host (now friend!) from Dar es Salaam recently about these feelings. She’s from Italy, but has called Zambia and now Tanzania home the last several years. She responded, “Yes, Africa and Europe are such different worlds apart. You always miss the other one!”. I’m already dreaming of my return to Southern and Eastern Africa, on or off the bicycle. 🙂