Meeting Anne, Eric and Eric

This past weekend I attended the RawHyde California Rally II in Ballarat, California. When I left work on Friday afternoon, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this rally. I was going to arrive late on Friday night and wouldn’t have time to figure out who to ride with the next day. The next day, I was supposed to give a presentation on my trip. I would talk before Anne’s slide show of her motorcycle trip through Latin America. However, due to my busy schedule fixing the bike, buying gear and working I hadn’t had the time to come up with something to talk about – I wasn’t sure if I was going to talk anymore.

Ballarat dates back to the 1890s, when gold was discovered in the Panamint mountains. It was an oasis for thirsty prospectors. Today, only a few ruined foundations remain, most made of adobe

On Friday, after being stuck in traffic, getting lost and having been on the saddle for more than 6 hours I made it to the campsite at around 11 pm. Jim Hyde welcomed me and gave me a plate of warm food. I exchanged a few words with him and soon after I went to set-up my tent in the dark. While getting ready to go to bed I opened the tent to get water from my bag which was outside. As I was reaching for my bottle, a huge white spider took off running going over my hand. It freaked the hell out of me. The next day I was very meticulous in checking my gear to make sure there weren’t any weird creatures in them.

Saturday ride was fairly easy. For lunch we stopped in a place in the middle of the dessert that had water falls. I think it was destiny to have joined that riding group.  Anne came and sat next to me. I don’t think she knew who I was but I knew who she was because I had been reading her blog while she was traveling through Latin America. Shortly after she sat next to me I introduced myself and we talked like we had known each other for a long time. Meeting Anne was definitely more inspiring experience than meeting StrikingViking.

Anne decided to do this trip three years ago when she didn’t know how to drive a motorcycle. She bought a motorcycle, attended the RawHyde Adventure class, broke her foot while riding, saved some money and departed solo. Talk about being crazy and adventurous. Anne reassured me that I would have the time of my life doing this trip and that I shouldn’t worry about doing it alone. She actually told me that going alone would be the best decision I could ever make.  This is from a recent email I received from her:

“I am glad someone is taking off this year to do the trip. You will love it. And doing it alone is not a big problem. It is actually better I think in your case because you have a strong project behind it. This is great!” Talking to her was very encouraging!

After lunch we hit a couple of challenging parts with really deep sand. A couple of riders and me managed to go through the trail faster than the rest of the group. We met at the gas station were we could wait under some shade. After getting off the bike I noticed two riders drinking beer. That looked like a really good idea so I bought my self a cold one. It must have been that we were the only three riders drinking out of a group of 17 that made us get along right away. We got separated from the rest of the group after crossing a gnarly wash which the group decided to avoid. The three of us ended up riding and drinking together for the rest of the day. Later that day I found out that both rider’s name were Eric.  This is how Eric aka “the egg” recalls the day on the last email he sent me “I appreciated the camaraderie of the trip, that Saturday ride was great, I’m glad we met, be safe.”

Sunday was somewhat of an emotional day. I met great people during those two days and several riders who had heard me talk about my trip the night before came up to me to wish me luck on my Latin America trip. Saying good bye to Anne, Eric aka “the egg” and Eric aka “easy e” was bittersweet. I don’t know if I will ever see them again but they promised to keep in touch and help me out if I got in trouble during my trip.

This is Anne’s last post officially stating the end of her trip. I look forward to this day when I can say “I’ve done it!”

Anne’s Post:

End of March 2006, I am going back home…

Tierra del Fuego

This is it! Yep, the trip is over! I should have been to Brazil and visit some friends, see the famous Iguazu falls, relax on the beach, party in Rio and suddenly everything changed; I have decided to stop in Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina. I am not complaining as it is a hot place… very hot! The reason is simple, I have realized the challenge I gave to myself and from now on, the trip doesn’t give me anything anymore.

The extra to Brazil would have only been for pleasure but the critical financial situation and a potential contract coming in Europe have made me decide to stop here. As we say in French: “the shortest jokes are always the best jokes”. Well, my joke went on for 10 months (and I originally had planned 6 only), it is therefore time to think of moving on. What would another month on the saddle bring me? Eating more scenery and kilometers? Hearing more snores in sketchy hostels? Being bitten by how many more mosquitoes? Repeat again and again to unknown people how fast my bike goes, how much does it cost, why doing this trip… There is no more reason to do this trip because Alaska and Ushuaia are behind me and Bilou (Anne’s motorcycle) is such in a grumpy stage that she doesn’t even have a decent value for others… So, don’t be afraid of decisions, of having Craig and Lucy disappointed (if they are real friends they will understand). Go back home to fill up your tank again and leave to this trip the beauty it has built along the road.

But what is this beauty that I am talking about? First, I realized an old time dream: take the time in life to do alone a unique adventure. Then, I realized the challenge I gave to myself 3 years ago: going from the top north to the top south of the American continents on a motorbike in order to see authentic sceneries. Finally, I realized a rich human adventure in meeting so many different people along the road.

These people were all warmer and richer one after the other. Mentioning first my friends who supported, read, wrote, sponsored me during those long months of preparation and travel. Then the good moments during the trip with my travel companions… I can’t forget the multitude of people met in the street, at gas stations, in the middle of nowhere, just to exchange a few words, a look, an expression.

The ones who impressed me the most were the women in Peru and Bolivia coming and touching me without talking, in order to see if I was real, if it was possible that a woman could go on her own on that motorbike around the world. The adventure that I liked the most was by far the trip to La Higuera in Bolivia where between two very challenging trails, I met people who lived with Che Guevara.

But, most of all, what gave me warmth to the heart where those children, those kids met here and there with who I shared so many cookies and who I laughed with so often about simple things. Kids are the real life and I often had a “heavy heart” to leave them behind me knowing that their chance of healthy and interesting future was so low. Those feelings of weakness regarding poverty had also helped me to leave. At those moments, I would remember a very classic phrase from Mother Theresa regarding her charity center in Calcuta: ” it might be a rain drop, but if it wasn’t there, it would be missing.” I asked myself so often which rain drop I added to the world; I received so much during this trip… Well, one knows that in order to be able to give to someone, you need first to be a strong person, and this trip offered me the opportunity to build myself.

I am now in Buenos Aires with the little satisfaction of having realized, with as much love as possible, a very small rain drop for humanity. But I also have the big satisfaction of having realized, with as much fun as possible, an adventure of a life time. I am going back home confident and calm, and already thinking about the next trip, the next dream I am going to realize, a dream that I hope not to do alone, a dream that I hope to share and that will add a bigger rain drop to the world.

Come back soon…