Monthly Archives: August 2014

Mental mapping

Africa_map

This drawing reflects my mental map of Africa. It also explains why I am reconsidering my plans to travel to Africa…

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Why we travel

Recently I read another tedious Wikipedia article.

This time it was about ‘taxis’, a concept in biology that relates the movements of an organism to certain stimuli. The best known example is so-called phototaxis which describes the movement of an organism towards a light source.

Though phototaxis normally applies to microorganisms, it also seems useful in describing the migration of those  sun-deprived tourists who flock to the Mediterranean beaches every year. I find the parallel interesting as it suggests a behavioural origin of travel.

Last year there were 1087 million international tourist arrivals. There were also some 16 million refugees fleeing their country in that same year. They all travelled in wildly different directions, but essentially, all those millions responded to certain stimuli.

Alexander the Great travelled in search of conquests, traders travelled in search of trade and scientists travelled in search of…  well, more science, I guess. Again, they all responded to certain stimuli.

Except for Robert Louis Stevenson, an established nineteenth century fruitcake, who  wrote:

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move; to feel the needs and hitches of our life more nearly; to come down off this feather-bed of civilisation, and find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints.

I underwrite these words except for the cutting flints. You don’t need cutting flints when you’re riding a bicycle.

Robert Louis Stevenson also wrote Treasure Island, a book that strenghtened my resolve to become a treasure hunter, that is,  if I happen to fail in bicycle touring.

But I digress, I haven’t even begun bicycle touring yet.

whywetravel

Why we really travel…   Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum.

NFAQ

What does NFAQ mean?
– Not (so) frequently asked questions. Like this one.
Or the next one:

Where is your caravan?
– I don’t have a caravan.
This was asked by a little girl at a campsite in the Netherlands.

You do not have a caravan?
– No, I sleep In my tent.
I waved at the tent I was sitting next to.

You’re nuts.
Technically that is not a question.

Are you nuts?
Is a question, but it belongs firmly in the FAQ category…

Who was Buffalo Calf Road Woman?
– A Cheyenne woman who died of malaria in 1878. She was famous for something or other which you can read all about on wikipedia.

Are you from Japan?
– No… uhm?!?
This was asked by a receptionist at a hotel in Bangladesh.

sinhalese
Sign in the Temple of the Tooth, Kandy, Sri Lanka.

Mild fear

Bicycle touring does include certain risks and as a consequence it inspires mild fear.
A common method of overcoming fear is to put things in perspective. That is, if you still have time to live.

A consistent fear I have is the fear of finding out that I don’t like bicycle touring for a considerable length of time. But the worst thing that could happen then, is I have to send the bike back home, buy a suitcase and travel onwards in a more conventional, if not more comfortable, way. Another fear I have is my bicycle will break down in some remote area. The worst thing that could happen then, is I can’t mend it and I will need to find a bush mechanic and let him repair my bike. I’ll give him a jar of jam.

But that’s not really the worst thing that could happen, is it? The worst thing that could happen is I get Ebola and die.

Statistics can be helpful too in dealing with fear. Take dogs, for example. I’ve found out that dogs kill 34 people per year in the United States, but that falling out of bed kills 450 people per year in that same country. Interestingly, most fatalities of the first category concern young children whereas the people dying in the second category tend to be over 65.

I feel better now.

schets

Sketch I made of rock paintings in Lesotho

Decluttering

Clutter consists of things that aren’t used, clothes that will never be worn and all that rubbish that lies around unbeknownst in cellars, on attics and in garages. Clutter developed alongside civilisation when people congregated in cities to live in houses, which, come to think of it, are the single most effective means to collect clutter.

It became plethoric with the arrival of shopping malls.

A nomadic lifestyle therefore is very conducive to decluttering your life as you can only keep what you can carry with you. I am in the process of decluttering right now and it feels good. Everything that doesn’t fit in the panniers of my bicycle has to go.

A large portion of my books will go to charity and I will donate most of my clothes to the Red Cross. Someone else will have to look smart in them.

Godawful boring, these pre-departure posts. Wait till I get to Belgium…

Victoria2

This is me at the Victoria Falls.