Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 in retrospective

2015 has finally come to an end. A chaotic year that started as one of the most difficult of my life but ended as one of the best. Life may kick you mercilessly sometimes, but afterwards, it will always find a way to compensate you with joy, for the sorrow it put you through. That is what 2015 was for me; it was falling from heaven, shatter myself against the ground and stand up again to pick up the pieces and rebuild myself. All this process lived on a bicycle along thousands upon thousands of miles across the African continent. But beyond the miseries and times of joy, it was an intense year of great lessons that will definitely not pass unnoticed. 

Today, only 3 days into 2016, I look back to share in this post, some of the most intense moments of each month of 2015. One per month. It was a very difficult choice but here it goes:



January - I find myself in the idyllic Indian ocean coast of Mozambique going through a very rough emotional situation. The beauty of the country and its adorable people give me the strength to carry on without losing faith.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The example of Mozambique


Mozambique is the vital proof that mere material poverty is not enough an excuse to justify the endemic problem of the sickly demands of money to the white man (assumed rich by definition) that happens invariably in almost every country of sub-Saharan Africa. Mozambique, is one of the poorest countries of Africa and consequently of the world. However, there seems to be an inherent dignity in Mozambicans what keeps them away from being immersed in that constant obsession of believing that every white man must give them money and stuff. Neither they appeal to the image of pity because of their material lack, not even to the infamous resort of generating guilt for the atrocities that white men have done (and still do) in Africa against their people, the black people.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The simplicity of life


Translation courtesy of  Dakota Bloom
 
Mozambique is probably, one of the countries of the world to which I had most longed to reach. I dreamed of a green country, exuberant, of long straits of uninhabited idyllic beaches along its extensive coastline on the south of the Indian Ocean. In regards to the human aspect, I didn’t have a very defined image of how would its people be and I could only try to get an idea associating it to the people I’ve already known of the rest of Africa. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that the Mozambican would be completely different, in the most positive off all aspects (in the most positive aspects), to the rest of the Africans that I knew until now.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The garden of Africa

 

Translation courtesy of María Urruti

After spending weeks in the bush, arriving in Zimbabwe brings a great welcoming break to the monotony. However, I didn’t really know what to expect of this country, so famous for the immortal Robert Mugabe, it’s omnipotent president that, from time to time, makes it to the news after carrying out a new whim of his to be able to stay stuck in power, even with his lucid 94 years old and after 35 of controlling the country as he pleases. Normally, I don’t arrive to a country with so little references but, in this particular case that I couldn’t get my head around to investigate, I decided to surprise myself; and sometimes it's good to do this.

Monday, November 30, 2015

"you'll be barbacued"


Translation courtesy of Clara Checchi Viú

After having spent Christmas in Livigstone with Father John, I continued the road with a stronger spirit. Cycling with a broken heart is not an easy job, but once I had crossed the legendary Zambezi River, in Kazungula, I could be sure that when I arrived to the zoo, there would be no more room for sorrow. There, in Botswana, where there are more loose wild animals than people around the bush, everything would be about riding the bicycle with the precaution of not altering the beasts, not to die in the attempt of doing so, and reaching safe and sound to the 2015.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Zambia is not to blame



Finally, we arrived to Zambia, where we officially entered the south of Africa. However, together with the arrival to this new country, many strong changes would also arrive; a change that I would never have imagined real, but it became imminent; so strong that by the time I was able to see it, it was already too late to fix it. Zambia would be a beautiful country but a country that would be marked by the suffering of change.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Walk on water


Translation courtesy of Clara Cecchi Viú

Only 35 days had passed since we returned to Africa. What we had been through in the last four countries was so intense that they seemed 350 days. We accumulated more than 2000km of exuberant mountains, crystal-clear blue lakes, african jungle, savanna and bush filled with wild animals. However, by the time we got to Mbeya -a big city in southern Tanzania- and were ready for a well-deserved break, Josefina, Julia's sister who had come to visit us, was ready to go. The reward for having cycled across such rough roads was not only a couple of great bed and food days, but fortunately it was Malawi. This place is one of the most beautiful, quiet and easy-to-ride countries in the whole Africa, and it was a particularly beautiful Malawi now because, having Josefina as a company, we were forced to reduce our pace of cycling-warriors, so that she could keep up with us.

Redifining the Safari


Translation courtesy of María Conztanza Beatí
 
When we think about Tanzania, first thing that comes to mind are the wild animal poetic pictures walking through the immense Serengueti savannah during the anual migrations, the snowy top of the ever omnipresent Kilimanjaro and the idyllic Zanzíbar beaches, sightseeing touristy places that are located in the east part of this country. But nevertheless, we rarely hear stories from the tanzanian west, where unpopulated places extend hundreds of kilometers, the only ones inhabitants of the bush and the virgin coast of Tanganyka lake, are the wild animals and people from the tribes away from every contact with the masses of tourists. It doesn't matter how beautiful the photos of the east are, some of them photographed ad nauseum, it is this stretch of 1000 km of inhospitable wilderness that extend from the Burundi border to the Malawi border, that captivates me the most and that's where we head to.

Friday, November 20, 2015

If you want money, you ask for it



Translation courtesy of Mica Pecker
 
Sometimes, massive human tragedies such as genocides need to happen in some countries, which are unimportant (and sometimes completely unknown) for most people in the world, to be recognized in the map of humanity. Such is the case of Rwanda which, after suffering a brutal genocide in 1994, will remain in the memory of history forever. However, in some other cases, no matter how much suffering people have to endure, they don’t have the privilege of being acknowledged by a world that essentially ignores them and does not care. Such is the situation of Rwanda’s neighbour: Burundi. Burundi has had its own genocide, also between Hutus and Tutsis, followed by decades of civil war, hunger and poverty. However, those who have found out are very few. The most frequent question I receive when I pronounce “Burundi” is: “and what is that?” . We enter the forgotten country after leaving Rwanda. 

The land of a thousand ways of suffering


Translation courtesy of Dario Fioravanti

It was the year 1994 and I was 16, when a remote African country virtually unknown to South Americans suddenly echoed in the news. I must say that almost nothing is published about Africa in my country, so I barely remember that moment, but what I do remember is that it was a new tragic story coming from the black continent (after all, bad news is all we hear from Africa). What I did not know until much later in my life was the magnitude of the tragedy that was taking place in Rwanda in those days, which made it unavoidable to get to this tiny country with a picture of deep grief.

Land of volcanoes


Translation courtesy of Carolina Ghiggino
 

It always surprises me how fast the road can change. After the three days it took me to cross Park Queen Elizabeth through the savannah, followed by the forest along its beautiful loneliness surrounded by animals, we arrived finally to a remote village where the simplicity of the plain road turned suddenly into a hell of slippery slopes. We would start the arduous way to the remote region of Virungas, the mysterious place where Diane Fossey, the famous American zoologist, spent 18 years studying and protecting the gorillas at the mountains.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A new beginning


Translation courtesy of Cintia Verónica Ortiz

35 days in the first world

I was born, raised and lived until I was 28 years old in a country called “developing country”, a political and hypocrite concept recently created by economists of rich countries when referring basically to the third world. I am a third-world citizen from Argentina and have spent most of my life in South American and Asian developing countries, that is why every time I visit the so nobly called “first world” is when I most feel what is known as “culture shock”, the opposite effect of what many first world inhabitants experience when they are horrified after landing in an unknown poor country. After travelling in Africa for several months, the shock is even stronger, the first world where everything is in order, clean and civilized (at least on the surface) is the one I really find exotic.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Down to the ground


During our second stay in Khartoum and once the 7 exhausting days of uninterrupted wedding celebrations finally came to an end, we were able to attend and event that we left pending from the first visit.

Every Friday, in a far-flung suburb of Bahri district, a big crowd of men looking for some action congregate at a local stadium to witness one of the most ancient forms of wrestling, the nubian fights. After having spent quite some time living with the nubians and delighting ourselves with their incredibly warm affection, it is incredibly hard to associate them to the word "fight". In any case, even though it is a sport of friction, that doesn't mean it is necessarily violent. The goal of the fight is basically to force the opponent to fully lie on the ground but without using any kind of physical agression. No punching, no kicking. Originally, the nubians used to fight naked, with ther bodies fully covered in ashes, and their hands impregnated with some kind of oil from the cow that would allow them to seize the opponent better. However, It has been decades since the repressive government of Al-Bashir has banned nudity and since then, they wear ordinary football shorts and T-shirts or jerseys.


The happy return to Sudan


Translation courtesy of Clara Bonfiglio

Several posts ago, as I wrote about our journey across Sudan, I have dedicated a great part of my tales to express the immeasurable hospitality of the Sudanese people, who in every corner of the country touched our hearts in such a way that made us stay there quite a lot more than we expected. Our stay in Sudan, as in every other country, started as one of ordinary travelers but ended up becoming pretty much like a family visit. Such is the case, that by the time we left Khartoum, we already knew we were going to return soon. Ahmed, our wonderful friend, was getting married in August, and considered that our presence in his wedding was essential. That's why he decided to treat us both with a plane ticket to Khartoum from wherever we were so we could attend his wedding. We accepted without hesitation because this is what travelling is all about, being surprised, changing direction, establishing bonds around the world and expanding our own family.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Towards black Africa


Translation courtesy of Juan Vanecek

Once we arrived in Lodwar we finally left the "sandpit" we had gone through to enter Kenya along the west coast of the lake Turkana. In this little city we thought the worst had been over, but leaving Lodwar would only show us that we were just moving on to a new tough stage in our journey to Black Africa.