A 100 km/hr headwind pummeled me and my bike as I pedaled out of town on my final leg towards the end of the world and my adventure. The sound of my jacket whipping violently assaulted my ears, overloaded 18 wheelers sped past; the opposite of tranquility. I was thrown right and left within the rocky shoulder of the road. For an hour I pedaled against the wind covering only a few short kilometers. I breathed deeply searching for peace; the wind greedily consumed my body’s oxygen.
Then the road took a sharp 130 degree turn towards the left. Immediately everything changed. I was thrown forward, propelled by the wind. I laughed, removed my hands from the handlebars and started flapping my arms like a bird. From this sudden shift in physical and mental states I was struck by the impermanence of all experiences: a harsh wind, a joy filled moment, a bad day, time with family and friends, youth, life, or a year long adventure.
Here I am in Ushuaia – the end of the world. This particular adventure is coming to an end, and I look back at it with incredible joy. I remember with clarity my emotions on seeing my bike box arrive at the Cartegena, Colombia airport a short 380 days ago. The box was splayed open, parts of my bike falling out onto the conveyor belt – symbolic of my mental state. I was pouring sweat in my thick canvas pants and wool shirt, it was 100 degrees. I was nervous, overwhelmed, incapable of speaking the language, and totally unprepared for my new environment. I needed to pee.
It’s a year later! Hey momma!! Look how far I’ve come!
I have pedaled more than 8,000 miles across 6 countries and a beautiful, diverse continent.
Much of the time I have settled into an effortless groove, letting the world come to me as it would – open to all experiences. I’ve been blown away time and again by the intense kindness of complete strangers from all walks of life – inviting me into their homes only to insist I sleep in their bed they have given up for me, to kill one of their three remaining chickens for a cozy candle lit meal surrounded by dogs patiently waiting for bones, to open up a special bottle of wine, to share a coffee made from their own coffee beans, to feed me lamb and potatoes or vegetables from their garden, to buy me a coffee on a scorching day, or to offer a temporary respite from the rain and wind. This wasn’t a rare occurrence; the kindness of humans here in South America (and I believe around the world) is boundless. I have climbed the tallest mountains, sweat and breathed in the dripping air of the deepest jungles, lived for weeks in the warmest households with my new families, shared in the powerful act of building a home, laughed or cried in awe at a foreign, unexpectedly powerful landscape, and caught my own food for weeks at a time.
I have made deep friendships with people spanning the world that have filled me with love, life, and new perspectives that I will hold in my heart and mind until I die. The strength of our bond was formed in the intensity of our experience.
It was difficult to imagine what this trip would mean to my life. I only knew it was loudly calling and I couldn’t ignore it. Some friends told me it was a bad idea or even impossible; I had to prove myself right. A chiseled set of abs and a permanent wisdom, peace, and clarity were on my short list of expectations for this trip. Here I stand on the other side.
Instead of abs I somehow managed to put on a little belly, but I did manage to receive quite a bit of wisdom, peace, and clarity. I received insight about my strengths, my love for people, my thirst for adventure, my full soul and clear mind when riding through consciousness bending natural spaces, and my appreciation for cultures, friendship, kindness and love. These insights don’t represent a final resting place of peace and wisdom that I hoped for, I still haven’t made it there and think, now, that place likely doesn’t exist. These insights are additional knowledge on the endless quest towards becoming a better human.
I’ve made it to the end of the world in Ushuaia, Argentina. 380 days, more than 8,000 miles, 6 countries, and a lifetime worth of memories. My emotions are mixed. I’m endlessly thankful for this experience, for the courage to undertake it, for the lessons I learned, for the joy and difficulties that I encountered, for the people I’ve met, for the opening of my eyes to the beauty of the world outside my home and the culture I know so well. I’m looking forward to the return to the states. To see my dog, to see my family, to see my friends, and to live the next adventure.
Lessons from my trip/ Reminders to myself:
Breathe it all in while you can, while it’s here. Be quick to accept others and to love. Laugh loudly and genuinely. When you find yourself in an ego battle quickly recognize it and be the first to claim defeat. Include everyone – it feels so good when you are on the receiving end of this kindness. Open your door to people in need. Don’t be afraid to ask for something when you need it. When people offer you help, accept it. Ask people about their story; then listen to them with genuine interest. See the beauty in all things – it’s so easy to hate and be disappointed, choose the other path, it feels so much better. Lift people up.
May we all have the strength to desperately believe in our own dreams and the courage to pursue them passionately.
Paz y amor.
Until the next adventure.