People often remark to me that Arne and I are very adventurous to be leading a life of full-time travel. I do often feel adventurous, but I am not nearly as adventurous as my youngest son Erik.
I want to take a moment here, and give him a shout-out. Because he has been cycling alone through West Africa for a month now. This is not an adventure I would ever tackle. In fact I really didn’t want him to tackle it either – alone.
When he first told us about his idea he was planning to do it with another Peace Corp friend. But that friend ended up needing to head off to Grad School earlier than was expected. Erik didn’t want to give
up the idea. So he decided to go alone.
I was a bit freaked out – particularly because this ride went through a part of Mali – not such a safe country in Africa.
But, he is 26 years old. I don’t make decisions for him anymore. I remind myself often where I was in my life at 26 – I had an infant and we were building our first home and I had a full-time job. My parents were not telling me what to do. The night before Erik left on the bike trip we talked on the phone and he thanked us. He thanked us for supporting the idea, because he said he knew a lot of Peace Corp volunteers whose parents would have said absolutely not.
I never felt like I had a right to say absolutely not. He has lived for two and half years alone in Burkina Faso, without water or electricity, and without me telling him what to do. I know him to make good, smart decisions.
So he began the trip in the end of June, saying farewell to his village, his home for the past 2 and half years, and heading out. From Burkina Faso to Mali, to Guinea, to Senegal. Alone. On a bicycle.
He texts me often to give me peace of mind and we talk on the phone when we can. He has great stories to tell. He says each night he comes into a village and finds the place where all the old men sit around – there is always this place. He asks if anyone speaks English or French and then asks if there is a place he can set up his tent for the night.
Every time he is welcomed. Every time he is fed. Every time they are kind and curious. Who is this tall white stranger and why is he riding this bike through our village? They have never seen anything like it. So he is taken in and taken care of. This is their way, and one of the things that has made the experience fulfilling.
He has also spent some nights with other Peace Corp volunteers who he has connected with on Facebook. He took some time off in Guinea to hike and explore the beautiful area of Fouta Dajalon. A place anyone who comes to Guinea visits, although not too many Americans in Guinea. He thought it was an amazingly beautiful place.
His journey will end soon in Dakar, Senegal. He anxiously looked for his first glimpse of the sea. Being land-locked in Burkina Faso has made him thirst for the ocean. He will relax and enjoy the beach here, before flying to meet up with us on August 1st in Lisbon.
Where I will fatten him up.
My adventurous boy.