One of the many pleasures of long distance traveling is the opportunity
it provides to meet others engaged in their own odysseys. Here are some
of the intrepid individuals who crossed my own path.
|CHARLES. I met Charles at a campground in Nova Scotia. He had just driven from Halifax, where he’d collected from Customs his 7-ton Merecedes Unimog, which he’d shipped from his home in Hamburg. He was at the start of a 3-4 month journey driving through the wilderness of northern Canada and Alaska. Charles and his Unimog had already made three crossings of the Sahara Desert, an experience that gave us another point of common interest. I’d crossed the Sahara myself in 1982, on my overland trip from London to Zimbabwe.|
|MARTIN. Martin was another German smitten with wanderlust, although he’d been living in Canada for many years. I first saw him on the fourth day of my walk when he cycled past me on Nova Scotia’s scenic Marine Drive. At that time, he was pulling a canopied cart, which housed a large black Labrador. I then met him two weeks later at a campground, where he told me of his plans to cycle from his home in Newfoundland to Tierra del Fuego – a 12,000-mile journey that would take him two years. (The Labrador had decided to stay with a friend in Halifax!) Martin’s plans included a number of extended breaks along his route, including one of several months in Matamoros, where he planned to take a Spanish course. Eight months later, while I was enjoying lunch at a tiny restaurant in the middle of Tamaulipas, in walked Martin, sweating profusely, speaking very competent Spanish, and in great need of a cerveza.|
For more info. about Dylan and his adventures,
|DYLAN. Dylan cycled stealthily up behind me on a quiet country road in Maine, just a few miles north of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He was a college student from Wyoming who had decided to take a year out from his studies to cycle the perimeter of the United States – the two coastlines and the two borders. He’d started in northern California and was going clockwise. So, when he met me, he’d done about a third of his journey, which in total would give him a few miles on his clock beyond Martin’s impressive tally, though young Dylan would be able to negotiate all the obstacles on his road speaking the mother tongue|
|ROBERT. I met Robert on a rural route in the Florida panhandle at a point when I’d been walking for five-and-a-half months, covering 2,500 miles. At the same point, Robert had been walking for twelve years and had covered 23,000 miles! His mission was to preach the Gospel on all the remote highways and byways of America. We chatted for about an hour then went in our opposite directions. Two months later, while I was walking through Robert’s native Texas, someone told me they had seen him interviewed on network television. He’d been asked if he’d met anyone else walking. “Just the one other person.” He’d said. “A guy with a well kept dog.”|
|DON QUIXOTE DE MANAGUA. After I’d written my two books, I decided to walk from my Mexican home in Xalapa to Houston, a journey of exactly 1,000 miles. In April 2001, I was walking through familiar ground in Tamaulipas and met this remarkable old man, just a few miles north of the restaurant where I’d been reunited with Martin. The old man was walking from his home in Nicaragua to Houston, where he hoped to join his youngest son. He had nothing but the meager contents of the plastic bag you see slung over his shoulder and he possessed no documents that would assist his entry to the United States. Yet he planned to walk across the bridge that joins Matamoros with Brownsville, Texas. I saw him several times over a four-day period, culminating in a final meeting after he had attempted to cross the bridge over the Rio Bravo. (For a more detailed story, see Don Quixote de Managua)|
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