Roads around the world are, for the most part, pretty similar. Traffic lights and signage are quite consistent. Up-hills much the same and down-hills too.
What does make for a nice variety and keep our days interesting is all of the people that we meet. The Orthodox monk who gave us bread and fish; cheery “Uncle Niko” handing out fresh figs at the roadside in Croatia; the CouchSurfing host who gave us much needed respite half way up the Swiss Alps; Fidel Castro’s old drinking buddy who lives in a crazy decked-out caravan in the foothills; and the twin brothers who let us stay in the staff accommodation of their out-of-season beach bar (complete with well stocked DVD player and TV).
There is no way to repay the kindness of these encounters. Money is inappropriate and it’s hard to carry a hundred gifts from home on a bike you have to pedal for a year. We are really just accruing a debt of kindness that we will have to pay forward in other ways in years to come.
However, we do give them all a plastic spork.
And if that seems a little strange to you then imagine trying to explain it to a Greek monk who doesn’t speak much English.
Before leaving, Laura and I were shortlisted for the Light My Fire Adventurer of the Year award. So far this has resulted in two key things:
1. We write a regular blog on the Light My Fire website
2. We have a lifetime supply of plastic sporks
Since we already have a blog here at The Next Challenge we decided to use our LMF blog for a different purpose: to document all of the people that we meet on our travels. We give them a spork as small and daft token of our appreciation then give them a little write-up on the blog.
You can see all of the people we’ve met and read their stories at: http://lightmyfire.com/adventure-blog/around-the-world-by-bike.aspx
Oh, and at the end of the year a panel of judges will pick a single winner for the Adventurer of the Year award from a group of seven finalists. The winner gets 3,000 Euros. So if you like our stories then please do have a look and leave a comment on the blog.