Archive for April 21st, 2015|Daily archive page

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Well, the curtain has fallen, the ride’s over; I’m home.

Time for a few final reflections . . .


It’s been a trip driven by fear, worry and wonder. A ride like this isn’t always fun; if you just want fun, go to Disneyland. Don’t go to parts unknown on a motorcycle. These trips are full of expected and unexpected challenges, and also full of unexpected joys. Everyday is a learning experience, as everyday in all our lives ought to be. Right?

If I live long enough to start forgetting this trip, the one thing I want this blog to help me remember are the people. There’s no doubt that the best part was meeting people and keeping in touch with people who were sincerely interested in my progress (or lack thereof). Seeing places new to me and revisiting familiar riding venues was a gift, but it’s the people that count. From the family I spent some time with in a Guatemalan street stand to the isolated people who helped a stupid lost Gringo find gas, almost to a person, be they rich or poverty stricken, the people were helpful, trustworthy and friendly.

A few have asked if I’d do this again. My quick answer is yes, in a second I’d do it again. My more reasoned response is, no. I’d never do the same ride again because I’ve learned enough to redo things that worked and not to redo things that didn’t work. Put the “no” and “yes” together, and I’m left with a definite maybe.

While riding solo through third-world situations was never part of the plan, it did amplify the learning. However, I’d never put myself in that situation again. I’m not wealthy enough, I’m “of an age” and I’m certainly not skilled enough to be exposed to that type of financial cost and physical danger – on purpose.

That said, it’s even more foolish to ride with other people without explicit contingency plans that accommodate shifting realities. During this experience, I talked with much more experienced adventure riders than myself and learned from their stories. Clearly, committing to an extended ride with other people is a complex business; to do it successfully takes a lot more work than twisting a throttle. But, done correctly, riding with other people is the way to go . . . by far. In fact, other people have already made contact with me who want to do similar rides. Let’s talk!

During the last months I’ve learned things. Mostly, the ride has put into bold relief the difference between first-world problems and third-world problems. For example, finding a bank to withdraw money for a hotel in Central America is a first-world problem. Finding a bank to borrow or beg for enough money to buy food for your family? That’s a third-world problem. Using a motorcycle for adventure is a first-world challenge; using a motorcycle for daily survival is a third-world challenge.

Sure, we have third-world problems in North America and even here, in beautiful Prince Edward Island. There are also first-world problems in Mexico and Central America, but anyone reading this has the intelligence to theoretically know the difference. However, being exposed first hand to that difference can change how the world is experienced. To be frank, I was much more naïve than I thought, and I’m still not sure how to wrap my head around a few new memories.

It’s possible to see vulnerability as an opportunity to exploit for personal gain; it’s also possible to see it as problem that must be remedied in favor of the vulnerable. It’s no easy task for me to acknowledge where I fit in this divide or on the capitalist spectrum. In this, I remain morally muddled and consciously confused. Perhaps my muddle is also a first-world problem? I don’t know, but I will look to other people, wiser than myself, to help me navigate through this confusion. One thing I do know, to do something that helps will be much more of a challenge than riding a motorcycle through third-world countries.

To end, I want to say “thanks” to the people who commented on this blog, the many more who sent me words of encouragement via email, Skype and generally supported and forgave my efforts to try something a tad different from the norm. I failed to reach Panama, but I did succeed in reaching out and finding new perspectives. Above all, I’m grateful for the new ways of understanding that this ride has provided.

To Glenda, who could have stopped this from happening but did the opposite – forever, thank-you.

 

 

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