Last Post

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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24 comments so far

  1. Mike Fagan on

    thanks for taking me on this great ride with you Walter !

    • islandbikers on

      Mike, thanks for your support. See you on the yoga mat. It’s past time for a little inner travel; unpacking that landscape can be like running through the jungle, eh?

  2. Lyman Douglas on

    Very happy you are back home – what an adventure!
    Thanks so much for sharing your experiences via this blog, it had been wonderful to travel the journey through your eyes!

  3. islandbikers on

    Thanks Lyman, your concrete offers of help and your willingness to listen to my rants is appreciated more then you may realize. Hope we cross paths soon.

  4. Roland on

    Hi Walter. I have followed your journey most of the way…often with trepidation but quite often with envy! Glad you are back in one piece and cheers for doing what many would not have the nerve for!

  5. Don MacEachern on

    My friend: You have made it home safe. Never forget the things you have learned. How lucky we are here to have what we have. I went through Mexico and i was struck by the drastic differences from one part to the other. From wealth to poverty. These folks were happy with what they had. That was a learning curve for me.Live with the memories.

  6. islandbikers on

    So glad you were following. As I previously posted, my little adventure pales in comparison to those in uniform who put their lives on the line everyday. If done with honor, that’s what courage looks like! If it’s in the cards, let’s ride together again soon . . .

  7. BJ on

    Welcome home. I enjoyed reading your blog entries. I purchased a used V-strom last week but my adventures shall remain local for now!

    • islandbikers on

      Wow, that’s great! Thanks for the comment and when it comes right down to it, all adventures are local, eh? I know you’ll be wise on the bike, but if you ever want to ride together, let me know.

  8. Sue Geddes on

    Walter, I was so taken by your posts and when the 2nd last post was later than normal, I was a bit worried. Glad you are home safe and sound. Loved reading your thoughts as you tried to figure out your dilemmas and appreciate the world around you. Welcome home!

    • islandbikers on

      Thanks Sue. To know people were reading the blog and “following” me was a comfort. Hope all is well with you, hope to cross paths soon.

  9. Jocelyne Vernham on

    Hi Walter
    What a trip! Thanks for sharing. I looked forward to every blog. Glad you are home safe. Don’t forget to stop by next time you are in the area.
    Jocelyne

    !

    • islandbikers on

      When I hit Moncton I as so cold my clutch hand stopped working, you almost had me for a guest, but home was calling. I’ll be dropping in on you and John this summer for sure – take care and thanks for the words of encouragement. Given how far we go back, your words meant the world to me, as do you.

  10. omairimtiaz on

    …and a grand end to an epic journey. Glad to know you’re back safe and alive. Some of the posts got me thinking of the situations you were getting into. All in all it kept me intrigued and the winter went by without event realizing!

    Glad to have you back. I’ve had the bike out for a week now and have already clocked in just over 2000 kms This season. Looking forward to riding with you.

    A fan.

    • islandbikers on

      And thank you for helping me set up this blog in the first place. Had we not put our heads together, it would never have happened. I’m looking forward to riding with you, once my ass heals up and when the weather isn’t as challenging. Great to have met you, I’m sure we’ll see each other soon, take care and be careful, bikes love to tip over on spring roads!

      • omairimtiaz on

        I’ve learnt the hard way already this season. Few scuffs on the side mirror, bar end weights, and turning signals to prove it :p Maybe in should carry a piece of wood to pit the stand on.

        Figuring that was something we brainstormed together. Looking forward to learning more together.

  11. Vangie Broderick on

    Hi Walter, Congratulations on the completion of an amazing adventure. I followed your blog and appreciated hearing of your experiences and especially of your musings as you attempted to make sense of this life. I also thought of Glenda frequently and appreciate her ability to be supportive while at the same time having many concerns I am sure. Thanks for sharing!
    Vangie

    • islandbikers on

      Vangie! So good to hear from you. Thanks for the comment. It seems a lifetime ago we both were trying to navigate through a very differnt bundle of challenges, third-world border crossings and first-world educational budgets having more similarity than first meets the eye. My best to you and Leo who, for your entire lives, have both fought the good fight of bringing fair treatment to all.

  12. Hazel Shaw on

    I have followed your travels over the past weeks with great interest. As the only bike I ride is a bicycle on the Confederation Trail, I was quite interested in your adventure. Hope you have many more rides to come. Thank You!!

    • islandbikers on

      Seen through the lens of what makes life matter, I suspect all stories are equal. Thank you for your interest.

  13. Holly Clark on

    Have followed your blog since the beginning. Enjoyed every episode, and it was a real education. Glad you are back to PEI safe and sound. You are a talented writer.

  14. Anne-Marie on

    Amazing adventure Walter! Wonderful to experience it through your blog 🙂 Hope you are well!

    • islandbikers on

      Anne-Marie, I hope you are well too. Heck, I hope we’re both well, no small task in this crazy world, eh? The adventure was (is?) as much about internal travel as the external ride. In this, yoga helps. Especially the caring for others part. Thanks for taking the time to comment, hope we cross paths soon. Miss you!


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