"Ahh!, how great to have time and money!!", is one of the phrases we hear often when getting to know a person during the trip. "If I had the time you have...., I'd also do it...", they often add.
In 2003, while I was studying and working in Buenos Aires, I would have said the same. How does one dispose of sufficient time and money to cross the world on a motorcycle? It seems impossible!
But the inspiration came with one of these coincidences of life. Everything began with a relatively short trip to Río de Janeiro, in my winter break from university. "I need a few days of peace", I thought.
The motorcycle that I had at the time, a Honda Transalp 600cc, was not in the shape to go on the road. The piston bolt was banging and the water cooked even going slowly. I needed a lot of money to get her into optimal condition.
I searched for a quick solution: five days before the fixed departure date I bought a small 125cc motorcycle, used, but in good condition. With a bit of luck she would not hold me up with any mechanical problems. I equipped her with simple leather saddlebags, a windshield and the rest of the things tied on wherever possible. She was ready one day early: the 22nd of December 2003.
"In 20 days I'll come back!", I told my parents. "I'm taking the microbiology books along so I can take the exam when I come back!", I was half through my studies of veterinary medicine and was working as a computer administrator.
"How far will I get with this small motorcycle? Will it be able to bear the road? Will I break down just around the corner?", I thought as I turned onto the highway for the first time. I will always remember that sensation, driving further and further away from home on two wheels, with so much uncertainty, so many doubts, so much fear...
Some weeks later, in Brazil:
"This is the moment to fulfill my dream...", I told my family on the phone. "I have just enough money to come back home, but I know that if I do, it is very probable that the adequate moment to leave again will never come. I do not know how I will do it, I don't have a big motorcycle, nor adequate cases, clothing, equipment, GPS, visas or money, but I will go to Australia, on this motorcycle!"
And that was how everything began. Simply believing that everything is possible if you wish for it strongly enough, and try tirelessly.
"First, second, third, accelerate to 50.... and... BRAKE!!" My first driving lesson on a real motorcycle, in the industrial zone of Barcelona. I'm sitting on La Garota, behind me Gustavo, shouting instructions at me. I can't leave the industrial zone before passing the "hand exam": every couple of seconds Gustavo puts up his hand and I have to confirm seeing it in the rear-view mirror within five seconds.
"Don't you ever check the rear-view mirror when you're driving a car?" Gustavo barks. Sure I do, but in a car you don't have to think about a zillion things at once. It takes me all morning to coordinate my two hands and two feet. I start to panic. Only five more days.
A few days ago I had decided to join Gustavo on the rest of his world trip. In a state of euphoria, we'd written mails to a couple of possible sponsors to ask if they'd be interested in sponsoring a motorcycle for me. Even though it seemed entirely impossible… a few days later the phone rang and Giovanni Celli asked: "Which colour would you prefer?" I couldn't believe my ears. I had my own motorcycle.
Gustavo was invited to a rally on Mallorca five days later. I decided to end my PhD studies at the University of Barcelona here and now and to start my voyage. I would not waste more precious time.
Nobody was supposed to notice anything. This was my secret, my grand plan. I didn't want to hear any questions, any doubts, worries, well-meant advice. I did not even want to start thinking about my decision, fearing I might change my mind. My intuition said my train had arrived and it was up to me now to jump on it, even if this jump scared the hell out of me.
We had exactly five days left to construct the aluminium boxes for "Milton" (this was the name I had chosen for my future companion), attach them, pack everything… every evening I practised riding a bit. Everything had to happen secretly – we hid the aluminium boxes, the second pair of motorcycle boots... the countdown had started. Five days and everybody would know. I was looking forward to that day, to end the secrecy, but I also knew that there would be no way back. Over and done with the monthly scholarship, the warm bed, the evenings with old friends… but also over and done with the daily torment of the alarm clock and the long hours at the department, a place where I had long ago ceased to feel at home.
Of course I still have to work. Even though people always ask in astonishment: "What do YOU work?" As if money would fall from the sky now. But now I work on the road. Internet is the best invention since sliced bread.
Everything in life is a question of decisions you make and preferences you set. Many prefer a well-ordered life with all advantages and disadvantages like an apartment, regular income and reduced free time. We prefer a life on the road, with all the unique experiences, all the uncertainties and difficulties it includes. This is our choice.