Around the world at 20km/h (2003-2005) - diary

By Claudio Del Grande

I leave Luceto, a small village of  Albisola Superiore (SV), Wednesday 5 march 2003.
The goal is to go around the world through five continents.
I use a second hand bicycle that I got for € 50, I change the mechanic parts with others more appropriate for the heavy duty use.
The steel frame is needed for its characteristics of strength. A rigid front fork permits to distribute enough equally the weight on the front and rear wheel.
I have no support of any kind. On the carriers I load the essential: tent, sleeping bag, stove, clothes, a few spare parts, tools and some books.

The average kilometre in the first part of the travel was of 110 km daily. The weather is severe.
I sleep mostly in tent, many countries providing me hidden places where to pitch my tent. The cold force me to go inside the tent rather early in the evening to warm me up. People in the Centre European countries are very hospitable, I remember similar nice experiences in Siberia, in occasion of my travel Italy-Tierra del Fuego by bike. Peasants offer me a straw pallets, or when they see my tent in their field approach to wish me good morning.
In Hungary, despite thought as a leading east country in the E.U., someone can find small villages very poor where Rom people live, at the limit of human dignity.

Many Romanians try to speak with me but despite sharing the same Latin root I understand only  few words. I fill up my bottles using hand operated pumps or I sink buckles in wells. I fight constantly against the wind that slows me down and fatigues me as well.
Romania is the “no stop” country. Everything or almost is open 24 hours. I go through many towns built recently during the socialist period, that appear already pretty old; the other medieval ones seem not to get old.
Sighisoara, the Count Dracula’s birth place  (the real name is Vlad Tepes, Dracula means “dragon’s son”) is at the bottom of a hill. This village probably was built during the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. In Bram I visit the Count’s residence.

Bucharest looks like Paris but with a grey Stalinist mark and general decadence.  Big hotels and casinos stand out.. Walking in the night you are invited to enjoy: “girls girls” and often “ragazze” in Italian. In many revenues in the centre the are Italians of all ages that embrace smiling Rumanians girls. “Probably the Italian charm” I think very ironically.
Nicolae Chaushesku intended to transform this city, at some extent he did, demolishing the old city in order to rebuild a new one, with boulevards, gardens and buildings. There is a copy of Paris’s Arch of Triumph. The Rumanian parliament, after the Pentagon, is the biggest building in the world.
Bad weather follows me as far as Bulgaria and close to Turkey. Ice over sprockets and shifts makes them impossible to use. Custom officials at the border don’t feel comfortable to check my documents as I am covered with snow.

The big mosques in Edirne announce the entrance in the first Muslim Country. Turks are friendly and hospitable, along the road offering me tea.
In European Turkey I am impressed from how many buildings are under construction. The countryside extensively cultivate, in same areas leaves place for modern industrial construction. Towns are very lively and the shops are full of  goods. 
Istanbul is a sight pleasure for its mosques, streets and its geographical position  close to the sea, a great olfactory experience for the smell of tobacco, coffee and narghile and sound vibration for the calls to prayer that, in the same moment, starts from every mosque’s minaret.
“Listen to the city with all my senses” at the sunset on the Bosforo it’s one of my favourite daily activity.

I listen over and over “TAMAN” pronounced by Turks.
It means “It’s everything ok” and so I decide to give this name to my bicycle.

I make for east, direction Iran.
I reach Cappadocia, with its typical canyon and  tuff pinnacles , in which houses  and churches have been dug and in the close Hilara valley Gregorio and Basileo have founded  their way of monastic life.
Afterwards I reach Van and Ararat Mount, situated in the Turkish  Kurdistan.
Between Kurdistan and the rest of country  a particular difference immediately comes out; the portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataruk, historical lay father of the contemporary Turkey, which always appears on the wall of every shop, tea room or whatever public place, there’s not here.
Kurds exalt Abdullah Ocalan, of which, for evident reason, there are no portraits exposed.
It’s quite exciting to be with people, maybe University fellows, Turks and Kurds but however friends.
I’m surprised in observing that, their jokes,  always have as object the nationality of one or the other …for instance:
“I’m not Turk, I’m Kurd, I was born in Mesopotamia, where the first man and woman have been created”.
“Ok, let’s see on a map where are Kurdistan’s borders and I’ll believe you, I can’t find them,But, anyway, as a matter of fact, you’re not Turk”
Every joke with a great sense of humour and irony.
The youth in Turkey is proud, opened to dialogue about different cultures and religions; young people, interested and  aware of real geo-politic situations , have good chances  for the future.

Iran is an hard country to cross. It’s impossible to change  US dollars, among other difficulties.
I often eat tin beans that I barely found in the almost deserted small villages on the road, where houses are built with mud and wood. The lacks are in part paid back by the Iranian hospitality, that in some way gives me a repair to sleep in town.
When I visit sacred places, I absolutely don’t face religious attacks, but, on the contrary, they kindly welcome me into mosques and Koran schools .
I’ve already crossed the great part of desert with 52°C.The flask water was so hot that I couldn’t drink it; it burnt my throat and stomach.
In the desert, one can’t find anything so I often was given something to eat by soldiers or truck drivers.
In the south one can notice that people don’t love foreigners and that’s clear specially observing children which absorb nonsense listening to their parents at home. People is quite empty, with only religious notions.

In the modern towns, women wear light foulards to cover  only half of their head; but this kind of apparel would be unthinkable in other parts of the country.

The pejorative jump, between Iran and Pakistan is huge.
In Pakistan people clothing is absolutely conservative.
Right here I’m protagonist of an absurd matter: during the night, I was suffering from sunstroke when the police rushes into my room in the Dhera Gazi Kan inn. My protests don’t work and they take me on a van, escorted by soldiers with Kalashnikov and ,after ca. 100 km, to the town of Multan.
I was impressed from their professionalism and determination. They bring  me to a very expensive hotel.
I protest for this choice, but they reply “we want you to sleep well and safe” and I suppose, the bill goes directly to the police.
The morning after a captain examines me and then I was escorted all the day by soldiers.
And so on for the following four days.
I can’t understand this matter, till I receive news from home of my being on the front pages of many  magazines.
I was suspected of nuclear spying considering the particular area where I was in that moment.
Al Jazeera passes the news and it  fast reaches Europe and anywhere.

 I touch with my bicycle the Karakorum Highway. The Himalaya welcomes me. China is close to me.Once entered, I keep the equipment to face  the 2500 km on mountains that will bring me to Lhasa, Tibet capital.
Reinhold Messner has been fighting for years to allow  foreigners entrance to the road I want to take.
Along this road I’ll find 7 check points established to put back travellers attracted from the most spectacular road in the world. My idea is to pass during the night or hidden among the trucks.
The climbing to passes is much more difficult because of road conditions and several fords due thaw. The oxygen lack makes me stop to take breath every few metres of slope.
Villages marked on the map are only  plate huts. They’re quite 100 km far one from the other. Every evening I buy eggs and dried meat for the next day.
At the last check point I ‘m discovered by three big dogs. I can calm them down throwing my biscuits. A good strategy but only till I have goods, then  dogs begin to bark, waking up guards that immediately point a light at me. They bring me to  barracks and I suppose they’ll order me to go back.
An officer gives me my documents, moves out of the way and point at ….Lhasa!
At 5000 metres altitude I cross Tibet. I get over the unforgettable Lhasa, reaching Nepal and India. On the way I run into monkeys but also into lepers.
In Varanasi I’m present to burial ceremonies . On bamboo stretchers the dead covered with coloured clothes were drawn into the Gange for few minutes to be purified, and once dry, the corpses are wrapped into white clothes and are buried. Ashes, as means to drive them to the afterlife, fall down into the sacred river . According to usage, dead relatives wash themselves  into the river and cut completely hair and beard. Nobody becomes desperate, on the contrary they’re quiet. They’re perfectly conscious that birth has within the germ of death and they accept wisely the last phase.
Children or man dead because of  cobra biting are thrown into the river with a stone at their neck.
Often corpses are taken in the nets together with fish.
Varanasi is full of visitors coming  from every part of India because “Nirvana door” is open for 15 days and Gange is  its entrance.
Gange  is in flood and some streets are underwater; it’s forbidden enter into water with shoes and, so, to avoid that, I take a longer path: “ I can’t put my feet into that! …I don’t mind Nirvana!”
Sacred places show off among poverty  all their unjustified and enormous richness.
Golden temple in Varanasi, dedicated to Shiva, has a 800 golden kilos dome!
Calcutta is a very interesting town. I’m glad of the great numbers of volunteers in the name of Mother Teresa , but I wonder why, instead of  going to the small villages where people are dying in the streets, they prefer the comforts of the city.
Anywhere poverty has the usual consequences. A child, son of the inn owners where I sleep, steals my walkman. Considering that in Calcutta Italians are welcome, almost adored, the father asks me to forgive his son and insists me not to pay. I’m quite embarrassed and sad, trying to explain that I’m not angry with the boy and I want to pay.
To be adored, makes me feel bad, cause I’m only a privileged one; when I was a child I had the possibility to buy a walkman.

In Bangladesh I have to get back, because Myanmar frontiers have been close for 30 years.
Going round the country, passing in China is the only option to reach  Asian South-East.
Although the diversion takes almost 5000 km, I’m really happy to see Nepal and Tibet again.

Laos landscapes are quite boring, but with hospitable and kind inhabitants. Tranquillity reigns.
I spend Christmas in a Buddhist country so I’m not “bombarded” by lights and advertisements ; that’s the first time and I like it. The cooking is wonderful and also people, I’d like to greet and touch everybody who holds out his  hands to me but I can’t.
I get over Mekong and go straight to Vietnam.
 In Saigon I visit  the “Memories of War Museum”, which has changed its name from “American War Crimes Museum”. The new choice is to not offend the susceptibility of American tourists…..
In the museum war remains and photos, reproducing scenes of  devastating cruelty are exposed. In the hall there are many banners in every language, coming from the pacifist demonstrations all around the world. Among them one can clearly see the Italian one:
IL VIETNAM E’ LA NOSTRA COSCIENZA  meaning: Vietnam is our conscience.

Cambodia is poorer than Vietnam; houses are pile-dwelling made of wood. The typical landscape is of meadows, palms and forests. It’s quite dangerous not following the road because of mines and lethal snakes. People are always kind and the first approach is positive.
I run into Daniela, that I met in Nepal. As promised I go to visit her and I stay there for a period; I go with her to visit some villages to verify the inhabitants life conditions .Job, salary and life quality conditions are critical. The polls aim is to consent the grant of the micro - credit that is small loans to put people in conditions of working better, earn more, return the loan and go on.
There are always big families and polls give an idea of their possibility of maintaining kids. Otherwise, children are put up  in a school where they can live and be educated. I stay with her in this school for a month, spending days  playing with children. Immediately I become their playmate or even their toy, I couldn’t say.
Obviously I run every time they call me “CAIOOOOO” (Claudio).

In Bangkok one can see western 60 years old “machos” hand in hand with girls of 18 years old, more or less.
In Thailand this is  the main form of “tourism” , completely forgotten by medias after the disaster of Tsunami in the “ dream holidays land”. I pass through the east part of the country, far from the typical tourist places, but not yet “Asia”.
Malaysia is a ethnic and religious summary of all Asia. Muslim, Buddhist, Hindi and Christians live together.
Everyone, starting from scholars to McDonald’s workers, wears a different cloth according to their religion.
The two highest Towers in the world, in Kuala Lumpur, symbolize the approaching to a futuristic town at a distance of  10 km.
The ultramodern city of Singapore is the last  stop of the south east  Asiatic peninsula.
Arriving in Sumatra, in Indonesia, is like plunging again into poverty.
I am back again in chaos and hooting that I was used to.
Sumatra and Java are Muslim territories. Sumatra landscape is a never ending jungle in which live the most part of inhabitants in huts.
I ‘m stung  by a poisoning spider on my feet, which are so swollen that I can’t wear shoes but only sandals.
In Bali I was invited by a family to dinner and sleep. The conversation turns around  religious fanaticism and  pride of having a 17 years old daughter married with an old American. There’s no place for any other argument.
Often, it’s quite difficult to understand, but hospitability towards someone who’s “different”, is the most powerful blessing.

Darwin town is my first contact with Australia.
Customs officers suggest me not to cross the country in the middle, but to follow the coast where I’ll can find water and food during my travel to Sidney.
Crocodiles, kangaroos and parrots announce from the first kilometres Australian nature.
The biggest dangers of my Australian experience are not spiders or snakes, but road trains, trucks with three or more trailers , and also alcohol strongly discounted in service areas to transform road into arenas.
I run into many natives at the cities sides , most of them are alcoholic; unfortunately they have a sad story, wiped out and  reduced in bad state as American natives, with alcohol as the only consolation for a pride that doesn’t want to die.
I turn into the desert.
A traveller gives me as gift a ten litres saddlebag. I can appreciate one of my favourite experience: the loneliness of a full moon night in the desert.
30 km far from its face, I see in the distance the monolith Uluru, with an height of 348 metres at the centre of desert. It changes its colour depending from solar rays; I spent few days admiring this phenomenon at sunset.

I meet an Hollander which has been travelling with a dog for 15 years. His bicycle has three trucks, a length of 6 metres and weighs 600 kilos. It transports 50 lt. of water, two cylinders for the gas stove, two batteries and also a radio.
He’s 50 years old, wearing woman clothes and red nails! He travels 5 km/h.

Many drivers stop to give me water and food.
After a month in the desert and 4000 km, I reach the sea and almost Adelaide.
It begins the rain period, during the night I can dry partially the tent with two candles.
In four days I reach the Great Ocean Road.
I arrive in Melbourne, a cosmopolite town very similar to Singapore and full of Italian emigrants.
I go to Sidney ready to  turn into New Zealand.
Considering deserts and coasts  I saw dingos, koalas, snakes, flying foxes and many other animals.

In the southern island of New Zealand , I pass from a valley to another one through pine forests    and lands in the New Zealand mountains.
This island is rich of sources and the rivers clear waters flow in marvellous valleys where cows, sheep and horses are grazing.
I can see deer in fence, probably to be butchered. Most of the land is fenced and that’s a problem for me to camp.
The strait of Cook divide the two islands and I’m in Wellington, New Zealand capital after three hours on the sea.
I take the Desert Road in the middle of island.

Suddenly I notice a shifting of luggage, the frame is over.
The rear   frame because of too much weight on the carrier, breaks down .I repair with a wire  and go on; only in Auckland I’ll find a welding machine to settle  these elements.
It’s absolutely recommendable for a travel a steel or iron frame like mine, instead of an aluminium one or even other materials.
The breaking probability lowers a lot and, in case, it can be repaired.
My old Taman is so strong and doesn’t give up.
I’m ready for the American adventure, I wait to flight to Chile.

Hola, I land off in Santiago , Chile. I spent my first American night on a bench, closed in my  sleeping bag.
I want  to get over Andes Mountains to reach Argentina, not too easy in winter.
Me and trucks go  at a walking pace along the mountain sides .
They ‘re hardly able to pass me over but doing this I have a repair from wind.
I’m at the Argentinian  border towards night and I stay in a inn , exactly in front of the frontier. The next morning I wait for the custom officers.
The inn owner tells me that, in winter, officers often hit the bottle., so that they sleep in the morning. An officer even tells about a story of a contact with aliens, that examined him and then let him free.
He swears of not being drunk……It will be the truth?

On the Argentinian side there’s no trace of snow. Atlantic warm streams increase the temperature.
The dulce de leche and asado, beef  cooked on stones, give me the energy I need during winter in mountains. In Cordoba I can rest cheered by  jugglers and acrobats.
The problem crossing big cities is the Villas, hut areas lived by people on the fringe of society.
Often the road goes alongside these ghettos; it’s better to go fast and not to stop for any reason.
Distances in the pampa are scanned by the meeting with gauchos  which lead herd and by halts in service area to drink mate, the typical hot tea.
In this monotonous land the only thing that gets me awake are truck drivers. They consider me as an obstacle to their crazy running. I’m always obliged to get off road to avoid being carried away.
In one of this situation a piece of iron tears a tyre open and shatters the mudguard. I repair it any-old-how and continue my slow march.

The life conditions in Paraguay are worst than in Argentina.
Many poor people go in the streets with barrows drew by horses  to pick up nylon and other things from rubbish. In the camps and farms not yet abandoned the soil is turned  with a plough drew by bulls. Villages are groups of houses in a bad state. The poorest, for the most part natives , live into wood huts in the forest. They usually eat only a steak and salad.
Paraguayans are friendly and talk a lot. Between them they speak in Guanamy , their native language. Although the official language is Spanish , many can’t speak it.
 I get to Ciudad del Este, where rivers Iguazu and Parana make a natural Y that divides Paraguay from Argentina. This city is considered a land of corruption and smuggling.

Las Cataratas del Iguazu, that take origins  in the river indicating the border between Brasil and Argentina, are the natural wonder of South America. One can hear the  water roar from few km. Before arriving at the fall, the river divides into several channels that make different waterfalls. Five thousands cubic metres of water fall in one second from an height of  70 metres.
I constantly fight with coatis, little bears which are always searching into my food.

Brasil inhabitants are quite heterogeneous, in the south they have Italian and Portuguese origins and in the north almost Africans.

I have funny conversations with people. I try some words in Portuguese in the middle of my Spanish. They do the contrary and the miracle happens!
The liveliness is everywhere. The most lively and energetic country of South America has is precious pearl in Rio de Janeiro.
The Christ Redeemer overlooks    the city. From there one can see the fabulous Copacabana beach. and also the favelas.

Nos vemos America!
I flight to South Africa.
Cape Town put colour people in ghettos. The richness of some town areas is only for white people, that install  gratings  to their houses windows.

Cape Agulhas is the contact point between the Indian and Atlantic oceans. I begin to discover the black continent.

I run into children on the road, black children, to whom I give oranges that they eat up to the peel.
In a second occasion a salami returns to me just a little eaten, symptom of stomachs not used to be full.

Again in the deserts and again I bring as much water as I can transport. I’m obliged to follow the main road, the only guarantee of a supplying every 150 km.
I stay overnight in lay-bys with truck drivers  and the morning   I break camp paying attention to snakes and scorpions under it.
In Namibia capital town I can admire simple children toys such as toy cars made of tin.

In Botswana custom officers joke .” If you run faster than a lion that wants to eat you, you can pass.”
There’re few hut villages in which I can supply myself  with food. In shops I can barely find bean tins. Beans at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I cross over villages with inhabitants cheering  “Run, man”.

I adapt myself to African look, shaving completely my hair.
In the night  there’s danger of  felines ; it’s wise not to camp in isolated place. In the evening I ask the inhabitants for staying near their houses so that I’m protected from animals , I have the possibility to know friendly people that live by exchanging,  spend evenings satisfying each other curiosity and be “assaulted” by children  careless of the fact that I’m dead beat, playing the fight game.

I can see gnus, ostriches, giraffes, gazelles,………….I get into Zimbabwe to realize that going to north means worst life conditions.
I stop to have nshima for lunch, that is  a mash of water and flour, almost the only food for the inhabitants of Zimbabwe forests and me.
Rarely I can find bean tins and biscuits. Town supermarkets are really expensive, similar to the European ones, almost unapproachable to most of the people here.
Quite astonished I observe foodstuffs, objects and toys on stands and I remember the group of children that plays to hunt  insects with small pieces of wood. Then, insects were eaten.
Natural coal is the most  common commercial object in Zambia and Malawi.
It’s obtained burning forests. The peat is exposed in sacs along the streets.
Children pick up  wild berry  and also objects coming from demolition of abandoned huts are to sell. Water is brought by  tankers from the town. It’s not drinkable and people have to boil it  on bonfires  in the yards. Chinese bicycles are the most used mean of transport. Often they are so heavy loaded  to make me feel ridiculous as far as my luggage.
I  risked  a slipped disk  trying to lift a bicycle up again.
Many people own mango trees or cornfield or else. Soil fruits are exchanged with other ones or even with meat. People are worried about keeping out monkeys from bringing fruits and they think that a so great number of monkeys is due to the presence of few leopards. Although I can’t see the animals, I can hear  a hunting scene:  a roar followed by the unlucky monkey screams. People warn me on the danger of  lethal snakes that can kill in few seconds.
I find two “cubs”, I don’t know if they were that type,  into a sink of a inn where I rest.
Monkeys look at  vehicles passing on the road. I can see one of them looking at me with such a emblematic way and  scratches  his head  : “ jokes of the evolution” is probably thinking.

I get into Tanzania paying attention not to take false money in change. I pass between people crying “ muzunguuuuu!!!!!” that in Swahili means white man. I eat nshima and potatoes. I’m quite worried about my loss of weight due to fact I often fast.
Fortunately I begin to find eggs and, sometimes, I can eat even 12 in a day. On the occasion of  an Arabic bread and milk lunch, I remember a cook telling me “ Come on, man, it’s a very energetic lunch”. The refreshment stands along the road are simply plate huts. I like Swahili very much, but I learn only few words “Akuna Matata”.

 Somehow I repair Taman , for instance I use a plastic bottle to  stop a gash in a tyre.
I’m worried about the inefficacy of  repellents against  mosquitos.
I run into an Australian traveller which has had malaria and I learn how much it is dangerous for children.

Typical practice of these countries is to shave the head  for men and to decorate their heads with  false hairs. Mothers bring their children in the most correct way, that is with a foulard  laced to their shoulders, practice not observed in western countries.
Often I can see a little hand  coming out from the foulard  greeting me.

Finally I  can admire elephants. I go next to a little one, but immediately I’m discouraged from doing it by the huge mother.

Masai use to bring cows in green pasture land. They are really friendly and most of them wear sandals made up of tyre parts and I’m amazed of this trick. The tread is very resistant.

A sudden loss of energy together with bone aches, slows down my march.
A cold and high temperature make me feel really weak. My physical conditions worse day by day. While I was sitting in a restaurant, I fell dizzy and kindly the waitress brings me to a shabby clinic. Blood test confirms that I have malaria. Strong medicines don’t allow me  to sleep. I can do it only two hours a night and have also derangement.

Approaching Kenya I look at the wonderful sight of Kilimangiaro. Medical therapy don’t forbid me to go by bicycle but I’m still too feeble to do it. I rest two days  to regain energy. Along Moshi  streets, women wait for clients sitting at their sewing machine and other ones are ironing with a coal iron. Africans are not at business being too simple.

In Nairobi I do a second blood test in a clinic. The test is negative, but there are yet  malarial parasites. Doctor recommends me five days of absolute rest. The third test reveals  no trace of malaria in my blood, so I rest still two days and then I leave again.
I get over Nairobi,  perceiving  Kenya Mount through the fog and I  go on at 2000 metres of altitude with an oppressive heat.
Nine months ago I crossed the equator in Indonesia and right now I cross it back.

I organize  the escort  that will bring me to the Ethiopian border. The presence of  Somali guerrilla   makes the zone very dangerous and the Kenyan government offers this service.
I will be protected by two vehicles, one before me and the other after me. In past years two German people travelling by bicycle were killed; once arrived in the fixed place, I realize that the escort has only a  shabby  off-road vehicle that it’s difficult to start. I ‘m ordered to cover the critic run on a truck. Suddenly, because of a tyre explosion, the truck  goes off road.
Me and the other ones on the truck , clinging to the body internal structure , are rolling  till the vehicle stops. Fortunately nobody is hurt.

In the northern part of the country life conditions become worse.
Water is a precious good. Bicycles with cans run on the roads to reach the nearest river or the pump that usually is between two villages. People chew “energetic leaves”, like coca leaves in Bolivia, but these one are not illegal.

Travellers coming from different countries tell me about a terrible image of Ethiopia.
Events like: people launching stones and  sticks  between  wheel spokes  that caused a shoulder fracture to an Hollander , a German with a jaw broken by a stone, in order to steal everything. I run into a German bicycler unwounded and victim of such assaults, who tells me to have crossed the country bringing a knife and a stick ready to be used. Guido, an Italian working for an NGO and waiting fro me in Addis Abeba, in a mail denies this catastrophic situation. First days in the country convince me of his thesis. It’s possible that the facts told were referred to a specific area, but I prefer thinking of travellers “stories”.
Saying the truth, I ‘m object of stone launches from children that, when I scream, vanish.

I eat Ethiopian bread and meat, or Kenyan  peanut butter. On the roads there’s a lot of pedestrian traffic, children coming back from school taking a bag with a book and an exercise book.
They come around me and invest me with many questions. The few vehicles I see are only shabby bus or old Fiat trucks. The most common mean of subsistence is sheep farming, especially of camels.

Ethiopian aspect reveals Arabic mixture ; Christian and Islamic religions live together.
I feel good, although I regret the African simplicity, replaced by a sort of a “reckless bustle” that recalls to me middle east countries. Ethiopia and Liberia are the only two African countries that have never been colonized and they’re proud of it. Nearby the capital town I go sideways to an old man that asks: ”Where are you going?”
Often children, with hands extended, cheer me saying “Ciao” and “Buongiorno” and also “Caramella”, meaningful words considering historical events.

I spent a month at Guido house, where a few people live together and leave the door open to anyone who needs help by my wonderful friend. I realize the love of the poorest towards him, especially of whom has been saved thanks to chirurgical operations in Italy through his intercession. My stop is “forced” by the long time waiting for the Sudanese visa or by finding passage on  cargo boats  from Djibuti to Egypt. I obtain only the most  depressing  solution: a flight from Addis Abeba to Egypt.

I spend some days visiting pyramids in Il Cairo waiting the ferry that will bring me back to Europe.
Israel on east forbids a travel by road: Israeli stamp on my passport wouldn’t allow the entrance to Arabic countries next to Israel. West road is also forbidden because of bad relations between neighbouring countries.

Travellers met in the south of Africa had told me that a going up of black continent totally by road was almost an utopia. Bad relations between countries, conflicts for different reasons or simply complicated  bureaucratic iter transform the black continent into a  web of closed borders. From my first days in Africa I studied the run and considered different possibilities. I believe to have done the run that has brought me as far as possible.

I’m in Greece, after 25 months I’m again in Europe. Thanks to people hospitability I spend nice days. In my mind I’m always thinking of Africa. I have the same illness of many other travellers: “Africa sickness”.

I arrive in Bari with a ferry and in few days I’m at home, in Albisola Superiore, where inhabitants give me a hearty welcome.

A lot of people is waiting for me in a little square on the seafront. Town authorities with the complicity of my friends have organized a photo exhibition of my travel and also Tv reporters interview me. The mayor gives me a award for merit. I park Taman. The frame is ruined from welding and the stickers with the sentence “Peace from Italy”  are damaged   but yet readable. Many people by curiosity raise it up to verify the weight and photographers come nearer to take a shoot of the kilometer recorder with the number: 51280.


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