topics: mid-trip thoughts

[Ethan's Notes | andrEa's Notes | Corinne's Notes | Anthony's Notes | Padraic's Notes]

BikeAbout Log

Rider Notes: December 17, 1997 – January 11, 1998

BikeAbout has taken a brief break in the action during the period roughly corresponding to school winter holidays in the northern hemisphere.

During this time, while Corinne and andrEa remained in Israel and Palestine to prepare for the Israeli leg of our trip, Anthony worked and traveled in Cairo and parts of the Red Sea, and Padraic returned to the States for a wedding and to tackle some personal and BikeAbout business, Ethan sped off to New York to continue the fundraising drive that will keep BikeAbout on the road.

It has not been easy to come by financial support. We salute our primary sponsors who have boldly joined is in our exciting and productive adventure — Compaq, Selle Royal, Wheeler Worldwide Bicycles, and the Fondation pour le Progrès de L'Homme. However, we need much, much more.

The BikeAbout budget, incomplete when we began, is now almost entirely exhausted. And we still have a long way to go. We are very much in need of continued support so that everything we have become will continue to benefit students and teachers everywhere.

If you or anyone you know is in a position to be able to help us, please, please let us know. We will gladly and eagerly pursue all angles. For more information about how to help BikeAbout, see our How You Can Help BikeAbout pages.

And now, a few words from the riders, reflecting back on the first part of the trip:


picture of Ethan

Dear Friends,

Eighty three days and almost 2500 km (1550 mi) from where we began, way back in Morocco, we have seen and heard, and ultimately learned more than we could ever have bargained for. And I could not be happier. We came to the Mediterranean to meet and speak with people, to marvel at cultural and natural wonder, to feast on foods, and drink in the unparalleled Mediterranean light. And we have.

But, the world is a difficult place. Even though we have made friends everywhere we go, we have also seen and sensed difficulty. We have shared time with everyone, including those taking shelter in the streets of a poor refugee camp, those clamoring for resources and a vision of the world, those eager to go to new and exciting places . . . if not in body then at least in great spirit. I see this all as living evidence of societies that are working to improve themselves. But I also see this as a disturbing evidence of how far we all have to go.

In the midst of this present and perceived hardship, from the middle of the knot we find ourselves in and the world busy tangling further, from the depths of the mire that our mudcaked tires have sometimes been bogged in, I would like to share a few thoughts:

BikeAbout has been a dream come true (albeit partially so far) and I believe that what we are doing is the right thing. The months past have been tough and trying, but they have been rich and rewarding too, often beyond expectation. What we have seen, what we have smelled and tasted (from the sweet and savory to Kaceta), the friends we have made, the lives we have changed (including our own), have made this astounding so far. Truly astounding.

And everyone who has participated, even remotely, deserves to be thanked for that — for the gift of time, energy, and effort that is actually succeeding in sharing information about the world with the world.

Now we just have to keep it going. No matter what.


picture of Corinne

The past few months of being a BikeAbouter have been an equally exhausting and fulfilling experience for me. The balance of these two things hasn't been as simple as what a person can learn versus teach, or even like versus despise. Each new moment is a new one — whether we like it or not — and each day has to be met with open eyes and an open mind. Thus the holiday break is very welcomed, for myself and for everyone else. This is time for reflection, and preparatory work for the road ahead will hopefully give us all the room to understand how all our past experiences have effected us. We will also decide how to continue. We've seen so many places and met so many people that to digest it all, mentally and spiritually, by now has been a huge task. I look forward to completing our journey with all this in mind, and carrying with me the many sentiments and hopes of the people we have met who will use BikeAbout for the advancement of the Internet and all communication among all people working toward a better future.


picture of Ea

: kinderheit nachhauseweg den kopf an die glaslehne gedrueckt

childhood age 10 / be a nomad (you don't know) / try sit still you are going to become educated / years-long process media pre-format sights / und hinausgeschaut und fortgelaufen beim hinausschauen / dattelpalmen / menschentiere / fragenhausen / how is life on the planet ? (you don't know)

BikeAbout a concept age 27 / / the set up / theory must differ practice nevertheless is challenge / create a safe place a group effort can do / network of people with names and faces / lost belief in overcome retirement programs / a knot is sth small / read communication leads to understanding / corinne

us five start / enthusiasm romance of go to the sea to be a sailor / want to picture places never seen human beings never heard the others the self move sth forward learn / and camera internet bike well known tools / of course it is a risk every experiment is a risk / curiosity (pioneer)

age 27½ / tireless foreigner connects with young people feels funny being asked about america number 1 / project goal cultural harvest plus create a platform for students absolutely positive / seems a concept succeeds / though the remainder: how to find balance between low budget (real)time-pressure (attraktionen gewinnen an wichtigkeit weil sie einfacher darzu doch weniger in frage stellen) and a difficult logistical situation

: dream educational dreams (dates are growing on palm-trees)

exhausted when reality gets dry as if color falls off / borders & properties go nicely together (bold & grand) a frozen tradition / the handful of settlers surround a few thousand locals, how is that possible; women's rights must become human rights; respect is a word in an encyclopedia and harassment a daily hourly practiced task, how long will it take for the next strike where?

: wish a forest right next to the city a forest without uzis, without cars, without veils, just people.

for orientation: this closure-paragraph my holding back prose it doesn't belong to the job and what is the difference between an IJ and a human being.

ueberquere den nil und wende dich *


picture of Anthony

As we take the next few weeks to pause, rest, and attempt to raise badly needed funds, I cannot help but reflect on what BikeAbout has accomplished thus far. We started with a basic and simple idea: bike around the Mediterranean and demonstrate the power of the Internet. Along the way, we would hopefully talk to the people of the Mediterranean region about what life is like where we come from while using our Web site to show to the rest of the world a little of what life is like here in the Mediterranean. Now, three months after we started, we have begun to see how the BikeAbout site is being used by students in the United States (and the world) and by those people we have visited during our trip. The e-mail we receive and the increasingly lively weekly Chats 'n' Debates demonstrate the usefulness of the site. This is, by far, the most satisfying part of the trip for me.

Mostly, when I reflect on the last three months I remember the overwhelming hospitality of many of the people who have helped us along the way, the insatiable curiosity of students about life (in the Mediterranean, in the United States, and in the world in general), and the utter impossibility of some of the things we have accomplished (putting bikes in trains, planes, and cars as we maneuvered through and around difficult situations). All of these elements have woven themselves into my memory. When I started this trip I had hoped to help change the lives (even if only a little) of some of the people we interacted with. But I did not expect my life to have been changed to the extent that it has. Already, I am overwhelmed by how much I have experienced and learned during the last three months. Yet my hunger for knowledge is not diminished and I greatly look forward to the coming months and the adventure, excitement, and learning opportunities that they will bring.

I would also like to congratulate my compatriots in bike seat leather. I am amazed by many of the things that we have accomplished. These accomplishments were made possible because we have worked together as a team. I am proud to be a member of such a team. We all have every reason to be proud. I look forward to spinning into the next 5 months with you.


picture of Padraic

It's been an exciting three months, full of discoveries, new friends, and extraordinary experiences. I've loved the opportunity to actually see the history and live the cultures that I've read about in books. I've also enjoyed acting as a cultural liaison — describing what we've seen and done to those following us in the States, and explaining our journey to those we've met in the Maghreb and the Middle East. But, considering the historical and cultural richness of the lands we will soon be visiting in the Northern Mediterranean, perhaps it's better to look forward than back. Our odyssey continues through the sites of the civilizations that have been the most important to our own. Indeed, our path along the Mediterranean from Israel to Spain could be said to trace the ascent of Western Civilization. Though more familiar to us, the Ancient Greek, Byzantine, and Roman civilizations remain fascinating, while the cultures and people of the Levant, Turkey, and the Balkans are as exotic and different as anything we've seen in Africa. I only hope we will be able to adequately describe our upcoming adventures to the readers of our Web site.

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