“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”
The hostel we worked at in Tblisi brought me back to my time backpacking through South America few years ago. Unlike the more elegant guest house we worked at when we first arrived in Georgia, this large and busy hostel was filled with the younger “backpacker” type rather than the 40+ year old two-week vacationers. Though Kevin immediately labeled the place as “too hippy” (possibly because we had to take off our shoes at the entrance or because the person working there had flaming red hair and liked to juggle) we both quickly found it to be a wonderful place to meet like-minded travelers (including a hitchhiking solo female and two other cycle tourists) and cook a whole lot of food in a kitchen.
“Half the fun of the travel is the aesthetic of lostness.”
Coming into Tblisi was downright frightening. It wasn’t the four lanes of fast moving traffic which caused us to panic as you may expect, but rather the cars which were zooming on and off the highway at each and every exit. When people find out that I cycled across India, a country notorious for its chaotic and ruthless roads, they inevitably exclaim something to the effect of, “but the roads are so busy and dangerous there” which I now find amusing because in reality cycling in India, or in any developing country for that matter, is actually a whole lot easier and safer than in North America or Europe.
“A poor person is not someone who has little but one who needs infinitely more, and more and more. I don’t live in poverty, I live in simplicity. There’s very little that I need to live.” -José Mujican (president of Uruguay)
I sort of have a new and slightly unconventional hero – the president of Uruguay. José Mujican has become somewhat notorious throughout his presidency as being the “poorest president in the world,” but that’s not the only reason I think he is so great. For starters, the reason he has earned this title is because he has given up 90% of his income to low-income housing organizations so that his salary amounts to that of an average citizen in his country. He doesn’t particularly like this title though, and has many things to say about it such as the quote at the top of the page and these below:
“A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.”
After coming up and over the pass we ended up passing through a gorgeous valley surrounded by the Caucasus, a mountain range which runs from Russia into Georgia.
“When we are young, we don’t take anything too seriously. But slowly, this set of daily rituals becomes solidified, and takes us over. We like to complain, but we are reassured by the fact that each day is more or less like every other.”
Spaghetti: Spaghetti and cheese. Spaghetti and homemade tomato sauce. Spaghetti with aubergines, spaghetti and pesto when we feel like spending the extra few bucks… and just plain noodles when we are low on supplies and have nothing else to eat with them. It’s a good thing I love noodles because they really are a cheap and fast meal while cycling, plus they are easy to find in most of the countries we have been through.
“He never realized that people are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.”
I haven’t ever given much thought to talking about or photographing food – I’m the kind of gal who can eat spaghetti and cheese seven nights a week and never complain – but Kevin has convinced me that some of you out there may be a little more curious about the Georgian cuisine than I appear to be (though don’t get me wrong, I love the food here too!) so here is your obligatory post about food.
“Do not squander this time. You will never have it again. You have a crucial opportunity to invest in the next season of your life now. Whatever you sow, you will eventually reap. The habits you form in this season will stick with you for the rest of your life. So choose those habits wisely.”
We took another offshoot from the highway which led up into the mountains, though we must be getting soft since we didn’t take the road all the way to the end this time. Instead, we spent three days camping and fishing along the river. I know I have said this a million times already, but camping here in Georgia is probably the best thing about this country. There are plenty of open fields with trees and rivers, most of which already have a fire circle since the picnic culture is so prevalent here. We have now started to take advantage of this to make our own fires, which, as Kevin puts it, makes it “real camping.”
“If not now. When?”
Kevin and I realized the other day that we haven’t spent more than five minutes with a roof over our heads in months now. Seriously, the only time we have been indoors has been to pop in and out of small local shops to buy groceries, a five minute or so affair every day. And that, a life outdoors surrounded entirely by nature is one of the things I love most about this lifestyle.
“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”
-Susan B. Anthony, 1896
People thought I was crazy when I started out on this journey as a young solo female because apparently the feminist movement is not quite as advanced as we would all like to believe. That being said, there are actually a whole lot of us out there today, pedaling across every continent on Earth while pioneering women’s rights by simply living our lives how we please. Though I personally have only met a few short term solo females (no world tourers), there is a wonderful website, Women on Wheels (started by Loretta Henderson – a well traveled solo female cyclist herself), where us solo female tourers have been able to see that we aren’t alone in our endeavors.
Check it out!
And click here for five interviews done by a very well toured solo cyclist!
“And if you’re not as young as you’d like (few of us are), travel anyway. It may not be easy or practical, but it’s worth it. Traveling allows you to feel more connected to your fellow human beings in a deep and lasting way, like little else can. In other words, it makes you more human.”
After two nights in a really nice guest house (we needed wifi to give our parents their well deserved “I’m alive and happy” emails as well as update the blog) we set out on what we assumed was a paved rather easy road across the country. It was an extremely quiet country road with less than one car an hour and we quickly figured out why. It was horrendously bumpy and rocky (and of course uphill as always) and we were desperately trying to pedal through the 40+C afternoon since we were just about out of water. It was a miserable afternoon made worse by the heat and the prospect of seventeen kilometers of hell to go.