Meet our inspiration!
We have said on a previous post that we would like to introduce people to you who lives the life most of us can only dream about. People who inspire us. People who don't only dream, but also DO it. Since one of our main objectives is to "ride the dream", we are keen to introduce you to someone who does just that... the last sentence of his post says it all!!
Meet one of the most extraordinary adventurers that have caught our eye (and been prepared to share one of his stories with us). He also has incredible videos so make sure not to miss them!
Thanks and a big welcome to MIQUEL SILVESTRE from Spain.
Here is the story of his Nomadic life (and lovely pics!) You definitely HAVE to go and look here:
Be sure to go over to his sites and facebook to see more of what he gets up to here:
We have not edited his story and remember to use your translater when on his site.
MOTORCYCLE TRIP INTO IRAQ
Ancient Mesopotamia is a very interesting destination. But .
.. is it possible and safe to get there by bike? They say that Kurdistan is stable, the government maintains the security, that things have improved since thenlatest bombings in Erbil in 2004 and 2007. However, despite such a triumphant propaganda, the truth is that the region is experiencing a precarious balance. Turks, Syrians and Iranians do not look favorably upon the birth of an independent Kurdish political entity. Not to mention the Sunni terrorists, willing to blow any normalizat ion of the country.
My arrival in Istanbul coincid
ed with a suicide attack that the government blamed on Kurdish separatists. What will I find in the barren eastern tip of Turkey? Military, tanks, c ontrols. However, nobody bothe red me. The police looked at the motorcy cle as we approached the che ckpoint with curious but not hostile mood. A greeting and the barriers were opened without even asking for documentation. That had nothing to do with the police's attitude that I encountered in Western Sahara, where the t raveler is routinely questioned.
Diyarbakir is famous for
having the second longest wal l in the world, completely surrounding the old city. In the upper area overlooking the Tigris inhabit the poorest . I chatted with three street sweepers who spo ke openly about politics. Its principles were basic but clear: Turkey is the enemy, since it denied their rights and democracy. As we talked, two police men riding their Honda Varadero approached us. I feared that they will interrogate me why was I r ecording with a video camera. However, they were only curious about the motorcyle. They smiled and showed me a thumb-up, the international sign of approval.
One of the Kurds said they kne
w a Christian in Iraq called J an. He said Jan could help me. I asked if I could have his phone number. It is always useful to have local contacts, especially when you do not know what you are getting into.
The border post appeared about ten miles from Silopi. The
line of trucks was endless. That post was the only way of land communication with the West. The Iranian border is not suitable for entering Western goods due to the embargo, and the Syrian border means to cross through the Sunni hornet's nest. My appearance caused astonishment and joy within the Secret Service members. What in the hell was I doing there? From where did I come from? How much costs my bike? Was I a follower of Real Madrid or Barcelona?
To enter the bike was hard.
Kurdistan tries to be a modern state, but repeats the old bureaucratic schemes of that region. Slow and incomprehensible procedures. A mechanic identified the brand , model, number ofcylinders, chassis, and license plate of my bike. He handed me a document, but when I showed it to leave Kurdistan, it turned out to be insufficient. I never came to understand what was missing or unnecessary in that document. While waiting, I called Jan, the Christian who was supposed to help me out. He told me he would come to pick me up, but time passed and he did not appear. So, I decided to go to the town of Zakho, which was just ten kilometers away. I tried to find a hotel and as I walked slightly disoriented a young man approached me. His English was full of grammatical errors. He was Jan. He had recognized me at first glance. He invited me to stay at his house. He got as a passenger on my bike and as we started to penetrate in the dark alleys of suburban neighborhoods , it fired in my head the precaution chip that often can result in paranoia.
I reflected then that I
did not know anything about this guy at all. I had placed my self in his hands without any guarantee that it was true what they said of him. Iraq is a country objectively dangerous, no matter what Kurds say since Kurds, after all, are stakeholders in selling a security image. I felt that I did not controlled the situation, that I did not know where I was being guided into.
We turned a corner and left all city light. The alley was dark and deserted. I stopped the bike in front of a garage as he
instructed. Jan got out of the bike and knocked lightly on the door. Then I thought that as I enter the bike in that garage, it will actually be like if I had been swallowed by earth. How can I be sure of anything in a country where everything is unknown? What be nchmarks did I have? Who did I know over there? Who in the world knew where I was? The metal door opened slowly. My pulse quickened. Fr om inside came out an electric light. And a girl. A seven or eight years old girl with huge green eyes and a long queu e.
She looked calm even
thought she was probably as surprised as me. Then she smiled and asked me "How are you?". "I am very happy to be here" I replied, telling her the exact truth. Once I saw tho se eyes so pure and innocent in her you ng face I felt I had come home, and nothing bad could wait for me in th e place where she came from
The most striking part of the road was the terrible
asphalt's deformation. The heat, coupled with relentless passage of heavy military convoys, had drawn a wave of tar on the pavement. However, in Kurdistan there was no trace of American soldiers. The guys who meet me at the checkpoints were all young Kurds in their new uniforms.
They were friendly and talkative.
I was continually stopped and delayed for a few minutes to satisfy their curiosity with innocuous questions, presentations and handshakes. They just wanted to chat and take pictures. Many photos. " Mister, mister, " they said. That was The Word. I was a "mister"and therefore I was not a terrorist or a threat to Kurdistan. Being a "mister" was my best ally.
While driving south I left behind traffic
signs with suggestive indic ations. Baghdad, Basra, Kirkuk ... however, I needed to pay attention to the sign that would indicate me the detour to Erbil. The Kurds had built a new road that bypasses the perilous Mosul. T he deviation was only 20 kilomete rs away from the nest of snakes.
Before entering the Kurdish capital I had to overcome the last checkpo
int. I was received by a captain who wanted to prove to his men that he took his job seriously. He requested all possible documentation. I remained calm. I knew t hat it was just a show-off . The captain noted that it was missing a customs' seal. Then he ordered me to open the suitcases. Something I did willingly and smiling. The best thing to do in these situations is to demonstrate that nothing irrit ates you, that you have more time to lose than them.
The old town stood out on a hilltop in the middle of the metropolitan
area. The walls were tall and gorgeous. I drove all the way up and went inside. It was empty. Abandoned, half- ruined but in process of restoration. It was incredible to go through that dead town. The government had forced the inhabitants to leave so they could rebuild the neighborhood and turn it into a museum that attracts tourists.
I needed money and the only automatic
cashier was located in the Sheraton Building. A Western luxury bunker whose visit r equires passing two check points and a metal detector arch where they seiz ed my Swiss Army knife. Some USA executives, d iplomats and perhaps also spie s. And there I was, with my black motorist uniform. I asked for water in the cafeteria and I was informed that a bottle costs two dollars and a half. So I satisfied my thirst d rinking tap water.
Eastward the region was mountainous, the heart of the country. Deep gorges, bared peaks, narrow roads, gravel tracks. It was getting dark. I kep
t going through a dark canyon. As I reached a checkpoint t he darkness made it too danger ous to proceed. The peshmergas invited me into their check post to eat and drink tea. The post was sand floor and a hole in one corner that served as drainage. I asked their permission to sleep with them but they told me that a few hundred meters away was a hotel. A hotel in the middle of mountainous nowhere? It was surreal Pank Resort. An installation of European cabins.
I woke up in my cabin. The horizon was clear and pure. The eternal mountains, the timeless sun, the
infinite blue. The complex manager told me that day came the owner, who wanted to meet me . I was invited to his table. He was an educated Kurd who spoke English very well. He lived in Sweden. From there he took the model for the surreal complex at the heart of the Kurdish mountains and just 70 kilometers from the border with Iran, a very unsettled area that is not expected to become touristic in the coming years.
The guy was surprised to see me there. He wanted to know the reason why I had
travel to Iraq. It was not an easy question to answer, so I answered as I did to the checkpoint captain in Erbil when he asked me the same question:
- "Do you watch the news on television. "
- "Yes,"- he said.
- "Well, I do not, "- I replied- "I do not believe what they say on television. I prefer to see for myself."