I have never won a gold medal. I have never even won a medal. I have never stood on a big stage. But when I am riding my bicycle through Asia (currently Sumatra) and am greeted by hundreds of people with waves, smiles, and shouts; the only way I can describe it is as a professional athlete earning a gold medal might feel standing on a stage in front of thousands of people.
Over the years I have heard travelers say, “I loved X or Y country because of the people.” “The people made it.” “The people are so friendly.” As someone who is not particularly social, I never really understood. Plus, how do you communicate with people from another culture if you do not speak their language?
I did not understand because it is more of a feeling that it produces. It is nothing particularly intellectual. There is rarely a transmission of dialogue—except incredibly remedial. It is the smiles and the enthusiastic shouting and the thumbs up that produces such joy.
Today was my second day riding my bicycle through Indonesia. I am in Sumatra. An island of about 50 million people. This is part of a longer journey around the world.
It was a really hard day. So hot. So much traffic. My mind was torturing me. “Why are we doing this?” “We should have gone somewhere else.”
But I have been doing this long enough to know two things. First, great things come out of discomfort. There is always an end to the tough times. I was right.
I have not seen a single white person since I started riding. This does not seem to be a tourist destination in any way. But that was the point of the trip for me. To myself in a situation where accommodation, resources, and communication were limited. This is a way to test myself. To learn.
It is also a great way to meet the local population. I find that when I arrive in an area in an unexpected way, people are joyfully surprised.
These stories are about my inner and outer journey as a nomad with no address, a citizen of the world. My journey is about challenging myself by embracing the unpredictable, uncomfortable, and also joyful moments. My hope is to inspire, motivate, and entertain you.