South African Ernest Markwood has been cycling around the world non-stop since March 2007. So far he’s racked up almost 90,000 kilometers on his trusty bike, Old Saartjie.
His story is a classic one. After selling all his possessions, he set off from his home in Cape Town with the intention of cycling as long as possible. Either until the money runs out or the body wears out.
Almost five years into the adventure, Ernest is still going strong. After cycling the length of Africa, he pedaled through the Middle-East then into Turkey, and Central Asia and the Indian sub-continent.
The latest leg of his epic tour is South America, where he’s cycled more than 20,000 kilometers.
I’ve been following Ernest’s progress since the very beginning and always enjoy his keen observations and straightforward writing style. What’s more, he’s always got good stories to share which bring a laugh.
Here’s a tidbit from his latest post about bicycle touring in Brazil:
In the town of Bao Vista I camped in a truck-yard frequented by various (other) down-and-outs. At 5 AM a group of pimps and prostitutes were taking their drugs behind my tent, and I also met another cyclist there (the dope-smoking Junior and his mascot dog Beatrice; I think he has more luggage on his bike than what I have!).
In Vila Do Equador I was shown to the community centre where it would be no problem for me to camp, but the place turned out to be a rather interesting shelter for the homeless with nobody particularly in charge. As the name of the village indicates, it should be close to the equator and I kept asking where the line is (they all said it runs straight through the village).
The following day I crossed the Equator 18 km South of town. In the Waimiri Indigenous territory I arrived at their admin camp after dark – and although they are very strict about allowing outsiders to stay in the area, they let me camp there.
The next morning they even gave me breakfast, and I could take pic´s of the wild mackaws and parrots hanging about the kitchen door for scraps of food.
The previous day I´d spotted a group of the tribespeople along the road, the men carrying spears and none of the bunch wearing much in the line of clothes (probably the reason for signs along the road prohibiting photography). Oh yes, I´ve also crossed the Equator again, for the 4th time.
There’s a lot of great stuff on this blog, but it’s hard to discover. You’ll have to search through the archives which, regrettably, are organized by date only rather than country.
Ernest has seen an amazing amount of this vast planet by bicycle, probably more than any other of his fellow South Africans, except perhaps his sometimes cycling partner, Leana Niemand.
Follow along as Ernest approaches the 100,000 kilometer cycling milestone and see where Old Saartjie takes him.
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