After getting back on the bike and heading along the Uruguay(an) coast I couldn't help but wonder if the last few months had led me down the road to freedom. I had found adventure, and a few good examples for living sustainably. I'm sure I could find more fun and some great examples of "in harmony with nature" living in Bolivia, but would I feel free?
I am sure not.
Cycle touring gave me many advantages over the car and train in England and NZ, but here in South America it was continually feeling like a lead weight around my neck.
Rather than putting me in touch with the land and culture I felt like it was keeping me away from them, and I am sure the locals just look on at me as a ridiculous westerner doing something that they don't have the time or money to do, or stupidity.
What is freedom?
Type it in to wikipedia and it doesn't really give you an answer
Maybe the image below is what a lot of us think of as freedom. It was certainly one of the highlights of my trip. A secluded bay on the Pacific ocean coast, with fire wood and even our own well for drinking water. Beautiful! Notice our campsite on the bottom left corner of the photo.
But I think the St.Pauls (as in the Cathedral in London) Institute report made a great quote on the topic, one that sums my recent situation up;
"The paradox of freedom is that those who struggle for the unencumbered life, those who seek only to be free of any sort of constraint can readily end up living with an empty freedom that narrows one's life to a succession of individual choices which actually feel anything but free.
"Our individualistic culture has gone too far ... We need to recall where we have come from and not fall for the foolish false wisdom that we can simply reinvent ourselves through some superhuman act of choice. We need to value and nurture those communities that sustain us morally".
I know it most seem like I am chickening out from what I had planned to do, and I am sure it will be disappointing for a few.
But I feel that I have challenged myself enough by getting through the Atacama and up the Andes (4300m is bloody high!), and am very proud of that!
Apart from the altitude, the main challenge for me has not been the cycling or the tough climate but the solitude. They send people in prison to solitary confinement as punishment, with seven billion people in the world I don't think a freeman needs to be alone.
Positively I have managed to raise well over a $1000 NZ for Amnesty and hopefully given them a wee bit of publicity along the way.
So I'm heading off to Europe to try and find a community that I can feel at home in, and hopefully find that freedom.
A massive thank you to all the people who have donated to Amnesty, and to Moon Saddle for the amazing seat and support!!
P.s. I am sure to be back on the bike very soon in Europe and will write about it here.
Breaking Chains and Not Burning Rubber
BREAKING CHAINS - Freedom: Cycle touring is the greatest way I have found to experience freedom. Whilst I celebrate mine I hope to help others gain and realise theirs, and protect ours, by fundraising for Amnesty International
NOT BURNING RUBBER - Environmental Awareness: Cycling is one of the most efficient and sustainable modes of transport. It's slow speed allows you to become more aware and connected with our surroundings, and therefore the pressures that they may be under. I intent to have a minimal negative impact on the environment whilst I travel, and will share my observations and experiences about my journey, environmental issues, and sustainable living here: