After two months, nearly 200 km of cycling and a dozen charities. This is an interview. What is it that we have done? What is our impression of this part of Africa? What is it like to do this trip? What have we done in the charity and what is our conclusion of what you need for doing this kind of trip?
We have now been away for 2 months, bicycled a lot but also done charity and above all we have got a first impression of this part of Africa and how it is to travel with one another.
So Christian is this something you would have recommend yourself doing half year ago?
Yes. This has been great learning experience that I will carry with me from now on. But, it has been in no way near a vacation as I thought it might be. To be frank, I would have emphasized the importance of planning more and being prepared of exhaustion. A little more time to straighten out the communication and making sure we both knew more precisely what the other person's expectations of the trip were, would have been helpful.
Is it the relaxing midlife retirement you expected?
Oh no. We heavily underestimated the troubles our bikes and the bad roads would give us and by that also how much slower we would move across the countries.
Fredrik why did you bring Christian when you got the idea of doing this journey?
Christian is a great guy dealing with. My opposite in some ways but a great guy for coming along. Being positive of an idea, not so much questions when I take the lead, then he follows. You can describe him as a cool geek. He knows a lot about how things work and how things are put together. He has a correctness of facts, he is cheerful most of the time and knows how to speak to kids and an audience. He is the book keeper who likes numbers and we do get along, even after this far sleeping next to each other for 8 weeks.
Fredrik, why is it fun to cycle in Africa?
All the things happening and all the life experience you gain in short time. This is like being in an adventurous action movie or a fast forward drama movie. Plus, we are the stars here. People love to come up and talk to you, you are someone they look up to and this is of course fun and a great responsibility. We try to be the better example. Smiling and waveing, being polite, not litter and be correct because we have all eyes on us. The whole villages eyes in all villages. This is not all great. It gets very tiresome being an idol. But it is a great experience to have.
Christian, want to add anything in this?
Yes. About being so popular. As Fredrik says, almost everyone, everywhere we go, is excited to see us (apart from the three year old kid in Ishaka, who ran away from us, screaming with fear after spotting us on the road. I feel bad to say this, but that was just hilarious, being the monster in some kids horror movie).
It is of course a great honor and responsibility to be so highly praised. But after scratching the surface a bit, one realises more of what is behind this. Mzungu - the word locals shout when they see us - means white person. It also bears an undermeaning; this is someone with money who has come to save us from our dire situation (poverty, unemployment, starvation etc.). This is what I am reminded of everyday, 50-100 times a day when we are cycling. After a while you grow numb and simply cannot process how many people there are who put all their hope in you, and at the same time you are just one person, with no income and a tight budget to get through the whole journey. I feel like a monster everytime I don’t give anything to someone begging, but if I would give, I would run out of money after a week. Who do I save by sacrificing myself? Maybe that is what I am supposed to do, given that the wealth I, and all of us in western society have, is strongly linked to the exploration of people all over the world in poorer countries.
Yes I’ve grown numb. And this coping style is nothing I’m proud of, but it is what it is.
Fredrik, your choice of bicycle may seem a bit odd, going on old lady style bicycles. Why not touringbikes or bikes for this long time cycling?
The bikes are . They are not ok but not what the shop promised them to be. Especially the back heels don't hold on both the cycles. They still work but it is more a strong will which makes it work. I wanted to keep the trip less expensive and simple so we choose to buy them in Cykelringen in Stockholm but as it turns out this shops low prices means low quality. I wanted to show that it is not the equipment and money that make the trip. That It is possible to do a trip like this at a low expens. And it is. But try to get sponsored or make sure they want to stand for quality so if you need help they will stand up for it.
So you packed lightly but you also have taken some away, like what?
We used to have rear view mirrors, speedometer, a systematic camera and a thermos, but we gave this a way, some of it we sent home. It took to much weight and space.