Adelaide – a long break
December 2014 – May 2015
Australia is crossed and I have only one goal in mind: The city of Adelaide. I have had enough of cycling and need a break. The last few weeks I have spent up to seven hours almost every day on the bike – often under difficult conditions such as heat, headwind and wasteland. My body is worn out, I feel my muscles every day, have become thin, have lost every gram of fat.
But it is not only the body that cries out for standstill: After two and a half years of nomadic life – only in transit, often the object of attention, the crazy white guy on a bicycle – I yearn for a home not consisting of a tent or hotel room, I yearn for social contacts and meetings that last longer than a few hours or days.
As so often everything works out on its own
A few weeks ago, it was a particularly hot day and I was on my way to Uluru, one of the few cars stopped and a man got out. This was followed by the usual questions of “from where?” and “to where?”. I reply I had started a few weeks ago in Darwin and Iwould be on the way to Adelaide and just make a detour to see Uluru. That astonished most people enough but sometimes I can´t help but to mention that I started cycling actually 2.5 years ago in Germany. The man, Trevor, works for the Australian Royal Flying Doctors and is responsible for mental health in Aboriginal communities. After he was thoroughly assured that everything is fine in my head he got some cold watermelon from his Esky, plus more fruit and a yoghurt drink and left me alone with all these treasures back in the heat.
What I didn´t know: Later Trevor will send an email with a photo of this encounter to friends and work colleagues. A few days later I get then the following email:
Hello from Adelaide
Hi Florian, I’ve just had an email from Trevor who you met in Central Australia – he gave you fruit and a watermelon. I’d like to offer you some accommodation at our house in Adelaide when you get here, if you wish. My parents have cycled all over the world and my children have also travelled, and I know what it is like to be away from home. People have shown much kindness to my children when they have travelled and I like to repay that by passing on the goodwill. look forward to hearing from you, Alison
But I´m still in Port Augusta, 300km away from Adelaide. A stone’s throw compared to the 3000 km which I have covered in the past few weeks or the about 30.0000 km in recent years. But I take my time and cycle often only 60 or 70 kilometers a day. The landscape is so different from the last few days. Large fields stretch over the hills, old trees are green spots in the parched landscape. There are plenty of settlements, usually only a few houses, a pub, general store and a gas station, but I don´t have to care about water and food anymore. I enjoy these last days and lonely nights in the tent, foreshadowing that I´m not going to be so much on the go in the next few months.
I arrive in Adelaide just in time for Christmas and find the address of Alison and John. As so often on this trip I´m warmly welcomed and get greated without fear and mistrust. I get my own room overlooking the garden, a soft bed and a giant towel – probably I urgently needed a shower. In the evening Alison cooks for me and the fridge is full of other delights. After the hardships of the past few weeks I can enjoy all the comfort even more.
The whole family is there for Christmas, the adult children as well as Alison’s mother, Margarete. Several years ago she hosted two other German cyclists, Axel and Peter. These two left Germany in 1990 to explore the world on a bicycle. I know them from a presentation back in Germany where I got inspired by them before starting my trip and now I get hosted by the same family.
It’s a beautiful day, the sun is shining and it’s hot. While a huge roast is cooking outside on the barbecue we sit inside and drink cold beer. Christmas feels differently here. For me it’s always exciting to get an insight into other families and I don´t feel like a stranger here but my mind wanders on the other side of the world where my real family comes together to celebrate a very different Christmas.
After a week, rested and a few kilos heavier, I leave Alison and John’s house to make a few other contacts.
I was particularly impressed by the implicitness they took me in with. Nothing was expected from me and I felt truly free. That was often different in other families where as a guest I was admired and boasted with, people wanted to be entertained by me and I had to tell my story again and again.
In the next few weeks numerous kind people open their door for me and help wherever they can. I get odd jobs as a plumber, gardener and on a farm. I earn money as a guinea pig in a sleep laboratory and also find the time to sort out memories and to put the experiences of the last years into mediums to share them: I finish some new videos, my presentation is now a professional multimedia presentation, I give a talk in a school, on Radio Adelaide and I´m even in the Australian Kids TV-Show Totally Wild (min 7:50)
So I can inspire more people to try something new, to go out on an adventure – but I myself just don´t feel like start cycling again- at least not in the next few weeks.