I´ve been travelling for some time now. Something like 14 months, I think. It´s been wild to say the least. I´ve been to South East Asia, India, Northern Africa, Europe, South America and Central America. As I´m writing this I´m sitting in a little Internet shop in La Chorrea, Panama. When I left for this trip I had no desire to come to Central America. But, here I am, it´s kinda strange how things turn out.
A few months into my trip I made a commitment to myself to take a few months and do some type of charitable work. My initial thoughts were to spend some time in an orphanage in South America. After witnessing the extreme amounts of poverty in India and elsewhere I knew that I had to do something to give back. After doing a bit of research I found that companies ¨offer¨ to place you with a non profit organization so that you can do some type of charity work. The only downfall to this is that this ¨offer¨ comes with a price tag. These companies charge you a monthly fee and some even charge you an upfront fee. I don´t know about you but I´m volunteering my time here and I don´t feel like it should cost me any fees up front. What´s up with that?
It was about 3 or maybe 4 months ago when I was in Santiago de Chile. It was time to make a decision about the charity work that I wanted to get involved with. I had just finished a Bikram yoga class, I was in the shower, cooling down (great visual right?) when this idea came to me. Instead of my original idea I wanted to do something that used my talents and skills. I also wanted to incorporate travel and a physical challenge. But more importantly I wanted to do something meaningful for an organization that was helping people, especially kids, who are living in poverty. I wanted to create.
So...I´ve decided to ride a bike, yes a push bike (no motor) from Panama City, Panama to San Francisco, USA. I´m doing in hopes to raise awareness and money for starving kids in Central America. I´m working with an amazing organization, Plan USA, who´s mission it is to eradicate the problems that children are facing who live in these horrible conditions. The ride is going to take 3 months. It´s about 5,500 kilometers and goes through 8 different countries. It is by no means going to be easy. It´s going to be the most difficult thing, physically and mentally, that I have ever done. It´s a wild idea. It´s possible and I hope to raise $15,000 for the cause.
I´ve been preparing. I´ve been training. And today I finished my first day. About 35 kilometers from Panama City to La Chorrea. I´m lucky enough to have a great buddy, Mike, accompany me for the first 2 weeks. Mike and I go back to San Francisco State University. We were having fun, telling stories, having a bit of a laugh but when our taxi driver dropped off us on the shoulder of a freeway (the starting point) reality set in. Were both prepared, have the proper equipment, and good bikes. But nothing really prepares you fully for the first day. So here we were near the Bridge of the Americas about to start a journey of a lifetime. Big rigs, buses and cars flying by us on the Pan American highway. Life doesn´t get much better than that...right? We took it slow, dodged a few buses and narrowly missed an assortment of road kill and finally made our destination. The first day was a bit slow, tomorrow we will pick up the pace.
My hopes are that by doing this I will be able to show to people that there are problems in this world that need attention. But more importantly there are people and organizations that are doing everything they can to make a difference for the children that face these problems on a daily basis.
I keep up the stories as much as I can.