Teresie Hommersand's recently wrapped here Cape to Kapp, finishing her ride at the North Cape in Norway. Four years in the saddle, across 25,000 kilometers, through 26 countries. Distance and time are just two of the measures of a journey. Maybe the most memorable parts of any journey are the people you meet along the way and Teresie has made so many friends and have had to rely on the kindness of many many strangers to help her through it. So much welcoming and blessing. Yet she has also observed how often people have negative opinions of people in neighboring countries and cultures. (All photos copyright Teresie Homersand)
On this extended journey, I've gained experiences and developed perspectives that I'm sure I otherwise could not get. That's how unique traveling by bike is.
One of the recurring experiences is I've am often been warned by the locals in the country I am in about the country I am about to go to.
"Something bad can easily happen."
"Sudan!? Ai, ai ai!"
"Turkey? Oh my. You know what happened to this tourist when she was hitchhiking alone through Turkey? She was raped and killed!'
The last person I met before crossing the border to Albania, a Greek man who offered me water, told me nothing new: 'They'll steal all your stuff!'.
"Crazy lady!!! There are a lot of seriously dangerous things in Afrique!"
Needless to say, I have been welcomed and found warmth EVERYWHERE.
Why do we think we are nice, but "other people" are not?
Prejudice means 'a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience'. How often do we act based on this? Not that long ago when I was posting about my journey in a sailing group on Facebook as part of trying to find a lift with a sailboat over to Sweden someone commented 'Crazy lady!!! There are a lot of seriously dangerous things in Afrique!' This way of thinking and speaking is so common. It's engrained. I'm also guilty of this. Discriminating and creating distance between people. Hurting ourselves and others in doing so. LIMITING ourselves and others.
If anything, this journey has been the biggest reminder and final confirmation of what your neighbour is actually like!
Needless to say, I have been welcomed and found warmth EVERYWHERE. In every country, in every culture, in every religion.