Well, I nearly didn't get to leave, but I'll discuss that later on in this post. The point is that eventually I have left the USA, proven by the pic of the first leg of my epic flight coming in to land at JFK.
So, let me start at the beginning. I haven't written much about what I've been up to since my trip to Jamaica. The fact is that I've been back at Paradise Farm for the past few months. The farm is situated in the Homestead area on the Southern outskirts of Miami, Florida (http://paradisefarms.net/).
Not only does the farm produce organic fruit and vegetables, but they also have a number of B&B accommodations – and amongst other things that was my main task, to take care of guests. In March conditions had warmed up sufficiently for farmer Andy to go back to Illinois for the summer, so I inherited the bungalow where he had been living amongst the mango's, avocado's, coconuts, and bamboo. My adopted cat (Guacomole), who was by that time pregnant, also moved in there with me.
Time flew by in Paradise, but I wished to carry on with the bike journey in the Northern summer, preferably picking up in China where I had previously left off. Gabriele, the owner of the farm, graciously offered to pay for my flight (obviously an offer I could not refuse). The plan was to fly from Miami to Hong Kong for the Chinese visa, and proceed from there to Chengdu. I also desparately needed a new tent and some decent waterproof bags, and I'm thankful to my sister Olga for taking care of those things for me.
My flight from Paradise was arranged – it would stop over in Toronto, Canada, from where I would get the next flight to Hong Kong. It was, as usual, a mission to get the bike and all my equipment packed (I was allowed only 2 items, and my main worry was the amount of overweight baggage I would be charged). But then it all fell apart, and at the airport I was not allowed to board the plane! I needed a new Canada visa to transit at the airport in Toronto (my previous visa had already expired). So the flight had to be hastily cancelled, and by that night I was back on the farm for another 3 weeks. At least that gave me time to look after the 4 kittens until they were old enough to find homes. By that time they had literally taken over my room!
Gabriele was wonderful enough to buy me another plane ticket, but this time I had changed my mind about Hong Kong, and I had decided to go to Bangkok Thailand instead. The plan was to make my way from there to Laos where I had previously obtained a Chinese visa without any hassle. So, that is how I eventually left Paradise, and after a tiring 25 hours of flying (via New York and Dubai this time!) I landed in Bangkok – without my wallet! My flight from Florida had been early AM, so I had spent a sleepless night at the airport, and was obviously not all that sharp going through security with all the things I was trying to save from having to check in (and I probably left the wallet in one of the trays to be scanned). As though Gabriele hasn't already done enough, she has mailed the wallet to me, so now I am waiting for it to arrive here in Bangkok. In my usual reports I would give a cycling distance update at this point, and I DO HAVE AN UPDATE! While at the farm my almost daily excursions to the grocery stores added up to about 700 km (but I don't add that to the total distance - of course!)
My bike (Old Saartjie) on the first day of this trip, 27 March 2007.
PLEASE HELP TO KEEP OLD SAARTJIE'S WHEELS ROLLING: In order to fund this cycle trip I'd sold everything I had, but that has long gone. Please help if you can! If you want to contribute, then please contact me on my e-mail, and I will give you details. (email@example.com)
My Cycle Route
Starting in Cape Town, South Africa, on 27 March 2007 - 146 849 km so far
My name is Ernest Markwood, and I am a South African formerly from Cape Town. I am a Research Psychologist by profession, and operated a Market Research business before embarking on this journey. I sold my posessions and took off by bicycle all the way through Africa from Cape Town. Since then I've proceeded via the Middle-East through Turkey, the Caucusus, Iran, Sub-Continent (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal), China, South-East Asia, Indonesia, Australia, South- and Central America, and the USA, crossing Canada from the West to East and then all the way down the East coast of USA, and Jamaica. Currently my mission is to close gaps in order to form a continuous route around the world. I left Cape Town on 27 March 2007. This was not intended to be a race, but rather an experience (and so it is!).
Me (Ernest), on one of my better days
. . . . on this trip I have looked like this . . . .
- - - also like this . . .
. . . . and I've even looked like this!
I have not been cycling on my own for this entire trip. Leana and I left together on 27 March 2007 from Cape Town, South Africa (our former hometown). Since then we have cycled separately at intervals, although in total we have been together much of the time. We split in 2013. For more about her see leananiemand.org.za