Weeks 16, 17 – Carolinas, Georgia, Florida

This time I would like to share with you a story of cold days and wet nights. A story with many mood ups & downs. I would also like to introduce  you to some cool people I met. It is a strange story since there is not a common underlying theme (apart from the fact of rain & cold). It’s mainly my attempt to: stay dry and warm, make some new friends and ride A LOT (1126 km in 10 days) in order to reach Florida as soon as possible (since my 90 days visa in the USA seemed not enough)!

But first, a poem I wrote in Myrtle Beach. Feeling like a still body receiving a fierce wave.

creo ergo sum
This intro takes me to another place

And, now let’s move on to the typical… map of the days:

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I left Wilmington being full of feelings of gratitude. Deeply moved I was cycling thinking how privileged I am and how cool was my experience in the elementary school. How many beautiful people I met and how warm and lovely humans can be. I needed some time of rest. Mental rest and concentration. I reached Myrtle Beach. I had never ever in my life seen so many hotels/motels next to each other. The beach of Myrtle is approximately 8 km and you can only find places to stay. Nothing else in both sides of the street! I wanted to stay 3 days there but I stayed for a week, cause I needed more time to edit my videos and… spend some time in organising what I will need in Miami, who do I need to get in contact with, etc. I didn’t want to be in a rush, like when I left Paris.

One week of continuous computer-work on a mainly sleep-deprived daily schedule. I was also editing one article I had started writing since I was in Boston (on December!) but I had no time to perfect it. I was paying 28 dollars per night (which was insane for me) but I really needed my space and my time. However, the price per night for the weekend was 45$ ! I had no choice but to head again to nature.. I slept in my tent the two Saturdays that I spent in Myrtle Beach. The first was rainy and the second was… cold… very cold!

First Saturday Camping Spot Be Like
Actually, on Saturday afternoon (one day before I left Myrtle Beach), I met Sammy. He was with his bike and just a bag! He told me he has no house for the  moment and he is just cycling from city to city until he finds a job somewhere… He asked me If I wanted to camp with him as I told him that I just left my ridiculously expensive motel. Of course I accepted. It was a rather peculiar encounter and the time we had together was well… intense.. We found a place to sleep into the woods, in between high trees and dense flora. We grabbed two beers and headed to the beach were Sammy cooked for me a delicious pasta with mushroom sauce. What stroke me was that Sammy was talking about Jesus a lot. He told me in whatever difficulties he has he thinks of himself as a soldier of Christ and that despite believing a lot in God he hadn’t been to Church lately.
I Love this picture. “Friendship Baptist Church” in the middle. Christ is where you are looking for Him.

We went to our camp spot and then I realised Sammy had no tent and no sleeping bag and no mattress… I asked him where does he sleep every night and he told me “on the ground!” -What??? (It was -3 °C that night!), if you fall on the ground tonight you will be frozen!

Second Saturday Camping Spot Be Like
At that point I thought how many people had provided shelter for me and also that Sammy cooked for me and bought the beers… I was like “ok, I have a sleeping bag, a tent, a mattress.. I am more than ok, I can share something. Sharing is caring (or maybe… scaring?) no, I am just kidding, scaring not! COLD – YES! I gave him the sleeping bag and kept the other two – I wore ALL of my clothes (9 top long-sleeved layers), but…. that was the coldest cold I have ever experienced. Not in terms of intensity, in terms of…. intensity/time… I can very well describe in words these 10 hours of “sleep” but I think it’s better if the picture below tells the story.
The Face Of Cold – trying to show my 9 layers on camera
We split with Sammy on Sunday morning. He went to the Baptist Christian church and I went for the Orthodox one. The awkward was that when we woke up and after having packed, 20m from our spot, there was a police vehicle. We were not trespassing but still it was a bit awkward to pass in front of them with our fully loaded bikes. We waited for half an hour being fallen on the ground and right at the point I was like “ok, we are leaving, the Service has started”, the police left. We reached the road and started cycling (45 seconds or so) and the police vehicle is coming back!!
That Sunday I couldn’t really ride. I had an awful sleep and I was feeling powerless.

I stopped cycling in the late afternoon, found a nice spot and slept for 14 hours! Next day, while I had decided to ride at night, rain started at late evening while being in a forest-like area. I found a church that had a little roof in front of the door. I didn’t pitch my tent as there was a camera just above me and also cause I thought (why?) it’s not gonna rain that bad… Result? In the middle of the night I woke up because of rain.. heavy rain.. (03:43 in the video below) Water everywhere.. I was so pissed off… I took 3 big black plastic bags, and put one in the bottom, one in the middle (vertically) and one on top. I opened a hole to breathe…

I think I ‘ll never forget that night…!

2 days later I was in Brunswick. I couldn’t find a place to camp until an unfinished block of flats looked promising. Just at the right time to dry all my clothes and sleep without a tent and relatively safe. I was happy.

After 4 nights of camping I was hosted by Majd in Jacksonville. Needless to say I had wonderful time. With Majd we share the same faith (he is Orthodox Christian too). We had beautiful conversations in all subject matters, we ate a ton of sushi because we are xontroi (fat in Greek 😀 ) and went around the city. What was most beautiful though was the spiritual time we had together.. It was a boost for me 😀    شكرا أخي !  (Majd comes from Palestine)

After Jacksonville I slept in St. Augustine. Not very far from J. since it was Sunday and I don’t want to ride a lot on Sundays. This little town is considered to be the oldest city in the USA. Or, to put it more politically correct, “the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement within the borders of the contiguous United States (1565)” (wiki) (hahaha). In St. Augustine I visited the St. Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine, an institution dedicated to the first colony of Greek people who came to America in 1768. I was deeply touched by the beauty of the St. Photios chapel.

The following night found me in a place called Mims… I was desperately looking for a place with a roof to spend the night as the weather forecast was predicting rain. I got into a… what exactly was that I am not sure.. In a completely non-residential area, I found a “resort”/development (?) that had an entrance and an exit and something like 50 houses, the one next to the other, relatively cheap constructions. I found a tent under which I wanted to sleep. The bad thing was my tent is orange and it was way too flashy to pitch it before sunset. I Just had my sleeping bag out, got in, close it to the top. Where is the opening for my face, I put a small and breathable towel. This because there were millions of mosquitos around!!! The thing was that the night wasn’t that cold… and in one hour I was literally completely wet! After that, I set my tent and slept very nicely..
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After entering Florida, I met a touring cyclist named Mike. It was such a fortunate incident that we met. Not only because we had a great time and I got to know how it is to ride with some company, but also because the next couple of days were very windy and a lot rainy.. And yes, rain is not always an issue, but tailwind certainly is…!

One thought on “Weeks 16, 17 – Carolinas, Georgia, Florida

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