My lovely brothers and sisters, I salute you. I will start this short note with a small poem I wrote:
I am in Switzerland. I had to pause for a bit wandering with my bicycle because of debt accumulation. I have some money in the bank but they are not enough for the last part of my trip – exploring the East.
I finished my first contact with Africa. It took me two and a half years, 23 countries, and approximately 18.000 cycling kilometers. These I can count. I can’t count, though, the beauty, the friends, the growth. It is obvious that Africa changed my life. Even one day in Africa can change your life. Even one conscious day anywhere can change your life.
I spent years in this journey and in all honesty I can spend hours just looking at this map. This map is charged and I can’t escape its energy. I have so many things to say and I am writing some of them. In the following months I will be posting here. I had been writing some words but always you have to fight this feeling of futility. That the distance between the experience and the words is so big that even if you carefully choose your letters, your words, the sequence, the titles – always the Signifier wil fall short of the Signfied. Πάντα το Σημαίνον θα υπολείπεται του Σημαινόμενου.
I cycled until Dakar, Senegal. Fascinating time. West Africa is such a crazy, beautiful little world... I gave my cheap, half-destroyed bicycle to a guy who fixed my earphones and I flew to Addis Abeba, Ethiopia to get my original bicycle and 75% of my stuff that I had left there for 2 years.
I came to Switzerland to find a job. First I did 3 weeks of volunteering in an awesome place in the countryside by the lake Zurich. Now I am in quarantine and in some days I will go and stay with my brother and his lovely family in Zurich. I also came here to be with them. I am excited to see my niece, Alexandra and Nicolas that were born when I was in Peru and now they are 3 years old +.
The coronavirus situation is a shitty one. I am truly worried about how things will go in Africa… In urban areas you have really densely populated areas.. you have litle rooms being the house of families of 4,5,6 persons or even more. All in a little room. In addition, how can you implement quarantine when a lot of people (maybe the majority) is living per diem. That is, you are being paid at the end of the day. You don´t have a monthly or bimonthly salary… How these people will buy stuff to stay at home and where they will put them? Fridge is a luxury in many places in Africa.
I am… well, terrified to be honest… I feel that even if we do our best, Africa is doomed. I am a very optimist guy in general, but here it seems to me straightforwardly factual. If the virus has travelled so far, how it will not penetrate the slums and all the very poor settlements that are around rapidly growing African cities?? People rush into the cities to find a job and they just try to find a place to sleep. they build their houses with whatever waste material they can find. they have no toilets, no electricity, no running water.. nothing… can you imagine? please, try to imagine… one toilet being shared with 50 others…. sometimes they dont even have a shelter. you walk at night and you see hundreds of people sleeping in the streets.. in an organised way. they are not the homeless we see in the western world. oh one guy here one guy there… they are a lot of people who just cannot afford to rent a small place. at 6 pm the carton boxes are out and put down on the pavement or on the road, the mosquito nets are hanged above them, the litle radio is playing, candles or oil lamps. and that´s their life… Social distancing is a joke there.
On a positive note, Africa has some experience fighting against viruses and other mighty invisible microorganisms. Ebola, cholera, typhoid etc…. but this is worse now… i don’t know.. I am really worried.. Usually in health crises there are the international organisations that help. but these organisations are funded by rich countries… and now rich countries have already fucked up with their own crisis management… how they will give money away.. and there is need… Central African Republic, one of the poorest if not the poorest country, has 3 ventilators for 5 million people, while New York has 6250 ventilators for the same amount of people and still they have 700 people dying daily!
Myself, I am doing well. I am fine. I feel happy I have managed to finish my African journey safe and sound. Most of my adventures and misadventures are not to be found in this blog yet because some things are really intense and it’s not easy to publish them for a number of reasons.
The only sure thing is I am coming out of the african continent way stronger, more mature, more conscious, more expanded, more connected, more full…