2015 is now finally behind. A year of chaos that began as the most difficult of my life and ended up as one of the best. Life can kick your ass in disgust, but then it always finds ways to compensate you for the sadness by throwing you one joy after another. That is what was 2015 for me: falling from the sky, breaking on the ground and gettting up to put my pieces back together and find myself again. All this process lived on a bicycle along thousands and thousands of miles traveled in the African continent. But beyond the miseries and the joys, it was an intense year of immense lessons that will not go unnoticed.
Today only 3 days into 2016, I look back to share in this post, some of the most intense moments of each month of 2015. One per month. It was a very difficult choice but here it goes.
January - I am in paradise on the Indian ocean coast of Mozambique in a very difficult emotional situation. The beauty of the country and its lovely people give me the strength to go forward and not to lose faith.
February - After spending a night when I saw death passing by closer than ever right before my eyes, I conquered the summit of the Sani Pass in Lesotho at almost 3000 m high. A legendary brutal pass that will soon not be brutal anymore.
March - At Kogel Bay, just 50 km from Cape Town on the southern tip of the African continent after completing the tour across the eastern half of the continent. 33,457 km from departure since China and an arrival as exciting as difficult; with a joyful spirit for the conquest but very sad because the plan was that in this photo there should be two bikes and not one.
April - After a month and a half of pseudo-rest, trying to recover what I lost and save the insurmountable, a new beginning comes in South Africa, with the western half of the continent lying ahead of me. Inertia is the only thing that drives me forward, I'm in the worst emotional moment of my life and I see my whole world collapsing.
May - I feel that it is time to quit, I have no more strength, my neurosis no longer lets me see anything around me, and if I can not stay present, it's not worth it to keep going. But my family comes to my rescue. Finally, I hit the bottom, I give up but with the dignity of those who know that they have given everything of themselves to reverse the irreversible. With letting go the sun rises again, and the wonder of this world is revealed again before my eyes in the Namib desert in Namibia. It was time to start rebuilding myself. For ten days I enjoyed the invaluable company of my friend Niel, a traveling soul mate that I met on the way and with whom we shared the road and the camping time every night to be dazzled at the wonders of this world.
June - My body is filled with immeasurable strength and energy, adrenaline flows through my veins again. My food is the adventure and the beauty of this world, I am one with it again, as it always has been. By the power of will and reckless recklessness, I reach the farthest corners of Kaokoland, where I spend my lonely nights in the middle of nowhere with lions lurking around my tent. THe kind of moments that were etched in my DNA forever.
July - I am not willing to give up the intensity of this life, my body asks me for more and more. Today I am a train that can not be stopped. I am in the tribal heart of Angola riding through a network of unmarked trails, living with people from another world and sleeping under the sweet shadow of the biggest and most beautiful baobabs I have ever seen.
August - After years of dreaming about it, I finally arrive in the Congo, I expect some of the most physically and mentally hard months of my life as a bicycle traveler, but I am ready for everything, I am committed to this adventure, the world is mine , No one else's. Southern Congo is not what I expected but I manage to have fun as a child, enjoying the dust, the climbs, a heart that does not stop vibrating to live every moment to the maximum.
September - The month where everything I had dreamed of becomes reality and that reality surpasses all my expectations; when life is what it has to be: the present in its purest state. I have not come all the way to Congo to cycle on a seal road and I do not hesitate for a moment to plunge into the heart of the equatorial rainforest of Central Africa. From Gabon to Congo I choose a remote path that no one has ever cycled; punishing my body and testing my mind, I push with difficulty across the mud at 19 km per day, but maybe that's why I enjoy so much the hell out of this life.
October - I've come to the heart of the equatorial jungle, I've sorted out crazy nights where terror has taken over me but I've moved on, I've navigated the magnificent Sangha River and I've gotten where I wanted to go. I spent two weeks in the jungle living with the Bayaka Pygmys, I have fallen in love with them and they have fallen in love with me. It is an experience that I know will have changed me forever and those are the moments for which we have to celebrate life.
November - By the time I arrive in Cameroon, I understand that I have abused a little. Two months in the jungle have gone by and my body has suffered a lot. I have my legs eaten by infections, my body is sick, I have lost many kilos, my energies are almost completely drained and I still have to cross the most feared country in all of Africa: Nigeria. To my surprise (and that of many) I went across it taking with me me some of the best memories of all Africa. Right there I start my recovery and I arrive in Benin to continue recovering at the house of my great friend Germano next to whom I spend quiet days photographing the world.
December - My batteries are back to 100%, until the last line. My appetite for more adventure becomes unbearable again and so I set off to end this difficult year in a great way. I'm on my way to Accra, that's only 338 km by the most direct route, but I'm not satisfied with it and I decide to cycle a 2800 km loop instead. I am going to the north of Benin, across to Togo and then to Burkina Faso and I go directly to the heart of the Sahel, where everyone tells me that the terrorist groups will kidnap me. Nevertheless, wrapped in my turban I arrived in the remote region of the triple border between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger and once again I live with the extraordinary Fulani tribes to find nothing but beautiful Sahelian solitude and hospitality. The 2015 comes to an end by the time I reach southern Ghana.
It was the hardest year I can remember. I have lost the greatest love of my life, perhaps the only true I have felt, the one I had always dreamed of, but in return life has taken me through a part of the continent in which I have fallen madly in love. There, I have reconnected with myself, with my essence ; I have completely returned to this world that I love and once again I have become one with it. I have traveled 18 out of the last 20 years of my life alone and it was during them when the road was the one that has always led me wisely to the most absolute happiness. This is bliss, the universe is on my side.
A long journey is now ahead of me until reaching the Strait of Gibraltar from where I'll leave this continent that has changed me forever and enter the dreaded Europe. But for the moment, it is time to receive 2016 with the right foot, resting in São Tomé and Príncipe :)