We did it; the river, the bike and I! We travelled 1322km (river) 1567km (me) through six countries, speaking five languages, navigating three signage systems, spending two currencies and making lots of friends.
“Hey Linda, I know you haven’t heard from me since we were in 8th grade in 1984, but I see on FaceBook that you live in Basel. Can I stay with you for a couple of days?”
And new aquaintenances, and many generous hosts through CouchSurfing and WarmShowers; international hospitality platforms based on the belief that people are kind, interesting and trustworthy. I’d be greeted with smiles, handed a key, pointed to my bed & the shower, and asked what I’d like to have for dinner; again, and again and again. These types of interactions completely nullify cultural stereotypes, and create lasting friendships.
And what could I offer in return? Well, I tried to arrive with a bottle of wine; I confirmed their disbelief in our current political situation; I offered to weed their garden; I was full of questions about local customs, history and geography, but mostly I wanted them to “Show me your river”, and listen to the ways they connected with it.
But before I undertake any more cycletours, I’m going to help the World Fish Migration Foundation & The Nature Conservancy recruit nature centers, conservation groups, citizens and communities to host events on April 21, 2018 & raise awareness of the need for free flowing, fish friendly rivers so that migratory aquatic species can follow their instincts and complete their lifecycle – just as we desire to do.
Thanks for following along!