Going to Africa is something else – I highly recommend it – meaning that every day I wish I would die and I’m afraid of dying at the same time, alternating this confusion with trying to hold back tears. (source)
Darius is probably now on his way to some great adventure, but he won’t tell. What he did agree to tell, though, was his greatest challenge so far: travelling to Africa on his motorcycle, accompanied by his teddy bear, Pamfil.
When I first discovered his blog, years ago, I found something special in his writing and his way of engaging hundreds of readers with his stories. He studied Journalism and Communication/PR in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, but got the travelling bug from his parents who used to be travel agents. The whole family adventured on regular trips, even though it wasn’t easy-peasy during the communist era. Nine years ago, when the iPhone was freshly launched (but wasn’t popular in our country) he left home to travel around Europe. “I pretty much had a lot of things figured for “a trip with no plan,” he writes in a blog post. He did have in mind the basics, finding a place to sleep, something to eat and a way to get further.
And so, his first adventure began.
“Moving away from my rather classical touristic background, I had always waited for the right time to just leave with no plan, at some point. Like most of wise decisions, this one came on a drunken escapade.”
Fuelled by cocktails, Darius decided that any time is a good time. So, he packed a small backpack and at 4AM he “went on a quest to see if your average couch potato can get off his ass and simply explore the world, on a zero budget, taking it one day at a time.”
“Fact is I’m not supposed to do anything. I’m just finding – out along with you – if one normal guy such as me (or any of you) can see the whole Globe. I am not trained in hiking. I don’t have a promising physical condition.” (source)
The challenge was to do this on a very low budget and not accepting any sponsors – except if it was to pay for transport or food. The accommodation was planned to be “impromptu and arranged exclusively with local hosts”. He knew it was going to be hard, but what he didn’t expect was “quite a sweet deal”, given the fact that this all happened when backpacking culture and globetrotting was not very popular, especially in Romania.
“The iPhone had barely launched so naturally, we didn’t have any smartphones and Google Maps and all that for a few years to come. It was old school printed-map-in-hand, drug and alcohol infused nonsense. It was ridiculously awesome.”
From hitchhiking around Europe, Darius went on a cycling tour of Romania the next year. It wasn’t again, a planned trip, but it did sparkle the idea of going a bit further.
“During my cycling trip around Romania, someone suggested I travel to Africa. Can’t remember who exactly. It was kind of like those ‘what next?’ dilemmas.
He started the journey knowing it’s going to be a challenging one, aware of what to expect but not without being scared. Untrained, new to riding a motorcycle, alone. Well, not exactly alone; Pamfil, a teddy bear, came along. The further he travelled, the more present he became, conscious of himself getting into the whole thing. We have a saying in Romanian, “the appetite comes when you’re eating” and so did the traveller’s enlightenment occur.
“I contemplated quitting basically every day. The only thing that kept me going was that when I eventually cleared my head and realised what I had gotten myself into, I had already gotten too far.”
As it was harder to backtrack than to actually finish the trip, he kept going even though his bike broke down a few times in the middle of nowhere and he wasn’t good at repairing it; not to mention all the terrifying thoughts going through his mind.
“The cumulated chances of me not dying in a bike crash, killed by various belligerent groups, succumb to malaria (which I contracted in Nigeria), etc. were pretty much equivalent to a coin toss each morning. It’s sheer luck I’m alive. I’m not giving me any credit, mind you. There are no skills that got me through it. I’m not ‘experienced’ in this crap. It’s just every day’s dumb luck. Anyone can do it. Anyone can die doing it. Preparing for it doesn’t make much of a difference.”
Blogging his way through adventures, Darius called it the tour of Africa without a reason. But was it really without a reason? He does hope to inspire others. And I’ll agree that inspiring things happen when you get out of your head and, like a Nike advert would say, just do it. “Which is recklessly”, he adds.
“There’s a reason for my travels in general – that is to see the world. I think that’s all I can personally do on Earth. Or I prefer to anyway, I probably could do some constructive stuff to help others, but I prefer this.”