Two friends by chance, but passionated bikers, decide to travel to Mongolia with the aim of personally delivering cash aid collected privately to some humanitarian organizations. Along the way they followed what Bruce Chatwin said “they went ahead, they closed the tour”, because they decided to go beyond Mongolia and go around the globe. Thus, creating a dream of travel, that became a real need, more personal and intimate, dedicating part of it to children of the orphanages. A crazy experience lasting 71,000 km and four years between passion, solidarity and emotions become the real fuel of this incredible adventure.
by Francesca Capaccioli
How did the journey around the world begin?
With a question made to Matteo (met on one of his trips near Mount Ararat in Turkey): “Hi Matteo, what do you think if next year, we try to go in Mongolia by motorbike?”.
When did you start?
It all started with my vespina 50, I’m Tuscan and I lived my childhood wandering through the dirt roads, churches, monuments, the ancient stones of my land, the fields of olive trees, it’s here I think somehow without knowing it, I started to experience the journey.
And what do you look for in your travels?
I try to lose myself, I think it’s the essential condition to get excited. The loss in the true sense of the word is necessary, it enriches you. Of course, I have a path to follow, a goal to reach, but the default route is not enough, it would be boring, the trip should always reserve something exceptional, I visited indescribable places and enjoyed the light of the world, the look and smile of thousands of people. When you travel closed in your helmet, sometimes you are incredulous of the magnificence of what you are experiencing, are strong emotions that satisfy you, I could not do without it anymore. And if you try all this you understand that in some way you must reciprocate, you must return something due, it becomes indispensable.
You have crossed the entire globe to help children without a family, what is happening inside you?
As I said I started traveling at sixteen and I never stopped, but something happened after reading the book by Tiziano Terzani “Buonanotte Signor Lenin”. It is a book that explains the emotions arising in the regions after the fall of the Soviet empire and we decided with Matteo to cross them in the first stage. Many of these countries were part of the motherland of Russia and now they are left to their own destiny without the socio-economic support of Moscow, the rule of the stronger is in force, children are the most vulnerable and therefore it is necessary to protect them. We left Italy, we traveled Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, all of Mongolia, Siberia, up to Japan.
How did you help these people?
Part of this trip was dedicated to the less fortunate children and on each continent, we chose a humanitarian project to support. After collecting donations from friends and acquaintances, we also wanted to bring them physically so as to avoid intermediate steps. In Mongolia, in Ulaambaatar, we supported the “Kindegarden 58” project supporting the AiBi association, Amici dei bambini. The second was the Virgen de Fatima in La Paz in Bolivia, a structure that hosts 50 children with stories of mistreatment and abandonment, also by AiBi. The donations have been used to rebuild the roof of the structure, we have seen the end of the work starting again. While in Africa at Usa River in Tanzania we headed to an independent organization. At the Tumaini Children’s Foundation, about 60 children are hosted, some affected by HIV, they are organized like a big family where the older ones take care of the little ones. With them we learned many life lessons. “If you think you are not going to have a night with a mosquito”, African proverb.
Certain hard days will certainly not be missed.
One day we lost the main track and found ourselves without fuel even in the spare tanks. The feeling of frustration and tiredness given by driving the bikes on tracks “Tole ondulée” has fortunately left space to euphoria in being able to live a unique experience. A nomad family helped us, bringing us to supply the tanks and hosting us in their gher, the Mongolian house of wood and cloth for the night and sharing the dinner. Even if communication was reduced to gestures, we felt in tune with those unknown people as well as the emotional experience of the first humanitarian project we visited in Ulaanbaatar.
From Mongolia to the south of the world, the second leg of your grand tour.
When we arrived in Mexico, we went into the Barrancas del Cobre crossing the extraordinary variety of climate and vegetation that distinguishes this area, the land of the Tahumara people. We crossed the Chiapas we reached Guatemala, then the poor El Salvador and then the Honduras, and South America, a land of joy but also of sharp contrasts and frictions. In Tangua, south of Colombia, for example, we stumbled into the great protest of farmers against the government, the violent clashes with the police and the guerrilla that was incensed in the evening forced us to barricade us from a family of campesinos, guests on their farm. They kept us for a few days until we got the pass, while respecting the protest, once again we met the hospitality and deep regard towards the traveling traveler. After the Ecuador we arrived in the land of the Incas, where we met the first alpacas, llamas, we climbed up to 4,000 meters of altitude. Before us, I remember Lake Titicaca framed in the east by the imposing Cordillera Real that opens the doors of Bolivia where our humanitarian project is located, a structure for children in difficulty. The physical effort at these altitudes was remarkable, but we arrived in Chile, then Argentina and Patagonia this last hard land as the winds that cross it and that more than once have put us in difficulty, until we get to the Strait of Magellan at the “end of the world” and I remind them that we turned around to appreciate what we had done.
And finally, Africa!
We move to the Cape Town of Nelson Mandela. From the Cape of Good Hope, we head north to Namibia being swallowed by the variety of its nature, such as the Fish River Canyon, the high red dunes of Sossusvlei, Skeleton Coast and Namib Desert. We arrive in Zambia and then in the poor but proud Malawi, “we are and we feel in Africa”. People with their smile enchant us and we realize that we are so used to having everything, or almost too often, that we forget to smile. We arrive at our last humanitarian project, the one that most involves us: the Tumaini Children’s Foundation is really the goal, one of those places that give meaning to everything. Then we leave for Tanzania in the Mikumi National Park, among giraffes, elephants, gazelles, impalas, water buffaloes next to us, until arriving in Kenya and Ethiopia that surprises us for the numerous historical places of mystical beauty. We are at the end, we return to Italy from Ethiopia with our KTM 990 Adventure and Honda Dominator.
All these wonderful experiences, how much have they changed you?
It is difficult to explain it. When you come back from these trips you realize that the priorities of life are others, that have drastically changed. You feel different.
Did you get closer to happiness with this trip that lasted four years?
I would say that you have to travel again!