Hey Everybody! Joel here.
It’s crazy to think that we have already been on the road for one month! After a rough few weeks of trying to figure out our daily rhythms of buying food, finding water, cooking, setting up camp, navigation, language and cultural barriers, we finally feel as though we have found our groove. We have settled into patterns and an understanding that this is what life is going to look like for the next five months.
We have been so blown away by the people who have blessed us by taking us into their homes, covering our bills at restaurants, giving us amazing deals on bike repairs, and simply supporting us in other capacities. We have love sharing about the purpose of our journey with such a mix of amazing people. Some of these people are pictured below.
In the last two weeks we have been in four different countries and have travelled well over 1000km. We left Prague after a restful two and a half day break and headed for Austria. For some reason we found it very difficult to find water our first day in the country. The towns we passed through were small and seemed relatively uninhabited and no public taps were turned on. It was a scorcher of a day and we were incredibly discouraged and dehydrated, but we knew we had no choice but to press on. Then, in the most unsuspecting town, we came across an public outdoor pool with wooden decks and reeds all around the outside. It honestly felt like we had found our own little paradise in the middle of a desert. We filtered water from the pool (it was fed from a natural source), ate lunch, and then went for a swim. We felt revitalized and felt ready to push on.
After crossing into Slovakia we made our way to Bratislava and spent a day purchasing resources we were low on and getting some much needed self-care. It was just a short stretch from there to Budapest where we were again refreshed by getting to stay with an amazing host, Viktor (above). Following this, we camped a few nights without our tent because the forecast said it would rain and we couldn’t find bridges with enough flat space to put up our tent.
After one of these restless nights we woke to discover our navigation app wasn’t working. We headed out into the rain in hopes of getting wifi, but chances seemed slim being that it was Sunday. However, we ended up running into a dreadlocked hippy nicknamed ‘Rasta’ (above) who invited us into his home to use his wifi. We got the app up and running and headed on our way, but not before his sister and mother served us coffee, tea and pancakes and gave us a tour of their beautiful home and farm. We left in high spirits. Twenty kilometres later, Brad broke two spokes on the gear side of the rear wheel that we needed a bike shop to help with the replacement. We asked locals if there was a repair shop around, but the town was far too small. It was at this point that we had to humble ourselves and admit that we couldn’t do every kilometre across Europe by bike. So we boarded a train and headed for the city of Debrecen in Hungary.
One hour and 70kms later we arrived in the city. We found a Macdonald’s and used their wifi to look up bike shops, but nothing was open until the morning. In a last ditch effort to find a place to sleep, we fired off a couple requests on Couchsurfer and to our surprise we got a response! An hour later we were acquainted with our friend Mazin, who is a cyclist himself, and a doctor from Saudi Arabia. He was an amazing host and took us to a bike shop in the morning before introducing us to some delicious Hungarian food.
Then we headed for the mountains of Romania. These last two days were two of the most mentally challenging yet. We had to walk our fully loaded bikes for kilometres at a time up rocky logging roads to get through the mountains. It was a miracle that our tires survived. On the second day, after our slowest morning on record and nearly 60km of not seeing a paved road, we hit asphalt. It felt like a dream. Almost immediately the road changed from a mountainous ascent to a 40km downhill cruise which took us to where we now rest in a family run guest house in Campulung, Romania.
At points during all of these stories there were moments we wanted to quit, to call it a day, to turn around and head back to smoother roads. As I reflected on these moments I reflected on why we kept going and I realized that it was for one simple reason: we had hope that there was something better in store, that eventually the rough road would end and the asphalt would appear, that the rain would relent and the sun would come again.
And we believe this for our cause as well. We believe that for each individual trapped in sexual slavery there is hope. We have faith that something better lies ahead for every person. We all need to cling to this hope for ourselves and for every cause, and every person we encounter. This is how change is possible.
This is why we are fundraising for an organization that is making a tangible difference in people’s lives. We are so honoured to announce that since the launch of our campaign in late December of 2015, we have already raised over $25,000 for Lighthouse Voyage, which is an organization that partners with local efforts in India and Nepal to rescue and rehabilitate victims of sex-trafficking. As little as $200 can be difference between captivity and freedom, so this sum is an enormous amount! However, we are not done yet. We believe in something better and an even greater change is possible as you continue to give so generously. Thank you for the crazy love and support!
With much love and great anticipation,
Joel & Brad