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December 10th, 2010 | Asia

The Wilson’s, and Leaving Palmyra…

At breakfast the following morning, Stefan and I were joined by Mathias and Gabriel, who had scared the hell out of the Swiss couple the previous evening, when they had arrived in their Landrover…

“They thought we were the police coming to evict them from their camping spot…!!”

Gabriel mentioned that the Swiss were putting their bicycles on a bus and heading for Damascus, which brought forth a loud shout of “Cheaters…!!” from Stefan…!!

Musa gets busy with his buckets and brushes...!!

Our archeology friends left to continue their journey, and finally it was Stefan’s turn to swing back into the saddle… We had pored over a map of where he was heading for, and he was concerned that he would end up in the middle of nowhere by nightfall…

“Shit…!! We should have checked the map last night…!! I would have left earlier this morning so that I could ride to here…!!” he said, stabbing a finger at a spot on the map where the name of a small village was listed…

I have since received an email from him, advising me that he had cycled 170 km on his second day out, and had an “incident along the way” which he would tell me about if and when we met up again in Damascus… This statement intrigues me, because he is the kind of guy who seems to invite “incidents”, and I cannot wait to hear what happened on his “Road to Damascus”…!! He also very kindly invited me to spend Christmas with him in Israel, where he would be visiting his sister…

I have befriended a cleaner here in Palmyra… His name is Musa, and he cleans cars and buses during the day, and then at night, he sweeps and cleans the internet café, and also makes tea for me while I sit there updating my posts… I am not sure where and when he sleeps, as he lives in a Bedouin encampment about 25 kms outside town, and after I left the internet café at 2.00am this morning, he was still there…

At 7.00am, when I went out to take a walk, he was downstairs, pleading with me to wash the Big Fella…!!

Ready to roll... After five days in Palmyra, it was time to head for Lebanon...

“Where did you sleep…??” I asked…

“At my home…!! I have a motorcycle, and went home after you go to sleep… I make two of my madame’s happy, and then I return here to work again…!!”

He had earlier told me he had three wives, and six children…

“So you drove 25 km in this freezing weather back to your tent at 2,00am this morning; made two of your madams happy; slept; and then drove 25 kms back here…!! All this in five hours…??”

“Yes, Bedouin man very strong… Eat many dates… Very good for you…!!” he said pointing in the general direction of my groin…

“Dates, huh…?? Bedouin Viagra…!!”

“Yes, dates…!! I will get you a box today…my gift to you because you are my friend…!! You will make many madames happy on your journey…!!”

“Yeah, right…!! That is when I’m not sitting on a toilet…!!”

We both laughed and I finally relented and allowed him to wash the bike, after negotiating the outrageous price of R6.85 ($1.00) for the chance to see the Big Fella shiny again…!!

While washing the bike, I noticed that the left hand BMW badge was missing…!! At first I thought that Musa might have broken it off while washing the bike, and then tried to hide the fact from me…

My laptop was on the table in reception, and I went to check my photos from yesterday and saw that the badge had been missing since then already…!!

It is impossible for the badges to just fall off, so I have to assume that it was ripped off during the night by a long-fingered person…!! This is the first thing that has been stolen off the bike in the 51 000 km I have covered so far…

I blame myself for this, as since arriving in Palmyra, I had broken my golden rule of covering the bike each night… The most painful thing about it is the replacement cost of almost $100.00…!! After the bike was cleaned, I hastily put the cover on it, before my long-fingered friend returned to liberate the right hand badge as well…!!

Late that afternoon, after the sun had gone down, I looked out of the window I was sitting at, and saw a European couple standing by the Big Fella… Using sign language, I enquired if they wanted me to take the cover off for them, and getting a nod, I went outside and met Trevor and Chantal Wilson…

A shouted farewell from the window of my room on the 3rd floor...

This was the fortuitous meeting I mentioned in my previous post… Not only were they also riding a 1200 Beemer, but they were on their way around the world too…!!

They had left British Columbia in Canada a few months before, ridden through the USA, and then flown their bike to Ireland and visited most of Southern Europe and Turkey, traveling along the Mediterranean and taking in the Greek Islands on the way… They had entered Syria a few days after I had, through the same border post, and also spent three hours wading through the red tape…

Trevor and Chantal Wilson, fellow "Round the Worlder's"... We left Palmyra together, and an hour later, we went our separate ways again...

With so much in common, hitting it off was a foregone conclusion… Within minutes of sitting down opposite me, we were talking up a storm…!! Trevor and I seem to have many of the same habits (according to Chenty, anyway…!!) and we spent a long evening together, comparing our planned routes, and finding that we would be visiting many of the same countries in the next few months, from India through to Australia… While I was making my way across the Middle East and Pakistan, they would be riding to Egypt and then flying their bike to Mumbai in Mid January…

We laughed and joked about our experiences, had some somber moments when we discussed our reasons for making our respective journeys, and generally had a great time, bonding with ease…

I realised as I said goodnight to them at around midnight, that I would have to stay another day in Palmyra to work on my website, as I was determined to not fall too far behind with it…

A Bedouin, a donkey and a flock of sheep were also on hand to wave us farewell...

While Trevor and Chenty visited the sites the next day, I knuckled down and did some “work”… Then we met up again that evening and continued where we had left off the night before…!!

I mentioned that my BMW badge had been stolen, and that prompted Trevor to go and cover his own bike… We walked around the corner to their hotel where Trevor proudly announced,

“There she is….!!”

“Did you say “she…??” I asked… “A bike like this cannot be a “she”…!!”…

His big red Adventure stood up on its centre stand, and looking at his gear, I found it hard to believe that this bike was carrying TWO people and their gear around, where mine did not have place for a cat, let alone another person and their kit…

Then we were out into the desert, on our way to the Damascus Homs turnoff...

Trevor told me that they are carrying only a small quantity of tools, and a few weeks into their trip, had send their camping gear back home, deciding that it was too much hassle to camp…!! I couldn’t agree with him more on that particular score…!!

We made plans to leave together the following morning, and at the pre-arranged time, they arrived at my hotel, just as I was getting ready to put my helmet on and go over to theirs…

We took a few photos of us together, and then we were off into the desert, heading southwest along the desert road to Damascus…

Trevor and Chantal on their GS 1200 Adventure...

For the first few kilometres, we were tucked in between the few hills that surround Palmyra, and the riding was great, but then we left those behind and once out in the Cham Desert, a howling northerly wind greeted us with glee…

It was blowing something fierce, and I was forced to drop my left shoulder and lean into it for the next 80 kilometres, until we stopped at the turnoff to Homs…

We had stopped earlier to take some photos, and I had handed my video camera to Chenty and asked her to do some filming with it… She took to the task with gusto, filming us as we rode through the desert, one particular clip clearly showing me riding at an angle to avoid being blown off the road…!! One day when I’m big, I’ll learn to download video onto my site….!!

With my video camera in hand, Chantal was able to shoot the first clips of me riding on the GBWT...!!

The Baghdad Café lies at the junction of roads that lead to Iraq, Damascus and Homs… It is a well known stopover and camping point for travelers riding through the desert… When we arrived, the place was deserted, but before long, a little pick-up truck came bumping across the gravel apron, and the owner did his best to entice us inside…

Trevor and I outside the Baghdad Cafe, Iraq... Uh...I mean Syria...!!

We eventually made him understand that all we were doing was stopping to say goodbye to each other, and he then left us in peace…

The short time we had spent together had given me an amazing “lift”, and I was secretly sad to see them go,  so soon after having met them…

Trevor shook my hand and hugged me, and then invited me to their home on Saltspring Island, near Vancouver, saying,

“If we don’t see you again, promise you will drop in to see us on your way down from Alaska…!!”

“I have a feeling our paths will cross again in the next few months,” I replied, “But if they don’t, I’ll see you next August in Vancouver…!!”

And then they were gone...!! Continuing their own journey of a lifetime...!!

As she hugged and kissed me goodbye, Chantal looked into my eyes and quietly said, “Try and be kind to yourself…!!”

Then they mounted up and with a wave, took the split to Damascus… We exchanged long blasts on our hooters, and then a bend in the road took me out of sight… And just like that, I was on my own again…

Her parting words rolled around in my head like an echo, all the way through the next 120 kms of desert, and at the end of it, I had to admit to myself that I didn’t quite know where, or how to begin following her advice…

This sticker on Trevor's pannier gave me pause for thought... Some of us are Trev...some of us are...!!

©GBWT 2010

7 comments to The Wilson’s, and Leaving Palmyra…

  • Charmz

    I am sure that your friend Romos will be able to help you with the video problem, he is a “fundi” with computers. It was great that you met some other worldly travelers and am sure you will meet the Wilson’s again in Vancouver. We all agree with Chantal’s advice….take it and ride with it!

  • Vince Ricci

    I’m continually amazed at how many people you meet along your way doing the same thing you are doing. Hope your path crosses my fellow Canucks again soon!

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  • Thanks Ronnie, you write very well, it was nice to meet you to, we were sad to say goodbye but we know we will meet again soon, did you see our post on you!! Stay safe and keep the shiney side up.
    Glad you have a sister to watch over you…

  • Ok here we go …
    1. Everyone has their own Ithaca and in time we all look to find it … if we ever do is another matter that depends entirely on us.
    2. Yes i can help but only if i have the videos on a DVD … send them over and i will help a friend any time … and i consider you a friend. (address given to your sis)
    3. I have a BMW badge that is scratched after i came off a cliff oops …. give me your permanent address (now you are on the road that is) and i will send it to you or come over to Cyprus ha ha ha.

    Keep it coming Ronnie and remember you are never alone … unless you “think” you are 😉

  • Kim

    Stefan, Musa, the Wilsons, clearly your Christmas Card list is growing by the day!!! Dates/viagra, mmmmm, now do you think they have to be fresh or will the packaged ones work?? I could make some money with that thought here in Jo’burg…..
    Careful with the sexist comments – you might be eating your dates, I mean words sooner than you think!!!!!
    Have a blast and take a moment to absorb the advise from Chantel, Charmz and Romos, they are all so relavant!!!!
    As always, BIG kisses
    K

  • Thanks Romos…!! Will see when I can get a chance to send some stuff to you….!! R.

  • Mark Behr

    Good post, but you need to lighten up when you come to looking at yourself my friend. You are not lost, you are finding yourself. Those two concepts are very different. Have fun !

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