This morning, we heard the news about an American couple that was most likely kidnapped while on a cycling journey in Peru. They had recently traveled from Cusco to Lima, in areas where we were less than one year ago.
This news comes just one week after we heard about Pete and Mary, an English couple who were recently killed in Thailand on their round-the-world cycling journey. They were about our age, and started their journey exactly one month before we did. I was struck by the similarities between us and them–especially as we prepare to head to Thailand as our next country–and sobered as I thought how it could have been us.
When I heard the news I felt a deep sadness, and for a moment, an old familiar fear that had so long been gone began to creep up on me again. The possibilities of injury, sickness, even death are in fact elevated as we make our way around the globe on our trusty bicycles, and stories like these make you more aware of that fact. But I also know that fear is not from God, and in fact is the enemy of living out our dreams.
Interestingly enough, I’m writing this post from a hotel room in Cambodia where we’ve been camped out for three days, only because I needed time to recover from some miserable stomach malady I picked up while in Laos, most likely a result of eating contaminated food (which is virtually unavoidable while traveling in this region). I spent two horrible days of running to the bathroom and barely eating. Dave has already had two bouts of the same since we’ve been in Asia. I won’t even begin to recount the tummy troubles of South and Central America, or the hospital visit in Guatemala.
All that to say this: There’s a cost to the journey. I remember when we resigned from our jobs and began the leaving process, friends and co-workers offered various responses. Several included, “If I could quit working for two whole years, there’s no way I’d spend it on a bicycle,” and “I wouldn’t want to live as a nomad for that long. You’re crazy.” But others landed on the opposite end of the spectrum, “I’m so jealous!” or “That’s great… I wish I could do something like that one day.” And to those we would say–you can do it too! Not necessarily a cycling journey, but whatever your dream is… make it happen! But we will add this warning–there’s a cost to the journey. It’s not a free ride.
It started by costing us something on the front end… we had to live frugally for several years and put lots of time and work into careful planning. We had to step out in faith and leave our secure jobs and home.
And each day there’s a new cost: each morning not knowing where we’ll sleep that night, cycling through miserable heat, the inconvenience of always cooking on a one-burner stove, need to buy groceries on a daily basis… just to name a few.
I think even of the toll it has taken on our bodies… and I don’t just mean our stomachs. There’s the ugly scar on my right leg from falling on my chain ring in Amsterdam and the potentially permanent and distinct tan lines on our legs from our cycling shorts. There’s no doubt the sun will have added years to our young faces.
And now we face new risks each day–traffic, robberies, obscure tropical diseases even!
But we’ve weighed the risks and we’ve counted the cost. And for us, the reward is easily worth it. We wouldn’t trade anything for this season in our marriage and life together.
Especially now, as we feel like we’re closing in on the home stretch of our travels. Only six months to go… only two more months on foreign soil. We’re aware that this season can’t last forever, so we’re watching more sunsets and sunrises, appreciating our quiet nights free camping on the beach or in the woods. We’re taking time to make the most of life’s simple pleasures, and to do it together.
So even though it’s not easy, and even though there’s risk, we’ll keep going. And whatever your dream, whatever it costs you… we hope you’ll do the same.