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A Stroke of Luck

11 December, 2017

A Stroke of Luck

I get up. The contents of the panniers carpet some fifty metres on Sydney’s exit motorway.

Twenty minutes earlier I was happily posing with Athena in front of the Opera House as a proof that the Australian leg of the journey was almost over. A symbolic moment on this world tour on a bike. I was really smiling. So happy. After going through the central road and hundreds of kilometers of its interminable roads, my stay in Australia was approaching its end in way I neither expected nor desired.

Proof that everything can change in the blink of an eye. Proof that nothing is how you think it is.

Athena lies sideways in the middle of the motorway with pieces of the cases, bumper, headlight, handlebar and mirrors, all broken, around it. A long line of vehicles stop. Some drivers come and help me. Athena runs well enough to take it out of there on its own two wheels. A police patrol car escorts me. My friend Sebastian arrives and we get my things on his pick-up truck. The next day I work on the bike to get it ready to be exported and start the American adventure.

This happened almost two months ago in Australia and I am still trying to overcome this setback, in Chile. The culprit, I later found out, was a badly tightened bolt in the front wheel in the last tyre change.

Small things can sometimes cause big damage and Athena is very damaged. At times I feel that the bike is getting tired of traveling. It feels as if it asks to stop or to let it take a break. What it doesn’t know, or it should know by now, is that it has a tireless travel partner and that by now I would have wanted to be in the South of Chile, taking advantage of the Spring. While its being repaired, I have been teaching workshops on photography and giving talks about the journey in three South American countries. So, Athena rests but I don’t. This time allows me to acclimatise myself to the change of continents and the shock to see some countries in Latin America are as expensive to be in as in Europe or Australia.

Four days ago I started to work full time on the bike. While I wait for a part to arrive, I start assembling what I can on it.

While I tighten bolts and nuts I tell myself: you were lucky and Athena will get fixed. You were lucky, it was only a scratch on your knee. Although time passes, I feel somewhat overwhelmed because I would like to be feeling the wind on my face. You were lucky, I keep repeating myself. The same words work as a mantra to keep myself thinking positively: You were lucky. It’s easier to fix steel than bones. You were lucky – I repeat. It could have been you – I tell myself as I see Athena, dismantled.

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