Un cop caminades Tailàndia, Birmània, Bangladesh, Índia, Pamir, Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan, Iran, Azerbaidjan, Geòrgia, Turquia, Grècia, Macedònia, Albània, Montenegro, Bòsnia-Hercegovina, Croàcia, Eslovènia i un troç d’Itàlia amb aproximadament 14.300 quilòmetres al sac, us volem tornar a donar les gràcies per seguir amb nosaltres, per seguir recolzant-nos i ajudant-nos d’una manera o altra.
* * * *
You lift us up, and we want to thank each of you. Your encouragement and support has carried us a long way—oh, let’s say for the 14,300 kilometers (8,886 miles) we’ve walked so far through Asia and Europe!
(Catalan and English versions weave together)
Ja ho sabeu, però volem recordar-vos-ho. Us portem a tots vosaltres dins els nostres cors. El vostre amor, ànims, suport, abraçades, correus electrònics, missatges a les xarxes socials i tots els vostres bons desigs son de gran importància per nosaltres. Saber que tenim la gran sort de gaudir d’una xarxa de bondat i bones persones com vosaltres al nostre voltant, ens ajuda en gran manera durant moltes hores del dia, durant molts dies. Vosaltres ens ompliu d’energia i amor. Ens doneu aquelles necessàries empentes quan ens van mal dades o quan estem exhaustes al llarg de la ruta.
Sou un llum que guia la nostra brúixola. Ja fa molts mesos i quilòmetres que vàrem començar aquest somni-aventura-projecte i com ja hem fet abans aquí, aquí i també aquí, us volem tornar a dodonar MOLTES GRÀCIES a tots per seguir al nostre costat!
* * * *
You may know this already, but it’s nice to say it again. We carry you all in our hearts.Your love, encouragement, support, hugs, emails, social media messages and good wishes mean a lot to us. Knowing we have a net of goodness around us gets us through many hours of the day. Your cheers give us an extra boost when we are feeling down, and they are a kick in the butt to keep moving forward when our motivation flails.
You are the light shining on our compass. And, as we have done before (here, here and here), we want to say THANK YOU to all of you.
We would like to give a special shout out to the many people who have contributed to our journey and have added drops of love either with financial donations that we share with others along the way or with other in-kind assistance that makes our walk easier. / Volem donar les gràcies de manera especial a:
Totes les persones que ens han convidat a ses cases, compartit menjar i/o ens han ofert te o aigua / All the people who invited us into their homes, shared food with us and offered us tea and water.
Totes les persones que ens han convidat i ens han permès dormir dins ses cases, patis o jardins / Everyone who has invited us in and let us sleep in their homes or yards.
A tothom qui ha compartit suggeriments, ofert consell, mostrat preocupació, plantejat preguntes, informat a amics i/o coneguts sobre el nostre viatge / Everyone who has shared suggestions, offered advice, voiced concerns, asked questions, told their friends about our trip and celebrated wanderlust.
Tema / Subject: Footsteps of Love, a recap of our 2018 walking adventure
Hello Dear Friends,
Happy 2019! May it be a joyous year marked with good health, fun days and many happy moments.
We have walked ourselves to Europe! Yes, really! It’s been a long way since we left Bangkok in January 2016, about 14,300 kilometers (approximately 8,886 miles) so far, and we are slowly and surely closing the gap that will lead us home. Whew! Highlights of our latest stretch from Turkey through the Balkans to North Italy are below, attached as Word document. You may want to make yourself a cup of hot chocolate and get cozy… you’ll need a few more minutes to read it.
The short version: We had a lot of ups and downs this year. We walked on big roads and small roads, through forests and farmland, and up and over hills and mountains. We listened to birds hidden in trees and tried to tune out the sounds of trucks passing us. We sweated through another very hot, humid and rainy summer, and felt invigorated when the fall’s cooler, but not too cold, weather arrived.
We camped in all sorts of places, including abandoned factories, old schools and out in the woods. We ate lots of good bread, coffee, cheese and picked-fresh-from-the-tree plums, figs and apples. We met wonderful people who sometimes fed and sheltered us, and were stopped by many police who wanted to check our passports as we followed immigrant routes through Europe. And, of course, we left drops of collective, love, support and kindness along the way, delivering your generous warmheartedness to organizations helping people on the fringe of society.
Thank you, as always, for being part of our foot journey. We carry you with every step of the way.
With hearts full of gratitude,
Your walking friends,
Jenn and Lluís
Carta annexada / Atached letter
Dec. 31, 2018
How are you? We think of you very often, and hope 2018 brought you many happy moments.
We finished another leg of our Bangkok-to-Barcelona foot journey, and have walked ourselves into Europe! Yeah!
Here is a recap of our latest adventures and the places where we left our collective drops of love, support, and kindness.
In the spring of 2018, after a much-needed winter break, we picked up the walk again in Turkey. This time, though, we chose separate paths for about 1.5 months to do what we each felt called to do during this stretch of time.
Lluís returned to Samsun in the north to continue along the Black Sea, and walked a remarkable 1,200 kilometers solo. He worked hard to move himself forward, but his never-give-up attitude propelled him onwards. Even with steep 10% uphill climbs and equally challenging descents through remote areas with unreliable food and water sources, he consistently covered an average of 30-35 kilometers a day, a distance he feels comfortable doing daily. The weather, though, posed substantial problems. Cold, rainy weather followed him for many weeks, making for tough nights in the tent and miserable days with wet socks, blisters and an open wound on his foot that took six weeks to heal. Still, he kept going; his body is an amazing, compact machine, and his willpower to see this walking dream through to its finish line is something beyond human. When his legs needed a break, he restored his energy by helping locals find and chop wood, herd sheep and goats, and remove and recycle plastics and inorganic materials from a big piece of land.
I landed in Antalya, in the south. Craving more nature and less traffic, I set off with the lofty, and half-hatched, idea of doing the 540-kilometer Lycian Way, considered by Lonely Planet to be “one of the world’s great long-distance hiking trails.” I began with a +1,000-meter ascent, and, after a few days of struggle, I accepted the fact that the trail was out of my league. While the few sections I walked were among the prettiest trails I have been on, it was too long of a hike to do solo and with a combined 23-kilogram backpack and daypack. So, instead, I volunteered for nearly a week in an orange grove helping an elderly couple with farm chores, and then did another volunteer week painting way-marks and clearing bush debris from the Carian Trail, another long-distance route along the Mediterranean coast. One day, I will go back to Turkey and do more of the Lycian and Carian trails; they deserve another try. But, for now, another journey keeps me “entertained.”
Although having time alone in the world moving at own different paces was a necessary action (24 hours of togetherness for many months at a time, as you can imagine, puts a strain on relationships), we missed each other. We reconnected our paths and our lives, and crossed hand-in-hand into Greece. We were overwhelmed by the number of invitations we received to enjoy a coffee frappe, Greek’s national warm-weather beverage!
Being in Service to Others
Greece is where our route intersected with the foot journey of thousands of other walkers–refugees and immigrants hailing from Asia, the Middle East and Africa. We knew, at some point, this intersection would happen somewhere, given the vast number of people trying to get to Europe these last handful of years, and we knew since we began walking in 2016 that we wanted to help this community. We had our chance in Serres.
On one of the roads we happened to be walking, we passed a fenced-in area filled with pre-fabricated living units. We thought maybe it was some sort of military base, but when we saw the sign that it was a camp for migrants and refugees, we dashed across the busy road, flung ourselves over the dividers and we asked the men standing outside how we could lend a hand. “Go to the school,” they said. We walked a few hundred meters and found the makeshift school, library and women’s center built and run by the NGO Lifting Hands International to serve the Yazidi-only community living in the camp. “How can we help?” we asked a volunteer giving guitar lessons to a couple of children. “We are doing our summer clothes distribution next week and we always need help organizing the warehouse. You can help with that,” said the coordinator, as she smiled at one of the Yazidi boys who wanted to play soccer or juggle tennis balls, depending on what was available in the toy chest.
Happy to be useful, we spent a few days, along with a dozen or so other volunteers from around the world, unpacking boxes of clothes donations; sorting and folding by size boys’, girls’, men’s and women’s shirts, pants, shorts, skirts and dresses (photo attached), and, in a small way, assisting Yazidi families (survivors of genocide in northern Iraq) reinvent their lives, one pair of flip flops at a time.
A couple weeks later, in Konopiste, Macedonia, we found ourselves in another situation where we could assist people on the fringe of society: people recovering from cocaine and heroin use. Like in Serres, this spin of karma unfolded in an unusual way.
This day, we were on a nice rural road with no traffic and no trees that could protect us from the boiling summer heat and humidity. As we entered this small village, our desperation to be out of direct sun escalated. We spotted two multi-story buildings that were completely unlike the more traditional houses we saw. The complex had a parking lot, a lake with hillside view, and, what we noticed immediately, a gazebo in the shade! It wasn’t fancy by European or American standards, but it was different enough to make us naively think it was some sort of vacation hotel or spa.
“Let’s ask them if we can sit in the gazebo,” Lluís said. “The worse they can say is no.” I was so exhausted, I was going to collapse there with or without their permission.
Luckily for us, the group of people who surrounded us as we walked towards the gazebo not only let us sit there, they rushed to get us cold sodas and fizzy fruit juices. They brought us plates filled with chicken, potatoes and sliced tomatoes, and gave us Turkish-style coffees in tiny cups, a typical way to serve coffee throughout Turkey and the Balkans. They told us we could rest as long as we needed, and invited us to take showers to cool off. They referred to themselves as students doing a program. It took a long while for our sun-stroked heads to connect the dots and understand that the kind and generous people helping us were in a drug recovery program, learning how to get back on their feet. The second we had this realization, we glanced at each other with that now-familiar question in our eyes, “How can we help?”
The directors of the program decided the easiest way for us to volunteer was in the kitchen and in the garden; I would be sous-chef chopping vegetables and rolling out flour for homemade meat and cheese roll-ups, and Lluís would master his skills with an electric grass and weed cutter (Photos attached). We also worked during the hours when the students did their housekeeping chores, and cleaned windows, organized the basement storage areas, and swept the patios. We slept a couple nights in the center’s detox room, which was not being used in that moment but was filled with memories about the first weeks students spend there getting the drugs out of their system.
In the evenings, we sat on couches next to the students, watching music videos and World Cup matches. Some of them told us about their drug use and the hardship it caused them and their families; others shared details about hometowns and their commitment to get their lives in order. They applauded our courage to see the world by foot. We applauded their bravery to face their demons, a journey we think is much harder than carrying a backpack and moving at three kilometers an hour.
From Your Hands to Theirs
As you know, 50% of all donations we receive is re-donated to people and organizations that win our hearts as we pass through neighborhoods and cross borders. This year, we struggled a bit to find noteworthy organizations. Perhaps, it was because of the limited interaction we had with locals in some places, or perhaps because it was summer and many people and companies were closed for vacation when we were there. And, of course, we always struggle with communicating our intentions in languages we don’t speak and, thus, rely on badly translated, digitally converted phrases to relay our thoughts. But, we made up for that disconnect with the organizations we found in Croatia, Italy and Catalonia.
In Croatia, thanks to a lovely family we met along the way and who took us in for a couple of days, we were introduced to DDZ Zagreb, Društvo Distrofičara Zagreb, an organization dedicated to helping people with muscular dystrophy and other neuromuscular illnesses. The mother (an avid hiker who is working with her walking group to open new trails through beautiful forest areas) and her firefighter daughter (the only female firefighter in her region covering a few hundred square kilometers) have been working with and fundraising for the organization for many years, and, when we were there, they were running a race aimed at creating more awareness for this group and the people it serves. We couldn’t resist the chance to support them and encourage them to keep doing the great work they do for such an under-served, and often overlooked, population.
In Italy, a dear friend of ours works at Comunità Alloggio Abilè in Schio. The nonprofit organization helps adults with various severe physical and mental challenges. We had it in our heads for months that we wanted to visit the center and get to know some of the residents living there. Our friend invited us to spend the afternoon assisting with the weekly music session, and another morning playing games and doing handwriting activities. We played the triangle and something like a maraca while cheering on those who sang and danced in the middle of the circle. We recited the letters of the alphabet in our best Italian accents as the residents wrote them in their notebooks. We walked with them around the patio, practicing the few Italian words we picked up and inventing other words that sounded more Catalan than Italian. We played chess, and rolled up little squares of paper that would be used for other crafts–all of this done with the purpose of exercising the residents’ bodies and minds. It’s hard to see people who face so many obstacles and not feel compassion for them, but their smiles and laughter remind us that a big dose of good humor can make so many things in life easier to get through.
Coincidently, we arrived back in Barcelona for our winter break just as the Catalan national TV station was doing its annual fundraising marathon (Marató de TV3). Every year, a different organization or theme is highlighted, and the money raised in 2018 is earmarked for various cancer-related medical research projects. Cancer, sadly, is too close to all of us, and because its impact has touched my family directly, we decided to close out this leg of our walk with a contribution that honors all of the families touched by any version of this illness. Our collective donation is part of the 10.7 million euros raised so far, and our hope, as always, is that our small drops of love go a long way.
Thank you so very much for being part of our journey. Your kindness carries us through the world, and our collective emotional and financial support continue to reach many other people in many places in Asia and Europe (Please check our donations page to see the full list of organizations that we have contributed to along our walk).
We will walk onwards, inching ever closer to home. Our final stretch will take us through the rest of Italy, across France and down the Catalan coast. We’ll keep you posted as we go, and maybe we’ll even see you at the finish line in Barcelona, where we hope to have a small celebration.
We wish you a joyous and wonder-filled 2019. May light and love fill your hearts, and may smiles and laughter get you through difficult moments.
Your walking friends,
Jenn & Lluís
Us de les galetes (cookies) - Aquesta pàgina web utilitza galetes (cookies). Si continua navegant accepta el seu l'ús i la nostra política de galetes
Uso de cookies - Este sitio web utiliza cookies. Si continúa navegando, acepta su uso y nuestra política de cookies