I had been wondering how to open this blog, until I came upon this photo taken by my friend James. This was towards the towards the end of a 40km hike; the night before we had hitch hiked to the ruins of Lipova castle, cooked over a fire, and slept out under the stars (whilst waging war against a mosquito infestation). Four of us made a last minute decision to walk home the following morning. What a phenomenal 24 hours. This one photo brought flooding back all those memories. Memories of some amazing people, the same amazing people I have had the good fortune to live and work with for the last nine months. The people I want to continue living life with come the autumn.
I’ve been living in Romania and volunteering for a charity called NetWorks for the past nine months, working hard in a mission setting to help Roma gypsy communities lift themselves out of poverty. It has been far from easy at times. In fact, whether it’s shovelling snow off the roof of a greenhouse when it’s -5°C, or having those difficult conversations about whether or not you are really having a positive impact, it can be very tough. But I still have hope, both for the people we are working with and the work we are doing. I’ve learnt so much living there, both from the Roma people and from the other volunteers, and I know I have more to learn. The plan is to cycle back to Romania with long distance cycling compadre Rob Ricketts, carrying all our gear and wild camping along the way, so that I can raise funds to spend another year in this fantastic place.
Through this blog I’m aiming to keep you updated about the planning and training for the ride, as well as giving some insight about what I have been doing in the last nine months and why I want to go back. Hopefully that sets the scene for now, and I’ll leave you with a song, because as it says we’ve still got “ a ways to go”.