I have designed a “sustainability flag”. The rainbow symbolizes the diversity of the entire world regardless of, race, religious beliefs, nationalities, political standpoints, gender, and sexual orientation. We are all connected to the same planet, and hopefully everybody wants earth to be habitable for generations to come.
The colors of the rainbow resemble the colors in the 17 UN sustainable development goals, the SDG’s. The mirrored E’s are Earth, and stand for Equality, Environment, Eco-friendly, Energy, circular Economy. The green E is land and forest, the blue E water and air. There are 17 stars in the flag, which resembles the 17 UN SDG’s and the lone star in the upper right corner is my guiding star, the 17th UN goal, and it is supposed to tie everything together, in knowledge-sharing and good governance named Partnership for the goals.
The journey Begins, firing up the Iron horse.
I can’t find the words to describe how it feels to fire up a motorcycle, jump on it, and twist the handlebar. If you haven’t tried it yet, I can only say the famous words “just do it”. The feeling of ramming toward an unknown horizon on a distant highway with a 1480cc 110HP twin engine pounding underneath you is exhilarating.
Pura vida is what comes to mind, not much in life beats that feeling. Now stop don’t give me the “giving birth and seeing your child for the first time” cliché, then you surely haven’t tried it. I have on the other hand done the seeing thing, but fair enough not the giving thing. Anyway, back to what really matters!
Yesterday was the first real day of my journey, me alone on a bike driving into the unknown, with the hot wind blasting against my skin, my nostrils filled with the smell of fresh cut grass mixed with a scent of manure , coming from the thousands of cattle, greasing alongside the road in the Uruguayan country side, I find myself almost alone out here, cars are far and in between, the same with the shattered villages I pass by. I am filled with sense of utterly freedom, And I scream it out but nobody listens , I don’t know if it’s my Viking blood that boils within me, or maybe I am just a curious gypsy, a nomad that become alive when facing adventures ahead.
I got a tattoo on my shoulder, it’s a Rune meaning “look into the horizon with an open mind, and hereby experience expanded consciousness” it really sums it up for me, always be curious and humble in you quest for knowledge, and never stop looking, never stop trying to better yourself, through the perspective of strangers. you will find is an abundant well of wisdom.
The good the bad(surprise) and the Ugly
The Good, I got my bike through customs quite painlessly, it took some time in the cargo warehouse at the airport, 2 hours to be precise, but it was really hassle free, the shipping agent and the customs handlers was extremely helpful. The shipping agent Oliver drove me to the airport, he helped me pick up some gas on the way, since the MC was drained, it would have been hazardous flying it here with a full tank of gas, he even paid for the gas at the service station, which by the way all have full service in Uruguay.
I find it kind of cool, since being a gas service station helper was my first job, literally 4 decades or more ago. People waiting fir their own shipments at the cargo warehouse, was very curious about the Harley and a bunch jumped in to help to unpack it.
The bad (surprise), when i unpacked the MC I realized that both tires were flat, especially the front tier was totally without air, i tell you a HD Softail heritage classic is VERY heavy on flat tires, impossible to push alone. I was wondering if it was something the shipping company in Miami would have done, to be able to fit the bike in the case, or maybe it was the change in pressure in the cargo room of the plane that had coursed it to lose all air?
On top of that the battery had died, when I turned the ignition key there was not a single spark, I was afraid the battery had gone bad, but then again it was brand new, and a good quality Lithium battery. Once more the wonderful Uruguayan people jumped in to help, I didn’t even ask for help, they realized the problems I was facing, and without asking they found jumper cables, together we got the bike charged and started up, but of course I couldn’t drive it anywhere on flats, without totally destroying the brand new tiers.
The resourceful truckdrivers arranged for a makeshift build wood ramp, that enabled me to slowly drive my bike up and into a van, luckily there was a side door that could slide open, remember I couldn’t turn off the bike, because the battery was dead, I had to let the engine run to power up the battery again. Here I was sitting on my Harley in the back of a van with the engine running, looking out of the sliding door gasping for fresh air, while hoping the driver didn’t drive to fast or hit a bad bump on the way to the gas station, I had a firm grip on the handlebar front break and both legs planted firmly on floor of the van, trying not to tilt.
We arrived safely to the gas station and wit a little muzzle and wriggle, got the HD out of the back of the van without anybody or anything got damaged. after that it was just a matter of pumping up the tiers, and off I went, of course not before I had given a huge thanks to the driver and shipping agent for helping out.
And the Ugly, Cheap perfume, my senses was challenged beyond, it’s everywhere in Montevideo the cheap chemically stinking perfume, the first experience with it was in the taxi from the airport, that’s not really a surprise, most taxi drivers now a days take baths in horrible cheap perfume, and that’s everywhere I guess.
When I arrived at the hostel and walked in to my private room, it hit me again this time thousand fold, the entire room stunk in the most nauseating manner, I couldn’t escape from it, the sheets were clean, but it must have been washed the cheapest possible detergent. I decided to unpack my sleeping bag and put some of my dirty laundry on top of the pillow, crawled into my sleeping bag and indulged with pleasure my head into my sweaty T-shirt.
I woke up with a pounding headache, and eyes I could hardly open. The stink evaporated from my room, after a full day and night with all windows open, but I never escaped the smell, everywhere I went it stuck to me, or that was the feeling I had anyways, because it was literally everywhere, the hand soap on the bathrooms, walking the damn streets, first I was wondering if it was a scent from the abundance of street trees , but I realized it wasn’t, it came seeping out from every house and store.
I don’t know if you can imagine how liberating it was to hit the highway and take in the fresh smell of grass and manure.
This is the first entry in a new series of blogs from writer, rider, and environmentalist explorer, Michael Kristensen. He’s a native Dane riding through South America, exploring opportunities and cultural challenges to sustainable environmental practices.
Every week (possibly more often) Michael will be riding through South America, remarking on his experiences, and blogging at length. We at Tessera Guild will follow him every step of the way. This week marks the very beginning of his journey, and some early challenges to his adventure, which will begin in Argentina.
Please note: these blog entries are direct from Michael. No editing. No proofing. As raw as any blog you’ll see.
Without further ado…
Sustainability Tour – Part 1 – ‘Riders with the Storm’
Sustainability, climate change and circular economy, it’s all about sharing. Sharing the resources in every sense of the word, sharing space, and sharing knowledge.
I have decided to drive my motorcycle, from Argentina all the way north through most of South America and parts of Central America.
The purpose of the trip is to find and report, about climate change and sustainability projects from the continent.
I hereby hope to help and inspire people around the world. I wish to motivate them to start their own projects or pass on the knowledge I collect and report about.
I want to pass on knowledge from person to person, company to company and Municipality to Municipality. knowledge that will change the way we think and act when creating more sustainable solutions.
The tour will start in Buenos Aires Argentina November 2019, I will blog and promote all good eco initiatives on my way north, but I need your help to be able to find these projects throughout the region.
Please if you know about people or places, I shall visit let me know, write me and email and connect me with the relevant persons.
I will also do speeches at schools or other interested institutions about climate change and the possible solutions.
It’s important for me to say I don’t do this for self-promotion, I do this because I want to try to make a difference, and help spreading the word. I am so far self-funded, my plan is to look for funding, help with this will be hugely appreciated.
The tour will start in Montevideo Uruguay where I fly in Nov. 8 then I will take the ferry to Buenos Aires Argentina approximately November 12 and will travel as below:
Argentina 12-24 Nov.
Uruguay 25-nov-11 Dec.
Brazil 12 Dec-2 Jan. 2020
Paraguay 3 Jan -11 Jan.
Chile 11 Jan-18 Jan.
Peru 19 Jan-3 Feb.
Bolivia 3-11. Feb
Ecuador 12-19 Feb
Columbia 20 Feb-2 Marts
Panama 3-9 March
Costa Rica 10-17 March
Nicaragua 18-24 March
El Salvador 25-30 March
Honduras 31 March-4 April
Guatemala 5 April -18 April, and end in Belize approximately Ultimo April 2020 if any of you have any relevant contacts in any of these great nations please let me know
(the dates above are approximately dates and are subject to change)
Limbo in Montevideo Uruguay
I am at the moment stuck in Montevideo waiting to get my Harley released from customs. Arriving on a Friday was not the best choice, and information is sparse from the shipping company. I guess I must be patient and accept I have arrived in Latin America where most things are Manana, so I will relax and prepare for the trip ahead.
The Good the Bad(surprising) and the Ugly
The theme of my tour will revolve around the old spaghetti western The Good the Bad and the Ugly, meaning that I will find a good a bad or surprising and an ugly experience or project and write about it in more detail. My journey is mostly a lonely one, one man on his iron horse meeting all kinds of obstacles.
My first experiences noted as this:
• The good, Uruguay is a very organized and friendly country, weather this time of year is a perfect 25C 77F in the daytime and 18C 64F at nighttime. The country is very energy efficiently oriented, currently an astonishing 97% comes from alternative energy sources, such as Hydropower (60%), wind/solar power and Biofuel.
Just 10 years ago Uruguay was heavily depending on energy from the neighboring countries Argentina and Brazil (60% imports), now they have a surplus of energy and export to their neighbors. Mind you this has been done in less than 10 years without government subsidies.
Uruguay is also one of the most electrified countries in the hemisphere with a coverage of 99.4 % of all homes. The country it totally independent of fossil fueled produced energy. Their conversion to alternative energy allows Uruguay to use wind energy for base power and hydroelectric to meet peak demands.
Practically this mean that the country keeps hydroelectric reservoirs at near-maximum capacity. When needed, the reservoirs could be opened with as little as 15 minutes’ notice to meet additional demand. (export.gov)(Wikipedia)
The bad, (surprise) there are not a lot of ecofriendly or green restaurants in the capital, as most of you probably know Uruguayans are a meat eating nation, and it shows when it comes to find vegan and vegetarian alternatives, they are sparse to say the least. The capital is also very silent, compared to other Latin American cities, the secondary roads are almost empty at all times of the day, it fells like walking in a ghost town if you walk away from the main traffic arteries. almost every building has iron bars and barbwire attached as security even-though the city has a very low crime rate in comparison to most of Latin America.
There are lots of vacant ground level stores, and the price level in the city reflex in the high living standard.
Beer prices will be my comparison tool along the way, in Montevideo a beer at a bar costs, Domestic 0.5 l (which is great) is 2,5$ and an import 0.33 l approximately 3$.
• The Ugly, Sorry Miami but once more you show your ugly crook face, the shipping company TOP Cargo based in Miami, gave me a quote for shipping my bike 3 months ago. Originally i wanted to ship it by boat, since that of course it the cheapest way to ship a bike from Florida to South America. I started 6 months ago asking for estimates, trying to be in good time, I got a quote of 1500$ and told them that I needed the bike in either Buenos Aries or Uruguay by no later than Nov. 10th.
Communicating with them was like pulling nose hair, they asked for the same paperwork over and over, copies of passport driver license and more, i must have send 10 copies to them of each document. Apparently, they don’t know how to scroll down the email correspondence! I was trying to get a date for the shipment for weeks and weeks, then suddenly I get notified that it’s too late to ship it by boat. WAUW really guys, they were kind enough to give me a quote for shipping the bike by air, which of course is way more expensive.
Now I had to pay 3000$, I had the choice to postpone my trip a month having to reevaluate my itinerary missing out on a couple of places, or pay up, I chose to pay for airfare. But that of course was not the end of their crooked behavior, they picked up the bike and took it to their warehouse a week before it was shipping out, I was ok with that and it meant that they had time to build a transportation case, as per estimate.
I am told to come to Montevideo the day after the bike was shipped out which was Nov. 7. I arrived in Montevideo Friday morning and went directly to the shipping agent here, they were very welcoming and we did the necessary paperwork with them, company name is Wave Logistic and so far seem very professional, (still don’t know when i get my bike released though)
Now that my bike is in the air i get an invoice from TOP Cargo that had increased with a 1000$ now I all the sudden have to pay 4000$ in total. I get at them and ask them why , their response was that my bike is an oversized motorcycle, and cost more to transport, they have hade the make and model and VIN number for 4 months, well knowing it is a Harley Davidson Softail heritage, which is a quite normal size HD.
Their threat to me now is that they won’t release the bike from customs before I pay up, so they hold my bike hostage so to speak. I got very upset and have been fighting them all weekend. end-result is that they offer me a DISCOUNT of 400$, which of course is not a discount but a raise in price according to their estimate. I ended up paying them because the cost of storage at the airport would cost me every day it was delayed by my missing payment. Hopefully I will have my HD in my possession tomorrow Tuesday.
When a young woman leaves home in search of a better life, she plunges into a world-ending war. The deeper she falls, the more she senses dark powers rising within her, and the more she realizes she is not so different than the enemy.