I believe in what I'm doing
I am not special. But what I'm doing is extraordinary special. It's priceless!
My name, nationality or past is nothing you really need to know. But I have 4 words which I dearly wish that the entire world would know: Once Upon A Saga. The reason for that, breaks down to that: Perception is reality.
I have been interviewed on talkshows, radio, for magazines, blogs, newspapers, television and much more. Not because of who I am - but because of what I do. And so far, as far as I remember, no one has ever asked why the project has been named in such a way...or what it means and represents?
No matter how you count the worlds countries it is now undeniable that I have travelled through (not only to) HALF THE WORLDS COUNTRIES.
I have not contracted Ebola, I have not been publicly executed by either Boko Haram or ISIS and so far I have not been robbed or assaulted. How is that possible? Let's use ISIS as an example. If you were to speak to a person from ISIS then you would very quickly realize that said individual is convinced about something and believes that it is the truth! Now look at yourself. What do you believe in? Do you believe in God? Do you believe in evolution? Do you believe in Jeffersonian democracy? Do you believe in right or wrong?
No matter who you are, you certainly believe in something. In some cases it may be provable and in other cases not. But it belongs to you.
All around the world people believe in things and depending on where you are on the planet it may or may not correspond with your own beliefs. I completely believe that any stranger has the potential of becoming a friend. And sometimes all you need is to say is "hi".
We live in a world were most opposing political parties are almost unable to publicly sit down and LISTEN to the other. But behind the scenes you will find that it is a charade. The few of us that travel intensively know something you will never learn sitting at home. I have met great travelers such as Graham Hughes, Johnny Ward, David De Clercq and Thomas Andersen. You may know these people as The Odyssey Expedition, One Step 4Ward, World Adventurer and Cycling the Globe. Or you may never have heard about them. But these are all people who are opening up the world to you in a way you will never find available to you in the mass media. They are world ambassadors.
In Russia I learned that the American Red Cross worked together with the Russian Red Cross on matters such as eradication of HIV. And this work would continue no matter of the political climate. Further more NASA has discontinued its space shuttle program and not a single American astronaut is sent into space from the USA. They all go up into space from the Russian space station in Baikonur. And those are just a few very basic and simple examples of cooperation between the two countries.
This planet has more than 7,000,000,000 inhabitants. Anytime you watch the news you must realize that no matter how many times it is repeated it only amounts to a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny portion of actual reality. What about the others?
The others are all those people who are not newsworthy. They are the ones who study, go to work, have families, dance, laugh, cry, workout, cheat, lie, smile, fail, succeed, get stuck in traffic, go shopping, sleep, pray, watch TV, play games, update social media, hunt, clean and everything else which makes us what we are. We are the majority and completely insignificant for the mass media.
A politician does not know the names of the voters nor does a sports star know who the spectators are. Nevertheless without them, these people would be nothing in the public eye.
As far as I'm concerned there is only one race: Human! Your eyes may be blue or brown. Your hair might be amazing or you might be bold. Your teeth are straight or they are not. But we all share the same anatomy and our differences are to be completely overlooked in comparison with the minuscule differences we poses.
I sometimes wonder if racism would exist if we were all born blind? And I think that we would certainly find something else than physical differences to distinguish groups and look down on certain people anyway? Do enough people think about stuff like that? Do you?
A song has recently caught my attention. It is "Radioactive" by "Imagine Dragons". In fact the groups name has occupied my thoughts more than the actual song although I must have heard the song more than 100 times by now.
Imagine dragons. Let's try that? What are dragons? They are these mythical monstrous creatures with wings and they have the power to reign down fear and terror on society. They spew a storm of fire out their mouth and often live in the mountains. In stories a brave man would often ride out to combat this threat to society and annihilate this threat.
But dragons are not real. Or at least they do not exist in the real world which we live in today. But what could be a "dragon" in real life as we live on the planet here and now? I think terror cells and drug cartels are our days "dragons". They empower themselves with fear and only require a few visible actions to make people uneasy. And it works very well.
You can see a dragon so you know when it is present. You cannot see terror or an act of terrorism until it takes place. But according to folklore you couldn't know when a dragon would leave its cave an fly out to attack a village. So I see many similarities.
Would you be the shiny night in armor to combat the dragon? Would you ride into the mountains to singlehandedly defeat this evil? Who can say...
No one in history has EVER been to every country in the world without flying at some point. I know of only one who has come really close.
Should I complete this journey one day then I will be the first and it will belong to me. That is mine!
What is yours are the thoughts I make during such a momentous journey. That and everything or anything I share with you.
This project started as a country project but quickly became a people project. I have encountered strangers and friendly helpful people in EVERY country I have been too. NO EXCEPTIONS. Isn't that pleasing to know?
I'm back in Brazzaville which is the capital of the Republic of Congo. It's my second visit here since I tried to reach 99 countries in 2 years. That failed. But back then Congo became country number 98. So close...because "the other Congo", the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is only across the river from here. You can stand here in Brazzaville and look at it and it looks so close that you can almost touch it.
I left Brazzaville in "defeat" and returned to Gabon which was country number 97. On my way back to Gabon I received word from the French Red Cross that the foreign ministry of DRC had now accepted, in an official commission, that I could apply for my visa at their embassy in Brazzaville. Something which is usually a privilege for residents only.
So now I'm back and the embassy has decided to investigate if that special permission is still valid. It's taking some time...again.
I will also be applying for a new visa for Angola. That is a toughie! I had it when I was here the first time. But it has now expired due to all the time I spent on reaching São Tomé & Príncipe and especially Guinea Equatorial. Aaaahh...Guinea Equatorial...I feel so much pleasure in having that difficult country behind me!! Such pleasure of accomplishment!!
Angola is also among the worlds absolutely most difficult countries to visit. It is not a strict military dictatorship like Equatorial Guinea. But it is certainly a country which is very protective of its borders. Visas do not come easy. Something which Thomas Andersen is now learning the hard way. He is in Namibia and is considering cycling AROUND Angola which will add a lot more distance to his journey. But certainly also many great encounters and fond memories.
Jérémie is the head of the French Red Cross here in Congo. He is a friend since my last visit and he has been doing much to help and accommodate me. Marie is in charge of logistics for the French Red Cross. She is half Lebanese and half French - and 100% lovely. Last Saturday she spent at least 8 hours in the kitchen preparing Lebanese food for a diner party she had arranged. I was fortunate to be invited and there was nothing but empty plates afterwards! I'm very much looking forward to visiting Lebanon! ;)
Please follow the world news and stay updated with current affairs. But please also know that it is not a mirror of the world we live in. The media represents the extraordinary part of our world and rarely what you will encounter in it.
If I have any hope left for the future of us all...and I have plenty...then it's due to half the world which I have already seen with my own eyes. It's not all great and positive. But the vast majority is far above tolerable. I'm dead sure that the average perception is rated below actual reality. And with perception being equal to reality that cannot be a good thing. We must upgrade our perception.
I hope we will.
It's all looking good for the future of the Saga. We will soon be on our way again promoting smiles, friendship, the positive things, the hard working Red Cross Red Crescent and every country on this planet ;)
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - I tip my hat to the volunteers.
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga