Farewell Europe - leaving Cyprus
Since October 10th 2013: 142 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home and min 24 hrs in each country.
I may not see Europe again for another 2 years
Who here knows the stress of being away from home for 4 years and yet have the option to return by making a simple decision? I know. I imagine it’s not all that different from being thirsty in a desert while denying oneself water which is at hand...
“Have fun” is something people often say to me. I’m more than sure it is meant in the kindest way possible. However this project is no more fun than going to work, paying the bills or getting stuck in traffic. And I know, I know: I did it to myself and nobody is forcing me to continue. I treasure elements of the Saga and I’m ready to protect certain memories in my mind with the fierceness of a thousand active volcanos! There are elements of fun just as well as elements of everything else as I step forward into the world. Ideally 6 months or 9 months of travel could be fun. The Saga has ticked past 4 years and I barely feel like continuing. However there is no way that I’m going to give up and I both hope and believe in future great moments to look back on and smile. Those moments will come. They always do.
24601 is a reference which can be found in many situations today. It is the prisoner number of Jean Valjean, Victor Hugo’s fictive character, within Les Miserable. I have been staying at Natalie’s apartment for more than a week now and she has a great passion for theater, musicals, singing and dancing. Together we watched the 2013 edition of Les Miserable staring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe and many other grand names. Natalie is of Scottish decent and grew up in London but has almost spent half her life in Cyprus. England became country no 7 for the Saga back in October 2013. My dear fiancée made me go and see a show back then and I chose Les Miserable. Spectacular both now and then!
Sergey is Russian, Mila is Serbian, Bruno is Portuguese, Natalie is Scottish but Pambos is Cypriot! I wasn’t quite sure where I was going to sleep a few weeks ago and searched Couchsurfing for possible places to stay. Couchsurfing is an online platform where strangers will offer you a couch, bed or simply a place to sleep in their home for a sort of trade-off for some of your stories. You don’t need to be a storyteller. You simply share a bit about yourself, your country and your thoughts. I found 4 profiles on Couchsurfing, which were all addressed in Limassol, and wrote all 4. Then Sergey happened to offer me a place to stay for a while and I cancelled my Couchsurfing requests. One of the hosts I was in touch with was Pambos and we agreed to meet anyway just to socialize. Our first meeting was rather short and was interrupted as I had another engagement that night. So we decided to meet up again a few days later. Cyprus is a very friendly and easygoing country. However if you want to pick a fight then just try to pay for the bill!! There is no way you’ll get away with paying as long as you’re a guest. It’s pretty much a national sport where even Cypriots amongst themselves will fight to pay.
I know I should have been using this “downtime” in Cyprus to rest and recharge my personal batteries. My mind just doesn’t work like that and I ended up filling it will all sorts of things such as the technological singularity and artificial intelligence. It would appear that the future in many cases looks pretty bleak! There is basically no way that computers will not get smarter than people some day and begin to create software for itself. That will supposedly accelerate very fast and it’s realistic to predict that super artificial intelligence will be able to progress with roughly 20,000 years of evolution in just 1 week. Nobody knows what that is going to mean for humanity. And fortunately there are a number of positive scenarios for that future which will arrive within the next 50 years. However unfortunately there are many reasons to believe that it may be an existential treat to humanity and there is no way to stop this. Just imagine how effective super artificial intelligence will be for any one countries military as a defense or attack weapon. With that in mind it’s hard to imagine any nation in the world back down from continuing to develop a computer which is smarter than us. Fingers crossed!
With that in mind I also watched ‘Dead Poets Society’ with Robin Williams. ‘Carpe Diem’ (seize the day) should be a mantra for all of us. Mary the one you love! Follow your passion. Be with your friends. Cherish the day and inhale whichever weather you are given. And stay responsible while you do it just in case the artificial intelligence thing works out in our favor :) Another movie I saw with Natalie was ‘Chariots of Fire’ which in large must be about staying true to who you are. If you are religious then stay true to your faith and be the best version of yourself you possibly can. If you in one way or the other are being put down by society then stay noble, work hard, believe in yourself and prove yourself strong through actions and example. Imagine if we all lived like that? We just don’t live like that do we?
Mo is Natalie's dog and he's been keeping me company. He stared in a movie called 'Committed' and here you have him before and after his haircut :)
I made a conscience choice to stay away from the social media of Once Upon A Saga for more than a week. What a relief that was! No Facebook, no Instagram and no Twitter for a week. Brilliant! Meanwhile I discovered a comedian from upstate New York, USA, who gave me a few things to think about. In a video he goes on about how the symbol of Apple products is an apple with a bite mark...not unlike the apple from the garden of eden. And in another video he observes how smartphones are sell themselves as efficient however end up taking all our time rendering is inefficient. I’ve known for a while that I need to put more structure into how I work with social media and I think a good plan is to deal with it for 30 minutes in the morning and 30-60 minutes in the evening. That will most likely be far more efficient for me and hopefully help me keep my mind clear. Clear of that at least :)
This massive pot at Amathus archeological site is a replica. The original has been moved to the Musee du Louvre in Paris. The pot is believed to have been cut from a single stone and is neatly 2 m high and weighs 14 ton! Cyprus and history!
Other people who have influenced me lately list prominent names such as Elon Musk, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan, Bo Burnham and George Carlin. Business, science and comedy. I have been trying to learn as much as I can from them. There is so much to learn. Meanwhile I have been sleeping more, eating more, I did go for a seriously long walk (Got lost) and I have nearly cleared my to do list from many things I should have done long ago. I’ve even brought my list of unattended emails down to 13. Who would have thought reaching every country in the world would be like this? I don’t feel free and I guess it’s mainly because I told the entire world that I was going to go to every country without flying or returning home. So the pressure is on regarding that. If there is just 1 country I cannot reach then the project is a failure and I didn’t do it. If I cut the Red Cross out of the Saga then I would undoubtedly regret it. I believe I am making a difference within the movement by promoting it positively and sharing online what I learn and observe. Also simply supporting the Red Cross and Red Crescent is the right thing to do. So the Red Cross isn’t going anywhere from this project although I largely feel forgotten by the Danish Red Cross (DRC) and misunderstood by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC). My frustrations have existed for years now but even so I guarantee you that supporting the cause is well worth it! I’ve seen so much. I’ve seen to much.
Completely removing the social media from the Saga, including the Friday Blog, would be a colossal time saver! However I’m not simply trying to go to every country...I’m trying to show you all that the world is a far better place than you’ve ever been told before. I’m trying to show you that you’ve only been shown a fragment of this world we live in and that you’ve most often been shown the absolute worst part of it. Furthermore I want to show you strength and determination. I want to show you that you can achieve what you set your mind to and work hard for. Besides, if I lost the social media then I would loose a lot of the doors it opens for me and the Saga and it would remove a large part of the motivation for being out here in the world. YOU are a large part of my motivation! :)
Right, so that’s pretty much it. I’ll finish up by saying thank you to MSC for all their efforts in getting me to Lebanon. Meanwhile I had the opportunity to visit their head office in Limassol and inspire, educate and entertain some of the staff. Great spirit at MSC where you clearly feel a family like environment. MSC is the second largest shipping line in terms of container vessel capacity. That makes MSC a giant! It’s an Italian company operating a network of 480 offices in 155 countries. I really appreciate their help making the Saga move forward. It took a bit of paperwork in regards to pleading immigration in Lebanon and at one point I felt like I was battling the Hydra! Cutting one head off only to see 2 new heads grow back. It certainly felt like that regarding answering questions but we got through it and I’m now ready to board the ship, today, Friday :)
Finally let me just say that Natalie has been an amazing friend and lately we have been spending several evenings trying to make the Sagas webpage a little bit better. See if you can spot the changes: www.onceuponasaga.dk ;) In any case I hope you’ll sign up for the Friday Blog with your email address. If you do then you’ll receive an email when the blog is ready which includes an introduction, a picture and a quote of my choice.
Thanks for being there for me :)
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - Middle Eastern ready!
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga