You, me and the Red Cross / Jordan
Day 1,667 since October 10th 2013: 145 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home and min 24 hrs in each country.
Why haven’t I given up yet?
I figure I ask myself that question more than anybody else: “why have I not given up yet?” And I keep asking because I really just don’t know...
Why do people follow and support the Saga? Well there are several reasons. Let’s break it down into: You, Me and the Red Cross Red Crescent.
People say they get inspired. Some are inspired by my determination. Some are inspired by my way of looking at life. Some are inspired because the Saga shows a different angle of the many countries we have created on our earth. Most people can’t even answer how many countries there are? A complicated question indeed! Politics, religion and the noodles between your ears all play in on what you might answer. I pondered about “what is a country” in the "Somalia blog”. Some enjoy the Saga for the sake of education. I post a lot of pictures and even without text you’d learn something? What is the landscape like, the clothes people wear, the cars you see, is it clean, is it dry, is it wet and much more is available by looking at a picture. I also try to add some relevant text to enhance the experience. You're bound to learn something ;) Finally people say they get entertained. Sure. Why not. Some mad Dane is trying his hardest to reach EVERY country without flying. It’s a reality show played out on social media. Will he make it? Is he happy? Is he sad? Who does he meet? What does he eat? Danger? Love? Friendship? Adventure! It’s all in there. Naturally I’d argue that nobody in history has ever reached every single country in the world in a single unbroken journey completely without flying. So doing what nobody else has done, or possibly can do, is also what draws some of you in.
EVERYTHING BREAKS IN THIS PROJECT!! Including myself in my experience. This necklace was a present from my siblings. I carry it every day. It last broke in Gabon years ago. It has now been repaired again. Keep repairing! And keep on keeping on in life!
A wise thing to know is that you should not compete against others but only measure yourself up against...yourself. I’m my own greatest competition and I’m winning. I’m a much more full person today than 4.5 years ago when this madness began. I speak more language than ever before. I know countries I had never heard of. I have many new friends. I’ve learned about social media and media in general. I’ve learned more about the worlds largest humanitarian organization than most can say they have. I’m better at reading people and situations than what I used to be. My connections reached further and wider than ever before. I’ve tasted things I never knew existed. I’ve seen colors I’ve never seen before. I’ve been hurt and have grown stronger because of it. I’ve been challenged like never before and have therefore become better at solving problems. I know more about culture, history, politics, music, climate, ethnicity, religion, philosophy and much more. I’ve also tested the boundaries of my physic. Although I have basically depleted my personal funds by now I would still argue I’m richer than ever before. But when is enough enough?
The Once Upon A Saga project description in Arabic.
THE RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT :)
I’ve walked through the front door of more than 140 National Societies around the world. I’ve shared my experiences online and as a result this delivers a worldwide promotion. As a goodwill ambassador of the Danish Red Cross they have the opportunity to tap into this resource and utilize it however they want. It could give the Danish Red Cross worldwide fame among the entire movement. The International Federation of the Red Cross Red Crescent (IFRC) has the same opportunity. Each national society has had the opportunity to create more visibility in their country through each visit I have made. The promotion through this project has generated more donations, invited more volunteers, motivated existing volunteers and staff and has provided more positive visibility for the movement. As a goodwill ambassador of the Danish Red Cross I’m unpaid and virtually a “glorified volunteer”. Think of everything I have accomplished as a “volunteer”. Now imagine how much potential there lies among the movements many millions of volunteers? In that aspect it goes to show how much the movement could accomplish. So to sum up the Saga offers: visibility, donations, volunteers and a unique and almost unlimited resource for the movement.
Market place in Amman.
You, me and the movement. Those are the three platforms I look at in order to motivate myself to keep on keeping on. I can be completely miserable and yet continue if I feel that either you or the movement gets something worth while out of the Saga. In fact only one of the three platforms need to be intact. And I must say that the motivation switches a lot between each platform. I’m not always motivated by the movement. I’m not always convinced that people (you) value my efforts. And I’m certainly not always convinced that I’m doing this for me. In fact, often I just want to pack my bags and head for the airport. There’s a popular television show called: “Alone”. A number of people are left in the wild to take care of themselves until they quit and only one person is left standing. The contestants are completely isolated from human interaction apart from a short visit from a medical team every now and again. Many of them give up and leave after a few days. Some make it a few weeks before they tap out. There’s nearly always one who thrives really well. That person is a true survivor and catches plenty of fish or manages well with other sources for protein, vitamins and carbohydrates. That person always has a superb shelter and is simply doing really good. And then something strange happens in the show. The one that seems to have done best out of all the contestants often taps out and gives up?? They usually always excuse it with some variation of the following: “I had proved to myself that I could do it. I could stay out here in the wild until the end. I had nothing more to prove to myself or anyone else so I decided to go home”. Back in Malta I made friends with my hosts David and Alexandra. Great hosts and great friends in a time when I needed it. We watched a couple of seasons of “Alone” together and it always perplexed me why those capable contestants gave in and went home? They could so easily have won the competition and have gone home with the prize. I observed that back in Malta and understood that there was some sort of undescribed “mechanism” in the head that made those people make those decisions.
You tell me?!? I've got very little idea about what I spotted here? :)
I have no doubt that I can complete the Saga. I feel it deep inside me. It’s basically a question of how long it will take and not how much I will suffer. It’s no secret that I’m struggling with the notoriously elusive Saudi Arabian visa. Accomplished businessmen who apply from home and fly in sometimes struggle. An accomplished friend of mine from the Danish Travelers Club worked on getting his visa for years. It’s probably among the few last countries within the Saga which I will really have great difficulties with. I’ve known it for years. People who follow the Saga, maybe you, have known it for years. To me it’s just a question of time until I make the right connection and move on. But how much time? The way I see it, my greatest predicament right now is that I’m not a resident in Jordan and I can therefore not apply for a business visa even when I have a letter of invitation. It has been the same case several times before and we always found a way around it. These days I often hear people tell me that Saudi Arabia is different. Some people speak to me as if I’m an amateur and that I only got this far because of luck. It’s natural for us not to know much about strangers. If someone is rude to you it may be because they are going through a divorce, have lost a child, have lost a job, have been informed that they will die from a terminal decease or maybe something else which you can’t see on the surface. What do people see when they meet me? I tend to smile. How can they know what the past years have offered of challenges, horror, decease, complex problems, adversity, racism and betrayal? I’m trying to make a point here and don’t get me wrong; the Saga has brought me much more joy than any of what I just mentioned. If you’re in doubt then go back to the “ME section” of this entry ;) All I’m trying to convey is that it’s easy to underestimate another human being. The Saga has performed its fair share of “magic tricks” in the past, and there’s a solution for Saudi Arabia as well. I’ve never sent my passport home in order to obtain a visa. It’s not a rule within the Saga it has just been that way. If I wait long enough then Saudi Arabia will eventually open up for tourism visas. Maybe even before the end of this year? Saudi Arabia’s geographical location does not hinder me from leaving it behind and continuing to other countries. So it’s not like when I was stuck trying to get us to Equatorial Guinea or Syria. I actually have options this time. For now I’ll sit tight here in Jordan for a little while longer as I weigh my options. However I will not wait much longer as I’m growing impatient. Maybe a week or two...
In the suburbs of Amman.
I got my Jordanian visa extended. I only needed to go to three police stations and pay USD 56.
So that was a little bit about that. In other current events I have been to A LOT of embassies lately, I’ve had meetings, I’ve been busy with emails and phone calls, I’ve been networking, I’ve been researching and once in a while I also took a break from it all to clear my mind. I’m staying at a hotel/hostel in downtown Amman and as such I’m sharing a six bed dorm room with whoever happens to drop by. I met Carter from the USA and we went out one night to have a beer on his 24th birthday. Great guy who obviously loves to travel. I also spent some time with Stelios from Australia, another great guy, who also loves to travel. “Stel” and I also spent some time together, getting food, talking etc.
Happy birthday Carter.
Happy birthday your majesty.
The Danish Ambassador in Lebanon gives a speach at the Honarary Consul's residence in Amman.
I used to be a Royal Lifeguard in the Danish army. We stood guard in front of the palaces with those tall bearskin hats - you know? “Pro Rege Et Grege” was our regiments motto and means: for king and country. Denmark hasn’t had a king for a while and is currently ruled by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II. A remarkable woman I would give my life to protect! She turned 78 last month and that was celebrated a few days ago here in Amman at the Danish Honorary Consuls residence. It was hosted by the Danish Ambassador of Lebanon and I was honored with an invitation to join. Apart from being an honor it was also a good opportunity to network with business leaders, ambassadors and even royalty. I failed to speak to the Saudi Prince as I only learned about his presence after he had left. However I did meet some interesting people and as I know all to well by now: you just never know who will open the next locked door.
The most interesting encounter I had this week was with Ruben from Germany. Ruben used to work for the IFRC in Haiti and that’s when we first met in January 2015. Back then he told me that the Kenyan Red Cross owns a five star luxury hotel in Nairobi called The Boma. I uttered that it would be great if I could stay there once I got that far into the Saga! Ruben said that there was no way I’d get to stay there as it’s owned by the Kenyan Red Cross but operated independently. And before you start speculating about why the Red Cross has a five star luxury hotel I might as well mention that the proceedings go to benefit the most vulnerable people. It’s what’s called an “IGA” (Income Generating Activity). Anyway, I bet Ruben that through “the power” of the Saga I would definitely get to stay there. Ruben said “no way” and as a result we wagered a Belgian beer served in Belgium to whoever was right. Belgian beers are good ;) You may recall that I got engaged in Kenya on August 11th 2016. And back then we stayed at The Boma, compliments of the hotel management and the Kenyan Red Cross ;) Ruben owes me a Belgian beer served in Belgium! :)
Ruben and I at Amman Citadel.
Ruben and I stayed connected through LinkedIn and you guessed it: he showed up here in Amman earlier this week. He now works for a German institution which assesses the need for humanitarian work and how funds are best utilized. At least that’s what I understood that he does. Naturally we met up and I showed him around the downtown area of Amman. Great to be able to touch base with people I’ve met along the Saga.
Street art in Amman.
That brings me to the end of this entry. I want you to know that you’re not forgotten. I may not write you very often or sometimes not at all. But you’d be surprised if you knew how much I think about the thousands of encounters I’ve had across a whopping 145 countries. Thank you for being a part of Once Upon A Saga.
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - thinking, thinking, thinking...
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga