Between countries and deep thoughts

While not always fun - it is always an adventure
I have finally arrived to Saõ Tomé and Príncipe making it to country number 99. And as far as I can tell this little pearl of a country could easily be the setting for your next holiday. Saõ Tomé has much of what I have missed for a while. It presented me with open hearted kindness from the minute I set foot on land. But next weeks blog will be about Saõ Tomé when I have become much wiser on the subject. 
This blog contains a rather long post I left on Facebook last Wednesday. It has already been seen by thousands of people from around the world and it has received many heartwarming comments. Some of which I will share with you here below. Thank you to everyone who supports the Saga. It is very much appreciated.
Gabon, Central Africa, Wednesday, November 18th 2015:
Let me share my most personal thoughts with you - and feel free to share this with everyone you know and the rest of the world if you feel like they should know.
I'm tired, I think too much, I've done so much, I haven't done enough. I feel stranded. Stranded in a foreign country, in a culture far from my own. A culture that in most ways is different from my own. But in many others is the same. Where I come from a stranger in a bus or a train will not speak to a stranger sitting in the seat beside him or her. We respect each other's privacy. We stare into our phone or newspaper. It's no different to me in the capital of Gabon. Life here is not like in the countryside. Life in the countryside resembles the life I have seen in the majority of West and Central Africa, where strangers are treated with great curiosity and hospitality. I'm accustomed to people sharing their food, their life and their home with me. I find that strangers get insulted if I do not sit down and share a moment with them.
But not here and not where I come from. Here people are kind and courteous. Here people will answer a direct question and pass me friendly greetings like "Good day" and "Have a nice day". But no one takes interest in me. They leave me alone. I feel lonely.
For a while I have felt sad. I have felt like a failure. It's ridiculous. I have achieved so much and I am aware of it. I revisit my memories by flying over them. By being in them and around them. I remember Maria who took me into her home on a dark snowy night in Poland. How she took care of me and proved once again that a stranger is a friend you've never met before.
I remember how so many told me that it was impossible to cross the North Atlantic Ocean in the wintertime without flying. And I remember how hard it was. And I remember arriving to Iceland and feeling strong again after experiencing the amazing "everything is possible" atmosphere which I find to be so unique within the volcanic nation. And I remember finally proving so many people wrong when I set foot in Canada and felt the amazing hospitality that blasted me to pieces when I first reached North America.
I entered the great nation of the USA which is so unique in harboring every culture, every language, every nation on this planet. All within one country. Isn't that unique? I think many things about USA. Good and bad. I'm not naive. But I think that it is a trade which the country holds absolutely unparalleled.
I continued south. Making new friends as I progressed through Central America and South America. I had never been to South America before. I was frightened entering Venezuela as my head was full of reasonable and unreasonable warnings. I was awestruck by the countries beauty and everything that followed. I fell in love with yet another country.
The adventure of making my way through the Caribbean began and it was hard and beautiful. I made more friends. I continued learning about the planet we all share and I continued sharing positive and hopefully enlightening updates about each nation. I was frustrated by the lack of boats and delighted as I managed to find a way in spite of it. Sometimes by my own ingenuity and often with help from strangers soon to become friends.
I drift in my mind. I remember staying with a poor man as he took me inside and out of the rain and into his home. Later on I visited a private island for 6 days, which is inhabited entirely by millionaires and billionaires. How did I accomplish all of that on a $20/day budget? That is when I realized that money, although important, did not direct where I was going in life.
Finally I crossed the Atlantic again. On the largest ship I have ever been onboard. A triple E container carrier marked with "Maersk" on the side. We crossed the ocean with speeds which superseded those of speedboats dragging people on water skis. Astonishing!
Into many countries. A huge continent which many refer to as a country? I didn't get Ebola. In fact I discovered that the threat was minuscule and that those few countries with it had people, society, families, culture, nature, food, music and the modernities which many think are unique to other societies. You would be amazed if you knew how many people around the world are playing Candy Crush Saga?!? People in humble surroundings are taking selfies and posting them on Facebook. Most people are so similar to everyone else. Will we all be the same some day? The differences between our physical bodies are to be overlooked. We are remarkable similar no matter where we come from. What we look like. No matter which language we speak or where we grow up. But we tend to focus on the very few differences between us.
I met a man in Cameroon who thought that all of South America is about cocain. Ignorance is universal. Ignorance knows no boundaries. Every country in the world has a middle class, the rich and the super rich. Every country in the world. I met a woman here in Gabon, who in spite of her office job and education, did not know that French is spoken in Cameroon? That is a neighboring country to Gabon. How can you not know which language is spoken in a country which borders your own? Candy Crush Saga is more important.
The world is not an entirely good place. France was recently under attack. So were other countries. I read, hear and see much which is not positive. But the mainstream media will with great dedication cover all the negativities for you. Boko Haram is such a small part of life. But the great nation of Nigeria is mostly recognized for that alone. Ludicrous! People go to university in Nigeria, watch Game of Thrones, ride the bus, dance in the clubs, struggle with relationships, get jammed in traffic and much everyone else.
Mali is not a war torn country. Life was peaceful in the south. It's a huge country. The conflicts are mostly localized in the far north while the markets are open in the south and life goes on. Mali was once the richest country in the world. Today it is among the poorest. The land remains beautiful.
The Red Cross is an enormous organization. It is so old that it predates vehicles, airplanes and the telephone. It reaches more than 150 million people in 189 countries...every day! I am a goodwill ambassador of the Danish Red Cross. I am proud to represent the organization and the hardworking volunteers. The Red Cross is however not taking this project serious. I'm mostly ignored or misunderstood. I'm currently struggling to make my way into a country and the Red Cross holds the key. Some within the Red Cross understand my predicament and are doing everything they can to help me. Some who could nothing. In particular some who could have helped me long ago. It's more frustrating than I can ever convey to you. It's as if my time is not important? I'm just a "tourist". Haha?...that fool who is enjoying life on a worldwide journey to every country in the world. "Why doesn't he just fly?" "Why does he stress so much?" "Why doesn't he enjoy life?" 
People think I am free. Many regard this as a long vacation. I had a life before this project. Now this is my life. I have always had work. I have worked hard. Very hard! But I have never in my life experienced anything as hard as this project. That may mean little to most people. People do not know me, who I am, what I have done or where I came from in life. But I promise you that this journey is hard! Hard for the body, mind and soul. Don't ever try to copy this project. Or know for sure what you are walking into.
Especially my mind is tormented. Have I brainwashed myself? Why do I feel sad when there is so much to be proud of? Why do I feel like a failure when I have reached this far? Is it the constant life of constant geographical progress I have experienced during the past 2 years? 98 countries in two years without flying or returning home. Packing my bag, meeting people, studying countries and cultures. Finding the next bus, crossing that border, getting that visa, finding that boat...
Now it has stopped. There is a country I cannot enter and a country I cannot reach. It seems that every decisions I make these days leads to a dead end. "In Europe we have watches and in Africa they have time". Yeah, I've heard that many times. But Africa doesn't have more time than everyone else. Everywhere I've been the countries are moving forward. Progress within society. The clock is ticking for everyone.
I was 34 when I left home. Now I'm 36. Give it another month and I'll be 37. I could be 39 when I return home...or older. I do not want to spend my life doing this. I want to go home. But I only know one way forward and that is through the next 105 countries. I do not have time to be stuck.
This project has been blessed with amazing sponsors. But will they hold out until the end if the end becomes more distant? Will my girlfriend? Will my friends?
On a scheduled timeline I should be in South Africa now. But it will be moths from now in reality. I already have the visa for Angola in my passport. A visa which is regarded as one of the hardest to get in the world. It will however expire before I reach Angola. 2 other visas have already expired. We all want progress. But I'm the only one forced to wait for it. Everyone else can leave. I don't want people to leave. I want people to see that our world is so much more than the dark shadows which are relentlessly being cast over us by the mainstream media.
I want millions of people to see the world as I see it. I'm surprised about our world. I didn't know that terror, poverty, disease, conflict and extremism played such a small part in the real world. No one ever told me. I didn't know...not really. Perception is reality and I find that our perception of the world is generally rated far beneath reality. I think we need to adjust our perception. I believe that it is very important for our future. 
So I'm sad. Maybe because of the lack of progress. Or the lack of understanding. Or both or none. I don't know. I'm not depressed. I still find motivation and meaning. But I am sad and it has become much more constant. I can still smile but the sadness returns like hunger when you haven't eaten. It's not a feeling I'm accustomed to. I'm sad and I feel alone. For the first time within this project I feel alone. Surrounded by people but alone.
Today I sat 50 meters from the Atlantic Ocean. I thought about how far away that would be if I was an ant. I though about how wonderful it would be to sore over the grass and sand...towards the ocean if I was a firefly. I thought about how easy it already is for me to get up and walk until my feet are wet. I thought about how that ocean must have been here long before life as we know it today. That ocean was in some ways always there. That ocean is so old. The waves keep coming...
The saga WILL continue!! Have no doubt. I'm not giving up. I'm not stopping. It will continue. I will show you the world and I will experience it in the process. I just feel kind of stuck. It's just a feeling. Feelings change overtime. This feeling has only lasted for weeks now.
Thank you for listening.
Best regards
Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - while all people sleep only some wake up
Once Upon A Saga 
Once Upon a Saga
Made by Kameli