Were it not for the kindness of complete strangers, my journey across the Americas would have been a lot harder, if not impossible.
During the past 8 years I have been taken into the homes of loving families from Fairbanks, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina. Nearly every night of the more than 1,000 I’ve spent trekking, people have opened their doors to host my steeds and I. I have been given food, water, a bed, presents…. without being asked for anything in return.
I have said it many times before and I’ll say it again, one of the biggest lessons I have learned from this journey is that 99.9 per cent of people are good. Great!
From politicians to ranch hands to drug lords, it has been such a humbling experience to sit at the dinner table with people from all walks of life in the 12 nations I crossed. One family in Guatemala butchered the only chicken they had, which they were saving for Christmas, just to feed me one night.
I will never forget these acts of kindness and love.
But now, in this post-pandemic world, things have changed. People are fearful of one another — and rightfully so. As I write this, more than 5 million people have contracted the virus and 346,000 have died.
In many ways our world will never be the same again. And the final 800 kilometers I ride in the Americas might look a lot different from the 26,000 already travelled.
In Grande Prairie, Alberta, our starting point for this final stretch, we were unable to find a place to rest the horses prior to setting out. Friends from Calgary tried to find a ranch, farm or riding facility that would take the horses in for a night or two with no luck.
The night before we started our ride to Calgary Smokey and Mac stood munching on hay tied to trees on the side of highway 40. Aaron Stelkia trailered them up and we followed in the motor home.
It was not the way I imagined I would be starting this final chapter of my long ride across the Americas, but it was a clear sign of the times and that is one of the most interesting parts of this project. From the back of a horse you get the truth about life, society, animals, people, the land… without the BS.
As an eternal optimist, I feel like this pandemic will teach us many lessons and soon enough, we will be back to normal! We need to trust each other, now more than ever.
Even with everything that is currently happening right now in the world, I can’t wait to finish my ride — my dream!
I would like to dedicate the final leg of my long ride to healthcare providers around the world who have worked tirelessly during this global health crisis.