Back to Italy, cycling home
The word “Lockdown” won’t be forgotten easily for the next generations. After 6 months refuged in the coffee farm of Los Pinos in El Salvador, we finally took the decision to quit…or let’s say, change direction. It was getting too long and psychologically hard to handle. Airports and borders were closed. Covid-19 in the American continent was getting worse while Europe seemed opening up again like the sunshine after a long thunderstorm. We stood there from our corner, wondering what to do. We all knew that this time going back home meant ending our journey here. There weren’t many options, though, but once we started talking about it together, Mom and the girls immediately got so excited. Their memories were like fairytales, remembering family and friends to meet and places to see again at home. For me, dad, it was different. As said many times before, the greatest difficulty in long term traveling with a family is keeping the right balance between us. I felt confused, and I pretended to be happy too, putting aside my ego trying to accept this bitter reality and unexpected turning. It’s a game of give and take. If we look at it deeply, the good points achieved these years are far and away higher than the bad. So, the only way to get out of El Salvador on the 28th of August 2020 was catching the expensive humanitarian flight for European citizens. We dismantled our bikes and folded our gear in boxes like we did when we first got to Ushuaia almost five years before.
From Central America to Central Italy
To permit a softer landing to this great experience, as our apartment was still busy rented, from San Salvador, we took a flight to Rome. We wanted to pedal slowly back home to our small town. Revine Lago, in the northeast of Italy beneath the Dolomites for the last 1000km of BIOcycling America. We would take advantage of the privilege to spend a bit more of this precious time together with no precise scheduled plan. We would be aware of the new Covid-19 restrictions. With winter around the corner, we wanted to discover more about our country. See it with new eyes and wonders, personally meeting some of the many people who have been following our tracks and stories. They followed our stories, shared through social media all these years. A virtual friend loaned us his empty apartment for the first month in Rome. Here we spent our quarantine, visits, and homeschooling for Angela and Anna. They were satisfied to pass the academic exam. Then, after six months of forced stop, we hit the road again, heading North.
We had to readapt our logistics differently, sending home most of the summer gear plus the school stuff we didn’t need for that segment. Organising other gear but the weight on our bikes at the end didn’t change much in the meantime. The girls had grown a lot. Cycling through ancient towns, we saw art, culture, nature, and unique beauties from Rome. Riding through the hills of Tuscany to Florence. Everything seemed so unreal magical, sometimes just too much. What we all appreciated most were the good Italian food and accessible ingredients. We missed a lot abroad, but also those simple public services we had always given for granted. We tried to keep moving, maintaining the same attitude of travel here as in Latin America. Surprisingly, there weren’t many differences. That’s because solidarity, gratitude and love are all universal values no matter the color of the skin, religion or country.
After spending a few wonderful days in Florence, harvesting olives with a family, the rumours of new covid lockdown were increasing, bad weather ahead. Then, Alby received a sad call from her mom saying: “your dad has been hospitalised, I suggest you come home earlier as possible, I wouldn’t like you to regret it!”. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. A few hours later, I was waving good-bye to her and the girls as they left the train station with one bike and a bunch of bags. My tandem and tricycle couldn’t fit in the train. I decided to ride alone. Fast. For the last 400km, reaching them four days later.
Those few days were a spiritual journey, a sort of meditation tour. The first day I fell off the bike, my first crash in 5 years cycling while riding downhill through the Apennine mountain range. Not having Angy sitting in the front, I had less grip on the wheel. Except for a few scratches and broken parts on the bike, I was able to proceed camping at the top of the mountain pass. Day 2 was the longest ever: 140km. I finally arrived at Alby’s parents’ place. Feeling emotional from seeing those mountains. The colourful autumn Prosecco hills, a couple of hours before his dad returned from the hospital. It was 31 October….our anniversary. The girls and a few members of the family were preparing Halloween cookies joyfuly for my arrival.
Home again in Revine Lago
We completed the final stage together on 3 November 2020. One day before the new lockdown in Veneto. A bunch of journalists came out to see us, like hunters, pointing at us with their cameras. Relatives, fans, and friends all wearing masks and keeping their social distance. Welcoming the Happy Family BIOcycling home again. No-one could understand what we each felt at that moment. My mom and sister holding my niece Asia in her hands….she was born while we were away, she called me “ZIO” (uncle). We had tears in our eyes and hearts. Our home and surroundings seemed unchanged, neighbours too, the bells of the church took us back in time. The girls ran upstairs wanting to open boxes of old memories, toys, and things they missed too much, filling up the place. I parked the bikes in our garage, 25.492km in total. Sighing deeply while taking off the panniers. Each click sounded louder than usual. I stood silently, observing my surroundings… I suddenly felt lost!
It will take a while to adapt to this new life. These past five years have been so intense, full of everything and having a home all for ourselves right now is something we needed. No big party, no friends around, trying to understand what’s going on around us. Angela and Anna will continue with homeschooling this year. We’ll see about next year. We are not allowed to move from our region, curfew applies from 10 pm to 6 am, during the night we hear a general silence never experienced before. We’re receiving kind messages from people worldwide, with many questions about what we’re going to do next. We still have much to share. This is not the end but a new beginning! Getting ready for the new adventure….Stay tuned! 😉
Happy Family BIOcycling