Today, I am cycling out of Montreal and heading south towards New York State. Am I really less than halfway done?
Have I ever lived anywhere but the road? This lifestyle is so consuming. It’s been about 2.5 months since I left Victoria, BC at the start of this trip and I’m well settled enough to feel as though this is all very normal. I spend more time on my bike seat than I do anywhere else, cumulatively. My tent pole has splintered, my butt cheeks have cracked and callused, I’ve gotten sick twice, and I’m feeling (on good days, which are most days) about the holistically healthiest I’ve ever felt during my quarter century of life. I’m home within my body best of all, as my bike and bags roll along in good company.
And the campaign continues. Some numbers:
1) I’ve given 20 multimedia presentations about the ongoing human, environmental and indigenous rights abuses in West Papua.
2) I’ve spoken about West Papua at 11 Lush Cosmetics Shop Parties (Lush is the campaign’s sponsor).
3) I’ve travelled* 5158 km.
This journey is about raising awareness (along with funds and political action) about West Papua. I wrote in my last blog that this campaign is one of many that are working internationally to bring this story to light, and I’d like now to focus on one of those campaigns – the Freedom Flotilla. From their website:
“The Freedom Flotilla to West Papua is an unprecedented event of creative resistance to the Indonesian occupation of West Papua. The initiative of Indigenous Elders of Australia and West Papua will build global solidarity and highlight the abuses of human rights and land rights carried out under the occupations of their lands on an international stage.”
Having begin from Lake Eyre, Australia in June, this caravan of peace crusaders has been covering geographical and cultural distance alike on their incredible journey. They’ve been an inspiration for me, and I want to honour them now in particular because each of our journeys is crossing an international border soon. Their crossing, however, is carrying a heavy risk:
Having left from Central Australia and now at one of the country’s northern tips, the crew are boarding a pair of yachts and sailing to West Papua via Papua New Guinea. Or at least, that is the plan. From The Guardian article above:
“AP Stacey, 47, a former Australian soldier who will be on one of the boats, told the Guardian: ‘Because I’ve been in the military myself I probably have a better understanding than everybody else of what might happen if it goes pear-shaped.
‘There are a number of possibilities. The Indonesian authorities could quite simply turn us back. They could arrest us. I guess the worse-case scenario is they could shoot us.’
The Indonesian military and police opened fire on a peaceful protest gathering in the West Papuan capital of Jayapura in October 2011, killing at least six people and injuring dozens.”
Despite this risk, it looks like everyone is still on board. That’s some (expletive deleted) courage! That’s concentrated inspiration. That’s hope for the future.
So today, as I head safely south, I want to pay my respects and give my gratitude to the Freedom Flotilla. We’re with you on this one.
Jeremy and the Pedalling for Papua team.
* I use the word ‘travelled’ rather than ‘cycled’ here because about 15% of the distance has been covered by hitchhiking with Trooper (my bike). Floods in Calgary, roadside problems, errors in scheduling, etc… Let’s just say that riding a bike isn’t a good way to get to a speaking event on time