Meet Italian who’s pedalling around the globe

With just his bike, Travelli has traversed the world. / Courtesy

He ditched his sales and marketing job four years ago with a dream to travel the world on his bike. David Travelli, an Italian, in August 2015, decided to travel the world beginning with Alaska, crossing to the Americas; Canada, USA, Mexico, and Central America.

He has  so far travelled 24 countries, has been involved in road accidents but says he has “never felt free in my life.” A few weeks ago he came to Rwanda to have his adventure hre before moving on to other East African countries. The 39-year-old shares his experience with The Sunday Magazine’s Sharon Kantengwa.

What led you to taking this adventure and how can you describe your experience?

I went to America for around-the-world adventure because I had started really to like life on the road. Travelling by bike is the ultimate freedom. I always wanted to do a grand adventure and was getting old tired of working behind the desk. I didn’t find that meaningful for me or for society. I always had this dream to cross the Americas. And I decided “go now!”

My dream emanated from the fact that in Italy and in many parts of the world, we consume a lot of American culture. It could be TV shows, or series but for me the Americas was like a location of my dream. And I really wanted to see it myself. It is the longest continent. I did 35000km and in Africa I am about to cover 10000km and altogether that is 45000km so far.

How do you sleep when night falls?

When it gets dark, I pitch my tent wherever I am even if it is in nature. When it is populated area, I ask local people if they can let me camp in their compound.

Have you experienced any incidents that messed you up? How did you overcome them?

In Costa Rica, a bus hit me and threw me off the road. I was a bit of unlucky but it’s part of the adventure and a wonderful experience. I was very unlucky in North America where I spent a lot of money. I had several problems with my bike, in Vancouver where I had an accident so I lost a lot of money. 

What next after Africa?

I might try to find a boat from Egypt to Europe, in Italy or Turkey and then cycle home.  I want to spend some time with family and maybe write a book.

Maybe, I will do Morocco, West Sahara and maybe Senegal and then go back to Portugal. It is because I did most of East Africa, and so I will do a bit of the Northern part as well.

Who funds your adventure?

At the beginning I had some savings from the job I had and I spent all the money to buy things to use. I didn’t have a bike, I didn’t have camping equipment. I had to buy everything. In Latin America there is a travelling culture. Many youngsters just set out and travel beyond their own country and most of the time they go without money. They do little stunts like juggling and are given few cents or a dollar. Others make bracelets, necklaces, earrings manually and sell them so they can continue their trip.

It is very similar to Rwanda, for example. The people are very supportive. They will understand what you are doing. Like a bakery can always spare few loaves of bread, or shops can always give few bananas or oranges.

Also, when I am in a town like Kigali I do drawings with water colours and cut out post cards and put them out on social media, it’s a way for people who follow my trip to send a donation. It could be $10, $20, $50, whatever they feel.

How do you find Africa and Rwanda in particular?

In Africa being a “muzungu” everybody thinks I am a millionaire. It is a little bit difficult. I have only been here for a few days because I only cycled from the Rusumo border ( with Tanzania) to here. It was basically one day and a half. Rwanda feels very different from other countries that I have been to so far. Rwanda looks clean, is tidy and neat. But people are welcoming like in other places in Africa.  I have had wonderful experiences in Africa.

People are very nice and Kigali is very well organised. There is no chaos here. One thing I miss about other cities are the street vendors. There are no street vendors in Kigali and it makes everything more expensive but I feel safe. It is nice. I look forward to seeing more of Rwanda because it is one of the countries that people always speak highly of.

Are you planning to go back to your previous job when all this is over?

I left everything but I think after an adventure like this it would be very difficult to go back to office. I was thinking maybe I will organise adventures for other people. Maybe wealthy people who want to be adventurous but maybe not as adventurous as me.

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