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A short while ago, after 129 days, Tour d’Afrique’s longest expedition the Silk Route ended successfully in Istanbul. One day later after eleven weeks our first ever Trans-Europa expedition ended in Lisbon. And three days later my first ever visit to Spain ended after a four week sojourn. On first glance one could easily ask how I can even mention in the same breath the adventures the participants have had on those two remarkable cycling expeditions, with my drive from one grand spot to another. And believe me there are an endless beautiful and interesting spots to be seen in Spain.
After visiting one too many castles and museums I wanted some nature and fresh air. So one day last week Ruth and I had decided to go for a hike that would take us to an altitude of around 2000m in the Sierra de Gredos mountain range.
The hike was fairly steep but worth it. On the way down at some scenic spot Ruth asked if she could stop and meditate a bit. I decided to explore. I saw a big rock that looked like the edge of the precipice and wandered off the path towards it. As often happens, when I got to the rock there was no precipice but another large crop of rocks about another 100 meters further that looked like the edge of the hill. I walked towards it.
As I got very close to the rock straining my neck to see what is beyond, a magnificent horned head of a male mountain goat was looking at me. We were at most ten meters from each other. I froze. We looked at each other. He did not move; neither did I. This continued for minutes until the mountain goat got bored, lowered his head and went back to munching on the shrubs. Only than did I notice a female few meters from him and another one another ten meters further down. I stood there mesmerized for quite a while as they went on with their business.
I decided that this scene was just too much for Ruth to miss and I went to fetch her, taking the chance that by time we get back they would still be there. Ruth was not pleased by being interrupted and even less pleased of having to leave the path. I did not tell her where and why I was taking her, so the reluctance was understandable. Slowly, taking nimble steps, we made our way to the same rock and I nudged Ruth ahead. The mountain goats were still there. When seeing Ruth and me behind her, the previous scene was reenacted though the male goat now spent less time looking at us and decided to go back to what he was doing. Ruth was overwhelmed and had tears in her eyes.
So why do I tell this story in the same breath as the two cycling expeditions? For a simple reason; I do not know most of the adventures the participants of the two expeditions had while traversing the continents. I do however know that they decided to do something which I call ‘going to that rock on the horizon’ only to see another rock and another where sooner or later they would have an experiences that does not happen if you are not willing to wonder off a bit.
And like I, who will now forever treasure the minutes of me and the old goat staring at each other, they will all treasure their unique adventures. So to all of you who took part in the tours, may you keep going to see what is behind that rock.
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