A Scooter Expedition to Teach You| Vendula Kosíková
The "How far we can go" scooter expedition across Central and South America thoroughly sifted not only the Yedoo Trexx scooter but also all its participants. We talked to Marek Jelínek about everything that can be experienced in 238 days and 6,000 km on the footboard of a scooter.
Trexx has proved itself excellent
The Yedoo Trexx scooters, which seven participants went to Latin America on, have gone through a challenging journey with excellent results, even though the local conditions weren´t a bed of roses at all.
"The Trexx got most tested in climatic changes, we traveled in the Amazon where we had high humidity, in Bolivia we went through Salar de Uyuni Salt Plain, in Peru we pushed scooters up to Machu Picchu and in the Andes at the La Raya Peruvian Route we overcame freezing temperatures and an altitude of 4,338 meters. In addition, the sea air was blowing from all sides - from the Pacific, the Caribbean and the Atlantic.
The scooters have also endured many falls, which can´t be avoided during such a journey when you carry over 20 kg on your handlebars. Next, a week voyage by the riverboat and a lot of bumping on the trucks. Rusted heads of bolted joints, massively abraded brake blocks, scuffed Bowden cables and fallen mudguards are just the inevitable scars. "
In a nutshell
From last November until August this year, Marek traveled through 15 countries, all without an accompanying team, navigation, and even without a tent. Michal, who joined him in Nicaragua, got to know 12 countries. Every day, on average, they rode 80-90 km. After Marek´s camera had been stolen while staying overnight at a Costa Rican beach, they sought for fire stations, the Red Cross centers, or cheap hostels for sleeping. Occasionally someone accommodated them at his place, and added to Marek's biggest experiences, such as a visit to a humming bird farm and a Shipibo Indian village, where Ayahuasca rituals were held. "With scooters we literally were out of this world."
Marek, you've made up the entire expedition and planned it in detail. Why did you finally decide for the Trexx?
"I looked at various pages and found a lot of Czech scooter manufacturers. There are so many! But when I first saw Trexx ... I was really astonished. The scooter is just dear to my heart. But most of all – I´ve met friendly and smiling people who show they like their work - you have such a nice atmosphere there. That's what makes the Yedoo brand.”
At a Rock Café lecture, you said the scooter was opening the door for you. Do you think it would have been different if you had traveled by foot or by local public transport?
"Some time ago, when I was a tourist in Latin America, I didn´t have such opportunity to make a close contact with people, they saw me just as a tourist."
With scooters, we were much more exotic for the locals than they were for us. A comical situation which used to open up our way to places where we would never have got as regular backpackers. Latin Americans don´t know scooters and naturally they wanted to touch them, try them out... From time to time, we went with scooters to local schools, children queued up for them ...”
Latin America is friendly
Marek, if you were to briefly describe South America, what would you say about it?
"I came to an unknown place in Colombia, I was visibly tired, I got food, drinks, and I could stay with the locals for as long as I wanted. They kept smiling ... We stay in touch until now and we are good friends, not only with people from Colombia, but with everyone I got closer to on my way :). South America is friendly and people see friendship in much wider and deeper perspective than in our country. "
Travel brings people the chance to see the world, themselves and their surroundings with new eyes. How do you see the Czech Republic now and how do you feel here?
“I see the Czech Republic as a small country in the middle of Europe, and it´s amazing that we have kept our traditions and language all over the years and centuries. It´s unbelievable, considering for example Bogota, the capital of Colombia, has as many inhabitants as our country, it´s quite an interesting comparison. I like Bohemia, the Czech landscape, although this year I haven´t had a chance to enjoy it at all. What I dislike is our smallness that manifests itself in every corner. Still, I don´t understand why people are scolding everything, and it´s them who can change things. Take a look at how contagious it is when somebody laughs, and now imagine you're meeting joyful people in South America for almost all the time. :) Compared to us, here if I ask someone how he is, his answer is mostly “so-so” or “could be better”. You see, that's such a big difference. And still, there is so little needed ... "
How far can we get? Each to a different destination.
The team cohesion´s got tested, too. How was it, in a nutshell?
Michal Kahoun left immediately after 12 days - just before the start of the expedition he discovered that his girlfriend was pregnant and, already on his way, he realized that he didn´t want to leave her alone at this time.
Michal Kahoun was replaced by Michal Kohoutek, who joined the expedition about a month and a half later in Rivas, Nicaragua.
In Colombia, the team split, Marek and Michal continued on scooters southbound, the other two couples, Sunny with Lukáš and Káťa and Tomáš left without scooters to explore the famous beaches in Cartagena, all of them going to meet in Medellin later.
However, the foursome didn´t arrive here, so Marek and Michael continued on their way to Sao Paulo, Brazil, from where they flew to Paris, then continued to the town of Waldmunchen and to the Czech border, where they again jumped on their scooters to arrive in their hometown of Kolín on August, 9th.
The foursome traveled together for a while, splitting in Ecuador, where Káťa and Tomáš were waiting for a new wheel. The old one was stolen from them in front of a supermarket.
They are still on their way, currently in Argentina.
Sunny and Lukáš finished their scooter trip in Rio de Janeiro.
What changes did the expedition bring into your life?
"My life brings something new all the time. But the main thing that has moved me is gratitude. I´ve never been as grateful as in South America in my whole life. When somebody helped us, when we woke up in the morning and were healthy and cheerful to go on.
Thanks to the differences in view in our team, I´ve figured out that everybody looked at the world with completely different eyes and had different ideas, and even though I don´t agree with them it´s good to treat the other as yourself, this is my credo now ... It was a great test for me, but I'm also grateful for that. "
What is it like spending so much time on a scooter each day? Have you had crisis? And how did you overcome them?
"I had no crisis, I was trying to take everything as a relaxation. When we were in the Andes, where the cold was bad, I wanted to get out of here as quickly as possible. Maybe one crisis came in Paraguay, where the landscape was one big dull flat piece of cake. Long endless bendless roads. That was really something. Also, those great distances far from civilization. It was truly a challenge. But having an extra crisis because of the scooter, no. "
Bikers have sore butts. What hurt you most?
It´ll be weird, but nothing has hurt me during all the time. Mosquitoes´ bites were itchy. Also occasionally my legs hurt, but one takes a rest and goes on. "
What can you experience on a scooter?
You can sail with it by a boat through the Amazon, make a herd of bulls mad, lose a helmet while escaping from Machu Picchu, teach the Indians Shipibo, Bora and Camisea how to ride, pick the raw material for the magic potions for an ayahuasca ritual with a shaman and make four watchguards from the Ministry of the Interior upset while picking, be robbed of 4 pairs of shoes at a police station, and wear out another 4 pairs while pushing off, eat 5 kg of local dulce de leche, 80 portions of egg in a bun called "pan con huevo", drink a hectolitre of Coca-Cola , and even so, lose 7 kg. Ride at a speed of 58 km / h downhill or push a scooter up to 4,338 meters above sea level. Sleep at a farm beside llamas, in a cowshed, with hens, at fire stations, restaurants, hostels, oil exchange workshops, in a forest next to the homeless, in a park, at a construction site, in a Red Cross center, on a beach, in a gym, on a field, under a tree, at a gas station, in a dump, on a ship, on a pavement in the middle of a city, or at someone´s home on a couch. Take a record of 157km a day, have a flat tire 3 times, lose your fenders, learn the Indian greeting: "Jakon yame!" (Good evening!), smash 3 mobile phones, one tablet, lose your credit card and lose all your photographic equipment and still cross the continent.
People, especially experienced scooter-riders, didn´t truly trust you at the beginning, but you and Michael did an incredible job and showed extraordinary determination. How do people in your surroundings perceive you now?
"A few people, experienced scooter-riders, from whom I´d expect support, didn´t trust us. This is exactly where our Czech smallness manifests itself. It can´t be said that we made great performances, we´ve just had fun. Just the right travel I had imagined. You ride and experience many adventures, some of them absolutely crazy, which made me wonder, "What am I fooling around here, do I need it?" I don´t think something has changed, at least this is my perception. Just my view of certain things has changed. The more you travel, the more you get the global horizon. "
After your return you´ve started a tour of lectures, exhibitions and interviews. Are people interested in them? When and where will be the next one?
"There´re never enough interviews, as they say. It´s my interest to promote footbike and traveling with a scooter as much as possible. I wish for everybody to be able to get out of here for half a year to a faraway place at least once in a lifetime because such experience has a priceless value.
The interview drew a lot of interest especially when we returned, in the Czech Radio building we went from one door to another. I was glad to be able to share my experience and let everyone know that anything is possible and all you have to do is want it.
The lectures are scheduled, in this year there will be ten of them, and in time there will be more. You can find the schedule on facebook Kam až dojedeme? "
The adventure goes on
Where the way led
As the border with Venezuela was closed, the boys had to go west to the Amazon through Ecuador, which was not originally planned. They didn´t end their journey in Punta Arenas in Chile, as they had thought, but in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where they headed for the cold weather that prevailed in Bolivia and the Andes at that time.
Below you can find a list of states, cities and places worth mentioning:
• Mexico - Yucatan peninsula
• Honduras - the town of Omoa
• El Salvador - Anna Town and El Cuco Beach
• Nicaragua - Ometepe Island
• Costa Rica
• Panama - San Blas Islands
• Colombia - Mocoa
• Ecuador - Amazon
• Peru - Pucallpa
• Bolivia - Salar de Uyuni Salt Plain
• Brazil - Foz de Iguacu
Marek, what are your next plans?
"When I was a boy, I collected small pictures of countries´ flags. I used to cut them out of newspapers and magazines, I´ve still got many of them. I´d like to visit all of these countries, this is my childhood dream, which is starting to come true. Now I'm planning a trip to Asia. "
When are you leaving and with whom?
"I'm leaving at the end of February and looking forward to it a lot for I´ve never been to Asia in my life. A good team is the basis of success, so I'd rather wait for someone with whom I'm on the same wave. It´s all coming as the one who´s going to join me will. This time it will be different.
Don´t you plan to finally settle down and have a family? :))
"First of all, I want to be happy :). I want to do what I enjoy and what fulfills me. To shoot, write, travel, get it all together, and get a book published one day. This is a topical subject for me now, and my dream as well, which only laziness splits me from. Sure, I'd love to have a family one day, and what should be, will come, I'm open to everything, and at the end of February I'm leaving for India. "
And the last question: What are you most proud of?
"Proud of... I guess it´s that I could make myself understood in South America. That such companies as Yedoo back me up. That I just pick up my stuff and go on my way, though it's not quite pleasant every day. That in fact, I´m grateful, for all the positive and negative experiences, because without them I wouldn´t make any progression.