Back to Them

Back to Them

A couple of weeks ago I arrived in Tala, after five months of traveling by my bicycle, traveling the route that linked Gijón with the Kubuka orphanage in Kenya. Throughout my pedaling, I have been facing malaria, severe dehydration, rainy days, strong headwinds, places with a suffocating heat, muddy roads, problems with the visas, conflicts with the police, technical problems with the bicycle and encounters with animals. However, every day when the dark comes, one values the good and the bad things that have happened and this is what has made me go ahead and never throw in the towel. With every two bad things that happen, come a handful of good times, surprises and encouragements.

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The bicycle has let me get in direct contact with the Africans and I have never felt alone. Every time I stopped to rest, eat or sleep, I made a friend. Eating has been one of the greatest pleasures during this trip, not only because it was the time I got to know people, but because I got to try all kinds of food, especially different types of meats such as cat, dog, snake, frog and camel, as well as all kinds of African dishes. This including the repertoire of waters I have been drinking, yellow, brown, with bugs, potions and artisan liquors have passed my stomach every week, but as they say here, you are not African if you have not been though a hundred cases of bad stomach, and I am close to that.

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This is my fourth time in this old continent but this trip has been different.  I have learned that the biggest difference between Africa and the first world is the lack of water and electricity. The electricity at these levels may be secondary, a luxury, but water is vital and there are thousands of people lacking it. The women must walk many kilometers with bottles on the head to get this precious good, necessary for cooking, drinking, personal hygiene and washing the dishes.

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Something I take with me from this experience is the happiness, the permanent smile on the people, and the hospitality that is incredible here. They have opened up their houses for me to stay the night, I have been invited to dozens of dinners, and praised with fruits, refreshments and food. One of the basic rules in Africa is that if there is a dish to eat, no one ends up without any food. 

I do not know if when I return to Spain I will be as patient as I am here, and have no problem waiting for hours and hours, and I do not know if I will continue to complain about problems that are not even considered as an issue here. What I know is that I will try to be happy every day and smile as much as I can. Even though I have been through this experience, I am not going to teach life or come home being a different person.
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Every day has been a different story, but now I find myself with my other family, the Kubuka family. Since I have arrived I have not stopped being excited for how this has evolved, not only the projects of the NGO, but Kenya in general. From my point of view it looks like this country develops in big leaps.

The first thing I have seen is the orphanage in Tala, from being a land with nothing to seeing a dream come true. A land filled with houses, a dining area, bathrooms and most important, filled with kids, it made me cry. Now in Nairobi I have been busy with projects such as Kleanbera, which I already knew, and which I am working with in depth, and other new projects like Made in Kibera and the schools.

When I left home I never imagined that I would complete the challenge, I knew I would make it to Kenya, but not to collect the money equivalent of 10.000 km, to get here by my bicycle, and above that the challenge has not only been fulfilled, but it has surpassed as a great pride for me. Now with all the money raised, Kubuka will be able to continue making dreams come true for many children and Kenyans. 

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I hope you have at least enjoyed half of this adventure. I will see you in Madrid on the 5th of May and soon I will tell you what my next adventure will be. Yes, there is a next adventure mom, I am sorry.

Nicolás Merino

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