Running With The Moon by Jonny Bealby By Steve Rudd
I was the pebble in the catapult, pulled back to breaking point, about to be sent hurtling
towards whatever destiny had in store. Total freedom. At that moment I wouldn't have
changed places with anyone. That's how Jonny Bealby felt upon arriving in
Africa with his friend Neil and their motorbikes.
Consumed by grief after the death of his wife-to-be Mel, Jonny decided he needed to get away from England for a while to - in essence - find some peace, to 'discover himself' and find some meaning in life.
Having been educated as a child in England, Scotland and Canada, and later having travelled around Australasia and the Far-East, he wasn't a stranger to gadding about, but Africa was one continent that he really wanted to get to the heart of.. and what better way of doing that than by bike.
He hadn't initially planned on riding all the way around the continent in one magnificent loop, but his route was ever-changing, and after being forced to leave Neil behind very early on into the trip (after he fell of his bike and injured himself) Jonny was as free as could be. Just him, his bike and the road.
Setting out from Tunisia, he rattled down the West side of the vast continent through countries such as Algeria, Nigeria, the Congo and Namibia, before reaching Cape Town in South Africa and burning rubber back north up the Eastern side through countries such as Zambia, Kenya, Ethiopia, the Sudan and Egypt.
Experiencing similar problems with African bureaucracy as mega-walker Ffyona Campbell did when she walked every last step north from Cape Town upto Morocco, Jonny's progress was often very slow. The majority of African borders are notoriously difficult to cross, and then he had the upkeep of his bike to worry about, after a few bad falls from his magical mode of transport, which were largely borne out of the awful quality of the roads.
Jonny's truly epic jaunt is the type that cannot fail to be the most intense form of
learning curve imaginable, and he evidently learnt much about human nature too out
there, given the fact that the majority of Africans are thoroughly selfless and
unfailingly generous to others. In our world - the Western one - we've almost
forgotten a thing called trust. Everyone must be up to something and nobody is prepared to take a chance that some of us, indeed most of us, are not. The lines are drawn and cannot be bent. In Africa the very opposite is true.
Packed with wondrously created scenes of graphic splendour
(Little by little the sun went down, losing intensity as it did so.
The time between day and night in the desert, although brief, is the most
beautiful of all. The colours are surreal, almost transparent, an essence of themselves)
Jonny is renowned for being so honest in revealing exactly how he is feeling when presented with certain situations, people and places.
I'll be honest.. this one of my all-time favourite books. It's more than your average travel journal.. much, much more. In places it effectively acts more as a self-help guide about becoming a better person in both spirit and in day-to-day reality.
And, if you like the sound of Running With The Moon, then you really
must seek out Jonny's other two magnificent travel books,
For A Pagan Song and Silk Dreams, Troubled Roadreviews/books/silkdreams.html
for both really are revelatory works of intoxicating brilliance.
ISBN 0-434-00237-2 (HEINEMANN; first published in 1995)
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