I’m sitting in a room under fluro lights, and though it’s somehow familiar here, no one is speaking my language. A sign on the bin reads “Restmull” and since “Waste” is on my mind, it seems an appropriate word to learn. I’m in Frankfurt, Germany, on my way to Cairo.

Charlie – the brown eyed Wisconsin man, otherwise known as the one responsible for my love of bikes (and of brown eyed Wisonsin men) – has had an accident. He came off his bicycle in Alexandria, Egypt, broke his hip and has just today had surgery. He is lying in an unfamiliar hospital bed unable to walk and looking at a three month recovery process.

My incredible parents, aware of the love we hold for eachother, offered me a plane ticket over. I took a day to think about it… to agonise over it… then booked the flight.

Maybe it’s jet lag (??), maybe it’s these fluros, but the whole thing is making me a little queezy. I’m feeling somehow guilty, foolish, like I know this is the right decision and what I need to do, but that I somehow have a lot of explaining to do.

And it’s not even the fuel consumption that i’m struggling with. I made a point of watching the jet engines fire up – of being acutely aware of what was propeling me so far so fast (650miles an hour!!) and even came to a place of appreciation for the technology.

No, what’s bothering me is that I just spent 10hours in the sky covering a distance that took me five months by land. Five months of people, of culture, of stories… of whales and boats, cities and lovers, bikes and dreams. I’m just not used to popping out of a bubble and having everything be so different. I havn’t had time – to process all this, to familiarise myself with the language and new habits, or even with the idea of taking a plane at all – It all happened so quickly.

But through all this confusion, there is one thing that brings me back down to Earth. Love. Sometimes you have to compromise part of yourself to honour another part. The thrill of seeing Charlie again, of sharing a years worth of stories, and of being there for him when he needs me… keeps me flying high, with spirits up.


10 thoughts on “Egypt

  1. Wow, that is a LOT of ground to cover so fast!

    It’s funny, because I flew over here to California from London and as I watched the land race past below me, I decided that from now on I will travel as slowly as I can, taking in as much as possible along the way. In part, you have been an inspiration for that, so thank you!

    I wish you well on your new journey, and can only say that all is as it should be, the universe provides us with what we need when we need it and all we can really do is say yes.

  2. hey Lily
    Maarten and İ are sending you and Charlie our love and energy.
    İ cant imagine being in a hospital in egypt for 3 months!

    i pasted your post on the casa site on bikingscool to get him more support and love. hopefully he will get some unexpected mail.

    i really hope to meet you guys further on up the road!


  3. Lily, although we’ve never met I feel like we have, because Charlie told me about you with so much joy and passion. 🙂

    I want to send the both of you my love and really hope Charlie gets well soon with your help and your love to grow on. Taking a plane for this reason is the best excuse there is. Yay bikes, yay Lily, yay caveman Charlie!

    x from The Netherlands,

  4. Lily you lead fantastic adventures and I am extremely jealous. Wishing you safe travels and that Charlie makes a good recovery. Always better with the close contact of friends.
    Would love to talk again soon and maybe catch up somewhere in this vast wide world.
    Sending you lots and lots of love


  5. Hey Lily,
    I’m Mohamed from Alexandria. A friend of mine told me about u and your trip to my city 🙂
    If u need any help out there just contact me on my mail
    I’d really like to meet u here in alexandria 🙂
    good luck

  6. Dear Lily,

    I was fascinated by your recent posts, because for me it illustrates the true dilemma of the Greenhouse Effect.

    You spent five months travelling by Boat, Bike, and Thumb, to get from Europe to the USA and then across the USA. You trumpeted the advantages of such petrol-free travel, and even made videos (very good videos, I might add) about it. You recommended it to everyone. And I agree with everything you say. You’re perfectly right.

    Then, when your friend was injured in Alexandria, you threw petrol-free principals to the wind and flew all the way back on a jet.

    Of course, your reasons for doing so are entirely admirable. You were helping someone out when he was in trouble and pain.

    But in doing so, you made it plain that some priorities triumph over your petrol-free principals. My point is that this is what happens with everyone. That is the real source of the Greenhouse dilemma.

    My neighbour across the street in Union drives 30 miles to work every day, and 30 miles back. That qualifies her, in my opinion, as a real Greenhouse monster. But she does it because of her priorities. She wants to have a job, and her work benefits other people. Her husband likes to live in the country, and keeping her marriage going is another priority for her.

    I’m no different. I jet around the world every year. My priority (or excuse) is that I am making videos other people enjoy. Also, everyone else in the Union area uses huge quantities of fossil fuels in winter to heat their houses. I don’t use any because I go to Australia.

    Renee and Boris drive my car more than 1000 km every week. Their priority is that they are teaching tango, which others enjoy, and which is their source of money. So they bop around to Murrwillumbah, and Brisbane, and even Sydney, spreading the fun and throwing carbon dioxide to the winds.

    This is the real Greenhouse dilemma. Everybody knows that driving, flying, etc., are using up fossil fuels and probably causing long-term problems for the Earth and every living thing in it. But everybody also has priorities.

    It’s all very well making videos like yours, or like “An Inconvenient Truth,” but that’s not the real heart of the problem. As long as our society allows people to follow their own priorities — and obviously, freedom is at the very heart of our society — the Greenhouse Effect will be an intractable problem. You’ve demonstrated that yourself.

    • Hey Charles,

      Thanks for your comment. These are issues I have thought about a lot, and I’m glad you’re initiating a discourse about it all. I do however find it interesting that these conversations arise when a post like this one is made – when I am most vulnerable. I’m beginning to think it’s inherently human to seek out the flaws… to be most concerned not with a persons philosophies, but with undermining their philosophy when given a chance.

      Nevertheless, the best way to question ones ideals is to find the holes, so again, thanks.

      I understand what you’re saying about peoples priorities and their limits, but I have to disagree with your comparisons. There are a lot of different boundaries we can set for ourselves, and several levels we can aspire to.

      I spent 2 and a half years questioning my petrol consumption and my priorities. I rarely even took public transport – choosing only methods of travel that didn’t require extra fuel. There were countless moments of frustration, sadness, triumph etc… and many times when i had to re-evaluate my ethical choices. Everytime, I chose to turn my back on convenience… to not buy into the ‘easy, fast’ route, and to continue my journey by land, gas free. Though it was never easy, I wanted to prove, to myself mostly, that it is possible, fun and better for the community to move slowly.

      I have not thrown my petrol-free principals “to the wind”. There are certain situations that have limited options. In this case, flying to Charlie was a matter of ‘do it or don’t’, there was no middle ground. He is my partner, my lover, my bestfriend, my soulmate – and he was in trouble. Choosing to fly was far from easy, and I spent what time i could deliberating over the pro’s and con’s.

      As for freedom (which is a questionable priviledge anyway, considering our exploitation of others) choosing to have a job that is 30 miles from your home, or rather, to live 30 miles away from your job, is a choice. We should be trying to restructure our society so that people live and work in the same neighbourhood. But if your friend decides she’s not willing to make that sacrifice – she still has OPTIONS. She could ride to work – 30m can be cycled in less than 2hrs on a road bike. It’s a lot of commuting, 2 hrs each way, but perhaps the price we have to pay to live a life without comprimising our preferences. Or she could hitch – I’m sure there are other vehicles doing the same route. I’m not suggesting these are easy answers – but going 3 years without fuel wasn’t easy for me either – convenience and ‘ease’ is exactly was is destroying our communities, and the health of our planet.

      Same deal with the tango, or your choice of lifestyle – these are all questions of priorities YES, but very few of them have little to no room for movement. The question is how far do we push ourselves? We need to create options – we need to be the change we wish to see, to support and encourage new ways (or old ways actually ;)) of structuring our lives.

      I believe oil should be used in emergencies. Cars should be used for ambulances, airplanes used sparingly, when absolutely necessary. Even if we only flew across oceans (not everyone can afford 2 months off to sail) instead of land. We could fly from port to port and then train/ride/hitch/even DRIVE the distance over land, and suddenly our carbon emmisions would be much less of an “intractable problem”

      My point is that I hear what you’re saying about everyone having priorities… but what we need to do is reassess where to draw the line on these priorities. How much do we let slide, how hard to we try? At the risk of sounding arrogant, if we all tried to be fuel free for 2 years, with a ‘fly only in emergencies’ philosophy, the planet would be a hell of a lot better off.

  7. Lilly,
    I know the mode of travel was a tuff decision for you. I would like to thank you though. I am so happy Charlie has someone like you in his life. Willing to put things aside to be there when he needs you. I understand you will be coming back with him. I look forward to meeting you. Please give him and Pam my love and I will see you all soon!

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