‘Footloose’ in the ‘Lands of Stuck’


At home, our home, we wonder. ‘How do we hold onto a journey that is too big to hold?’

Will it help if we give it a name? We’ll get to hug a thing with a name! I dig deep for a little name that alludes to hugeness. I get it. The name of our journey is ‘Footloose in the Lands of Stuck’.

FOOTLOOSE …   This is what you are on a motorbike. I pick up my feet to place them on the foot pegs and the ground starts to rush. I glance down to see my ‘loose’ foot and the world dash past. Yes, I’m footloose. This awareness escapes you in a car or on a bicycle!

Harry and I are footloose for 11 months (6 in Africa; 5 in Asia).

And we travel in the Lands of Stuck!

LANDS OF STUCK …  I look at a world map that shades countries by GDP (gross domestic product). Our route follows the north-south (Africa) and west-east (Central Asia) axes of the world’s poorest countries.

They battle poverty, hunger, infant mortality, high fertility, illiteracy, unemployment, human rights abuses and conflict.  Judges sell verdicts. MPs auction legislation. Presidents act like movie stars. These countries are at the bottom of all the world’s lists, rates and indices.

But there is something else. And I know only one word for it; STUCK. The people in these countries are STUCK.

We see STUCK-ness in the look on a face; sometimes even a young face. We hear STUCK-ness in a voice full of wonder, as we tell of our incredulous journey. We feel STUCK-ness as eyes fix on our backs, as we zoom off.  STUCK. It means NEVER to have the hope of a visa, a work permit, savings, a trustworthy car, a bike, a trip to a big city, a guidebook, a tour of splendid monuments, a chat with an odd guy, a plate-full of ‘bizarre’ food, a night under strange stars. It means NEVER to be free to move. It means NEVER to be footloose.

And for 11 months;

Harry & I, the FOOTLOOSE, hang out with the STUCK.

It always disturbs us. It sometimes even distresses us. It is a ragged edge. It makes us uncomfortable on the ‘inside’.

So, we change in many, many small ways on our FOOTLOOSE journey, in the lands of STUCK. We catch and now hold close …

  • The unknown is almost NEVER scary.
  • Everything is almost NEVER better somewhere else.
  • It is ok to observe, it is not ok to judge.
  • People are born lucky or unlucky. We are born lucky.
  • The more ‘broken’ places are; the more ‘wholesome’ people seem.
  • People are resilient. We are resilient!
  • We belong to a place that makes us SMILE. South Africa makes us SMILE three, four times a day, everyday. They ask; ‘Are you German? Australian?’ We reply; ‘NO! NO! NO! We are South African! African!’ We never tire of it. We show and tell and show and tell.
  • Harry & I find nothing more to argue about. Normal is nice!
  • A Mitchum deodorant stick for Women lasts 5 months.
  • A Mitchum stick for Men lasts 4 months.


                                                     But there is ONE way, in which we change, ABOVE ALL.

And at first, it is elusive. How can that be? It weighs a bloody ton. It tugs at me all the time. And, it embarrasses me to say, it makes me weepy.  But eventually I sense …

… I carry a new ‘sadness’ …

And it belongs to the people of our journey. It belongs to the people in the Lands of STUCK. It is a clumsy necklace around my neck. It is a string of the round faces.  It is a row of imperfect pearls … of sadness. It is bit after bit … of STUCK-ness we pick up as we FOOTLOOSE along.

SO, a necklace with pearls of sadness NOW plunges to my bosom. There a ‘light moment’.

Because it has become light!

After Africa; I’m full of sad. After Asia, I needle-up these ‘people pearls’ in Africa and in Asia. I string them together. I wear them, around my neck, with utmost regard, with high esteem.

Now, I drop my head and see …

… This necklace, I wear, is a testament to the ‘people pearls’ that live in the most unfair collection of the world’s worst.

… This necklace, I wear, is an accolade to the ‘people pearls’ of indescribable resilience; hardy and gentle, resourceful and generous, upright and kind.

… This necklace, I wear, is evidence that Harry & I do not pass-by untouched and unfeeling and unaltered. We do not leave ‘free of care’ but leave ‘full of care’. We do not dismiss STUCK-ness but we do pick up and carry little bits of sadness … about too little FOOTLOOSE-ness.

The sadness, we carry, is our ACT IN HONOUR of, and in courteous recognition of, the people of our journey.

The necklace, I wear, is our most precious possession.

Chest out! This is something to be loud about!

                                                                                                         Here they are.

Look, just a few.

Feel our fellow-ness.

Thank you.



17 Responses to ‘Footloose’ in the ‘Lands of Stuck’

  1. Wendy and Amelia

    Linda and Harry – travellers, philosophers – such amazing stories, insight, empathy and understanding of a world unknown to us. Reading your stories transfers us to another place, another time and the wonderful knowledge that the two special people writing and experiencing these journeys are our dear dear friends – a rare gift – a privilege. Thank you for an amazing journey and the exposure to a world that would have been forever locked had it not been for your brave “mad” exciting journey!!!!!

    Wendy and Amelia

  2. Les Penny

    Hello, Welcome back, I look forward to seeing you guys, it is a good time to be back home. The world is a big place and it is easy to get lost in the wonders and splendor of all it has to offer, but adventure is the key to life and I can see you have had a true adventure and gained many riches on your journey. Les

  3. Siem en Hedy

    It was wonderful to read all your adventures! Respect for your endurance and eye for the beautiful people.
    The photos and stories were great. Not an easy journey, but surely a great experience.
    It must feel great too, to be home again?

  4. wolfman

    Fantastic adventure and beautifully written. Thank you for taking the time to share this with us.

  5. edie

    Pearls of wisdom with Pearls of Experience. This can only be acquired through travel and interaction with other people in their own countries. Wonderfully written straight from their hearts.

  6. Mike

    Hi Guys, welcome back. The folk above have said it all. I would enjoy sharing the road with you again one day and especially sitting around the campfire in the evenings swapping stories. Glad that you are back in one piece!

  7. Johnson

    Life is never easy, that’s the charming of it with up and down in your life, and so is the whole word. Someone born in SA, USA or other lucky country and some born in stuck area, that seems unfair and makes you upset, but that’s the reality and what let us cherish what we have now, thanks god and thanks the earth, we are here and forever.

  8. Anonymous

    Thanks for taking us along on your trip,Tommy and Mandy

  9. Scottish Stephens

    This is an emotional ‘epilogue’ to your epic trip— it is so good of you to share your thoughts and feelings with us. These are so well written that the emotion is infectious after all we have been on the trip with you in spirit if not in body. THANKS for it all.

  10. jan and gail

    A fitting finale of faces to finish your two fabulous journeys. Your pearls are indeed pearls of wisdom through a seen and appreciated in your hearts. Gail
    Also each of these faces is a precious pearl in its own right.
    Additionaly your travel shows a beautiful gradient from African to Arab to Central Asian and again
    to Russian European and finally to Mongolian; wonderful to have experienced this and for us to
    share it with the two of you. -Jan

  11. Melville

    Welcome home, Harry and Linda, you make Charlie and Ewan look small. Eleven months,WOW !

  12. Anonymous

    Hi Linda and Harry, your love for the world and your joy to be alive just shines through in every word. I wish you could bottle and sell, or in your case, more likely, give it away. Some of us can do with some.

  13. Anastasi

    Only one word – fantastic – a book on your travels and insights you have gained would be welcome reading.
    It was a pleasure following you – it would be a pleasure to meet both of you in Port Elizabeth one day.

  14. Anonymous

    Gosh Linda–we feel we have travelled through you two and we certainly feel also for these resilient people you picture in word and photos——your necklace is very special———as are you two wonderful people——-THANK you so much.
    Love as aye
    Jim & Muriel xx

  15. John Lanham

    This is the most insightful post about bike travel and the lives that touch and are touched along the way. Now I know better what it was that I felt on my own small-scale travels. Thank you for sharing your wonderful journey with us, You have been the nicest guides one could wish for. I’m sad it has ended. I hope your atlas is close to hand.

  16. Lorraine & Alan

    Linda you are so eloquent with your words that you bring all your sights, sounds and feelings right into our computers and into our hearts.

    We think that we are “stuck” but we are so happy to be where we are and “how” we are.

    I hope this journey with words will continue as we were always hanging onto your dust trails were ever you went!

  17. DB

    Oh Linda, oh Harry. So too are you – two pearls in the string of people around our necks, shiny and enlightened and close to our hearts.

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