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.