Travelers’ confidence | Backpacking side by side for 38 years

Traveling is like riding on a mountain road. But among the ups and downs, there will always be those indelible memories that you carry with you all your life. once a month, Journalism It tells the adventures of brave travelers, big or small. Today: A newly retired couple have traveled the world side by side for nearly 40 years.

Posted at 11:30 a.m.

Laila Maalouf

Laila Maalouf

Jose Blackburn and Robert Pepo were not yet married when they crossed the ocean to tour Europe on two wheels. That was 1984.

“It was our first test, if you will,” says Robert. “It rained every day for the first month from Amsterdam to Bonn! I remember we were pitching the tent on wet grass. In short, a ‘make or break…’ scenario.”

“And it looks like it happened!” he exclaims and laughs.

Finally, two gardeners not only went to Switzerland, where they were planning to harvest that year. They traveled by bike to Egypt, and made a small part of the journey by train. Since then, they have visited nearly fifty countries together.

On the road

At the end of April, they left Montreal after renting their house for two years, even if they plan to return to Quebec every six months. For Medical Insurance Questions – The Sixties Don’t Help! , ironically Robert – to give a high school cycling lesson in the fall, but above all to see their two children and three grandchildren – who are beginning to take with them short two-wheeled adventures in Quebec.

After arriving in Scotland without their tandem or luggage (they were lost in Toronto!), they finally made it to the road. By the time we spoke to them, at the end of May, they were recharging their batteries in England, at Airbnb. A luxury they only allow in cases of force majeure, when fatigue takes over the road, camping isn’t possible or they’re not invited by the Warm Showers community.

“We travel on a low budget,” stresses Jose. From $50, now up to $60 a day for both – inflation requires.

If they do not hesitate to go wild camping where it is permitted, as in Scotland, the option of a warm bath is the one they prefer, as it allows them to have the most enriching encounters. “We were hosted by doctors who explained how the pandemic was going,” says Robert, while Jose was happy to learn how the health system worked or even daycare prices.

Photo provided by the traveler

In Scotland, last May

This is how they slept in Mexico, in 2018, in luxury residences as in homes without running water. Travel tales, they have shovels, and they enjoy hooking them up on their blog during their travels. Like this time in El Salvador where Robert was vomiting on the edge of a trench and a Salvadorian who lived in Quebec stopped to help. “He was my guardian angel,” he recalls.

There was also a bike accident in Morocco, in 2009. Fortunately, they weren’t in it, but it was still badly damaged…by the small village’s police chief. “It was an event,” Jose recalls with a laugh. “Everyone greeted us and invited us.”

And although we did try to steal their bags in Mendoza, Argentina, nothing “extremely negative” ever happened to them, she said.

A passion for cycling

After trying backpacking in Peru in 2005, Jose Blackburn and Robert Pepo quickly returned to traveling on two wheels. why ? For the freedom offered by this mode of transportation, Robert responds without hesitation.

“But first of all so you don’t have any weight on your shoulders,” Jose adds with a laugh.

If they choose tandem, it is because they can talk to each other while driving, despite some drawbacks – it is especially rejected on some trains and buses due to their size.

Robert explains that riding a double bike also balances the forces.

We each put in the effort we can give and get to the top of the hill at the same time. And at the end of the day, we both arrive as exhausted as the other.

Robert Bebo

On the other hand, the person pedaling in the back – in this case Jose – has to completely surrender to the driver because he has no control.

As for their next trip scheduled for November, to New Zealand, they will be leaving with two bikes to be able to use the off-road trails recommended for cyclists.

But even then, many landscapes still await them. After traveling more than 1,300 kilometers in one month in the UK, Jose and Robert were about to take a pedal ferry past the tracks, back to where their first voyage began 38 years ago – in Amsterdam. Then they’ll head to Scandinavia, and from there they’ll board a plane back to Montreal by next September, in keeping with their custom of leaving a great deal of improvisation to their plans.

The adventure has just begun.

calling everyone

Do you have any travel stories to tell us?

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