What do you do when your annual leave is just not enough? Quit,
zip-up your boots and get on your bike!
At least that is what Erin and Chris Ratay opted
for back in 1999. With a rough plan of the journey ahead, the careers councilor and
salesman sold their New York home and furniture and became ²
instant minimalists² with just one fixed agenda: ² To see new sights, meet new/different
people, share new experiences, face new challenges and learn about other cultures.²
The first leg of the initial 15-month tour kicked off on May 21st in
Casablanca. From there, the pair traveled north on their BMW bikes taking in most of
Europe and then continuing down to Turkey, Central Asia and South East Asia, Australia and
New Zealand. In the first six months, they covered 35,000 kilometers and 21 countries.
Tired of whirlwind stopovers, they decided to extend the trip, in order to better
appreciate all the things they had set out to see. On December 21st of this
year, they will have been on the road for more than two and a half years and the journey
is by no means over.
A passion for life and adventure has clearly been the driving force behind the
expedition. The road has been very long and the pair have certainly met their fare share
of bumps and winding turns, but as they themselves say, it all adds to the adventure and
excitement of the journey.
The travelers have fallen victim to the odd case of bribery along the way, primarily in
dealings with officials in Rumania and Asia. Chris however, has had plenty of opportunity
to refine his haggling techniques and has proved more than a match for even the most
underhand police officer.
If there is one thing both Erin and Chris have learned during their journey, it is
patience. This goes hand-in-hand with accepting the things that go wrong and learning to
be flexible with their plans.
Potential crises have more often than not transpired into extraordinary experiences. In
July 2000, Erin was hit by a truck in Malaysia. Within minutes, she was surrounded by a
crowd of locals who loaded her belongings onto their scooters and ferried them to a hotel
where the usual tourist price was waived. She was not charged for hospital treatment.
This particular episode as well as the country's mouth-watering food, left the couple
with nothing but the fondest of memories of their visit. Indeed, Malaysia together with
New Zealand rank as their favorite destinations to date.
The pair are currently relaxing in Buenos Aires awaiting spare parts for Chris
bike. The work is being provided free of charge by Raśl Cordasco, Marcelo and Willy at
Cordasco Motohaus in Buenos Aires.
The couple leave for the South of Argentina on Friday and hope to spend New Year with
friends in Usuahia. They plan to be in Chile by February and will travel North taking in
13 countries, including Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and finally, home to
the States, arriving at the end of 2002.