Filed under: Environment, General, Life, Sports, Travel
Here’s a post from Viva – our newest member of the ISRAEL21c crew.
Up in Nazareth to do a story on eco-tourism and volunteer tourism, I turned to the GoEco
organization for help. GoEco matches international volunteers with its ecological and humanitarian programs in Israel.
I was excited to do this story for a number of reasons. For one, I am a traveler at heart. Before my three children arrived, I was known to be abroad at any chance I got. I have visited three dozen countries on almost all continents. And, I too, took time to volunteer in a foreign country.
Now that volunteer tourism – or voluntourism, as it is known – is all the rage on the travel circuit, I wanted to hear what brought today’s international backpackers to Israel to volunteer.
Upon arriving at the beautiful Fauzi Azar Inn
in Nazareth’s Old City, I was introduced to five travelers – one Brazilian, one Belgian, and three Americans.
And though the Americans were far more outgoing, it was the Belgian, David Verlinden, who had the most attention-grabbing story . The 31-year-old Verlinden cycled from his home town Voeren to Jerusalem. That’s 5,778 kilometers.
While Verlinden happily told me of his adventure, he was very unpretentious about the great feat he had achieved.
Verlinden and his Dutch friend Iris Baijens rode from Belgium, through Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, before crossing into Israel.
The Krav Maga enthusiast says he decided to visit Israel because he wanted to see the place that developed the defense fighting technique he so loves. And rather than “waste” fuel and pollute the environment, Verlinden got on his bike and pedaled to Jerusalem.
It took him three months. Or, as Verlinden put it: “I pedaled 5,778 km. in 343 hours, 40 minutes and 26 seconds. With 71 days of cycling, that’s an average of about 82.5 km. and 04:54:34 a day.”
If that’s not mind-boggling enough, GoEco’s Volunteer co-ordinator Carly Siegel told me that she was even more surprised when Verlinden turned down the organization’s bus fare to Nazareth and chose to log another 102 kilometers on his bike instead. And really, why not.