Diary & Travel Reports from the saddle
Democracy from Argentina. 24 March 2004
Sorry it has been a long time since my last update. I seem to be having problems with my millennium-ride address, so please use firstname.lastname@example.org if you are having difficulty contacting me
I have been very troubled by the third world war and it seems totally ridiculous that we find ourselves in such a big mess. It is hard to find anyone amongst our leaders not to blame. No-one with power in this world loves peace, only war and death which seems to beget more of the same. My heart goes out to the people of Iraq who have got a really bad deal. We must demand that Britain and the US do right by them, not simply shove the problem onto the UN and blame it for all their mistakes like they normally do.
Soldiers get a bad deal in war too, I mean, they get so messed up mentally. You see it all over the world. Please, if you know of any British Falklands War veterans with an email who wouldn't mind communicating with an Argentine veteran here, please put me in touch.
Anyway, much more positively, on this side of the world, UNICEF (the United Nations fund for children) in Argentina said they would take on board the new (to Argentina) health by motorcycle idea. They will help build a partnership with provincial health ministries and exisiting NGOs. The plan is for Charlie from Paraguay to impart the skills he will learn in Zimbabwe to the Argentinians, in due course. Argentina’s provinces get little help from the centre. This means that kids in the remotest areas get even less healthcare than those in Bolivia and Peru. At least medical workers in the latter are mobile, even though their motorcycles have no brakes.
Meeting UNICEF was one of the things I had planned before leaving for Africa. Another has been to get to know Argentina a little better. There are some places in the world where the people have a certain attitude that is so appealing. Argentina is one of them. For some reason it does not feel like the right time to go. When I do go, I want my soul to go with me, so I am letting things play out a little.
Next Saturday is my presentation at the Hurlingham Polo Club, the oldest current polo club in the world. It is a magnificent place with five polo fields. I played tennis the other weekend and surprised myself since it has been around 20 years since I was on the court. I have made a good friendship Dick Sibbald and the club’s President Julio Curutchet. It is a slice of upper crust England, it feels like Windsor. We discussed inviting the Pakistani polo club of Gilgit, where the game was invented up there in northern Pakistan, out here for a match.
I am hoping that my Spanish language presentation can be held at the University of Buenos Aires' Law Faculty. Perhaps I can recruit their help in the motorcycle rights pressure group part of the presentation. We need it throughout the world, not just in Iraq, people everywhere need to be taught how to change the world they live in, how to change it for the better, how to take responsibility for their world. This week is the anniversary of the 3,000 Argentinians who disappeared in 1976. The government will again be pressed to give information on the whereabouts of those kidnapped.
Last weekend I addressed a crowd of 3,000 bikers on the streets of Mercedes, about 100km west of Buenos Aires. Chello, President of the Lobos Motorcycle Club, gave me the microphone at the start of the speeches. I was right at home as they say, doing my best to turn the whole thing into a demo. Everyone seemed to be in favor. Even the Intendente (town major) echoed my calls for unity and a fight for fairness. I would say that the fledgling group http://groups.msn.com/FederacionArgentinaMotociclistasAsociados is going to quite strong quite soon. There are over ten legitimate motorcycle safety and rights campaigns to be won here.
My Spanish is improving. In speeches and presentations I now say 'motorcycling is in our blood' and not 'motorcycling is in our wine' well sangre and sangria aren't too far apart eh what? I have made the presentation in Spanish at least ten times, but none of the other audiences batted an eyelid at the prospect of having motorcycling their wine! Quite eccentric these English you know.
The best moment of all came in Cordoba after my presentation at the Provincial Environment Ministry. The officials told me to lower the Argentine flag flying outside the building as we lined up the bikes for a photo session. They cut the rope and presented the flag to me! Wow. Now that is the best present of my whole ride, it brought a tear to my eye. We rode off, me resplendent in my new blue and white riding cape with a smiling face in the sun! What a great flag. Many thanks to Herman at Cordoba Backpackers and all my friendsa at the ministry.
In Mendoza I was a guest with the family of Fernando Bourio who is a member of Rutas y Motos, a network of help for travelling motorcyclists, or 'viajeros'. Here the well known Dr Alvino runs a foundation called Conin for reaching rural families in the mountains near the border with Chile. He wants to introduce motorcycles for his workers.
Here in Buenos Aires many thanks to Jeremis Cifarelli who rides a KLR 650, we met by chance in December and I am crashed out at his house.
Lastly, don't believe all that the doctor tells you. He told me that I had psoriasis (a skin condition) in 1975 and I was stuck with it for 29 years because I believed this lie. I had to change my belief to get rid of it and have happy to report success I put more info on my website on how to do it.
I'll try to get back on schedule with my email updates if the war doesn't depress me too much.
Simon Milward, on the road
A solo fundraising round the world ride on a handmade motorcycle.
Supporting Doctors Without Borders and Health For All.
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