Three Argentinian soccer fans bike across Africa to Qatar. No, it’s not the beginning of a joke. These friends are rolling across a continent to support their country at the World Cup.
Lucas Ledezma, Leandro Blanco Pighi, and Silvio Gatti started cycling on May 15 from Cape Town, South Africa, to Doha, Qatar. The FIFA World Cup starts on November 20. That international soccer competition takes place every four years. Many Argentinians, like these three, love their national team.
The cyclists hope that the team will read about their travels on their social media. They also plan to make a documentary about their trip and plant a tree for each kilometer cycled. That could add 8,000 or more trees to reforest Cordoba province, Argentina.
Ledezma, Pighi, and Gatti cycle up to 80 miles each day. They sleep in tents or at homes of people they meet along the way. A few other cyclists have joined them for parts of the journey.
Just where have these bike riders been? First they flew from Argentina to South Africa, where they cycled through mountains. Across the Oranje River in Namibia, people welcomed them with “warmth and affection.” Botswana brought sightings of elephants, zebras, antelope, and other wildlife. The travelers pedaled through the Kalahari Desert and surpassed 2,000 kilometers (about 1242 miles) of their journey.
Supporters sent money so that the cyclists could get visas to enter Zambia, where they visited Victoria Falls on the border with Zimbabwe. Zambians introduced them to nshima, a type of porridge made from cornmeal. Later, they lay on the sand of Lake Malawi and celebrated the 4,000 kilometer mark (2,485 miles).
By the time they made it to Tanzania, the trekkers were tired, low on money, and discouraged. But they pressed on to the beach at Zanzibar. Students at the Nicas Education Center in Moshi showed them their gardens. They hit the 6,000 kilometer mark (3,728 miles.)
By Day 100, they were headed for Kenya. Because there is conflict and fighting in Ethiopia and Sudan, they flew from Nairobi, Kenya, to Cairo, Egypt. There, the three visited the Luxor Temple, pyramids, and the Nile River. But Egyptian police wouldn’t let them cycle much. Moving on to the Middle East and Israel, they rode through Tel Aviv and camped on Olga Beach.
Naturally, they played lots of soccer with people along the way!
Next come Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and finally Qatar. That’s where the three hope to get tickets for the World Cup and meet their soccer heroes. Argentina plays Saudi Arabia on November 22. Will you be watching?
Why? Traveling can teach us about God’s world and the people in it. Trace this journey on a map to see just how big Africa is!