Ithra’s summer program sees talented teenagers present their visionary ideas

Lifecycle: Two men’s journey from corporate life in Europe to Saudi Arabia and beyond

RIYADH: The diaries of Mateusz Głuch and Mateusz Andrulewicz are full of adventures after the childhood friends embarked on a cycling adventure around the world ten months ago.

Beginning their journey in their home country of Poland, a place they had never cycled before, they used their four-wheeled handset as their home base.

The back of their two bikes contains their bedroom, kitchen, garage and wardrobe; two sets of civilian and cycling clothes each, camping gear, pillows, a tent, a single burner, pots and pans, some basic repair tools, and 20 years of friendship.

With curiosity and a fuller life as their motivations, the two quit their day jobs, collected their life savings, spent a month preparing, and took off.

“I think it would take a master storyteller to be able to transfer all the journey that’s happening inside of you outward, to people with normal, stable routines. . . They don’t disapprove, but they don’t understand,” Andrulewicz told Arab News.

What sets the two men apart is that cycling was never a hobby; the former mechanical engineer and marketing manager had never cycled the streets of their city. They spent a mere 30 days finding routes, practicing cycling, buying appropriate clothing and figuring out logistics before their adventure.

As winter in Europe approached in October 2021, they aimed to leave as soon as possible.

“I’ve never been some kind of crazy, impulsive type of guy. If you ask me, I hate horror movies and roller coasters and stuff. I’m not about adrenaline. . . I wouldn’t say not that it’s about courage. It’s about that attitude of doing, for sure,” Andrulewicz said.

Before leaving, they took a test ride on their bikes with all their belongings to get an idea of ​​what the trip ahead had in store for them.

“After this race, we knew we had to do it. We left everything. I think that also helped, the fact that it was such a big change, there’s no turning back,” Andrulewicz said.

Inspired by the Netflix film “Kapp to Cape”, their final destination is the tip of the African continent: Cape Town. Their journey started in Poland, passing through many European countries before heading to Turkey, Iraq, Kurdistan, Iran, United Arab Emirates and now Saudi Arabia, each having their own particular chapter for cyclists .

“I think it’s a mental and personal journey. We will start to understand each other better,” Głuch told Arab News.

Accommodation depends on their location. Sometimes they are invited to stay with local families, as was the case for a Bedouin tribe in the Empty Quarter. At other times, they resort to their tent, couch surfing or hostels, and the occasional stay in a hotel.

On the road, they don’t spend much other than food and visas. The majority of their meals are cooked over the single fire using seasonal produce and inexpensive local groceries.

The duo didn’t leave with any particular goal in mind other than seeking new experiences, but they discovered the value of family, simplicity, and cultural exchange along the way.

“In Europe, what the media says about people or countries in the Middle East or Africa is so different from what we have learned here. . . You mention you went through Iraq, and people say you’re crazy and you’re going to get killed,” Głuch said.

“If you mention that you will go to Saudi Arabia, they will have no idea what Saudi Arabia is. . . It’s a matter of distance,” Andrulewicz said.

He pointed out that the cultural differences between the two continents are difficult to grasp unless you experience them.

“Better understanding of each other’s backgrounds could lead to greater sympathy for issues around the world,” he said.

Interacting with various characters in the area, making sure they all remembered, they encountered an equal number of challenges. In addition to missing their families and friends, it has been difficult to endure such a long journey.

“Even if the experience is very pleasant, sometimes you just feel exhausted from being on the road every day, not having a shower for three days, not having good food. It slowly wears you down,” Głuch said.

Sometimes they would reach a destination and spend the next few days feeling exhausted. Their energy had run out: “We learned to listen to our bodies,” Głuch said. “When you have time, you’re not immune to those signals,” Andrulewicz said.

“If you give yourself time and space and are patient with yourself, maybe you’ll suddenly be interested in unexpected things that take you to interesting places,” Andrulewicz said.

What they learned most from their journey is that there is more to life than a dead end job and lifestyle in a company. Time is a privilege never given to them, and now, with an abundance of time, they can reflect on the choices they have made and how to move forward.

“We encourage that because we see a lot of weird things coming out of it. If you pull out the plan and you have a blank page, then you uncover yourself, and that’s interesting,” Andrulewicz said.

As they depart for the Red Sea coast and the African continent, bringing them closer to their final destination, they reminisce about the rich life lessons they learned and the friends they made along the way. .

“Sometimes things that happened two months ago, we still think about it and talk about it and discuss it, so there is always a conclusion. It doesn’t matter what happened before, even if it wasn’t pleasant, it was part of the trip, so I don’t regret anything,” Andrulewicz said.

About Irene J. O'Donnell

Check Also

Gray Bruce’s virtual emergency care program is expanding

By Janice MacKay September 14, 2022 3:38 p.m. An expanded virtual emergency care program from …