The motorcyle diaries

As Francisco rides his Honda,a journey that once seemed marred with glitches now stands fulfilled. Well,nearly

Written by KumarSaurabh | Published: October 6, 2013 3:39:01 am

It is never too late. At 58,Francisco Sande E Castro has set off on his motorbike to live his childhood dream of travelling around the world. A former racing driver and an automobile enthusiast,Francisco plans to travel through 60 countries and cover 80,000 kilometers in his journey.

From the time he hit the road in September last year,Francisco has covered 20,000 kilometers and crossed over 13 nations until now.

Currently in Kolkata with Bangladesh as the next stop,Francisco says his love affair with automobile began when he was 17. “By 20,I had turned a pro.”

The racer,whose tryst with motorcycles lasted only for a little while after a couple of accidents made him switch to cars,says if he hadn’t decided to leave now,he probably would have never.

”I had always dreamt of riding around the world but couldn’t because of family commitments and financial restraints.” Until now,that is.

Francisco requested Honda to lend him a motorbike,put his house in Portugal on rent,and soon set out on his voyage.

Having already come a long way,the motorist admits his journey has only begun. “Travelling through different countries is an enriching experience as you learn about new cultures on a first-hand basis. You meet new people,learn their ways of living,and earn a better understanding of the world.”

He recalls how people had asked him to reconsider his plan to travel through Iran and to practice extreme caution during his stay there. But contrary to popular belief,Francisco says he was welcomed by people there with politeness and warmth.

The Portuguese rider appreciates a challenging road and hence found his time in India,Nepal and Bhutan to be most exciting. But it can also be a daunting task as Francisco found out while navigating the Indian highways. “I was knocked off the highway by a truck and crashed badly,but,thankfully,I did not get hurt. The bike too did not suffer much damage.” Such incidents,he admits,could be part of one’s journey and so one needs to be psychologically and physically competent to endure the strain.

One also needs to know a thing or two about the automobile before heading out under the sun,riding on it. A student of Automobile Engineering,Francisco looks after his bike’s maintenance himself.

Though his motorbike has been sponsored by Honda,he meets his own expenses on the road for which he had to return to Portugal for six months this year. In Kolkata for a couple of days,Francisco visited the Marble Palace and says he was mesmerized by the beautiful statues there.

Francisco believes that being on the road is a continuous adventure and has regular surprises in store. He recalls his harrowing experience in Iran when he was almost arrested by the police for taking pictures of a nuclear plant.

Set for Bangladesh,which will be followed by Myanmar,the rider is excited to begin the next leg of his journey and admits that even though he does not know what to expect from these countries,he is certain to find his way through. As he puts it,“Every day on the road is an adventure – a fantastic adventure.”

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