He’s eaten questionable food, including a cow blood and milk concoction, and suffered the predictable effects.
He was even attacked in Kenya by bandits with knives.
Yet the biggest thing Pablo Garcia remembers about his 71,000-mile world bicycle tour is the kindness of those he’s met, especially, he says, Middle Eastern residents.
“The hospitality of Arab people surprised me,” he said this week during a stop in Moab.
A native of Argentina, Garcia has been pedaling his bicycle for 11 years, visiting 88 counties in the process. This week, his travels brought him to Moab for a brief rest stop on his way to nearby national parks and beyond.
Garcia, 39, survives on modest sponsorships from people such as Merry Harrison of Salt Lake City, an herbalist whose Thrive Tonic to boost energy is advertised on a T-shirt he wears.
He also sells copies of his book, “Cycling Around the World.”
Garcia says he realized as a teenager he wasn’t interested in a traditional career and raising a family. He wanted adventure. He wanted to travel.
“My dream is to discover the world,” he said.
Romance blossomed for a time with a woman he met in Italy.
“We fell in love and she traveled with me for a year and a half,” Garcia said.
They parted when the woman tired of life on a bike. “Sometimes you live like a gypsy,” he said with a grin.
Garcia often stays in campgrounds, but sometimes there are no camping spots. In the Middle East, he would knock on a door – often late at night – and pantomime shivering and eating. Garcia said people usually offered him dinner and a bed for the night.
He carries everything he needs on his bicycle – camping stove, sleeping bag, tent, clothing and other necessities. It weighs 185 pounds, not counting food and water that he also often packs. He also has a computer to log entries onto his website, www.theworldbybike.com.
Small flags of nations he’s visited flutter from a thin pole attached to the back of his bike. There’s usually a white flag atop them all, signifying Garcia’s hope for world peace.
Garcia is fit and strong, but he usually rests after riding for 15 days or so. During his several days in Moab, he also took time to have some equipment on his bike welded back together.
His next plan is to visit Canyonlands National Park, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon before spending the winter in Mexico or Cuba. Next spring he’ll fly to Canada and ride down the west coast of North America and through South America until he reaches Argentina.
Harrison, who also owns a home in Moab where Garcia is spending his down time this week, met Garcia at a farmer’s market in Salt Lake City. She says she was instantly drawn to the personable and free-spirited man.
“There’s no way to learn what Pablo’s learning by seeing a movie or reading a book,” she said. “He has a global picture. He inspires people.”
Garcia hopes that is true. His book ends with a call for people to pursue what excites them.
“Many dreams could become reality if people believed in them,” he wrote. “The important thing is not to let them escape. Nothing is easy. There’s always a price. But you can go forward to where the heart and courage take you.”