On Wednesday morning, Nestor Yuguero unexpectedly walked into the Langley Advance Times office and asked if he could speak to a reporter.
The conversation posed a challenge as Yuguero had come from Spain and knew limited English.
Paired up with a reporter who could string a couple of Spanish sentences, the 53-year-old recounted the journey that had led him thus far to B.C.
He had been riding his bicycle since June of last year, pedaling across thirteen different countries before flying into Vancouver just a few days prior to that meeting.
“Friends say I’m crazy, but nothing is impossible,” he said in broken English.
Leaving his home in Barcelona with only the packs on his back, the man said he had traversed Italy, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Dubai, India, Nepal, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.
The bulk of Canada was next on his list to cover.
Originally from Uruguay, he moved to Argentina and has since resided in a city outside of Barcelona for the past 20 years.
Though this three-continent ride was by far his most ambitious venture, cycling long distances was apparently no foreign concept for Yuguero.
Several years back, he stumbled across the 1990 Akira Kurosawa film Dreams playing on television and grew fascinated by the representation of Vincent van Gogh’s painting Wheatfield with Crows.
Despite never owning a bicycle in his life, he made what he called “a gentleman’s word” with himself to finally get one and peddle the 3,000 kilometers to see the painting in person at the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
He made good on that word, following that ride up with multiple trips around Europe to exotic locales like Monaco and across Portugal; each one with a different cause behind it including poverty, multiple sclerosis, and blood donations.
He says his year-long tour across much of the world is to spread “solidarity for people with Alzheimer’s disease.”
Riding in the name of the Spanish organization Alzihimer Bierzo Association, he stressed that the object is not to raise money, but to unite people.
Though the man said he has not had any family members suffer from the disease, he is riding for all of his friends who had parents and grandparents struggle with Alzheimer’s.
Yuguero goes by the title “Grandes Hazanas Solidarias” and posts his progress on a Facebook page and @grandeshazanas on Instagram.
So far, he figures he has clocked off 32,000 kilometers on his old, used, and frequently repaired bike.
The seat has very little padding left, but Yuguero doesn’t what to replace it because that is part of the “trip’s history.”
As for the place that sticks out most for him, Iran – of all countries – was the place he picked for having the richest culture and kindest hospitality.
He crossed Iran in 45 days, sleeping in tents, mosques, and fire halls.
In fact, the lodging aspect, he said, has been no trouble at all.
The traveller has been invited to eat and sleep at seemingly countless homes where curious new friends have become eager to hear his story.
“The world is a surprise to me. I want to know other cultures. I need culture. Every place feels like another world,” Yuguero said.
Yuguero’s stay in Langley was at the Gateway of Hope. His next planned stop is Abbotsford before following Highway 1 to Calgary – though snowy, mountainous conditions has him wondering if Highway 3 might be the better bet.
He is making his way east to Toronto where he’ll fly off to France and make his way back home to Spain in June.
“I’m very happy in this place,” he assured about his short stay in Langley.
With little luggage or possessions slung over his back, he summed himself up to the Langley Advance Times by proclaiming that he was a man rich with time.
Nestor Yuguero simply stopped in the office to share his story and say hello before heading on his way.
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