In 2006 she decided to take a ride on her bicycle from Slovenian city Skofja Loka to Peking in China and back.The journey took her 30 months, during which she passed more than 32000 km and crossed countries including Tibet, Pamir, Tajikistan. She didn´t have a cellphone or laptop and her only connection with the “civilization” was made through occasionale-mails to her family. Later she spoke about her trip as a speaker at Slovenian TedX. The voyage was an unforgettable experience for her. She summed up her impressions with words: “Me & bike has been and is the combination that brings out the best of me and most of the time from people around me. It gives me a chance to learn many lessons about life itself, about unconditional love from parents, about others, about cultures, about physical and mental limits (Which are higher than we think, but still they do exist, called it the thin line between life and death.) It was an amazing opportunity to experience it first hand instead of reading what others wrote, to feel it, to touch it, to see it…to seize the day to maximum. It was not easy, but for sure so far most influential time of my life”.
I first met Marija in a kind of unusual way. By a coincidence she landed in a group of Erasmus students who I had a course of Slovak language for foreigner with as a lecturer. Once after a class we started to chat and I found out that I would like to know more about the person standing in front of me. (I have to admit that I started to be more curious when she declared with laughter that she is a „professional tourist“:) When I found out later about all of her travel experiences; it was decided: Marija has to be on my website – there is no other way. And this is why this article is not about just one book but three of them. Why so? Well, the reason is pretty simple – all of them kepther company during her trip to China and back. She was so nice and found some time to write me a long e-mail about books she chose at the time and the reasons why they are so close and important to her.
Marija & 3 books in her backpack on her way across the Europe and Asia
Here are a few more words about this and that,” starts Marija. “The books I chose in 2006 were:
1. Momo written by German writer Michael Ende is a children´s book that can be read by adults as well. It is about a girl, who possesses no material things, has no parents, but she has time to share and ability to be a great listener… During the ride I took between 2006 till 2008 (987 days to be exact :)) I was in similar position many times. I had a bike, few bags (including 2 pairs of longs pants), but I had time, time to stop, to talk, to help, to observe, to be…
2. The Little Prince written by French writer/pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “Grown-ups love figures… When you tell them you’ve made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies? ” Instead they demand “How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make? ” Only from these figures do they think they have learnt anything about him.”
As much I am not a kid anymore, I keep reminding myself to look at the world from that prospective more. That number is showing one reality only, and there is more, “much more”.. There are things that neither number nor words can describe. Trying to keep my view of the world wide enough to understand it from bigger prospective and at the same time not getting lost in complexness of it. I have not mentioned it before, but while thinking about Thorue and when my personal interest in his writing started, I have to go back to 2002 when I was working / living in States and going from working in PBC, NJ and drove south in old Volkswagen Golf with friend to visit her parents at the coast of New Jersey. She gave me the book Into the wild written by Jon Krakauer about a fresh graduate who hitch-hiked around States before coming Alaska. (The book followed me in years that followed once the movie was produced I bought a DVD in China and watched when I had doubts during my ride on the way home with an awesome soundtrack along… I highly recommend it to all!)
And that is how I first got to know R. W. Emerson & Thorue with quote: “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth” – taken from book no. 3, Walden – Life in the Woods. Book itself is a good source of thoughts to think over… The solitude weeks, months of deserts or the surroundings where local language was too different to understand it more then a few words were my reality for time being. My communication was limited, books were my companion. It is the book that somehow together with experiences itself influences me the most today in who I am… Now I still do not have many answers to my questions, but as much as I enjoy solo time on bike or while reading a book, there is nothing better then being surrounded by people who pose as a “mirror” reflecting where you are coming from and where you are heading. As my mum says: We are not here to be alone. “
I believe you enjoyed Marija´s words and maybe her story encouraged you a little. Life is too short and there are so many beautiful places to visit, so let´s seize the day and see as much of the world as you can. Sure, you don´t have to go to China but sometimes also a shor trip/time spend in nature without “necessary” stuff like computer, tablet etc. can help us to realize what is really important in our lives.
Marija Kozin – “Short CV: born in 1979. Being “prof. tourist” for last 20 yrs, hope to add new profession one day: Neuro Rehabilitation. Love good food & wine & having great chats with people I admire. Fully respect people who try their best to be who they are from being good mum/driver/teacher/athlete/friend…. Sleeping in hotel 1000+1 stars & climbing long route is always special, same as sitting in Sidro in Martinscica drinking tea. Nature/mountain/bike is my “church”, where I heel my hurt.. One day maybe will write a book myself…”Text: Marija Kozin, Veronika Svoradová Photos: Archive of M.K., internet Special thanks to: Miška Hudecová, Matej Masaryk, Diego