A Local Stole My Bike..
Dec. 5, 2014
A Local stole my bike on my last trip, and it gave me a first hand experience of the importance of engaging with community members when you travel.
Think back to your last great adventure… I had talked my way onto the mountain bike race camera team for the TourDeTimor. My greatest memory was not from the events that took place over the race, but from the people who helped me along the way;
Timor-Leste is a young nation, with a brutal history of occupation by neighboring Indonesia. Their influx of newfound tourism is creating lots of jobs and opportunities for many people, but like many developing nation's - the arrival of tourism dollars creates a larger economic separation for most locals. In Timor's case, this means a huge increase in costs of goods, while the job count struggles to keep up with this inflation rate.
So - one evening while enjoying a nice Bintang beer, my bike mysteriously disappeared outside a restaurant. A young guy nearby saw what had happened and took it upon himself to take 'my case'. He spent the next 2 hours with me, combing through the back-alleys looking for the culprit. It was an eternity of feeling very out of place in what many would call a dangerous situation for a foreign tourist. Eventually we found the town drunk joy-riding it down a back alley and luckily he renounced his claim to my wheels very quickly.
When I went to offer the kid compensation for helping me track it down he was actually quite upset. It was a bit of a gut check - and reminded me that even in incredibly poor areas, people choose friendship over money. This local selflessly guided an outsider around his home alleys without blinking an eye. With each shanty-door he peeked in on explaining what happened and asking for more clues, I could tell he was putting himself out on a limb for me. Something money can't buy.
My point is that you will not always remember the details of an experience, but you will always remember the people who helped you along the way. That is the essence of what adventuring with a local is to me. So think back to your last great travel adventure… was a local involved? Join us in supporting the world's growing travel network of culturally conscious adventure seekers.