by Jorge Sanchez - 6 months ago
The Dubai Traveler's Festival is recognized as the largest gathering of adventurers and explores in the world, who meet annually to celebrate their experiences and stories from their journey's across oceans and continents.
I was lucky to be invited in 2016, on its fifth edition, but anybody can go and listen the stories told by the participants, about 35, from different nationalities.The day of the inauguration His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, came for the presentations. Many journalists with their TV cameras accompanied him and made interviews to all the travelers participants.Usually the event starts at 5 PM, during 4 days. The travelers show videos, pictures and talk about their experiences on the road. Many came from Europe, but there were also south americans and a japanese. Half of the travelers were from arabian countries, especially from UAE.
In december 2016 my travelers companions were the following:
- an argentinean, Nicolas Marino, that was 20 years on the road, so far. The first 10 years he traveled as a backpacker and then, when he saw in Iran a group of cyclists heading to China, he was admired by this way of transport and since then he also travels by bike. He learnt chinese in Chengdu, city where he spent 6 years working as an architect. He could speak 6 languages. He explained his amazing experiences in hard reaching places in Gabon, Central African Republic and Congo, where he met gorillas on the wild, chimpancees, and lived with pygmees in their villages.
- a family (Familia Zapp) from Argentina, traveling during 16 years like nomads around 73 countries of the world with 4 children born on the road (USA, Argentina, Canada and Australia). They traveled in an old car built in the year 1928.
- a spaniard with his bike, Alvaro Neil, who had started his around the world journey 12 years before visiting 93 countries, offering performances as a clown in schools. He was those days in Greece when he accepted the invitation to Dubai.
- a japanese, Yoshikazu Debori, who had started to travel with his bycicle around the world 7 years earlier, crossing from Japan to Alaska, and had visited, so far, 99 countries of the United Nations. He was dressed as a samurai.
- a czech, Karel Wolf, who for 6.000 euro bought a tour on a boat expedition in Cape Town and two months later he reached the Antarctica peninsula stopping for a few days in Tristan da Cunha and South Georgia islands. He explained about his experiences in Siberut island (Sumatra) where he met the Mentawai tribes.
- a dutch, Joost Gonijn, who had constructed during a whole year his own airplane spending 10.000 euro, and flew with it from Holland to Uganda via Morocco and other african countries. Previously he had built a car made on wood and drove it from Amsterdam to Bucharest.
- a girl from France, Capucine Trochet, who crossed alone the Atlantic Ocean, from Marseilles to Guadaloupe island (in the Caribbean Sea) with an old fishing boat from Bangladesh.
- a bulgarian/canadian, Iohan Gueorguiev, who started his long around the world journey in Alaska, overland, by bike, crossing rivers with his canoe. In 2 years he had reached Colombia via San Blas islands.
- an italian, Mattia Miraglio, who had walked 11.000 kilometers around the world, starting in Torino, He stoped in Australia to fly to Dubai to participate in the Traveler's Festival.
- two italians, cousins, Luca and Andrea Bonventre, who reached in a small FIAT 500 the city of Tokyo, from Torino, after 1 year traveling across Europe and Asia.
- a german, Ralf Kuerner, together with his girlfriend from Holland (Laila Huysman) who had been 5 years in a van crossing Africa and 4 years later they arrived to Nepal, where they left the van to come to Dubai to share their travel experiences.
- an italian, Max Calderan (the desert fox), who had crossed the Sinai peninsula on foot, day and night, or 240 kilometers in 72 hours, only stopping briefly to sleep a few hours, observing the Ramadan, without eating or drinking during sun hours.
- a couple of new zelanders, Beth and Ivan, who traveled from London to Calcutta, in 3 months, first in the sixties, and 30 years later they repeated the same journey in the same car.
- two girls from UAE, Maitha and Huda, who traveled on a tuk tuk through several countries of Asia and then crossed to Ethiopia to meet the Mursi tribes.
- I was one of the last participants to intervene. I explained about my seven journeys around the world, like Sindbad the Sailor, during 30 years net of my life, traveling like a pilgrim in search of knowledge and wise people to teach me to enrich my soul and to transform me from featherless biped to complete man. I considered the planet Earth as my university, where every continent represented a different subjet of study, and every country a lesson. Untill finally I visited (and studied) all the 193 countries registered in the United Nations. The argentinean Nicolas and Marc, (a visitor from Barcelona, Spain), helped me to design my speech of 30 minutes, since I was the only participant without video to show to the public. So we decided to present my travels as a discovery of the beauties of our planet, explaining how was to travel in the sixties, when I started, visiting countries that today do not exist anymore, like USSR, East Germany with the Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, Yugoslavia, etc. The whole world was to me like the beautiful palace of Harun al-Rashid, with five floors, each floor representing a different continent and sheltering many rooms, each room symbolized a country. And inside every room there were amazing treasures that I wanted to know all, without exceptions. On the ground floor there was Europe, with 47 rooms (countries), The second floor, Asia, contained 44 rooms, etc.., until the last floor on the top, Oceania, with 14 rooms.
Among the arabs, there were climbers of all the 7 peaks of the seven continents, like Saeed Al Meamri, then a man from Yemen, called Ahmed Al Qasemi, who had made 3 very long journeys on a camel, from Yemen to South Africa, then in another journey he reached Tanger in Morocco, and the third journey took him to Indonesia, always overland, riding his camel. Then some motorcycle riders who made an around the world journey.And I also met some more arabs, from Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and UAE who had made amazing journeys and many of them had been in over 100 countries of the United Nations. The organization had also invited a traveler from Pakistan and two girls from India who had made fantastic journeys around the world.
We were lodged (for free) during 6 nights in a 3 stars hotel in an area called Dragon Mart, with breakfast included. The airplane tickets, round trip, from our places where we were traveling were also paid. The organization offered us in two occasions tours. One to a National Park to observe pink flamingos. Another day we took a dhow to cross the Dubai Creek in order to access to an exotic herbs market, and also we were invited to the Khalifa Tower and the Dubai Mall. In the nights we were offered a copious dinner in the park where the event took place.
The last day, after the final ceremony and the big cake that we ate for the celebration, we were given a certificate of our participation, a kilo of dates and many gifts to take back home.It had been a great experience to participate in that unique event, especially for the opportunity to make friendship with extraordinary travelers.