Q: You are the first Spanish-speaking woman who completed a trip around the world by motorbike. How do you feel about that? Was it a goal, a source of pride or something that just happened?
Well, it’s certainly an honour but also a responsibility because I’m representing a lot of women, I encourage them to do this kind of thing. Probably some men will not like it, but most of them will do!
Q: Some men will not like it? You still keep finding this kind of attitude?
They have never said anything directly but…. In any case they are only a few people. I should talk about how well I have been treated almost always. Most men are very happy about us women daring to drive a motorbike and joining them on the road.
Q: It’s true that you have a very big motorbike, in some countries it must be a surprise when you take off your helmet…
Yes, in Africa I always said that I appeared like a spaceship that has just landed. The people were really shocked! And when they saw that I was a woman they were even more astonished! But it surprised the local men more than the women. I have laughed a lot for example in Sudan, waiting for a ferry at the Nile. There was a very lived-in old woman, with scars at her face and a black shawl… She got on my motorbike! And she wanted to trade it for her donkey!
Q: After hearing this story, it appears you really interacted with the locals during your travels…
Yes, it’s very important for me. To travel is not getting on a motorbike, a car or public transport and pass through some place. To travel is to park the motorbike and start talking with people, see how they live, enter in their houses, share their food and tell stories if you know the language.
Q: Since you returned from your trip around the world, you have not stopped travelling. It seems that once you are on the road there is no way back…
Yes. I always say that travelling is a drug for the soul, because it’s something very hard that completely capture s you. When you finish a long trip, you understand the freedom that human beings really have, and when you get back to your life… I feel caged, I have so many limitations: taxes, the limited social life that we have…. Suddenly time changes, it disappears! When you are travelling you have a lot of time and it seems to go by slower, because you can do a lot of things! I think it’s something that happens to all travellers. When I come back I feel like a caged monkey, I wander in circles looking for a way to escape!
Q: You certainly transmit a great hope…
Look, there is a very funny thing that people often ask me. When you are on the road don’t you think: how nice would be to be back at my home with the TV remote in my hand…. Well, I feel the opposite way. Now I’m at home with the remote in my hand and I am thinking: what am I doing here? I should be on the road!
Q: But I bet that you also had some hard moments on the road…
Of course I had, especially when I was having a bad time. When you are sick, when it’s raining and you are wet or when you have slept in a nasty hostel and you have been bitten by fleas… I had really tough moments with the motorbike, I have cried on it. But these feelings last only a moment. You soon realize that you are in the place you want to be. It’s like going on a roller coaster. When you are at the top and you stop, you think: oh my god, what am I doing here? But then you go down and you forget it because you are having fun!
Q: When I think about your travels I imagine all the countryside, all the differents roads and landscapes that you must have seen. That has to be amazing…
Yes, of course it is. The best thing is that I use a trail motorbike. I can go through any muddy path or rock ascent. It enables you to reach more places than a car, a bike or of course any form of public transport. The bike is great, with its speed you can smell the flowers on your way. But it has a big limit: your endurance. The bikers are superheroes for me! Yet, with my motorbike I can reach isolated villages on the mountains that haven’t been visited in months!
Q: Is there some route that you remember with particular affection?
Well, one of the most beautiful places has been the southern road in Chile, it was a great moment for me. I spent ten days there and I saw incredible landscapes: pure nature, mountains with glaciers, sand under my wheels, prehistoric plants and very particular people. In the South of Chile they are not Spanish but they talk Spanish and they look Dutch! Crossing Central America was also a great adventure. There is asphalt but it suddenly disappears, you encounter people riding horses… If I had to choose my favourite place in the world, I would make my own one. It would have the mountains of South America, the African trails with their people, the Masai Mara meadows, the Indian food… It would be a mix of everything I like!
Q: I can trust you on that because you already have a lot of pieces for the puzzle. But you still have some pending destinations, don’t you? Any plan for 2015?
Yes, luckily I still have a lot to see! This year I’m going to discover Turkey, I don’t know it and I look forward to it. It’s not a place where you can find extreme adventure, there are always a lot of people around. But I think Turkey is very interesting because of all the culture that has … I want to discover the Turkish landscapes, the gastronomy… After that I will try to get enough money or a TV producer to work with in Central America. When I was there I passed through too quickly, it’s a small area but it has a lot to explore. After that I have to go to Africa again, it’s all unexplored for me there except for four countries!
The photos in this article are from the private collection of Alicia Sornosa. You can read more on her website.