Just Say Yes: What Better Way to Travel the World?

Image & Cover Image: Maryna Matthew and Paul Knibbs

Image & Cover Image: Maryna Matthew and Paul Knibbs

Maryna Matthew & Paul Knibbs

Image: Maryna Matthew and Paul Knibbs

Image: Maryna Matthew and Paul Knibbs

Just four months after Maryna got her motorcycle license, she met Paul at a motorcycle meet. After months of trying to get Maryna to go on a date with him, telling her to just say yes, she finally relented. Since then, Paul has convinced Maryna to just say yes to almost anything. Buying a home, getting married and then riding the world on motorcycles. They’ve been on the road for almost a year, and now plan to stay out for another year. Motorcycles brought them together, and just saying yes has brought new adventure in to their lives.

Website: https://just-say-yes.xyz/about/

Images: Maryna Matthew and Paul Knibbs


Interviewer: Jim Martin | Guests: Maryna Matthew & Paul Knibbs | Photos: Maryna Matthew & Paul Knibbs

This transcript has been created from the original audio episode released May 3, 2018. This transcript may have been modified to make reading easier. As Adventure Rider Radio shows are meant to be listened to and not read, the following script may contain some grammatical and other errors. You can also listen to this interview by downloading the episode.


Jim (Narrate): What’s worse than dropping your motorcycle during your license test? Well, having to ask the tester how to pick it up. And with a rough start like that, one could be forgiven for just calling it quits. But Maryna Matthew, she doesn’t give up that easy. So, with a l little help from her friends, she eventually did become a rider. And then, through that, she was introduced to another rider, named Paul Knibbs. And from the first meeting, Paul saw something in Maryna that just kept him coming back. But it wasn’t as easy as just asking her out. He created a mini marketing campaign of ‘just say yes’ to finally convince her to take a chance on him. It worked; she said yes. The two walked in, hand-in-hand, to a BMW dealership; and Maryna stopped and looked puzzled, at two F700 GS’s parked in the middle of the showroom floor…with her name on one, and Paul’s on the other. Paul turned to her, bent down on one knee, looked into Maryna’s eyes, and said- let’s get married, and travel the world. Just say yes. Maryna looked back at him, and said…I’m Jim Martin, this is Adventure Rider Radio. Stay with us, we’ve got a good one for you. 


Maryna: So I’m Maryna Matthew, I’m currently riding my motorcycle…I think around the world. So far it’s been across the Americas. I’ve previously worked in pharmaceuticals. I’ve been a professional all my life, and now I’m travelling. 

Paul: I’m Paul. Same kind of gig; looking to ride around wherever we can go. Used to work in IT, but now, gleefully unemployed. 

Jim: Where are you guys sitting right now?

Paul: On a couch. 

Maryna: We’re sitting on a couch, in a very dear friends home, in South Africa. So, we’ve popped across to South Africa for a month as an interim break between our travels from the Americas. And, we’re heading off to Europe next. 

Jim: Now, Paul; when did you start riding motorcycles?

Paul: I rode when I was a kid…when I was a young guy…and then I took a long break. And then I got back into it probably in 2006…something in that order. So, a fair few years. But all on the road, and not too far from home sort of thing. 

Jim: And no off-road riding…it’s all been on road riding?

Paul: Been a little bit. Maryna and I went to Cambodia, so it was a bit of a trial by fire. I’d never been on a dirt bike before. We rode through Cambodia put to the Temples, the Seam Reap, which was a wonderful experience, and a spectacular kind of country side. It was awesome. I came away with a fractured leg, but aside from that, it was great. So that was my trial, yeah. 

Jim: ‘Aside from that’- that’s good. Well, first; Maryna. Your story about getting your motorcycle license is kind of interesting. Why did you want to get a motorcycle license to begin with?

Maryna: Well, I’d been riding dirt bikes as a kid…on the farm here in South Africa, and in the bush. I wasn’t comfortable being pillion, and I just decided- I know how to ride a bike, but I just don’t have my license. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Riding on road is an entirely ball game to riding off-road in the bush. So my first attempt at getting my license, I actually dropped my bike during the test. I recall all my friends and members of staff were waiting to hear that I’d get my license. I had to message them that evening- What’s worse than dropping your bike during your test? Having to ask the examiner to show you how to pick it up. So, yeah. It was a trail by fire. I didn’t take to riding on the road and in traffic as readily as I would have hoped. 

Jim: A lot of people will say the off-road riding is much more difficult than the street riding. So I guess it’s however you come from. You were comfortable in the dirt, and the streets seemed to be very scary to you. But that’s hilarious though- what’s worse than dropping your bike during your test…having to ask the examiner to pick it up. I mean, that’s fantastic. What did the examiner say? 

Maryna: Well, he just said- do not collect your $200, just go straight home. 

Jim: What were you doing at the time? What were you working at?

Maryna: What was my job? What was I…So I was working as a sales manager in pharmaceuticals at the time. 

Jim: And as you mentioned, you had trouble passing your test. You had a little trouble getting used to your bike on the road. You had your friends help you out, and they sort of took you under their wing, didn’t they?

Maryna: If it wasn’t for the {?}…Ian Hales, Jeanine Lasset…I mention them by name because if it wasn’t for their support and encouragement…their humour… They just said…they bought my about riding with other bikers, learning from other bikers, not trying to do it alone, not being scared of the fact that- yeah, you fall. It’s just part of biking. They were just remarkable in terms of their encouragement. From there, I didn’t look back. Incidentally, Ian encouraged me to join the motorcycle club. That’s actually where I met Paul. So, not only didn’t it support my motorcycling experience…it certainly became a life experience.

Jim: So they did an awful lot for you. Much more than just the motorcycle. They changed your life, really.

Maryna: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And if you were to ask Paul about the first day he saw me, I’m sure he can describe to you in great detail how all these experienced bikers watched me arriving for the motorcycle meet, and they all looked at each other and said…what, Paul? 

Paul: It was a friend of mine who said- hello, there’s a wobbler. 

Maryna: Yeah. Anyway, I wobbled my way into his life. and incidentally, that group of friends have become incredibly dear. But they did initiate the rookie, and I’ve lived to tell the tale. 

Jim: And I understand that…now, I don’t know if I should be saying this because everybody’s going to hear this…but I understand that Paul had a lot of trouble getting you to actually commit to go out with him. Just an initial date.

Paul: Yeah, she was a bit like Taming of the Shrew. But, you know; persistence, persistence, persistence. Right? That seems to be the way to a woman’s heart. 

Maryna: Yeah. Now, I’m a very independent spirit. And, you know…once bitten, twice shy, and all the rest…and I just kept saying- no, no, no. Paul just started saying- what’s wrong with one date? Just say yes. One date; I actually had a lot of fun, and then it was- how about another date? Just say yes. Yeah, essentially Paul’s taught me that, instead of saying no to things, maybe just say yes to things, and what’s the worst that can happen? Yeah. We haven’t looked back. I ended up saying yes to a lot more things beyond that first date. About a year later, I said yes to us buying our first home together. I’ve also learned how to challenge Paul about the things he needs to say yes about. But yeah, there’s great lesson in that. I think we shouldn’t be as afraid as we are. It’s quite a good reminder. 

Jim: Why did Paul not look like a good bet for you to begin with? What was it about him that you just didn’t like? 

Maryna: I don’t think it was os much about Paul…a) he looked 10 years younger than myself. And…

Paul: Only 10?

Maryna: Yeah, I just wasn’t in the right space. It was more about…it just wasn’t about Paul. It was just about…yeah. And I’m glad his curiosity didn’t wane, and I’m grateful that he persevered. Because that may have been the biggest mistake for me…is not getting to eventually saying yes. 

Jim: And as you just eluded to just a minute ago…’Just say yes’ is a mantra for you guys now.

Maryna: Very much so, yeah. Very much so. And I think one thing about our relationship is we do constantly challenge each other, and we do look at each other in the eye, and say- well, why not? Why are we not saying yes to this? Why shouldn’t we be doing this? And I think this journey is an example of that. 

Jim: Isn’t there all kinds of reasons, though? I mean, if you ask the average person- why shouldn’t you go off and do something crazy/different/away from the norm? Don’t they automatically have dozens of answers? Endless answers. 

Maryna: Yeah, yeah. 

Jim: So how’s {?}

Paul: There aren’t that many answers, actually. Most of people reluctance to do things revolves around their fear. Whatever the fear is…whether that’s a fear of not getting a job when they’re older, or fear of this, or fear of that. It always comes down to fear. One of the things about fear, is it’s mixed in with courage. Courage is having fear, but just doing it anyway. And I think that’s the thing people have to look to overcome, if they want to go and do something bit different. Because, at the end of the day, life can be very short. Things can often be out of your own control. But, fundamentally, we all get back to doing what we normally do once all of the fun’s over, right? So we don’t see it as a…it’s a life changing thing. It’s not something that one should be fearful of. And if I was to say…if somebody said to me- well, how can you do these things? Well, you just have to take a chance. Just like you do when you do with anything. 

Maryna: Yeah, and I think when we first met, one thing we realized that we had in common was our sense of adventure. I kept talking about- I want to have my gap here…I want to have my gap here. My children have heard that all through their lives. Paul kept saying he’s got an adventure up his sleeve. So, we had that in common. And then we reached a point where we realized…well, actually, Paul sat and did the math, and showed me- look, it’s possible, financially. Then we sort of ran out of reasons to not go, other than giving up our jobs, packing up our house, selling assets like cars and what have you…we just looked at each other and said- we are able to do something we really want to. If we not don’t have the courage to just say yes, we’d be fools.

Paul: Once you say it out loud, you can’t back out, really, can you?

Jim: That’s true. That public declaration. I’m a big fan of that for these type of things…things that you want to do. But leaving your job…because you said that the only things left were to leave your job. That’s often the biggest thing. I mean, especially as we get older. The thought of going  back and being a job hunter, at this point in life, is somewhat unnerving. So that’s a huge decision, to leave the job.

Maryna: Yeah, yeah. And again, Paul and I have different stories. He might like to share his first. But for me, yeah, that was huge. That was my biggest obstacle by far. 

Jim: Paul?

Paul: Yeah, one of the things I would say about this, is that…if you take time out from work, you’re really just taking a role on that’s different from the role you’re in. When you go and speak to an employer, they often give you the same kind of platitude questions like- where do you see yourself in five years? And all these kind of things that occur in these situations. The truth of the matter is that, partuicalrly in Australia anyway (where we live), tenure at a job is probably only like two years, or three years…people move around all the time. So I would just turn around and say- well, look. I’ve just been doing another role for the last two years, and it just happens to have been on two wheels. So I think it’s just a matter of where your head space is. I mean, it’s all about…life’s all about opportunity. If you get the opportunity, you can get back in…But, you know. With reference to your earlier question about fear; yeah, people are afraid to take those chances. Now, okay, we could end up unemployed. But we’ll deal with that on the day. That just comes…one of the other things I’ve learned on this trip is that, it makes no sense to try and over-plan things. Because, they generally don’t work out the way you planned them anyway. And also, it just messes with your head, when you think about destinations and timing and everything else. We’ll go back, we’ll get work, and it won’t be a problem. 

Jim: You almost set yourself up for failure when you overplay, don’t you? I mean, because you have this imagined outcome, and you plan it all, and you work through all the details…and when it dines’t work out, it just feels like a failure. It feels like- oh, well the whole thing fell apart.

Maryna: Absolutely. 

Jim: Aside from the fact you wasted your time on it. 

Maryna: Yeah.

Paul: Yeah.

Maryna: Absolutely. And, I mean, I know at the start of our journey, we had all these plans. We had prepped ourselves down to the last minute. Then when we got to Canada, and the weather was just not doing what it was supposed to, we were absolutely horrified. Because, our plans suddenly were just dashed. So we learned very, very early on to just take it one day at a time. And then it’ll be one week at a time…and our journey just unfolded. As opposed to having this mapped out agenda, and  then feeling like a failure. We’ve had the most incredible adventure just literally day by day. Day by day. We actually don’t enjoy…we don’t enjoy planning too far ahead.

Paul: I was thinking about how, in the old days you would have to plan things, because the world was more…what’s the word…the world required that you engaged with it a bit. In a more structured way. Like, if you wanted an airplane ticket, you’d have to go to an agent to book it for you, and then they’d send it in the post. All that kind of stuff. Now we live in a world where, I’m pretty confident if I went to the airport right now, I could get to London. So I don’t need to engage the world in such a structured way. You can just kind of go- well, what’s it like today? And I think if you over-plan things, it creates two problems for you. One as to your point; there’s a good chance things won’t come together because everybody else involved in your plan doesn’t know what their roles are. That’s something I learned in sales. Because I was in IT sales, and they were saying- well, you’ve got to put yourself on the other side of the table. Not everybody knows what the agenda is, and what they’re roles are. So that’s what plans are like. And second of all, you do learn that if you plan things too much, even if it’s next week…your whole week is focused around that point in time. So therefore you lose focus what your’e doing today. Much as it creates sort of a {?} attitude to life, it seems to be more relaxing to go- well, let’s just go to the airport.

Maryna: Yeah. Thank you. 

Jim: Your first adventure…Paul…I guess it’s Paul’s idea. This was the adventure that maybe that he had planned when you guys met, but the first adventure was to go off and do this mainly off-road trip. Again, you mentioned earlier where you broke your leg. Can you talk about that? 

Paul: My actually first first adventure was to move to Australia, because I just bought a one-way ticket, and never left. That’s why Maryna said to me- oh, I have a mother adventure up my sleeve. Because this was the second great adventure. But the trip to Cambodia was really my own fault. I was getting cocky, and I was riding around like I’d mastered something I hadn’t, and I found my leg in a hole. 

Maryna: Yeah. In fact, the Cambodia trip was actually my idea. Again, because I was actually comfortable on dirt bikes. Whereas, Paul wasn’t. For me, it was a little bit of a test. Would this bloke come on a trip like this with me? And, yeah, he did. With no off-road experience. So, I think that was an example of Paul out of his comfort zone.

Paul: We finally got to the temples in Siem Reap, and I just had to go around the temples, being supported by a tuk tuk driver, and a crutch that was just a little bit too short. Because, all the people in Cambodia are only, bless their socks, they’re only like 5 feet high. So the crutches were too short. Then when I got back to Australia, I found out I had two hairline fractures and a bunch of other bruises and injuries. But it was all for good fun. 

Jim: Oh, I see. You didn’t actually know it was a break at the time. 

Paul: No, no. 

Maryna: But that was quite a pivotal trip for us with respect to out relationship. That’s when I decided I was in love with this man, and just seeing the compassion that Paul had for the Cambodian people, how he behaved in a really stressful situation…on so many levels, I just fell in love with Paul. He bought a home for a destitute family in Cambodia. He really out himself out there. And then secondly, we both realized how a) we could travel together, and anyone who’s travelled will know that sometimes that the going gets tough, and you’re actually arguing over who gets to sit on the toilet next. It gets really personal, and it gets really though, and if you can handle those kind of things and still come through strong for it, that’s incredible. So, yeah. Firstly for our relationship, it was fantastic. And then secondly, we realized- hey, we want to do more of this. We are loving traveling by motorcycle. So that’s amend to two things for us, really. That was a very pivotal time for us. 

Jim: You skipped right over very quickly there; buying a house for somebody. You know, I’m from Canada. We don’t do that a lot. As a matter of fact, I’ve never heard of anybody doing that before. So, I’m sort of curious, how do you, Paul…how do you just come across buying a house for somebody? 

Paul: Well, first we’ve got to find a house. People in Cambodia, let live in kind of…they live basically on stilts, with their houses made all out of bits of corrugated iron and cardboard that they can find from places. 

Maryna: And reeds.

Paul: So, there was a guy that we met as as result of doing the trip. He the tour owner. He runs a little foundation where he goes around and builds these houses for Cambodian families.

Maryna: Global Village Housing.

Paul: It’s called Global Village Housing. And, you know, the houses aren’t {?}…and for a few thousand dollars, they put one up, and they put your name on it, and a family gets to live it. It’s got a little solar panel, and a light…and it’s just better than what they find themselves in normally. Which is pretty  bad. I’ve seen a fair amount of poverty, so…it wasn’t a surprise to me that these people live this way. So you just help when you can, really. 

Maryna: But for me, it was just so meaningful that the first home we bought together…so both our names are on that home…it was a gift to someone else in need. And I think that’s who we are as people. We both look our for…well, a) each other…and we look out for others. It was a very strong…what’s the word…it just knit us together in terms of what our true values are. We don’t value things. We value moments, we value experiences. And when Paul did that, I just knew I was with the right man. 

Jim: In 2016, Paul proposed to you. Can you tell that story? 

Maryna: Oh, yeah. There was no ring involved (all my girlfriends were very quick to point out). So we’d been talking about doing this journey on motorcycles, and we’d been chatting for quite some time, and initially it was a five year plan… Anyway, long story short; it wasn’t unusual for us to go looking at motorcycles. And, on a weekend, Paul said- hey, let’s go and lookout some bikes. Then when we walked into the show room, there were these two brand new BMW’s; one with my name on it, and one with Paul’s name on it. He said- marry me, and let’s travel the world. Just say yes. And, yeah. That was his marriage proposal; with a motorcycle, not a ring. I did make sure the ring came along later. 

Paul: Can’t do anything with a ring. 

Maryna: Yeah, no; that was pretty magic. So, bikes. I mean, bikes brought us together…bikes were part of our…those bikes were an {?} part of our wedding ceremony. We’re officially still on honeymoon. We have to keep reminding ourselves because we started this journey shortly after we got married. So, yeah. We are knitted through our bikes. 

Jim: It was April 1st, I think, 2017, when you guys set off.

Maryna: That’s right.

Jim: What was the plan?

Paul: That was it. 

Jim: Set off. That’s it. That’s a good plan. 

Maryna: Yeah, always. We headed for Vancouver. The plan was to head north to Alaska. But, yeah. The weather in Canada was not kind to us. 

Jim: How do you mean? What time of year did you arrive?

Maryna: Well, probably within the first week of April. Because we stopped over in Hawaii for a day of two, so we got to Vancouver within the first week in April. The snow storms were just.. yeah. We got as far as Whistler, hung around for a month, and eventually decided to head south. 

Paul: Even places like Jasper were inaccessible by road when we were there. We had a bit of a grand plan. It’s fascinating, actually, because when we first…it comes back to this idea of planning. See, when people do this trip, they have this great idea they’re going to ride from Alaska to Patagonia. And I think at some point along the way, you realize that you just don’t…there’s no opportunity to do everything all the time. You’ve got to pick and choose what you’re going to do, and sometimes your plans change. I said to Maryna, reasonably early in on the trip, that- you need to decide whether you’re doing something just because everyone else does it, or whether you’re just going on your own journey. And you should just enjoy what your’e doing. If that means that you don’t get to take a picture with a snowman, or take a picture with a penguin, then so be it. You’ve got enjoy what you’re doing. It’s all about the bike ride, right?

Jim: What is the purpose of travel for you guys? Is it about riding your motorcycles in different areas? Is it about different cultures? Are you after looking at places you’ve seen or heard about that you want to visit? 

Paul: No, it’s more about people, I think. That’s why I wasn’t too focused on whether we’d get to Alaska or not. Because for me, it was kind of like, if I met a nice guy who ran a beer sanctuary someplace, then it’d be great. It’s all about the people you see on the way. It’s all about looking at the human spirit. Seeing how essentially all humans want the same thing, regardless of what they look like or how they speak. To me, that was a bit of a revelation, because I’d been to various places in Asia before…and they’d been very functional trips. So, to go on a trip like this, where you have to engage with people about buying petrol, or- where can I buy a tire? They’re…gives you a different perspective on life. To me it was, if I meet a funny guy in a truck, telling me a funny story, that’s made my day. It doesn’t really matter where it is. It’s all about the people experience. 

Maryna: Yeah, it’s definitely been about the people, and the cultural experience. And…they journey has not been about where we’ve been so much as who we’ve encountered, and what they’ve taught us. Or what we’ve experienced whilst we’ve been with them. What they’ve challenged us with, or what they’ve made us think about. 

Paul: And there’s some bonkers ones. A few bonkers Canadians. 

Jim: Oh, I find that hard to believe. I really do. Before you left, you said that you had a question; is the world a place with mainly bad people, and a few good people, or mainly good people, and a few bad people? What that a big question for you? Was that something, before you guys left, that you were unsure of? Or did you leave thinking you knew the answer? 

Paul: Well, you know, the world survives today on shock and awe. It’s all about the world serving you up outrage in the media. If you’re on Facebook, or anything like that, it’s all about selling you outrage. So it costs you…you’ve got to decided for yourself- do I believe all that outrage? Or am I going to go somewhere and find that people are just getting on with their days, and just want the same thing everyone else does? That’s the thing that I have found. It causes me to reflect when I See something and go- yeah, okay, they just want us to feel outraged. There’s a lot of {?} out at the moment where people just call things fake news, and that’s quite a fascinating term, because all of that been’s slightly politicized. At the end of the day, it is a little bit like that. You know, where somebody catches only thirty seconds of what somebody says, it’s a little out of context, it’s a one-off or something, or there’s rage involved. The next thing you know, people are afraid to go places. People would say- oh, you can’t go to Mexico, because it’s full of narcotic gangs, and you can go here, because the people are unfriendly, and you can’t do this and you can’t do that… And you go- well, I don’t believe that’s all the people. I just believe that’s some of the people. And the question is like- how many of the people? My discovery is that a very, very tiny microscopic percentage…and the rest of the people are just getting on with their lives. Drinking tequila and just having a good time pretty much.

Maryna: Yeah. We’ve come away with such, such, such a strong sense of humanity is live and well. And, you know…it’s just not loud enough. The bad in the media is too loud, but humanity is live and well. We’ve encountered it again and again and again. In the most unexpected places. It’s really made us think a lot about our own humanity. For example, in Latin America, we’d be staying with people…completely strangers invite us into their home and a) we’d have to trust that- yeah, out gut says that this feels okay. But then we discover that they’ve given up their main bedroom for us as guests. Paul and I spoke about this and said- well, wow. If we invited a stranger into our home, we’d put them in a spare room. Probably on a blow-up mattress. It’s just taught us so much about humanity, and generosity, and trust. We’ve just been in awe of the kindness of complete strangers. It’s really made us think long and hard about- who will we go back to Australia as? How will we behave? 

Jim: Have you found that the socioeconomic status of a person or a family effects, or at least correlates, with the treatment you get when you arrive? 

Paul: Ironically, we’ve discovered (I don’t know how scientific it is)…generally we’ve found are the worse off they are. That’s been our conclusion. The kindness of spirit seems to be…it’s there in everyone…but people who are wealthier, they have that as a barrier. I often say that, if you live in a westernized country, and you’re a lawyer, and you’re BMW breaks down…you just call roadside service. If you live in Peru, and the wheel comes off your car, all your mates come out and fix it. So you tend to get more of a community feeling in areas where people aren’t so well off. That dissolves a little more as you get into the western style of environment/western style of life. 

Jim: Is that an independence thing, do you think? Or is it a fear of loss? You know, as we become better off. And I say better off as in financially. Is it a fear, do you think? that we’re afraid of losing something, or being taken advantage of? 

Paul: I don’t know. It’s difficult to say. I think people in our western world, they become culturally isolated. Because we’ve discovered, not only is it about wealth, it’s just about the environment that you’re in. Like, a wealthier environment. Because there are disenfranchised people that live in a wealthy world. Those people seem to be more disenfranchised than poorer people living in a poor world. Some of the troubles that we’ve seen on the way have been sad souls that are in big cities where there shouldn’t be those problems. And poorer people in poorer places…they just seem to be able to get by. And they’re struggling, clearly. But if you fall off your bike, they’ll run out and help you pick it up. You know? Whereas, us {?} in the western world, they’re potentially on drugs or alcohol…they’re isolated, I guess. I don’t know why that is, but it’s an observation. 

Maryna: It’s something we’ve debated so much amongst ourselves. Buddha’s saying has often come to mind for us that- a rich man is unhappy because he’s scared of losing his wealth, a poor man is unhappy because he doesn’t have anything. It’s this whole thing of fear of loss, that you mentioned. We expect that there is an element of that. But we were just astounded how, in some very wealthy cities is where we saw the homelessness, and where we saw beggars. But in really, really poor, poor places…it’s almost like there’s a strong sense of community. Everyone’s in the same boat, and everyone just looks after everyone. Ubuntu. Which is an African term essentially meaning people look out for each other. And…I don’t know. Maybe it comes from everyone being in the same boat. I’m certainly becoming aware that wealth could be isolating, because you’re too independent. And there’s actually a joy in learning to accept…and I mean, that’s something we’ve had to deal with because, I’m certainly fiercely independent, and it’s easier to make my own way. But learning to accept help. Or learning to accept an offer of something. 

Paul: It does change you, actually. I always say- learn to graciously accept. Because I think in our world, if somebody says- oh, why don’t you come over and stay… I think, typically our first response is- oh, that’s okay. I don’t want to put you out to any trouble. Or- don’t worry about it, we’ll sort ourselves out…blah, blah, blah. And, one thing I’ve learned is, if somebody says- do you want to come and stay over for the evening, we’ll have a barbecue? I just go- well yeah, for sure. Because, you need to learn to graciously accept, excuse the other person is making a genuine offer. And if you try to back out of it because you think that you don’t want to put them to any trouble, really what you’re saying to them is- no, I don’t want your offer. It’s just about perspectives, right? 

Jim: You’re sort of denying them the pleasure of having you. 

Paul: That’s exactly it. You’re denying them the pleasure of hosting you. Because, we all love to host people. So it’s…you know, it’s like Maryna was saying how people can give up their beds… One of the guys that gave up his bed had had a stroke. The poor guy could hardly climb the stairs or anything. We found out that he had given up his bed for us to sleep in. We were like- wow. 

Maryna: And we had no idea. 

Paul: Yeah. So that was quite an eye-opening moment. Yeah. Learn to graciously accept. I think that’s the thing we all need to learn how to do.

Jim: Yeah, because we often forget that here is pleasure on the other side. That’s the whole reason that someone wants to do something most times…is because they’re going to feel good just doing something for another person. But you mentioned independence. We’re very independent in the western world, and I think that’s a huge part, in my mind, of why we tend to get maybe just less outgoing, and we don’t want to connect with new people as much. Because, you move into a neighbourhood now, you don’t need your neighbours anymore. You make your money, and you pay for your services, and you say- I don’t care about the neighbour. Whereas, if you went back many years, you would want to fit in. Your goal as soon as you arrived, as would your new neighbours do, everyone would want to get together and meet. And, let’s make a friend here. Let’s make an ally sort of thing. 

Maryna: That’s very true. We had quite a funny situation recently where, long story short; we were trying to do some maintenance work back home, in our absence, but we needed some neighbours to be involved. One of the neighbours messaged us and said- well, let’s meet up next week. Paul said- do you know we’ve been away for a year? That was just such a reminder to us that…what kind of live have we been living of rotate to happen? And we’ve really found that the sense of community that we experienced in Latin America is something that we always want to carry with us. People know tier neighbours. They know each other. They’re there for each other. They party together. That’s something we really want to always carry with us. It was quite an eye opener for us. 


Jim (Narrate): We’re going to take a two minute break, and be right back. But stick around, because there’s a lot more. There’s some really funny stories coming up. 


Jim: You guys survived an earthquake in Mexico. 

Maryna: Oh, yeah.

Paul: Yeah, survived…but, it rattled around a bit. 

Jim: 8.1; that’s a pretty good earthquake. 

Maryna: Yeah.

Paul: Yeah.

Maryna: I was pretty terrified, I must admit. Paul’s the calm one when it comes to those kind of things. We had had quite an interesting day leading unto the earthquake. We’d been on a tour with a tour guide who was very, very strict. He wanted to make sure that after each tour we had to be back at the bus on time and ready to go. At each point, the bus driver would go missing. Long story short; the bus driver would come running along, half dressed, shoes in one hand, shirt in the other, with some excuse about helping a friend. It was just one of these most bizarre days. During which, the tour guide drank too much tequila, and jumped off the bus. We’d then got abandoned by the bus driver during a teachers strike in Oaxaca City, and we had to find our way back via google maps, during which the heavens opened and there was this torrential rain. So we arrived back to our B&B and everything was flooded. We were soaked. We were sorting out all our motorbike gear. Eventually got to bed at half past eleven, and then slightly before midnight the earth started to move.

Jim: What do you mean, the earth started to move? What happened? 

Maryna: Well, my instinct…I was reading, and Paul was asleep…and my instinct was to turn to him and ask him what he was doing. Then I realized, well, there’s something more going on here. And literally, it sounded like a train approaching from a distance, and then the numbing just got louder and louder and louder. Everything was shaking. The things were toppling off the fridge, things were flying off the table. Yeah. And it was really, really loud. We realized quite quickly…well, we just assumed. This is an earthquake. We had a bit of an altercation, or an argument, about what we should do. Because, I wanted to run out, and Paul was like- no, you can’t urn outside. He was calmly finding passports and keys…I must say, I couldn’t think straight under the circumstances. But, what amazed us most, was that the earthquake died down, and before we could even really realize what had happened…the first message came through from a friend (actually, Ian Hales) saying- are you guys alright? And then the second message from my girlfriend in New Zealand, Larry- are you alright? Through social media, people knew there had been an earthquake in Mexico. Before we even really had registered ourselves what had just happened. That was such a lesson for us in social media. And, yeah; how connected we are in this world. I think it’s just made us really reflective of the power of media. We’ve used it in a very positive way, to prepare for our trip, by networking extensively with bikers who have previously done the trip that we’re looking to do. We’ve stayed very closely connected to bikers either ahead of us, or who are following us. Social media has been very, very positive for us. But yeah, we were amazed at how fast bad news travelled. 

Jim: Maryna, you’ve been riding at this point…not an awfully long time. You’re riding a fairly big bike now, the 700. At the point that you’re in Mexico…how are you feeling riding this bike? 

Maryna: The bike was lowered, so…Paul can give you all the details, he helped with getting it all sorted out. So the bike was lowered, with lowered suspension, and then I also put a lowered seat on it. So I managed to gain about six centimetres. So that enabled me to at least have the balls of my feet on the ground, as opposed to my tippy toes. I think, for me, what I really just had to come to terms with was, it’s okay to fall. Because, you know when you reach that tipping point, and the spike is going over…my instinct was still to fight it and try to keep the bike upright. Most falls are slow falls. Slow rides, sharp turns, {?}…so it’s not a dangerous situation by any means. It really just bruises your ego. So I’ve just had to learn- you know what? That’s actually okay.

Paul: Just toughen up. 

Maryna: Paul and I joke because his traffic camera on his bike has captured all my falls. We’ve created a bit of a medley of that bit. On the occasion that he fell, I was very quick with the camera. Making sure I captured it all. Not always to good effect, but yeah. You’ve just got to laugh at it and say- hey, anything’s possible. When Paul presented that bike with the marriage proposal, I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed that first night. Because, I couldn’t even ride that bike home. And I said to Paul- how am I going to ride around the world with you? I couldn’t even ride this bike home. We had a very, very stressful evening of contemplation and brainstorming. Long story short, I woke up in the morning and said- I’m riding that bike, we’re not stopping for breakfast. There’s a McDonald’s a couple of kilometres down the road…we’ll ride to there. If I make it, you may buy me some breakfast. Then we’ll discuss the next kilometre. And that day, I rode about 150 kilometres without incident. I just learned one kilometre at a time. You just focus on what you can here and now. That bike has just over 40,000 kilometres on the clock now. It’s a great feeling, a really great feeling. 

Jim: I thought it was interesting you said your bike, both bikes, have about 40,000 kilometres right now. The circumference of the world is 40,075 kilometres. You mean you couldn’t just knock off the other 75 before the interview? Or even just fudge it. We’re talking 75 here. 

Maryna: Yeah.

Paul: They always say, it’s the last 75 that counts.

Jim: I guess, I guess. It’s the one that puts you over. You guys have had all kinds of adventures as you’ve been doing this (because you’ve been swimming with sharks, paragliding…), and obviously the earthquake didn’t shake you up that bad because you camped on the side of an active volcano. Who does that? 

Paul: Well, it was on my bucket list. The volcano was there, it just seemed like the thing to do. 

Jim: Really? That’s sort of like bungie jumping, you know, you jump off and you get to live because the bungie straps will pull you back. And that’s what you’re hoping there? To camp on the active volcano and live? Is that the thrill?

Paul: I wouldn’t bungie jump, that’s for sure. 

Jim: Wait a second. Paul; you’re camping not he side of an active volcano, and you think bungie jumping worse? 

Paul: Well, we camped on a side with a bit of grass. So we were told, if the volcano was to erupt (and it had done frequently), that it throws the rocks the other way. So I was comfortable with that. 

Maryna: Yeah, it was really-

Jim: Who told you that?

Paul: The guy selling the tours. Right.

Maryna: Yeah. That was a very interesting experience. Paul and I had been doing some volunteering with the Muskoka foundation, and we were chosen as cat-less travellers. We’ve been volunteering throughout Latin America, basically from Mexico downwards, with some partner organizations. And one of the partners was this tour company in Nicaragua.  They did various things, and one of the things they did, was these hikes up the volcano, and camping on the side of the volcano. So it was part of our working with them, getting to know them…it was the most spectacular, spectacular experience. Sitting around the campfire and just hearing that roar of the volcano…constant, constant roar. It’s like the roar of the ocean when huge waves crash on rocks. But it doesn’t stop. It’s just constant. A couple of times through the evening, Paul and I would just walk away from the campfire, and stand there in absolute awe. Just because in the moonlight we could just see the silhouette, and we didn’t even speak. We just stood there, taking it all in. The next morning we hiked up to one of the mountains close by, and looked down all back at it. It was just magical. Absolutely magical.

Jim: How have your bikes been over this 40,000 kilometres? 

Paul: Pretty good. I’m not going to do any advertisements for BMW here, but-

Maryna: They’ve been fantastic.

Paul: They’ve been spectacular, really. We had…we just had wheel bearings go. Which, ironically, was kind of good, in a way. It’s a bit of a long story, I won’t {?} in it, but fundamentally, we ended up going back to Guatemala city. On our first run into Guatemala city, we ran into a chap who turned out to be the president of the Guatemalan BMW club. He pulled us over on the side of the road as he was driving through town. He said- hi, I’m Ricardo, I’m the president of the BMW club in Guatemala. Welcome to Guatemala, and if there’s anything you need, give me a call. So we ended up actually calling him because the wheel bearing went on Maryna’s bike. And when we got back to Guatemala city, he called in a few favours, and got the bike back up and fixed. On a Friday afternoon, at five o’clock in the afternoon…and an hour later, they had all rallied around and fixed it. Which was fabulous. Having learned the lesson of the wheel bearings, I’ve bought some spares. And in Columbia, in a slightly less organized fashion, some American friends banged my wheel bearings out with a hammer.

Maryna: In the middle of nowhere.

Paul: In the middle of nowhere. We just walked them back in with a hammer, the new ones in with a hammer, and off we went. It was an interesting lesson to learn. One, the {?}, the ubuntu…being helped on the side of the road, twice. So, that was good. But now I do know how to change wheel bearings, so I’m happy with that. 

Jim: How far, with the 40,000 kilometres, what have you done? You’ve done the Americas, and where?

Paul: We did…so we went from British Columbia all the way down the west coast on the USA…all the way to the bottom of the Baha in California. (Mexico/California.) And then across to Mexico, across not quite to the Yucatan, because it was very hot there. But we went across to Belize, through Belize…all the way down through Central America. So Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua…which was where the volcano was…Costa Rica, then Panama… And then when we got to the end of Panama, there’s no road there, you can’t get across the Darien Gap to Columbia. The standard way of getting there, is either to fly, or get on a boat. So we put the bikes on the deck of an old fishing troller that had been turned into some touristy transit yacht, if you like. 

Jim: The Stahlrat?

Paul: The Stahlratter. 

Maryna: The Stahlratter, yeah. With {?}.

Paul: {?}, yeah. Some people called it the Starruster, or…

Maryna: It was an amazing experience.

Jim: I don’t think Stallrat is written out with rat at the end. 

Paul: Yeah, yeah. It means steal rat in German, so I think someone was having a joke. But, it used to be an old fishing boat. Frankly, I still think there are remnants of fish in there somewhere. But that was great fun, and we got across to Columbia. Then we did Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile. Halfway through Chile before the weather started to threaten us with Chile weather, so then we quit and came along to South Africa. The bikes are…well, actually, the bikes are in the shipping agents backyard at the moment, next his swimming pool. So we’re hoping that he’s going to put them all in the crates, and send them on for us. 

Jim: And you were in the {?}, I think, and you had an incident…you dealt with a hailstorm? 

Paul: Yes. We were trying to go to a canyon. There’s a canyon in Peru called Colca Canyon. Very spectacular, and if anyone’s in that area, I highly recommend it. It’s twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. It’s 3,420 meters deep. 

Jim: Wow.

Paul: Which is pretty spectacular to look at. But in order to get there, you’ve got to go through this mountain range. As we were on our way through, there was a down burst in temperature. The temperature plummeted, and it started to rain. Rain turned to hail.

Maryna: Yeah, 2 degrees celcits.

Paul: And next thing you know, we’re stuck in the hail. So, for some reason, there was a guy on the side of the road…I don’t even know what he was doing there. It was some sort of testing station, or road works, or something…and he was just looking at us curiously, wondering what on earth these gringos were doing in this hailstorm. But we sat in his hut for a little while, and put some warmer clothes on, and decided that we’d have to abandon the bikes where they were, and get a ride into town. So Maryna hailed down this somewhat crazy local ambulance driver. 

Maryna: We were at an altitude of 4,300 meters. At 2 degrees celcius, with the howling wind, we were very quickly succumbing to hypothermia, and it was a case of- what do we do? Do we stay on the bikes, keep them running with our electric jackets? What do we do? Long story short, decided to abandon the bikes. and my job was to hail the next vehicle. Which happened to be an ambulance. Well, I thought we were going to die in the ambulance. Never mind the hailstorm. Because I was lying not eh stretcher, and my extremities were aching from the cold. Paul was sitting right up next to me, with eyes as wide as saucers. We could just hear the wheels screaming around those corners. For anyone who’s crossed the {?}, it’s switchbacks and {?} bends, and steep inclines..it’s quite insane. 

Paul: I said I wouldn’t bungie jump, I wouldn’t go in a Peruvian Ambulance. 

Maryna: And we saw a five car pile-up in the snow. And I kept saying- señor, mas peligroso! (It’s very dagnerous.) And he just laughed like a raving lunatic, and just carried on driving. 

Paul: And he was on his phone.

Maryna: Yeah. But we lived to tell that tale, but we sort of became celebrities in the little town, because by the morning, news had spread that there were these bikers that had got caught in the storm. Again, people were just incredible. Helping us get back to the bikes once the weather had cleared, wanting to take photos with us, wanting to take photos of the bikes…wherever we went in the little town, it was just…we were like mini celebrities. There were two vehicles turned up on their roofs. I was terrified. But, the lesson I took from that experience was that we could work together very well in a crisis moment, and we make decisions quickly enough. And we just lived with the decision. So yeah, that was quite insane. 

Paul: It’s the reason we actually decided to can our trip in the middle of Chile, and come to Europe for the summer. Decided that the potential for going further south during the early winter period was risky. And we didn’t need to do it. Because, as I eluded to earlier; you’re on your own journey. You don’t need to go all the way down to the south, and risk life and limb to get the picture of a penguin, so. 

Maryna: We really struggled with the altitude in crossing the {?}. The {?} started in Columbia, and from the border into Ecuador, we started to really struggle with altitude. And I think we were never really in place long enough to truly acclimatize. The highest we rode was 4,800 kilometres…oh, kilometres…[I mean] meters. It felt like kilometres. And the highest we hiked, was over 5,000. Which is more or less Everest base cap. It didn’t feel good. We just never felt like we were copping with the altitude. So we pretty much had enough of being at altitude by the time we go to Santiago. 

Jim: It’s knowing when to quit sometimes, isn’t it?

Maryna: Yeah, yeah. And I mean, one thing that we have realized is…we joke about our journey as granny and grampa’s gap year. Because, we’re just out there to have some fun within the boundaries of risk we are comfortable with. And, I mean, it’s wonderful what some people do. It’s incredible what some people do, and what some people risk. But it’s not us. We’re okay with that, and we’ve learned that along the way. We’ve talked a lot to each other about- what kind of risk am I comfortable with? What kind of risk is Paul comfortable with? It’s not always the same. Which means we then have to talk it thought, and reach a compromise. But, at the end of the day, for us, it’s about having fun, and staying safe. So far, so good. 

Jim: You’ve had your challenges with finding your way. I know you use a GPS. And the GPS is actually been the source of your fist arguments. 

Maryna: That’s right. 

Jim: Just talk about using the GPS. And I think you need to start, to be fair, you need to start at the fact that Paul wasn’t doing that well, was he? Maryna, you were-

Maryna: Okay, so Paul- 

Jim: You were sort of jabbing at him. You know, telling him that he just…pointing things out.

Maryna: That’s right. So Paul just looked a t me, and he said, you answer this. 

Paul: Because, yeah.

Maryna: So, we had never argued until we started using this journey. I was taken aback, having my first argument. Paul had jokingly said, before we started this journey, it’s either going to be the longest honeymoon, or the shortest marriage. So, I’ve done everything in my power to make sure it’s the longest honeymoon. But, yeah. our argument were just about getting lost. 

Jim: What was happening? What do you mean about getting lost? So Paul’s in charge.

Maryna: Paul’s in charge, he’s got the GPS, and I’m following, and I can read the road signs. And, the GPS doesn’t always correlate with what the road signs are saying, so I would point this out, and we’d have our argument. 

Paul: I’d just drive off that way. 

Maryna: Anyway, it reached a point where, Paul said to me- why don’t you have a go? Why don’t you navigate? I rose to the challenge. And at the point in time, we were staying in Washington state, in the United States, in a town called Longview. We had planned a four hour ride down to the coast, I think Pluto Bay, or something like that. I said to Paul- no, GPS is no good, I’m going to look at a map, figure out where we’re going, and we’ll head off. So we knew the trip was going to take about four hours from Longview from where we were going. And I kid you not, it was about 3 hours 58, and we were coming up this rise, and Paul said to me…(so we have {?} intercoms, an din the intercom I can hear Paul saying to me)…I’m going to lead. It’s nearly 4 hours, we must be nearly there. And before I could even respond, we sort of crested the rise, and there was this long banner saying ‘Welcome to Longview’. 

Jim: The place you just left.

Maryna: The place we had just left four hours ago. And I won’t repeat on radio what Paul’s words were…well, I just…I was just floored. Needless to say, I do not offer to navigate anymore. 

Paul: I said to Maryna- why don’t you have a go at navigator, since you’re clearly an expert. Where upon later on, I realized, she’s so short sighted, she can’t even read it anyway. So turns out, Maryna couldn’t have seen the GPS even if it was in front of her, so. Which is another point I make quite periodically. Having said that, we did go somewhere else where the GPS took us down a dirt track and caused us to end up in farm land with no roads. It took us 3 hours to do 20 kilometres in {?} clay, and wet dirt and mud, and just generally swearing.

Maryna: And many falls.

Paul: And many falls and what have you. I don’t know, you just have to learn to use what tools you have. Perhaps not rely on them so much, but also accept that they do get you to where you’re going.

Maryna: Yeah. And with that particular experience that Paul was talking about, we kept thinking- a bike has just come from the front, a local on a little bike has come from this road, it must be a road. We’ve learned not to think that as as given, that this is actually a road that can be navigated with a big BMW, that’s for sure. 

Paul: Couldn’t even navigate it with a goat. 

Jim: It always reminds me of myself and my wife being on a trail, and people were coming the other way, and it was supposed to be a one way trail. And I said- see? It can’t be so bad. Just as we passed the last group of them, I realized- oh, they’re turning around at the top, and we were going down. It was quite the thing. But this navigation experience that you guys has with the GPS…that sort of brought up at least an answer to anytime there’s a conflict where Paul’s trying to say- we have to go here. And so what happens then?

Maryna: Well, the minute there’s any arguments, he just looks at me and he says-

Paul: Longview.

Maryna: And then I just keep quiet. 

Jim: It’s just something you will never ever live down. 

Maryna: Never. Never forget. 

Paul: Because also I said, it does get you to where you’re going, even if you disagree with it. And I did say to Maryna- in the end, you just have to pick one source of truth. And you have to decide you’re going to follow it whether you think it’s right, or you think it’s wrong. Otherwise, you’ve got two sources of truth, and at least one of them’s going to be wrong, right? 

Jim: Technology. Once we depend on it…or forget about it, as a matter of fact. Because, you also had an experience with technology, laying in  a hammock in Belize. 

Maryna: Oh, yeah.

Paul: Yeah.

Maryna: That was quite an interesting moment. We were at a dinner party recently, and I was kind of horrified that Paul told the story, and I’m about to tell it on radio, so…

Jim: Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. 

Maryna: So we were in Belize, and in the jungle, staying at a jungle lodge. It was insanely hot. We had been swimming, and I was wearing nothing except my sarong, and I was lying in a hammock. We had a very private cabin in the jungle. I just have this mischievous streak that comes out every now and again, and I did a little bit of show and tell in a private moment with my husband, and we suddenly heard a member of staff approach, and I covered up. He walked straight passed me, reached up to a security camera that was mounted on the deck above me in the hammock. Which, I hadn’t known was there. And to this day, we don’t know if he was positioning the camera to see more, or positioning to see less. But when Paul told the story at the dinner party, there was ruckus laughter, but someone did say to me- you know you can’t run for president, right? It’s bound to come out. 

Jim: Well, that’s why I mentioned, I saw the video on the internet, and I thought- boy, that’s too much. 

Paul: Yeah. We just could not believe it. Although, probably you can run for president now. that’s probably mandatory.  

Jim: But you guys took some technology with you as well. You took a drone, and obviously you were hoping to capture lots of video. How did the drone work out?

Paul: The drones a long story. We took the drone with the best intentions. That we were going to do some romantic shots of us riding the bikes someplace. You know how people do nice panoramic views of canyons, and sunsets, and stuff. So we thought- well, that sounds like a great idea. We had some technical problems with the drone, which took a little of time to work out (with batteries and other such problems). But basically, we got the drone to work, I took the drone out, and said- well, look. Let’s try this, our first panoramic shoot of following the bikes down the road. I fly the drone in the air, and turn around, and, well…

Maryna: The drones still flying.

Paul: The drones gone, it flew off. 

Jim: So your drone abandoned you.

Paul: It did. It basically just turned around and went- stuff it, I’m out of here. Took the first opportunity to escape, and it was gone. We spent a bit of time trying to find it, but yeah, we lost it. Didn’t get to use it at all. 

Jim: Does it make you think different about technology? About taking it? Because everybody’s doing this nowadays, we want to capture our trip. I do it, too. I’ll take a camera with me. But I often find, it’s more of a pain in the butt to even bother trying to film anything than what you’re getting out of it in the long run. It sort of effects your trip. 

Paul: We have two conflicting views on this. My view is that I see a lot of people standing behind their camera, and just not taking in what they’re doing. They’re just…a classic is when you see people at rock concerts. They’re recording the thing that they’re there to see, on a device, and they’re never going to play it back. So not only have they missed the opportunity to be and enjoy where they were, they’ve actually recorded something they’re never going to see. So, I’m a believer than an experience is more than just the moment that you capture in time. It’s all about how you feel, what you smell, what’s going on around you… So, I’m sort of like- I don’t want to take a picture. I don’t want to take a picture of something, I just want to sit, smell, and enjoy, and listen, and all those things… Whereas, Maryna’s much more of a moment in time kind of woman. I’m going to capture this moment, because if we don’t, we won’t remember. 

Maryna: No, no, no, no, no. So, we do differ. Photography is one of my main hobbies, so as a photographer, to go to these incredible places…to see incredible faces. Portrait photography is really my main passion. Being able to capture beautiful faces…I keep saying to Paul- when you grow up, and you’re a photographer, you’ll understand. But, you know, we’ve settled that we just have different views. I do take what Paul’s says, and there’s a lot of truth in that. Because, it is about being present in the moment…but for me, it’s about capturing that as well. Our home will be covered with magnificent photographs when we get back, I’m sure.

Paul: No photos taken by me, though. 

Maryna: Yeah.

Paul: I rarely even…I don’t carry a camera around. It’s not something I do. I just watch with amusement as I see other people do it. 

Jim: But I can see the point, Maryna, because, what you’re doing is; you’re not so much capturing the moment so you can post it on social media or show your friends. You’re capturing the moment because that na opportunity for you to capture an amazing photo. I mean, I get that. But and also, even for reflecting back, I know I have memories from when I was a kid, that I think are generated from the photos that I have of that time period. Other things I completely forget. So that’s a valid point, too. There’s a balance in there.

Paul: Yes. Well, we talk about the middle way. 

Maryna: We talk about the middle way a lot. 

Paul: The middle way is like, not trying to push yourself from one extreme to another. It’s like…I like New Years resolutions where people say- I’m going to go on a diet this year- and they don’t, because they’re not following the middle path. They’re not saying- I’ll just go halfway along this journey because that will get me where I want to go without all of the pain and suffering that goes along with it. So, I guess you might call it a compromise. I just call it the middle way. 

Jim: And that’s what you use for travel? 

Paul: Yes.

Maryna: Yeah. We always try to find the middle way, because we’ve just learned doing anything in extremes…for example, we haven’t been extreme with out budgeting. So we haven’t gone extremely cheap, and we haven’t gone extremely over the top. That’s just one example. We try and find the middle road, because it’s probably more manageable and more feasible, less stressful, and more likely to bring pleasure in the long run. Because extremes are just not easy to maintain in any way. 

Jim: Have you been camping, or staying in hotels and things?

Maryna: A bit of everything. So we camped in the United States…and we love camping. We love the outdoors. We decided not to camp once we left the United States, because we had heard that accommodation was so cheap from Mexico down. So we’ve camped, we’ve stayed in B&B’s, we’ve stayed in hostels, we’ve done couch surfing, we’ve had some {?} experiences, where we’ve worked for board and lodge. 

Paul: Slept on the floor.

Maryna: Yeah, slept on the floor, we’ve slept on the deck of a ship…you name it. It’s been a bit of everything. Yeah, so, again, it’s just the middle road. We haven’t said- we’re only doing this, or we’re only doing that. We’ve sort of done a little bit of everything. I think the main thing for us has been, wherever we stay, is making sure the bikes are safe. And that’s been more our guide, will the bikes be safe if we stay in XYZ place?

Jim: And you’re not that fussed about the accommodations themselves. 

Maryna: No, no. 

Paul: As long as the shower’s got water coming out.

Jim: You stayed at a B&B in Canada. You thought that that was rather special. 

Maryna: Yes, as mentioned, when we got to Canada we had these great grand ideas of getting to Alaska. And our plans were scuppered by the extreme winter or snow heading north. So the roads were just not possible heading north. We ended up staying in a particular B&B for much longer than planned, and we were just hoping the weather would clear. Getting more and more despondent by the day, or by the week… Until one day, our host arrived with a really, really thoughtful gift. Some homegrown weed, beautifully rolled into a joint, sealed in some tinfoil, and beautifully packed in a little matchbox with matches. In his beautiful french accept- this is for you! Whenever we’re in an B&B or hotel, and we see the chocolates on the pillow, we just shake our heads, and we think back to that particular time in Canada, and we think- our hosts could do much better. That was certainly the most interesting thing we’d ever been gifted, by far.

Jim: You mentioned getting more and more despondent there. I was going to ask you; do you find travel itself stressful? Or is there an element of stress that you find when your’e traveling? 

Paul: Not anymore, I don’t. 

Maryna: I would say yes. But it’s not constant. There are moments of stress. One thing we learned is that if we have deadlines, we find them stressful. Would you agree, love?

Paul: Yeah, I don’t like the plans and the deadlines. I like to just roll by the day.

Jim: What kind of deadlines?

Paul: If you’ve got to take a flight, or…

Maryna: You’ve got to be at a certain place by a certain date. 

Paul: Or you’ve agreed to meet somebody. Say- oh, let’s meet up next Thursday at this place, or something…now we’ve got to arrange our time around making that appointment. It’s like…I mean, you have to do that occasionally. But to try and avoid it creates less stress, I believe. Just try and say, we’ll be there. We’ve got to get a flight tomorrow, we’ll just go to the airport and buy a ticket. 

Maryna: We’ve preferred to be more relaxed and less set in out ways. We’re quite protective now, or not making too many plans. But sure, there are stresses, because thing happen along the way. Hailstorms, or earthquakes…so there are definitely stressful moments. We travel slowly. We try not to have extremely long days. I think our longest day was about fourteen hours of riding. Crossing our borders in one day, and riding at night. We broke all our own rules on that particular occasion. So, we learned that you can create stress, just by how you plan to travel, or don’t plan to travel. We tend to get up early, ride for X number of hours, and then make sure we find accommodation with sufficient daylight hours, so that if something was to happen, we’re not stuck in the dark. As an examples. It’s very much granny and grampa’s gap year. We’re not looking for stress.

Jim: You’ve said gap here several times, but you’ve already passed the year. 

Maryna: Yes, yeah. 

Jim: So it’s going to be gap years.

Maryna: Gap years, yeah. Or just gap.

Paul: Or just gap, yeah.

Jim: Do you find that there’s…do you have any difficulty not committing…your’e saying you’re trying to commit less to meet someone, or do those sorts of things… Does that not make you appear aloof to them? And how do you handle that? 

Maryna: We haven’t really…I think…I’m trying got think of some examples where… For example; we were travelling with some bikers who preferred to sleep late, and travel late, and with all respect had a number of days getting into trouble. Getting lost in the dark etc. I respectfully said- hey guys, we’ll see you at point X or point Y. Our preference is to travel early. I think honestly goes a long way. You need to be true to yourself without being disrespectful. Because, I think, knowing myself…if I put myself through that, waiting for someone and running into trouble…I think that would be more disrespectful overall. I think it’s just the way in which you communicate. I think bikers know we’re all different. We’re all on a similar journey, but we’re all on our own journey. You’ve got to understand what that means for yourself, and I believe you’ve got to be true to what that is for yourself. Otherwise it’s not fun for you, and I don’t think it’ll be fun for anyone else. Because I don’t think, or a certainly hope, that we’ve never offended anyone. And we’ve traveled with a different number of bikers at different times, and we’ve had amazing fun. 

Paul: We’re not going to meet them again, anyway. 

Jim: Now you will, for sure. 

Maryna: Yeah.

Jim: So big lessons. Big lessons that you’ve learned not his trip so far?

Paul: Not to plan too much. That’s my main thing. My main thing has been…it’s not like you have to be aloof to people and say- oh, I’ll be there if I feel like it. It’s kind of like- let’s not overplay it. Let’s get together. Let’s do this. Let’s do that. If you’re going to take an airplane flight somewhere, you don’t need to go- I’m going to plan step one, step two. You don’t need to say let’s go to the airport, let’s get on a plane, then the bus will be waiting for us, then we’ve got another flight…then we’re going to be here, then we’re going to be there, then we’re going to meet somebody, blah blah blah… Just do the first thing. Just get on the plane, go to the next place, and when you get there, have a cup of coffee and go- right, I guess we’d better find a bus. It’s…you can be that way. It doesn’t suit everyone, because lots of popes like to plan. But I’ve realized that planning sort of like…takes a lot away from your journey, I think. I was saying to Maryna, earlier, I met a guy many years ago who would go on holiday by throwing dart on a map of Australia. And he said that whoever the dart landed, he would take his camper van, and that’s where he was going. He would do it only a couple of days before he left, basically- I’m leaving tomorrow. He’d throw the dart, and that’s where he’d go. He told me he spent three weeks on a station in the middle of Australia with all these ranch hands wondering what he was doing turning up in his camper van. He said he had the best holiday of his life. Unplanned, unstructured, just go somewhere and see what happens. I think to myself, If I was working in a job, and I said- hey, let’s take two weeks off, where should we go? Decide the day before. Pick a name, pick a country out of a hat, and just go to the airport. It seems like more fun, right? So that’s what I learned. 

Maryna: For me, it’s…the biggest lesson of all, the biggest ah-ha moment for me is just one kilometre at a time. If I think back to how I sobbed my heart out when Paul bought that massive bike, and asked me to travel around the world, to where I am now…I remember meeting a beautiful lady in the states who traveled on her own. And I said to her- how do you do that? And she looked at me and said, this was clear, she just looked at me and said- Maryna, one kilometre at a time. That has really stuck with me, and has really resonated with me. Because, one kilometre at a time, I’ve put 40,000 on that clock. It’s a good feeling, and I will always carry that with me as a lesson for my life. It’s not just about motorcycling, it’s just about whatever it is that we look to do that seems impossible, or seems really big. A) you’ve to start, and then B) just one kilometre at a time, one step at a time. 

Jim: You planned a year. You’re continuing on now passed the year. Why?

Maryna: We’re feeding the cookie monster. 

Paul: We just don’t want to go home. 

Jim: Too much fun, you don’t want to go home. But have you guys changed? Are you different people now, is that what’s keeping you on the road? 

Paul: One thing I said about this kind of thing is, I think it’s possible to acknowledge that you might go on a journey like this with an expectation that you’re going to change, and I did say, or I did consider the possibility that you may actually get back, and find yourself not changed at all. Which would be reflection of who you were before you left, right? So, would we have changed? I think there will be some fundamental…just some things that have changed about me in terms of how I see the world, I guess. Whether I’d be like enormously changed, I don’t know. I think I’d just take what I learned, and apply it to the real world that everyone else lives in for the time being. See how it goes. 

Maryna: Yeah, I mean, when we started to plan this journey, one of my fears was…I was really happy with the life we had. I was at the height of my career. It was so much happening, and I had a big fear of- how do I step away from something that tI’m really happy with? What if I’m on the road for a couple of weeks or months, and I’m really unhappy? So we had an agreement that, if at any stage we were unhappy, we could come back. So, if that was three months, or six months, we could come back. It’s not a failure. So the opposite has actually happened where, we are having such g odd time, that we don’t feel it’s time yet. Time will come. Paul’s daughter is having a baby, so our first grandchild is on her way shortly. {?} to Charlotte. 

Jim: Congratulations. 

Maryna: It’s tough being away at a time like this, where we can’t share her joy of preparing for motherhood. We can’t be there physically. So there is a big draw to go back. We don’t know when that day will be. I think we’ve just learned to be open. That day might be next month, where we say- hey, we want to go back. It may another year. It may be…whatever. So I think we’re quite loose…in a way, we’re quite loose with our planning, we’re quite loose about for how long we want to travel.

Paul: But that’s the point though, isn’t it?

Maryna: Yeah.

Paul: No plans. We don’t have plans. If you said we’re going to go back in six months, we’ll just mess up the next six months. If you said- oh, I’m going to go home, I booked an airplane ticket to leave on the, I don’t know, the 7th of October or something. Then you’d have to backplane and say- we’ve got six months, let’s go here, let’s go there, let’s rush this, let’s do that. You asked me whether I’d learned anything, or whether I’d changed. Well, one of the things I’ve changed is, I’m not going to do that. It’s like, the day will come, when the day is tomorrow. Whenever that occurs, I guess. 

Maryna: We’ll wake up to that day, and one thing we are able to do is be brutally honest with each other, and it may not be the same for us at the moment in time…it hasn’t happened yet, so who knows.

Jim: When Paul’s leading with the GPS, and you know that you know a better way, and Paul knows you wrong…how do you settle your arguments? Do you have a way of dealing with that? 

Maryna: I just keep quiet now. I just think about Longview.

Paul: {?} anymore.

Jim: I’m using that just as a metaphor, but I mean, in general for arguments. Because it’s trough travelling as a couple, I know that. You’re with each other all the time, all the stresses not eh both of you, and you tend to lash out at the ones you love, because you’re confident that they’re going to be there no matter how you act. 

Paul: It’s possible that…I was just thinking about…you ask about change, and how you reflect on things… It may be that the GPS was just a focal point for stresses of initially trying to go out and doing something crazy like this. Or whether we would have had stresses learning about each others characters, and understanding how we deal with stress points, things like that. And it may well be less to do with the GPs, and more to do with the evolution of our relationship.

Maryna: And we have a good strategy. 

Paul: Yeah, you just agree with me. 

Maryna: No, no, no. No, sorry to interrupt. We have a very good strategy. And it’s actually a strategy that Paul created, and it goes like this; whenever you really irritate me, I just focus on all the things I really, really, really love about you. And then it’s okay. 

Jim: Well, that’s good. I like that. 

Maryna: And it’s worked. 

Paul: Not when you interrupt me. No, it’s fine. I think that the truth is, we’ve probably grown more accustomed to each other, which I think is a good thing because it allows us to…there are always things about people that get under your skin. That’s just the nature of humanity, right? I think if you don’t have the opportunity to fully confront and explore those things, there a good possibility they’ll just chew away at you for all the time that you’re in a relationship. So I thin kit’s good that you can argue, and you can be pulled up and called to account with your characters flaws, and allow yourself to be called out, I guess. Because that’s a growing experience. Sometimes Maryna’s in traffic now, and she’s yelling explicits to the drivers, and I’m just not having a care in the world, and I don’t know what the problem is. There would have been a time where I might have got somewhat agitated by the mood that she was in. Now I just ignore it. Because she wants me to ignore it. She’s a big girl, she’ll work it out for herself. 

Maryna: Yeah, we’ve certainly learned so much about each other, and we’ve learned so much about ourselves. I’m just grateful that we’ve created a safe space in which that can all happen. It’s tough being together 24/7 for more than 365 days now.

Paul: Yeah. Sounds really long when you say it like that. 

Jim: You’re sitting in South Africa now. What’s the plans? 

Paul: We’re leaving in a couple of days, we’re going to Madrid. We’ve been here a couple of months now. So Maryna’s been taking me around, showing me all of her friends, who have been drinking a lot of wine, and eating too much barbecue food. I’ve been shown lions and elephants, and other such African things. Now, there’s a piler, and some flamenco with my name it. 

Maryna: Yeah, so we fly out to Madrid the day after tomorrow, and out motorcycles will join us there. And we continue out journey. All we know, is we ant to head towards Morocco, and try and get the best of Morocco before the weather gets too hot, and the rest of you are up for summer. So, beyond that, we don’t know. 

Jim: What or advice, or maybe I should say tips, for other people considering a trip? 

Paul: Don’t pack too much ‘just in case’ stuff. Because I think people tend to think we don’t live in a world where you can’t just buy things on the corner store. Somebody said to me, I had a toolkit and somebody said to me- you know, there’s nothing on that bike you can bike with that toolkit. Like, if the motor stops, you can’t fix anything with an allen key and a smile. So I was thinking, now I’m carrying two kilos of toolkit that simply serves no purpose. And even if I did need a spanner for something, I’d ride 50 meters in any direction in any country and probably find someone who can get me a spanner. I think that’s the tip. Try and be as lightweight as you can. I mean, I hardly wear any clothes, and Maryna is always nagging me because I’ve got one pair of pants. And I love to wear these pants all the time, I don’t care if they get a little bit dirty. But I get nagged to have to take them off and was he them. 

Jim: So what do you do, stand around with a towel around you at the laundromat, while you’re washing your pants?

Paul: Pretty much. 

Maryna: Wash them in the shower…yeah.

Paul: That’s exactly what I do, yeah.

Maryna: Yeah. I mean, I would second  Paul’s advice. We did pack way too much. {?} and MacGyver, and all those guys…none of that actually happens in real life. So we don’t need to emulate them, and expect major catastrophe around every corner, and have every single piece of equipment or tool or whatever. Yeah, and the world is a very. very small place. It’s a tiny, tiny place. It’s not a big, dangerous place at all. People are close by. Help is close by. I’d say that’s probably the best advice we could give is, don’t pack too much. 

Jim: Maryna, Paul, thank you so much for sharing your story. 

Paul: You’re welcome. Thank you.

Maryna: Thank you so much for inviting us; it’s been awesome. All the best. 


Jim (Narrate): That was Paul Knibbs, and Maryna Matthew, sort of in the middle of their adventure. And if you want to follow their adventures, drop by their website: https://just-say-yes.xyz/about/


Interviewer/Host: Jim Martin
Producer: Elizabeth Martin
Transcriptionist: Natasha Martin


This episode of Adventure Rider Radio is made possible by listener support and the following SHOW SPONSORS

Max BMW: www.maxbmw.com
BestRest Products: www.cyclepump.com
Green Chile Adventure Gear: www.greenchileadv.com
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