Travels With Arlene: The Old and The Newfeature100_2

by Arlene Liska

Ed.- The following are some thoughts about world travel by the esteemed Arlene Liska. Arlene Liska and her late husband, Danny, circumnavigated the globe on a BMW in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s with little more than a dream and determination. We are very honored to have her thoughts featured on these pages. An MMM exclusive.

There is a new and different audience out there. I was confronted by a younger couple most eager to have me relate some of our motorcycle travel stories. We gathered stories as we traveled from Alaska, through the Americas, all the way to the tip of South America.

“Just start talking,” they expressed. Yes, I’d like to share in-depth stories of some of the sixty countries we trekked through. While we mostly rode our BMW, we used every available means of travel, according to the area.

I enjoy sharing details of remote civilizations: How did they get here? From where did they come? The majesty of the pyramids is still evident, yet somewhat in ruin. The stones are hewn with such precision, so fitted as if they would have been cut to graft. They are beautiful mysteries of art that still stand strong.

We saw these same patterns in South America and later to witness the patterns again in Zambia as we journeyed through Africa by motorcycle.

What do young people want to learn? Do they want to know about the precise, perfectly round stone balls, impenetrable by anything, measuring from a few inches to well over six feet in diameter? Some we had to find with machetes, hacking at the overgrowth from the jungle. Do they want to hear about how, when in Costa Rica, we delved down into a steaming volcano that has since erupted? (Ed. – Arenal) In Central Africa, we beheld the interior mountains of Burundi, home to native tribes people. There are the troglodytes in the North African desert, recessed cave homes that provided a night’s lodging, away from the wild animals and elements.

Or do they want to hear of the here and now? Or the snake and mosquito stories? Or of the promenades on the streets of the new, modern cities?

Then there are the tribe’s people of the Indian jungle, virgin to the white man’s way of life, with only a loincloth covering their bold bodies. They had no means of communication as we know it, yet the tribes people in the remote village knew of our coming long before we appeared. We spent many months on our trips with our BMW serving as home, comfort and companion through sixty countries. We rode to find the people of the area, their reason for living, their indigenous ways; to listen to their drums calling out, the caterwauling and hypnotic, rhythmic chants working together as to turn a pipe that might fill a well with water, or raise a fallen tree to be used as a pole for a dwelling or hut.

Do the younger generations see through our windshield as we see the different ways of life as they unfolded; country after country; a mosaic of people, customs and cultures, accepting the hazards with the pleasure? I take along the memories of a trip that for many parts would be impossible to do today with only a motorcycle and a lot of faith.

Arlene Liska

Niobrara, Nebraska

February 2008


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