Trapped by Coronavirus: The Day Motorcycle Travel Came to a Sudden Stop
Coronavirus forced our world into lockdown. Millions flew home, stockpiled on toilet roll and hunkered down to see out the pandemic. But it’s not that easy for motorcycle travellers. Some managed to ship their bikes out in time, others had to leave them and fly out… and the rest stayed behind. Most are trapped inside closed borders, a few want to leave but can’t, one caught COVID-19 and the rest are just trying to make the best of a tough situation. Here are their stories, why they’re still on the road and what their new plans are…
6th May 2020
My wife and I set out to travel around the world to experience all of its hidden treasures, different cultures and to help find our way in this world while getting lost at the same time. We quit our jobs and sold all of our possessions to find out if it would be the worst decision – or the best decision – we had ever made.
Marisa and I often take small breaks throughout our journey. We spent a month in Colima, Mexico and another month by Lake Atitlán in Guatemala. Of course, there are more restrictions now than we have had in the past. We now have a 6pm curfew – something I haven’t had since I was 16 years old. But we are allowed to ride to the small shops to get food and some fresh air.
We rented a small house that only cost us around £100 a month, so we got lucky as far as finding cheap accommodation, but we have yet to find out how all of our paperwork checks out when we try to renew our temporary import. We are hoping that it all goes smoothly, but are wary because the borders may be looking for reasons to make an extra buck or two.
We’re a couple from Kenya who left home back in 2018 to fulfill our dream of travelling the world on motorcycles. Being the first people from Kenya to ride round-the-world is really important to us too because we get to tell the great story of Kenya and promote our incredible country as we travel.
Coronavirus put a complete halt on our travels. All the borders around Nicaragua are closed and we can’t leave the country. While it is possible to move within the country, we have chosen not to as we have a part to play in managing the spread. Travelling around will only expose us and Nicaraguan citizens. Staying put is our way of being responsible to ourselves and the country that is hosting us.
This decision has obviously increased the cost of living. We can’t camp anymore as it wouldn’t be comfortable for long periods and so we have to pay for proper accommodation. That comes with increased food costs and other home necessities that we never had a budget for. We also have to pay for visas, bike insurance and temporary import renewals monthly. Food is easily available but we’re far from open markets and have to shop from a supermarket, which makes it a little more expensive than when we were travelling.
We have had to cancel our trip. Shipping the bikes home so that it will be easier to fly out when airlines resume flying has been the biggest challenge.
Check out Wamuyu and Dos’ awesome article on Mad or Nomad: The First Africans to Ride Round-the-World.
Just a Journey
I’ve always wanted to travel and am so lucky to be able to do it without any time constraints. I used to travel with a very tight budget, but I’m now in a privileged position as I can work remotely as a web analyst. I started in 2017 on a bicycle, got tired after one year of pedalling and switched to a motorbike. It was quite a challenge as I had never even ridden a scooter before. So, I went back home to Poland, got a driver’s licence and bought a bike. Six months later and I left to ride through Europe to Southeast Asia. I met Roman in Iran and moved into his van. Since then my travelling has become a mix of biking and van-life in-between.
We were in Cambodia and planning on crossing the border to Laos when the coronavirus situation got serious. As soon as we realised that the borders might close at any moment we dashed into Thailand. We didn’t want to get stuck in Cambodia. Their healthcare system is non-existent and you can’t trust the officials. Thailand is way more developed and politeness and respect is a major value in Thailand, which became really important considering xenophobic acts in some other countries.
Before the provinces closed down, we managed to extend our visa and get to Koh Chang Island where we are currently. It was a great choice. As soon as we arrived the borders closed, the provinces shut down shortly after and then the island was off-limits too. There are restrictions on some services like massages, pubs, alcohol and going out after 10pm, but that doesn’t really affect us. People are kind here and wearing masks while shopping is a pretty good trade-off for being stuck on Paradise Beach.