The other day, on the 23rd of May, I completed the first month of my trip. It was a victory, I overcame my greatest fear that I’d never even be able to begin the journey. That zero moment point and zero kilometers frightened me even in my dreams.
One night I dreamed that I was in the middle of the snow, at the head of the Dalton Highway, I got on my bike but it wouldn’t move. I woke up scared. I’ve had many dreams like this since the beginning of the trip.
For me, starting has always been the hardest part. I succeeded.
The only photo I have of departure day. I was so nervous and under such a sense of urgency that I forgot to capture the moment. (Foto by Nancy Bremer)
After this, I faced other fears, the first nights afraid of the bears, completely isolated, about the snow. Fear of the cold.
In Denali Park 2 moose came to investigate my tent one early morning. I saw their shadow through the top of my tent. I heard their breathing. Staying still and controlling my fear until the animals gave up was what I did. It’s a powerful sensation, knowing that a gigantic living being is there, so close and as surprised as oneself. You empathize. They were courageous enough to come up close to the tent. None of the 3 of us could do anything foolish. He couldn’t scare me and I couldn’t scare him. Any spooked animal is dangerous.
I’m still in a very isolated area but now I’m more relaxed with the sounds around me.
Controlled fear became an ally. They keep me alert, attentive, focused and calm to be able to make a good decision when, for example, a mother bear and her cubs cross the road.
Camping on the shores of Grayling Lake on the Dalton Highway (Alaska). My only preoccupation was to find a level place.
1,744km later (1,083 miles), I got to where I wanted to be, Whitehorse, the “gateway” to the Yukon, the wildest part of Canada.
From then on there were more cities and there was more traffic. Now I no longer camp so carefree. I always stop at police stations to let them know where I’m going. I get off the highway when no one is passing by. I hide my bike and tent in the middle of the forest so I can spend the night in peace.
But there is still a more isolated stretch of road, I was enthusiastic about this part because it’s also known as the “Park-to-Park Highway” and it’s said to be beautiful! It’s 720km (447 miles) of Highway 16 that is also known as the Highway of Tears.
Sign at the beginning of the highway with the warning: “Girls Don’t Hitchhike on the Highway of Tears. Killer on the Loose! (Foto do site)
I was able to get a ticket to Prince Rupert on the Skagway ferry so I could see the glaciers. From Prince Rupert I’d continue on to the east towards Jasper and Banff, an important nature preserve here in Canada.
This road is the Highway of Tears.
Map of the Highway of Tears where the bodies of 19 women were found. (site)
The numbers are controversial and not precise, but, since 1969, women have disappeared or been murdered (after being raped) on this highway. The organization of the “Highway of Tears” http://www.highwayoftears.cathat compiles part of the information about the cases has confirmed 24 disappearances, but indigenous organizations have counted more than 60 cases from the native populations, (the majority of the girls who have disappeared have been “First Nation People”).
I’m writing this 2 days after learning about the case of Beatriz and the 33 rapists in Rio de Janeiro (news report). I am, at least this time, having the opportunity to minimize my chances of being raped, murdered or held hostage. I’m going to change my route. I’m going to cut 720km (447m) from my ride. But Bia and the other 249,999 women in the world (in just this year) never had this same chance.
Today, with tears in my eyes, but certain that we are in mourning against this barbarism, I want to honor Beatriz.