By Shaanaaz de Jager
A EUROPEAN construction worker who gave up his job to pursue his dream of trekking around Africa on a bicycle has ended his journey in the Eastern Cape.
Eugene Szulik, from Marklowice in Poland, began his African odyssey on November 4 last year and has now covered a distance of 13000km, visiting nine countries – Egypt, Northern Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Lesotho, South Africa and Tanzania.
“I’ve always wanted to visit Africa to see the animals in their natural habitat and see how the people here live,” said Szulik. He ended his journey in Port Elizabeth camping in the backyard of a couple’s home.
“I saved my money and quit my job. I was hoping to get as far as Cape Town but I pre-booked my Port Elizabeth air ticket so I was not sure what time I would be back in PE if I had to cycle to Cape Town,” he said.
“PE is a lovely city. There’s lots to see here. I saw the Ironman competitors and those people are amazing.”
Szulik began cycling from Hurghada, south of Cairo. Although he did not encounter any problems he was forced to pack up his bicycle and take a bus through northern Kenya, where tribal fighting was rife.
Whenever Szulik tired he simply set up his tent in bushes alongside the road or in villages whose residents were always ready to welcome him.
In Port Elizabeth the police allowed him to sleep at the New Brighton and Humewood stations.
Szulik especially enjoyed sampling the different foods from the various African nations. He said the tap water in Nelson Mandela Bay was of the best he had encountered.
This is a shortened version of an article that first appeared in the print edition of Weekend Post on Saturday May 5, 2012.