Date: Tue, 03 Mar 1998 16:52:56 PST
From: Claude Marthaler <>

Subject: Finding the balance

La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, kilometer 67259

Dear Redfishes !

February 14, Saint Valentine. The worst day to leave Lisa, an American woman, after two months of common life and a ride along the Californian coast from San Francisco to San Diego. After for weeks literally stuck for dental work (which cost me a big part of my tiny budget ), I realized, once more, that, being stopped in a place, was for a nomad, far more difficult than crossing high passes in the Himalayas.

A single tooth ! El Nino was waiting on the yak on his way South towards Tijuana, the city most visited on earth it seems (35 million visitors per year !). The city appeared to me ugly under a heavy rain, heavy legs and the sudden cultural shock, after a so-polished California. I found refuge in a rehabilitation center, between drug addicts, alcoholics and crazy people (some fences, plastic sheets and wood huts), wondering if I was not sometimes crazy myself.

Another night in a metal hut with farmers from the city of Oxcaca, who had nothing, but the politeness to bring me a pile of "tortillas", since then my basic meal. Hola, que tal ? Finally, 8OO kilometers south, in Guerrero Negro, the sun appeared . Baja California, more than a huge peninsula (and therefore not really mexican or american), was more a concept, a reservoir of dreams than water.

The gigantic RV'S, self-sufficient, but always afraid to stay alone, organised in caravans, a kind of post-modern version of the Conquistadores nearly 5OO years ago. Equipped with CD, washing machine and..

From my saddle, I could hardly imagine what they didn't own. Perhaps a certain sense of proportions. But here (like everywhere), there was space for the dreamers : Don Skillman, author of "Pedaling across America" (published by Vitesse Press, ,88), invited me for dinner. Philipp and Karin, a couple of german cyclists, one and a half year on the road from Tierra-del-Fuego, Shanti Vistara ("the peaceful expansion") and Dhyan Nikhil ("The meditation wholeness"), two ex-Rajneesh followers, instead of following their master, fell in love together in India. Vistara, pilot of an Ultralight, took the yak for a short flight. And then, Mr Macintosh (not the computer man, the other), just missed on his way through Baja with his donkey loaded with water. Having published a first book hasn't been enough, he had to come back. And Bo, met the first time in Bishop (Nevada) in winter time. After a successfull crossing of the Death Valley on foot (without assistance), he had started twelve days ago, the crossing of Baja, from Cabo to Tijiuna... Good luck to all these nomads who make life more beautifull.

MARCH 1994 - MARCH 12 1998 : FOURTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE YAK, Champagne !!! "There is no way, the way is made by pedalling !..."

From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU !

In memory and deepest respect to my brother, Rene, who died at age 22 in a Swiss expedition of cave exploring in Papouasia by the end of summer 1979.

To my parents, who gave me life, roots and bought me my very first bicycle.

To my friends.

To my "sponsors", who under such an abstract name, were among the first to believe in my dream and support me.

To all people who help me along the way, brought me under a roof, fed me with a meal, encouraged me with their presence and made me believe that the world was not, after all, in too bad shape.

To my best companions : YAK 1 and YAK 2.000

To the road, for raising more questions than any answers.

And more recently : special thanks to Lisa for her editorial work and much more, Kenji Goto from Japan for his constant support, Joe and Brigitte who gave me a frontwheel...

At the very beginning of my fifh year of travelling, please forgive me for all I forget. OM.

The YAK_

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