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December 16, 2010

1,000 Americans: Orlando, Mexico



By Harry Kikstra
12/16/2010

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20090530-1000_Americans-_cevende_gasolina-IMG_3447 
Orlando is an 80-year-old Mexican with great knowledge about geography and the mountains all over the world, clearly a very educated man. Now Orlando just waits in the shade for his next customers—in exchange for free food and lodging he sold gasoline for a local lady. Using his mouth and a hose, he transferred the fuel into the cars that stopped by after realizing that fuel stations were a rarity on this particular road.

We saw his eyes gleam when we told him about our trip biking around the world, but our heart broke when he coughed after every fill-up. A wrongly spelled ‘Cevende Gasolina’ sign hung near the road behind him (Se vende Gasolina = Gas for sale).

Though Dutchman Harry Kikstra has a business background, he turned into a full-time adventurer and photographer a decade ago. He has climbed the seven summits—the highest peaks of every continent—and his website 7summits.com, where he offers information and statistics as well as fully organized expeditions, is well-known. Harry also runs a portal site for adventure cyclists called BikeTravellers, where bikers can create their own free blog. He has written four books (three English guidebooks and one Dutch). His photo-blog ExposedPlanet has received many positive reviews, and his photos have been published all over the world, including in National Geographic Adventure U.S., Panorama & Penthouse NL, Outdoor Australia, Getaway South Africa, Reader's Digest, and many more. Since summer 2008, Harry has been busy cycling from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to the other end of the Americas at Ushuaia, Argentina, passing through all the countries on the continents. During this three-year-long trip (more than 20,000 miles) he is collecting portraits and stories of "1,000 Americans," some of which have been published on his blog WorldonaBike next to his other stories and collections of thousands of images from his travels. Some of the people portrayed in the 1,000 Americans series reflect time spent, whether it be many days or just a few seconds. Some told him their life stories, others just stared quietly. Some are famous, most are just "regular" people, but all are special in their own ways. Since these images were taken, life has continued: some married, some became parents, some divorced, and some passed away. But it is a lasting testament to the diversity of America. Harry's pictures are for sale through ExposedPlanet.com, and after the cycling expedition has ended his moving portraits and unique stories will be published in a book. Away Travel Blog will be showcasing just a few of the diverse Americans he has come across on his journeys.


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