Sunday, July 3, 2011

13 Years Ago Today & It's About the People...

No gain, no pain...
Here is a recent shot of Nate on the beach near Bol Croatia.  He is apparently impressing the people on the ferry cruising the Adriatic Sea behind him with his mad HASTA PADANGUSTHASANA skills.  Photographer Nela Kranjcevic.  *Note:  Header image credit obviously Nela as well.

Today is July 3, 2011 which happens to be the thirteenth Anniversary of the first day I started as a bike messenger in Charlotte.  Time flies when you are having fun making money having fun.  Those very first few days on the job are clear in my memory, especially meeting two of the couriers already in place.  One of those was the not yet notable to many Rich Dillen, and the other was Nathan Sprinkle.  Dicky is still around, however Nathan has long since moved on with his life which has taken him on multiple journeys to far away places in Africa and Europe.

Friends do not have to talk much on the phone or the email to actually remain friends when time and space on this earth separates them.  Over the years riding as my livity in Charlotte I have met some truly amazing and powerful humans, Nathan is near the top of that list.  In celebration of my 13th year of couriering by bike, I would like to share with you Nate's response to 10 questions that I recently posed to him.  His matter of fact answers are coming all the way from Belgrade Serbia where he has found some sort of internal peace that is apparent in his words and the picture above.  I find his character and worldly bravery an inspiration that is worth sharing with you. 

1. Since I've known you Nate, you've been on many travels. How long has it been on this latest excursion since you left America, and where are you now?

I left the USofA in early July of 2010, so it's been almost a year. I am writing from Belgrade, Serbia, where I have a legally obtained Temporary Resident Visa. Since Nela and I plan to marry we have to figure out what procedures are necessary for maintaining my legitimate existence. For instance, do I try to get a new international driving permit or a license issued by the Serbian authorities?

2. Do you miss your existence here in the U.S.?

I miss certain things about the US. My family, of course. My sister's baby is growing up fast and I can only watch his human progress via skype. Not to mention my 3 nieces. I miss certain foods. I miss the National Park System. There are some really beautiful landscapes in this part of the world but they are not easy to access.
3. Have you found a bike, and more importantly do you ride it much? If so, what is it like to ride in such a far away place?

I do have a bike, remember I posted some photos of it on my FB wall. It is a strange gestalt that is referred to here as a fitness bike. I use it to commute as often as possible. I don't ride for recreation as much as I was in the States. Perhaps because I have a girlfriend (now fiance), and perhaps because Belgrade isn't really a great place to ride a bike, topographically or traffically. I have met a few local riders through a website ( and plan to get riding more in the future. I want to do some touring, but that is predicated on finding a way to earn money.
4. Does your last experience as a messenger here in Charlotte still have an impact on your life right now?

I often feel very lazy. There isn't much teaching to do, I have only a few classes, and it is not physically taxing work. I do housework, of course, but that doesn't count. I have to remind myself that I can work hard and diligently when the need arises. I think back to my last messenger experience: 50 minute morning commute, 8 hour day of riding, then straight to class until after dark, and end with another long commute or a bus ride if I was lucky. I miss it sometimes.
5. What does it feel like to have a college degree from an American University while living in eastern Europe?

I wish I had studied Biology.

6. How's Nela?

Nela is in conflict right now. She wants to change her job, and has the opportunity to do so. But the new job pays less than her current job. Also she wants to have a baby, and if she takes the new job she feels she will have to put off having a baby. She is happy we are getting married, though, and that we are getting long really well, after a rough patch a month or so ago. *Late Edit: She took the new Job.
7. Do you ever tell anyone in Serbia that you know Team Dicky and The Pie personally?

I haven't met anyone who are aware of the Team Dicky phenomenon, much less The Pie. Sometimes I am surprised at how much people know of American Culture and at other times I am disappointed at things they have missed. I'm not sure how Team Dicky would be interpreted by the Serbian audience. Would they see it as just another example of American moral depravity? Or as the Id that opposes US cycle racing's Ego?
8. What's the biggest difference between the American culture you were raised in, and the culture of the people you are surrounded by right now?

Nela was surprised when I told her that many, if not most, people in the US believe in Heaven and Hell. I was raised by a Christian family in a Christian society and only reached atheism by way of a long period of contemplation and consideration. Here, atheism is just the way things are. Even people who are religious (in Serbia, Orthodox Christianity is most common) are not beholden to all of the strict doctrines that US Christians hold dear.
9. In the recent image (assumed to be shot by Nela) I saw of you holding some sort of yoga pose (excuse my ignorance like you always have), what body of water is behind you?

The body of water is The Adriatic Sea, specifically the part that flows between the islands of Brać and Hvar. The pebble beach on which I balanced is called Zlatni Rat or "Golden Cape" (though 'rat' can also mean 'war') near the town of Bol. The photo is deceiving, the beach is actually pretty crowded, but not nearly as crowded as, say, Myrtle Beach. The water is crystal clear down to at least 30 feet. Also I haven't done a full yoga session in months.
10. Right now, this magical instant before us, do you ever see yourself coming back to the land of the free?

Sure. At least to visit. It depends on economics, really. But I expect to be, as I always am, dismayed and depressed by the continual and unflagging destruction of the best thing about America: the land.

Thanks, I don't think of myself as an inspiring person. I had the pleasure of meeting two friends from the States on the recent trip to Croatia. I hope some day you and I have a chance to meet on the soil of this continent.

Smrt Fašizam (as they used to say),

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