Dublin’s long distance courier

Sean O Tuathail is one of those unassuming people who don’t say every much unless they have to. What isn’t difficult is to think of questions to put to Sean, because he done things most others just read about.

Two years ago he cycled to India from Dublin. Previous to that he’d cycled around Spain, Morocco, China and Dublin, where he worked as a courier.

His big trip took eight months. Two of those were spent in Budapest, where he over wintered, supporting himself by reverting back to couriering and teaching English.

On the road his choice of lodgings was basic. Working on a shoestring budget and not having brought a tent, to reduce the weight of the bicycle to the absolute minimum, more often than not he slept in disused garages, half constructed houses, or weather permitting, under the shelter of the heavens.

Only once, when on the shores of the Caspian Sea, did he regretting the security that four walls and a roof provide. His campfire that night attracted three local men. Next morning Sean discovered they’d made off with his cycling shoes. This represented something of a minor disaster as the pedals of his bike were designed only to work with those shoes. Barefoot he walked to a near by village. The elders shocked to here what had befallen him, wasted no time in apprehending the wrong doers and reunited Sean with his footwear.

Near the Afghani border his trip almost came to a premature end. A motorcyclist collided with him from behind. This necessitated a stay in hospital and considerable repairs to the bike.

In Afghanistan he was advised not to go alone and especially not by bike. He travelled from Herat to Kandahar and then to Kabul by putting the bike on a bus. Every few miles he saw from the window roadblock, where the militiamen of the local warlord extracted a fee for travelling on. The buses never moved at night, they stopped at hotels that were often nothing more than ruins. Kabul wasn’t much better. The UN and the other western officials in their land cruisers stood out as being the only sign of wealth in a city that had been bomb back to the middle ages.

Contrary to its reputation for banditry, Sean found Peshawar so relaxing he stayed there a week. After that it was a direct run down to Lahore and from there a quite hop over the border to India.

Sean O Tuathail is currently writing a book in Irish about his travels.

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