Emilio Scotto joins the Great Modern Travelers
This list of Great Modern Travelers is continuing to grow. It is a list filled with the names of people who have broken the mold in travel in pursuit of accomplishment. In welcoming the latest inductee, Emilio Scotto, I am reminded of this in its purist sense.
There is an something very powerful about all of their stories. These are no ordinary travelers. Listening to what makes them tick. How they took their chances with life. Embraced the unknown and emblazoned their dreams into the footprints of time.
It makes me enjoy travel more to see the difference between the people that can; and the people that do.
Read on and discover Emilio Scotto a man that spent 10 years on a motorcycle traveling the world and in doing so rode into the history books of travel!
Who is Emilio Scotto?
Emilio Scotto was born in 1956 in Argentina. At the age of 30 Emilio left his home and job working as a sales representative for a large pharmaceutical company with $300 to begin an epic 10 year motorcycle ride around the word. Emilio had never traveled out of his country before.
During his ten years atop his 1,100 cc Goldwing named the “Black Princess” Emilio was imprisoned 5 times. Accused and arrested for being a spy for Libyan leader Col. Gadhafi, and again in Rawanda.
During the final 4 years of his journey he married his girlfriend Monica Pino in India. They both then traveled together. In the later portion of his journey Emilio picked up large corporate sponsors and rode into the Guinness book of records for the longest motorcycle ride which spanned 10 years, 279 countries at a total distance of 457,000 miles (735,000 km).
Interview with Emilio Scotto
Your journey began when you were 30 years old with $300. At that time did you ever think you would end up traveling by motorcycle around the world for 10 years, or did you set out to accomplish something else?
I born with the idea of traveling the world, the question wasn’t what and how. As a child adult people asked me what I going to be when I grew up. I told them that I would be a traveler. They laughed explaining that was not a profession, it had to be something else. Time proved that they were wrong.
At 25 the answer to my childhood question, “traveling on what?” comes clear to my head: on a motorcycle. And the other question “How?”, get another simple answer, with a lot of patience and mile by mile.
On January 14, 1985, I set out to cross every country on Earth, but since at that time there was no information of any kind, my calculations of how long will take me were wrong by 100%. It took me 10 years, 2 month and 19 days to visit the six continents across 279 countries, islands and territories.
You must have met a lot of people on your travels. Is there one unsung hero that helped you on your way that you still remember today, and how did they help you?
Peter was a gold digger I met in the Amazon jungle at the beginning of my journey. An old man who had murdered a man who raped and killed his 9-year old daughter, so he had to escape justice and spend the rest of his life living in the jungle, but with a philosophy of life that made him a kind of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Peter was a great influence for the rest of my journey around the world and my life.
One day, as we navigated the Amazon River, Peter asked me if I would come down in Santarem, a small town halfway between Belen and Manaus. I said no and he asked me why. I said that because I were going to Manaus. Then he said, “you’re not going around the world to see and learn? Yes, I answer. “Then, how do you choose where to stop and where to just pass by?
I got off at Santarem, and over the years I stopped everywhere, trying not to miss any place.
What was your darkest / worst time in your travels?
Lack of money was always a factor for complications. Also the documentation of my bike was not international, and had no insurance for the bike and for me, so many borders were a tribulation. But surely the worst of my trip was to cross the 55 African countries, with its wars and tribal problematic, and the difficult geography and climatology. Six times in jail: in Chad accused by Mohammad Kaddafi of being a spy. In Liberia accused of going there to kill the president. In Zimbabwe accused of having falsified passport. In Burundi accused of being Rwanda Spy. In Rwanda accused of being Burundi spy. In Sudan accused of not respecting the curfew.
Plus I get malaria in Congo, almost killed during the Somalia war, but even so Africa turned out to be fantastic.
What was your brightest / best time in your travels?
If I could choose a time to re-live I will choose the first day of my 10 long years journey. That day, when I took the first step into the unknown. Same as the first feet’s of Apollo 11 leaving the ground with Armstrong and Aldrin, the first spins of the wheel of my bike when it took off into the world.
Considering the various political climates today along with difficulties in getting independent visas like Russian/China visas. Do you believe such a journey could take place today?
Thank God today is somewhat easier to travel, as the world is more opened. Borders are softened and communications are amazing. You know what happen ahead of you just by push of a button on a computer. Even the vehicles are more modern and efficient. Still there’s always countries that try to complicate everything. In my time some countries were communists, led by nefarious characters who thought they had the truth of life, and therefore those countries were closed. That is over.
After such a prolonged journey, what was it like when you went back home? Did you settle down or are do you still take part in extended travel?
The end of my world tour was somewhat complicated because I could not fit in anywhere. So after a time of great confusion I returned to where I feel comfortable, at home, the routes of the world.
Is there any great travel tip you would like to share with the readers here that’s helped you on your own travels?
- Once you closed the suitcase knowing that carry only the essentials, open it and leave half.
- The hardest part of a trip, is to break the inertia, the first step.
- Take into consideration the advice people give you every place, but do not consider it accurate or definitive. Remember that every human being sees and feels the world in their way.
- Follow your instinct.
Many congratulations on your incredible adventure around the world Emilio and on your great modern travelers award!
It’s my honor to received this award.
Many thanks to Emilo for taking the time to translate our conversation to English from his native Spanish.
The Longest Ride: My Ten-Year 500,000 Mile Motorcycle Journey (hard cover: lots of stories and 300 photographs)
Congratulations! / Felicidades! Emilio on your great achievements in travel, life and as one of the world’s Great Modern Travelers!