Raúl Ricaurte is a photographer and graphic designer from Quito, Ecuador, known among his friends as “El Ruso” for his great resemblance to a Russian soccer player of the 1994 World Cup. But he is even more famous because since 2017 he decided to embark on a fearless mission on his motorcycle which he has called "Vespeando al Mundo".
“My friends told me that I was crazy and that I wasn't going to get anywhere, that I thought things through, but I've always been rebellious and wanted to do what I wanted,” he says in an interview with The opinion.
That was how he September 26, 2017 he rode on his Vespa PX150 of the year 1987 which he named as Antonia in honor of his kinde teacherr.
“I left with fear because I was alone and did not know my motorcycle. I eventually lost it when I met her and learned about mechanics, ”he says.
Also in each city he met motorcycle clubs and made friends to help him. “Today, I fixed everything to the motorcycle; and it's very comfortable, ”he says.
He chose a Vespa after doing an investigation of what were the best motorcycles to travel the world and found that this brand ranked fifth.
Before embarking on the adventure of touring the world on his Vespa, he made a trip as a backpacker through South America with the goal of reaching the World Cup Brazil 2014, which led him to know a total of 58 cities, 6 countries and 14 wonders of the modern world .
That trip inspired him to travel the world by motorcycle to take pictures.
“As a photographer I always want to stop anywhere that catches my attention. With my scooter it is easier to move and manage my times as it suits me, ”he says.
In addition the Vespa spends little gasoline. More or less occupies seven liters per 150 or 200 kilometers. “I try to leave at 9 in the morning. I travel between 200 and 500 kilometers per day depending on whether it is coast or mountain, ”he explains.
The desire of this 37-year-old Ecuadorian has been to travel 20 countries in South America, Central America, North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
He started in his own country and from there he went down to Ushuaia, the capital of the province of Tierra del Fuego in Argentina, a place known as the end of the world.
“I have already completed 19 countries. In two years and four months of travel, I have traveled 70,000 kilometers, ”he says.
He usually camps because he likes to take pictures of sunrises and sunsets, and is supported by friends who live abroad or motorcycle clubs that guide him on where he is or offer a roof.
Last week he arrived in Los Angeles with his eyes set on arriving in Alaska. “From there I will get off to take a boat in New York that will take me to Spain, I will cross Europe to reach China and take a boat to Chile to return to Ecuador, and thus fulfill my dream,” he says.
What do you carry in your backpack?
Clothes, tools to fix the motorcycle, gasoline, emergency tire, a sleeping tent and even a portable shower, He says.
One of his concerns when planning his trip was the economic factor, what he was going to live on.
“I discovered that it is cheaper to live traveling, than to live in a place permanently with all the bills that have to be paid,” he says.
However, he managed some sponsors, such as the California Top1 company that provides oil for his motorcycle throughout the Americas, but also obtains resources from the sale of instant photographs he takes along the way, or from the postcards he has made of your images. Another company that has supported it from the beginning has been NaturPharma.
“I sell patches and stickers of my traveler logo. I do graphic design in exchange for food or hotel stays; work of anything that comes along the way; I volunteer in zoos and foundations, and I can give motivational talks”He says.`
What is the best thing that happened to you on this trip?
"Meet the kindness of people and discover that the less they have, they give you more. People who without knowing me invite me to sleep at home. In Ecuador, I met a family of four, who lives in a little hut and left me the only bed they had to sleep there. I didn't tell them, they're crazy, and they didn't let me, they didn't let me, and they slept on the floor, ”he says.
In Ushuaia, Argentina met a couple of motorcyclists. The man of 93 years and she of 87 years who always lived sick and one day decided to leave, live life and die traveling. “After five months, exams were taken and they realized they had been cured. He was one of the people who inspired me to get to Alaska, ”he says.
And when we ask him which place he liked best, he maintains that each country has its own. “In Argentina, Patagonia; The Salar de Uyuni of Bolivia; Machu Picchu, in Peru; the amazing volcanoes of Ecuador; the Caribbean of Central America and the pyramids in Mexico, ”he says.
In La Paz, Mexico met Adrián Quevedo, a Spanish backpacker who was brought on his motorcycle to Los Angeles, and hopes to visit Mallorca, Spain where he lives, when he goes there on his Vespa.
In his journey, nothing has ever happened to him, not an accident or a robbery, ensures. But of course, he warns that you always have to be aware. What has not been spared is the ferocity of the mosquitoes that have attacked it en masse.
“I have never got sick. I have not gone from flu and bend my foot, ”he says.
The only misfortune that has happened to him is to lose his photography and computer equipment – essential equipment for his trip – that he unintentionally broke by helping him transport himself.
"The Russian" finds his trip fun because all his days are Saturdays. “Everything is unexpected. You never know where you are going, what are you going to expect, who are you going to meet, what are you going to eat. At the beginning it is worrisome, because we get used to the programmed. I can eat in a market, buy prepared food, invite me to eat, I can cook myself, ”he observes.
Don't you miss your life in Ecuador?
"I miss my mom – Ivonne Suarez – who is my number one fan, my dog, a hot shower and my beetle – as a classic Volkswagen calls her car -".
What this adventure of Vespear for the World has taught him during the long journeys in which he has had a lot of time to dialogue with himself.
"I have learned to be patient, to have more confidence in myself, to realize that I can and to forgive myself", He says.
The best thing is that on his way he has encountered many people who facilitate his trip and want to know who he is.
“They want to know more, they invite you to their house to sleep, and you end up making friends. This shows you that there are more good people in the world than bad. You realize that traveling is easier than being at home every day, enjoy more, know more, spend less and live more, ”he says.
About ten days ago he entered California, avoiding highways because his Vespa's engine is too small to run the speed demanded on these roads.
If you want to help Raúl “El Ruso” Ricaurte or learn more about his adventure around the world on his Vespa, look for him on Facebook at: @Vespeandoalmundo; on Instagram at: vespeando_al_mundo; or on YouTube under: Watching the World Raúl Ricaurte.