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Approaching the End of the Journey
Croatia, 9. december 2002
The solo journey of one woman, one BMW F650 motorcycle, around one planet (and all its continents) is approaching it's 2,000th day and the journey's end. This record-setting trip is the first continuous solo motorcycle ride that has passed over all seven continents (including Antarctica) and the longest motorcycle journey ever undertaken by a woman.

Benka Pulko set out on June 19, 1997 from her hometown of Ptuj, Slovenia. At age 30 she took on a largely unknown challenge, hoping that with a sprinkle of good luck, plenty of patience, persistence, and dedicated work, she might succeed.

While holding degrees in Biology, Nursing, and Massage Therapy, she had never owned a motorcycle. She obtained her motorcycle driver's license just months before embarking on this long journey.

In five and a half years her path has crossed over 70 countries and territories: Slovenia, Italy, Canada, United States of America, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Antarctica, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, China, Pakistan, Iran, Oman, United Arab Emirates, South African Republic, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Congo (DRC), Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Russia, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, and all the republics of former Yugoslavia, including Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Croatia.

She has changed 19 tires, had four flats, was poisoned in the Amazon Jungle of Venezuela, survived riding in chaotic India (3 traffic accidents in one single day), and celebrated a birthday with Hillary Clinton. She illegally rode her bike into China, cracked her head in Ecuador, and spent some time adventuring around the hospital. In Pakistan, she got married to her bike and survived some perilous countries by munching on grasshoppers, scorpions, hamsters, and the occasional dog. She was the first woman in history who alone, on two wheels, rode across Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to travel alone nor drive any vehicle.

In addition to riding her BMW motorcycle, she rode elephants, camels and ostriches, went diving with sharks, and learned how to skydive. Along the way, she deepened her knowledge of motorcycle mechanics and was forced to learn what marketing is all about. In between the times on the bike, off the bike she was teaching Ethiopian kids how to read and write. In the developed capitalistic world, she was explaining what Communism was like and outlining the political map of Europe.

With practically no funds, she collected enough ideas, products, and money (worth an estimated $100,000 U.S) for her "Around the World Following the Sun" project. Thousands of hours of laugher and worries, surprises and pain, loneliness and thoughts will be summarized in a forthcoming book. This is going to be her job while re-acclimating to the sedentary life in her still favorite country, Slovenia.

She is not focused on details while thinking of the future. Benka says the life on the road taught her that detailed planning is usually a waste of time. "We are turning, the life turns. I will wait for another good idea to occur and then start working on it," she said, just before completing her demanding and courageous journey on December 10, 2002 in Slovenia.

For years now, Benka has pursued her solo adventure successfully with courageous behavior, attractions to see, new things to learn and always-friendly people on her paths to help. "The hardest part of the journey is definitely the last stretch, those last miles. I want to finally go home, but I am afraid at the same time. I have no idea what to expect. The other day I had a look into the travel guide, the type of literature I have been reading for so many years in a row now, what they have to say about my home. It was written:

'Little Slovenia straddles Western and Eastern Europe. The two million Slovenes were economically the most well off among the peoples of what was once Yugoslavia, and the relative affluence and orderliness of the nation are immediately apparent. Slovenia may be the gateway to the Balkans from Italy, Austria or Hungary, but it still has the feel of central Europe. Slovenia is one of Europe's most delightful surprises for travelers. The amazing variety of settings packed into one small area makes this country truly a "Europe in miniature". An added bonus is that Slovenia is a nation of polyglots, and communicating with these friendly, helpful people is never difficult.'

I am composed again, eagerly approaching my return to the place and people I belong to," Benka added a couple of days ago while mapping the last miles of her journey. This "Around the World" adventure will undoubtedly find its place among the most remarkable voyages in history.

 
 
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