The GS conqueror.

Miquel Silvestre: from avid reader to avid rider.

Those seeking to understand the paths taken by adventurer Miquel Silvestre must look deep into Spanish history. It is impossible to discover the whole world in one life in his opinion. And so Miquel sets out following in the footsteps of Spanish conquerors, seamen and castaways like Francisco de Cuéllar, González de Clavijo or Emilio Bonelli.

He follows them right through Europe to Asia and Africa. This way, he is trying to find out more about the history of his ancestors, to then record the partly forgotten treasures of the Spanish conquests in his reports. Because Miquel doesn’t trust history books, the media or opinion makers. He wants to see the truth with his own eyes, not through a screen.

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Very good, my friend

Miquel Silvestre following the path of his Spanish ancestors.

“The only way to get a picture of the happenings in the world is to travel”, Miquel says, “or to believe those who were really there and have gotten to know a land in all its complexities between beauty, wildness, poverty and destruction.” Miquel takes the time needed for this, mingles with the people and gets to know them and their culture. “It is important as a stranger to show that you are not a threat”, he says and tells us about an encounter in Indonesia. The people there were restrained and serious in their behaviour towards him.

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One day when buying bananas from a mistrustful elderly lady, he thanked her by saying “very good, my friend”. The woman understood and smiled. The phrase became a motto which brought him – like the motorcycle – closer to the land and its people. “The motorcycle is the best vehicle for a journey. It is like a balcony to the world. Being on the road in the car is like sitting isolated in a box. You miss the emotion, agility, freedom – and the self-confidence that comes from broadening your horizons further than you would have thought possible."

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People who buy a GS carry the spirit of GS within them like a virus. At some point, it will eventually break out and you will start to live your dream. Because with the GS, you have the tool to let your spirit fly.
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Miquel Silvestre

EVERYTHING FOR THE BOOK

Vision quest for a novel.

Vision quest for a novel.

Miquel Silvestre set out on his first big travel adventure on his motorcycle in 2008. It might be referred to as a vision quest. Because Miquel was in fact a seeker. He wanted to find ideas for his new book somewhere on the dusty, difficult route. Amid his full-time job and day-to-day life, he had lost his muse. He had saved up enough and took a sabbatical from his job as a property registrar – a secure job, albeit equally boring as well in Miquel’s eyes.

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Incidentally, it was the profession which President Rajoy also practised before his inauguration. “I chose a bad life to be able to live at last”, Miquel says. No more fixed income, just the earnings from writing, photographing and filming for newspapers and magazines. Before setting out on a journey, he packed up his belongings neatly in boxes and brought them to his mother’s. Tailored suits, watches, expensive leather shoes. This was eight years ago. The boxes are still there. “I have lost the fear of losing all these things”, Miquel says.

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Training for the fountain pen.

Training for the fountain pen.

During his sabbatical, he first rode to the Italian region of Tuscany. Where others would spend their holidays, Miquel picked up the trail of the Spanish conquerors he had read so much about as a child. Back then, the adventurous world of seamen and diplomats would cast such a spell over him that he preferred to devour books rather than play football with his mates. Now he has been on expeditions of his own and written his own books. From Italy, he travelled on through Europe as far as Ireland, where he spent eight months.

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“I encountered the legends surrounding the Armada Invencible, the Spanish Armada of King Philipp II, who went off to war against England in 1588”, Miquel recounts. He wrote this completely forgotten chapter of Spanish history in reports for the well-known newspapers ABC and El País. This kept him afloat financially and at the same time also served as good training for his fountain pen. In fact, Miquel was still on the lookout for the sparkling idea for a novel – until he realized that his experiences and discoveries should make up the content for his book. “My discoveries from my travels with the motorcycle were more astounding than fantasy could ever depict."

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In my helmet, I watched an endless film, which wouldn’t let me go.
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Miquel Silvestre

A million stones

Adventure means broadening your horizons further than you would have thought possible.

The motorcycle as a balcony to the world.

The motorcycle as a balcony to the world.

Why do people become adventurers? Miquel asked himself this question and came to the conclusion: It is a form of resistance to growing up. On a world trip, no day goes by without fear and euphoria. It is the full, exciting life where you don’t have to function like on an assembly line, but one in which you are a bit of a child. No routine, no day-to-day life. “Those who ride a GS harbour precisely this longing for adventure deep down. Even if you don’t plan the big world trip now, you still have the chance to turn onto a path to adventure and live your dream”, says Miquel.

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After his sabbatical, Miquel couldn’t return to his life on the “assembly line”. He had changed. “My life before seemed faint to me. Because in my helmet, I saw an endless film, which never let up.” He quit his job, climbed back onto his motorcycle and travelled across the African continent. “The things I knew about Africa before my journey scared me. But when I was there, I not only experienced hunger, war and blood, as the media suggests, but friendliness and a great willingness to help. Yes, there are conflicts, but this is not where the magnifying glass should be focused.”

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A book that changes everything.

A book that changes everything.

On his journey across Africa, Miquel met peculiar personalities and found himself in absurd situations. Enough material to finally write his novel: “Un millón de piedras” – a million stones. 240 pages, filled with stories about his encounters in the deserts, savannas and jungles of the black continent. “I am proud of this book”, Miquel says. “I wasn’t thinking about the success and what the readers might think. I wrote this for me.”

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It is a book that would change everything. Miquel began going about photography in a more systematic way and also began filming his journeys from then on. He was also represented in the social media channels, and was approached by magazines and sponsors – and finally by Spanish television. Here, he got his own series. “This is certainly not a programme that is only viewed by motorcyclists. I think that I bring people a little closer to the world of motorcycling and GS.”

 

 

 

 

 

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I don’t care much about biker meetings and group excursions. I am a lonesome rider in a black leather jacket, who uses the motorcycle for getting away from the herd instead of finding it.
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Miquel Silvestre

A nomad called Big Monkey.

Miquel’s journeys became longer and longer, the distances bigger and bigger. After his trip through Africa, he journeyed to North America, Central Asia and the Orient. Always alone. He was free, travelling light through entire continents, and joined his writing fervour with the – as he puts it – epitome of freedom: the motorcycle. “I don’t care much about biker meetings and group excursions. I am a lonesome rider in a black leather jacket, who uses the motorcycle for getting away from the herd instead of finding it.” Miquel lived like a nomad on his journeys. Simple and primitive.

The beard grew, the stomach endured practically everything and he even managed to sleep far away from any comfort zone. His nickname Big Monkey couldn’t be more appropriate. The deprivation taught Miquel to cherish the little things of everyday life and his home. In this vein, he looks forward to returning to Spain after every long journey. “You can live very well here. There is freedom, safety, a great climate, beautiful landscapes, Jamón Ibérico and olive oil.” And not to be forgotten: the love of his life.

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Mystic moments at Mount Ararat.

THE NEXT RADICAL CHANGE

In 2015, Miquel married the TV journalist Teresa Perales. Teresa was supposed to interview someone for a documentary who had radically changed their life. For instance from property registrar to a nomad: Miquel. The two of them were also about as different from one another than a civil servant and a nomad, and yet it quickly became clear that they belonged together. “In the beginning, you always pretend to find everything that the other person is doing brilliant”, Miquel says with a smirk. “When we got together, I invited her on a motorcycling trip in the USA. On the second day, she didn’t get back on the bike again, and instead hired a car and drove behind me. We simply have completely different opinions when it comes to travelling.”

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Does a wedding change your life? Probably not as much as that which comes after. In the summer of 2016, Alejandro was born, named after the conqueror Alexander the Great. “It was clear that I wasn’t going to live this nomadic life for ever”, says Miquel. “Now I will do more projects in Spain, thus I will return somehow – but not to my former life.” He is no longer the Miquel who works “on the assembly line”. He has learned how to play again, be the child again, which had previously been swallowed up by everyday life. “An adventurer is the one who goes after the childish emotions. Observing my son’s development helps me to always remain that little bit of a child which I had rediscovered on my journeys.”

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