An interview with Argentinian cyclist, Maty Amaya
On a cold, Sunday evening in Rome, I met with Argentinian cyclist, Matyas Amaya, who is making his way through Europe with only his bicycle. As I was approaching him on Via dei Fori Imperiali, it was almost impossible to miss him, as his bicycle stood out from a mile away, with the collection of flags from several of the countries he has visited (28 to be exact) all over the world during the past 5 years of cycling. There were many people surrounding him, some giving him hugs & words of encouragement, and others stopping out of curiosity to learn more about his story.
Matyas Amaya, originally from a small town called San Juan in Argentina, left home in 2012 in search of something more meaningful in the world, even though he wasn’t sure what that was. He has now created a community of thousands of followers between his Facebook and Instagram accounts, inspiring people through his travels and adventures of 80,000km thus far. His story is one that I haven’t come across before, but also one that I truly admire…and you can see why that is below.
What were you doing back home before you set off on this adventure?
Previously I was working selling pharmaceutical medicine in Argentina. But then I noticed that I was becoming very selfish and greedy in my life wanting more and more – money and material things. And then the economic crisis happened in my country, and that really opened my eyes. Not only was I unhappy in my job, but I felt a huge void in my life. I was willing to exchange money and material things to live life more in the moment.
How did your family and friends feel about you making this decision to leave?
I told them initially I was leaving for 15 days but after those 2 weeks, I knew it wouldn’t be enough time to get to know different cultures from all over so I just kept going. At first, they thought I was crazy to leave everything for this adventure. Now my family and friends thank me, because through my photos and videos, they are able to also see different cultures and places all over the world too.
When you left home, did you have any idea you would still be doing this today after 5 years?
No. I didn’t have a specific plan, I just wanted to get out of the house. I was supposed to be gone for only 15 days…and now it’s been 5 years. I don’t think about the future very much. I like to live my life in the present-only focusing on the here and now.
Is there anywhere you want to go that you still haven’t been?
Asia. After reaching Russia by next summer, I plan on traveling through India and Asia next.
Out of all the places you have visited, where did you enjoy it the most?
I think as far as landscapes and scenery, the most beautiful I have seen is the north of Argentina, north of Chile, south of Bolivia, and south of Peru. As far as culture and hospitality, I would say Portugal, by how friendly the locals are.
What has surprised you the most about your time in Rome so far?
Although Rome is a very large city, the historical center is not as big as you’d think. The historical center can be done on foot. It’s not like the distances are very, very long. I would recommend for people to come here because it’s safe and easy to get around. And although Italy is a disorganized country as a whole, the historical center seems to be more organized around the more popular monuments.
What has been the hardest thing for you throughout this entire journey?
Nothing in life is easy. My journey isn’t easy. But what makes up for it is that I love cycling and I love traveling, so it’s liberating for me. I’ve only been in danger two times over the course of 5 years, which is nothing, so there is no comparison. I would have been in more danger had I stayed in one place longer than I had.
What is something you have learned about yourself during these 5 years?
Unity is strength. The world is starting to divide, but if I help others and give to others, we become stronger together. The people who give me a place to stay, don’t know who I am. But I return the favor by buying them groceries to show them my appreciation.
Any final commentary?
When you want to do something, you can do it. The impossible only needs a bit more effort. When you have an idea, you have to pursue it with your heart too, or else it’s not going to work. If you do something out of passion, but haven’t thought it through, it’s also not going to work. The mind and heart have to be united and in sync for an idea to work.