May 10th, 2009

Loving Lesotho

by Maria
Posted in Lesotho | No Comments »

LesothoSo we packed up Lucy and set off for Drakensberg. Of course, we couldn’t resist going into Lesotho; a small mountainous country completely landlocked by South Africa. We crossed the border and my heart was pounding. Another country, something new to see and experience; what could be more exciting? It’s always surprising how much things can change from one minute to the next as you cross a border; crossing into Lesotho from South Africa was no exception.

LunchWe drove through the capital and through some of the other towns in the lowlands. We stopped occasionally to take pictures, the views and sights were incredible, the people seemed very friendly. We drove to and spent the night in Ts’ehlanyane National Park. The next day, as we headed back, we spotted a huge crowd of people gathered around so of course we had to stop. It was a Sunday; it turned out to be a church service. No actual church, just a service under a beautiful blue sky and towering, lush green mountains. Beautiful. Spiros had his camera, but since it was a religious service, wasn’t planning on taking photos. One girl, Julia, had other things in mind though. When she saw the camera, she screamed out. “Oh, come here! Shoot me, shoot me!!” Well, you only have to ask Spiros once. ;-) After dozens of photos, she looked at the portraits and said “Oh, I’m so gooooooooooooooood”. :-D A star was born. I guess you had to be there, but it was really, really fun and kids soon started lining up. People then began eating, dancing and inviting us to join in. As I’ve said it before, the world is really a very friendly place.

MusicianLesotho is outstandingly beautiful and the people we met were lovely. Yet another stunning reminder of why Africa has left such a deep impression in our hearts and minds.

May 8th, 2009

Lucy and the Road Trip

by Maria
Posted in South Africa | No Comments »

We’ve been in Cape Town for awhile now; it’s been fabulous and now our feet are getting itchy. Yup, we’re that predictable. ;-) We have less then two weeks to go before we board that plane to Canada, not nearly enough time to see what we want to see but we’ll happily take what we can get. So, we’re off again on a South African road trip, this time in a surprisingly sassy, red-headed Volkswagen named Lucy. The goal is to make it to the Drakensberg Mountains; we’ll see how far we get. Ahhh, a map and an open road. Sweet!

Best location to Start a Cycling Trip:
The foot of the Pyramids in Giza, Egypt. That just can’t be beat.

Unforgettable Cycling Highlights:
Day 1 in Egypt at the Pyramids, Dolomites, Gorge du Tarn, Provence in the Fall, Chapman’s Peak Drive, Nubian Desert in Sudan, Ethiopian Hills, Namibia, Sunflowers in Tanzania, Northern Laos, Tuscan Hills

Best Border Crossing in Africa:
From Sudan into Ethiopia. Drop off your passport, go around the corner and get a beer (Sudan is “dry”), have a shower at the brothel and go back to pick up your passport a few hours later. Unless, of course, your name is Ed.

Most Eventful Taxi Ride:
We were in a cab in Cairo. Whenever the cabbie made a sharp turn, we heard a very loud “BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHHHH” coming from the trunk.
The cabbie turned to us and explained: “Goat.”
Spiros, the optimistic vegetarian, then asked: “Pet?”
Cabbie shook his head and said “Kebab”. :-(

Most Surprising:

  1. How attached you can become to a little red box.
  2. How much you can miss gruelling 8 hour bike rides on horrible roads, being caught in sandstorms and baby wipe showers.
  3. How little you really need to get by.

Top 3 Most Memorable Spots We Went for a Swim:

  1. Nile River, Sudan
  2. Fish River, Namibia
  3. Indian Ocean, Zanzibar, Tanzania

Top 4 camping spots:

  1. Somewhere in the middle of the Nubian Desert in Sudan
  2. By a lake in Namibia
  3. Fish River Canyon, Namibia
  4. Tsitsikama National Park

Worst Camping Sites:
Anywhere coastal in Italy or Croatia in August. Icchh!

Worst Night in the Tent:
Sienna. Cycled in a downpour, pitched up in a downpour, slept in a huge puddle and woke up at 5:00 am to catch the train.

Most Played Song at the Resort Campgrounds:
Tie between “I will survive” and “The Final Countdown”.

Most Embarrassing:
When that private outdoor spot you found to go to the bathroom is not so private.

Most Tragic:
Well…it’s still tough to talk about but it’s .. it’s the Tragedy in the Italian Gelateria…Definitely. Still choking back the tears on that one.

Toughest Roads:
Ethiopia, Sudan and Cambodia

Toughest 3 cycling days:

  1. Road to Venice, Austria
  2. Tunisia sandstorm,
  3. Gondar, Ethiopia

Most Battle-Scarred Piece of Equipment.
Our tent. Sniff, it didn’t make it.

Most Important Piece of Equipment we Brought With Us:
Duct tape. (Bet you were thinking bicycles).

Our Favourite Liz:
Elizabeth Doster

Favourite Dinner:
Surprisingly, had nothing to do with the food. Diana, our favourite Liz, Spiros, the two Rafaels and I having dinner under the stars in the Serengeti.

Best Night Cap:
Diana, Spiros and I drinking wine out of plastic mugs, while wrapped in sleeping bags, sitting at a waterhole viewing point in Etosha National Park, watching rhinos and elephants.

Best Dinner Music:
Sound of zebras grazing nearby

Most Obvious Answer We Least Wanted to Hear:
Spiros to our safari guide Rafael the night we were camping in the Serengeti, outside of the established camping grounds: “Is it safe to sleep here?”
Our guide to Spiros: “No, of course not. Very dangerous.”

(On a side note, the first time Raffael took people on a safari he set up their tent, then his. He waited until they retired to their tent and then slept in the truck. :-D )

Best Reason to Skip a Hike you Really, Really Wanted to Do:
Cause it’s a volcano and it has just erupted.

Dumbest Animal:
Well, chickens get so freaked out by passing bicycles and motorists that they will leave the relative safety of the side of the road and dart out in front of you, but we’ve seen a warthog casually walk by 4 lions. Warthog wins…and loses?! :-(

Cutest Animals:
OMG! Baby elephants, baby elephants!!!!!!

Most Bizarre Experience:
It’s a tie. 1) Campground on the Italian/Slovenian border. It’s hard to explain but we never did figure out why the family next to us kept screaming out “Andy Warhol” every few minutes. 2) Vang Vieng; scores of tourists sitting in cafes for hours watching endless “Friends” reruns.

Best Ferry Ride:
The Twinkie Express of course.

Worst Ferry Ride:
From Tunisia to France. Profuse sweating, vomiting and hail. Enough said.
Worst Flight:
Roller Coaster ride to Lalibela

Worst Meal:
Hmm..we’ve had some humdingers. The “boiled potato and beets” dinner on the TDA after 150km + ride pops to mind. Oh, and the egg and tuna sandwich in Tunis that had me hurling for 3 days was another memorable one. Ah…good times.

Country we Loved and Hated at the Same Time:

Favourite Small Towns and Villages:

  1. Wadi Halfa, Sudan
  2. Granff Reinet, South Africa
  3. Montalcino, Italy

Best Campfire:
The infamous campfire in the Fish River Canyon. It was “a clean burn, the perfect burn”.

Worst Campfire:
Sesriem Campground. Sorry, can’t say more. Diana, Pepe and I are forbidden from ever speaking of it again.

Best Sunset:
Had a few but this one in Namibia always comes to mind.

Favourite Outfit:
T-shirt, skirt, running shoes, pony tail and the mandatory bicycle chain ring grease stains on my calves.

Easiest Way to Garner Attention in Italy:

Sit in the middle of the town square, bring out your bowls and eat cereal. It helps if you are a little scruffy looking too.

Best Trees:
The trees in Africa…Baobab, Quiver, Acacia

Best Quote:
(Ok, this is a repeat but I just have to). Another TDA rider to Spiros: “Don’t cycle behind me…I have diarrhea”.

Most Persistent Touts:
Arusha, Tanzania (we were followed for 4 continuous hours) with Nha Trang, Vietnam a close second

Most Hi Tech Way of Ordering Lunch When You Don’t Speak the Language:


Favourite Street Food:
Night fish market in Stone Town, Zanzibar

Most Memorable Bathroom:
A room with a view. The bathrooms in the Ngorongoro Crater have windows. You can watch an elephant walk by as you pee.

Best Coke Stop:
Any coke stop in Sudan.

Best Night Market:
Luang Prabang, Laos

Country We Were Most Pleasantly Surprised With:
Tie between South Africa and Namibia

Oddest Google Search String Used to Find our Site:
“huge bulge bicycle spandex pictures”

Favourite Greeting:
It’s still “Jumbo Sista’” or “Good Morning Teacha’” (Both Tanzania)

Friendliest People:

A steep off-road hill, lined with small children holding very big rocks. Actually scratch that. It’s 100 hungry, cranky TDA’ers right before dinner….Definitely.

Most Valuable Skill Attained:
Peeing in a sandstorm. That may sound like a useless skill but I totally disagree; In fact, this may just get top billing on my resume.

Most Valuable Lesson.
This one came early on.

Most Unforgettable Moments:
Times likes this and this.

Best Part of Cycling The Road Less Travelled:
The open road, the freedom, the kind souls you meet along the way, the exhilaration of the unknown…it’s too hard to pick just one.

Worst Part of Cycling the Road Less Travelled:
None, it’s all good.

BeachWow, it has been a while since we last updated! My apologies, my mind has been elsewhere lately. So, let’s start where we left off. We were in Cambodia. How did we end up back in Cape Town, South Africa? We were sitting in a coffee shop in Phnom Penh, talking about the inevitable; the end of the trip and going back home. Our cycling tour was pretty much over and we were trying to decide on a spot where we could hang out for a week or two before heading back, maybe some beach in Thailand. Our plan was to fly home early March. We had found tickets on expedia weeks ago, saved the itinerary and periodically logged in and looked at them. We never could find the will to purchase. Then Mel, our friend from South Africa, come online and we started to chat. She soon said, “Hey, why don’t you come here?” We could spend some time with her and Luc and then we could house sit for her while she went to Europe. There were lots of reasons to do it; to see Mel and Luc again, we LOVE South Africa, there is a hiring freeze due to the global economy back home anyway and spending time in SA would actually be cheaper then living in Vancouver, the jeans, Manoushes…actually just for the blog entry alone was good enough for me. ;-) Of course, there was one blaring reason not too; we were running out of money and we were very, very, very far away from South Africa. I distinctly remember the words: “Ah ^%$$% it. Let’s just go and we’ll worry about it later” being spoken. About 48 hours after the idea came up; we had tickets and were making our way back to Thailand to catch our flight. I’ve spent more time trying to decide what to have for lunch. Who knew we were so impulsive? We certainly don’t look the part. I mean seriously, look at us; the all beige wardrobe, conservative hair cuts, the sensible shoes. People in sensible shoes don’t just throw caution to the wind like that, do they? That quiet person in the cubicle next to you at work isn’t dreaming of cycling through the Middle East or climbing Mount Everest…are they? Hmmmmmm.

HikingSo, what have we been doing in Cape Town? Well, after 14 months on the road, the first thing we needed to do was get cleaned up. That took the better part of a week. Sheesh, that was really exhausting! Since then, we’ve been doing lots. Lots of cycling, (gorgeous, GORGEOUS cycling here), lots of hiking, going to the beach, sight seeing, tried rock climbing, spending time with friends, relaxing, getting used to having a refrigerator and a laundry machine again, looking into squatter’s rights (just kidding Mel…honest) and even taking some time to do something creative. Mel is an AMAZING mosaic artist and has not only given me some lessons but has allowed me to use her workshop while she was gone. This is my second mosaic, I call her bootyliscous – ness. :-D BikingMost of all though, we’ve been trying to process this amazing adventure, these past 16 incredible months that have been our lives. To have seen the Pyramids, Ankgor Wat, the Sossusvlei Sand dunes, the Dolomites, the Ngorongoro Crater, to have been on several safaris, to have seen 40 wild elephants march in line to get to the waterhole, to have ridden our bikes through Ethiopia and Sudan, and Tanzania, to have bush camped in the desert, to have locals surround our camp and play music and sing songs, to have strangers invite us into their home because we are guests in their country, to have gone out there in the world, taken a chance and to have discovered that the world is a far more beautiful, far more friendly place then we could have ever imagined…well, that is a lot to process. How could two people be soooooooooooo fortunate?

Chapman’s PeakAre we ready to come home now? Well, no. We really are ruined for life, but it is time. We need to start planning the next adventure after all. ;-) We actually have tickets to Canada now. We leave Africa in the third week of May, spend a few weeks in Montreal to visit family and then back to Vancouver on June 16th, approximately 17 months after we left. But that’s weeks away. Right now, I’m going for a bike ride.

Mar 27th, 2009

A Special Ride

by Spiros
Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

ChrisCycling across Africa was a very special experience for us. One of the main reasons was meeting very extraordinary, special people and forging amazing lifelong friendships. One of those people is our very, very dear friend, Chris Wille. When I broke my collar bone in Ethiopia and when I was ill in Zambia, Chris was always there for us; whether it was pitching up our tent or helping us stay strong. He’s been a great friend to us, both during and after the Tour D’Afrique.

Shortly after returning back to Canada from Africa, Chris’s wife Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer. We haven’t met Linda yet but from the emails we have received from Chris we have a pretty good idea of the exceptional person that she is. The strength and courage that they have both shown through all of this has been incredible and very inspirational.

Chris will be riding in the 2009 Cycle to Conquer Cancer event, a two day ride from Vancouver to Seattle which will be held on June 20th and 21st. The funds being raised by the riders and organizers will be going to the BC Cancer Foundation to help in the fight against cancer. If you would like to sponsor Chris please follow this link. If you are interested in participating or volunteering yourself in this very special event, you can find more information here. Thank you!

Mar 4th, 2009

Where Are My Jeans?

by Maria
Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

Dang! It appears I’ve forgotten my jeans. You know, those super comfy jeans I got at Mr. Price. It was way too hot to wear jeans in Asia but I’m going to need them now since we are going back home to Canada. We really can’t afford to keep buying new clothes so we’ve gone back to pick them up. I left them at Mel’s. Mel lives in Cape Town, South Africa. (I suppose you may be feeling an overwhelming urge to point out the cost difference between a new pair of jeans and tickets to South Africa, but we like to think “outside of the box”, thank you very much!). We got here last Thursday. Since we’re here we might as well stay for a few weeks; the weather is really nice right now after all.

What?!!! Shocked?! Not really buying the jeans excuse?! Did I mention these are stretchy jeans? Hey, I’m hurt! If you had spent any time at all reading our blog or looking at the photos you’d know just how important “stretchy” is these days. Okay, okay, you caught us. It would be a bit outrageous to come all the way here from Thailand just to pick up a pair of jeans, even if they are stretchy and super-comfy. The real reason we came back is, of course,…you guessed it…Manoushes. How could we go back to Canada without a quick detour for mouthwatering jibneh, to-die-for zaataar and babaganoush…oh the babaganoush? Hmmmm, so you didn’t believe we would come all the way here just for jeans, but you had no problem believing we would come all the way here for food? Awww! You really are reading our blog! Sniff.

Feb 16th, 2009

Southeast Asia Almost Finished

by Spiros
Posted in Cambodia | 4 Comments »

Boy, Bicycle and a BoatAfter spending the last three months cycling over 5000 km in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia our cycling journey in Southeast Asia is nearing its end. We had a beautiful time. Cycling across Asia has been fascinating in many ways. The experience has been culturally rewarding and the people very friendly. We loved the Temples of Angkor in Cambodia, the rugged mountainous landscape in northern Laos, the emerald green rice paddies of Vietnam and the amazing food of Thailand. The cycling was at times spectacular and at times chaotic. We found cycle touring and travelling in Southeast Asia to be extremely easy, maybe even a bit too easy.

We have now been on the road for 14 months, the task of getting home is upon us. We’ve had an amazing time; our only regret is that it couldn’t be longer. We found reasonably priced tickets back to Canada; we now somehow need to find the courage to actually purchase them. Sigh.

P.S. For those of you out there reading and hopefully enjoying our blog, this is your last chance to keep the dream alive. So please, send money. SEND MONEY NOW!!! Er…sorry. That just slipped out :-? .

P.S.S. We’re just kidding about the money…but of course we wouldn’t want to insult anybody by saying no.

P.S.S.S Okay, okay, seriously. We are just joking about the money…but it wouldn’t stop us from cashing a checque.

P.S.S.S.S. Did we mention that we have lost all sense of shame?

Feb 14th, 2009

Exhibiting Odd Behaviour

by Maria
Posted in Cambodia | No Comments »

Being so close to the end of our trip, we are inevitably thinking about what it will be like to be back home. The more we think about it, the more we are convinced that we will be exhibiting some very odd behaviour, at least for a little while. Here are some examples, along with the explanations and what you should do.

Behaviour: You see us walking down Robson street, waving randomly at complete strangers and screaming out: “Hello”, “Saybaidee”, “Jambo”, “My name is Maria” and “We’re going to Blenz”.

Explanation: Every day we cycled in Africa or Asia, several times a day, we would be greeted by people on the side of the road. Almost every greeting would be followed by the questions “What is your name?” and “Where are you go?”.

What to do: Gently remind us that we are not royalty; no one cares who we are or where we go.


Behaviour: You see us devouring huge portions of food at an alarming rate.

Explanation: We just spent over a year cycling. The question wasn’t “should we have a treat today?” but “how many treats should we have today?”. You really do loose all sense of what a “normal” amount of food is.

What to do: Unfortunately, there is really nothing you can do here. You needn’t feel the need to point out the double chin or the extra folds. Eventually, we’ll come to grips with the fact that we are no longer burning 3000 calories a day and we’ll …(gasp, horror of all horrors)…put the 18th pastry of the day down. This is just going to have to run its course.


Behaviour: We show up at a party in an old sweat-stained t-shirt and bike shorts.

Explanation: Part habit, part cost.

What to do: Well, we’re cheap and we hate shopping so you’ll have no other choice but to shame us into changing this most unfortunate behaviour. Gently remind us that over a year’s worth of photos of us in spandex is: “more then enough, thank you”.


Behaviour: During a company meeting (yes, we do assume we will find work again), you catch us not paying attention.

Explanation: We’re probably daydreaming about elephants, giraffes, sand dunes, deserts and Pyramids.

What to do: Nothing you can do (if it makes you feel better, we probably weren’t paying that much attention before we left on our trip either). Hmmmm…does anyone else think I am subconsciously ruining any possibility of ever finding employment again?


Behaviour: Talking incessantly about our trip.

Explanation: This has been one of the most amazing adventures of our lives.

What to do: Tough one. You may feel the need to humour us but this is dangerous territory. I’m pretty sure we’ll continue talking well after your eyes start to glaze over. It is probably best to make a quick getaway. (P.S. Consider this my one and only warning ;-) ).


Behaviour: You invite us over for dinner. When we say goodbye, you notice a huge bulge in Spiros’ pocket.

Explanation: First of all, get your mind out of the gutter. This isn’t going where you think it is. We’ve simply stolen your toilet paper.

What to do: This could be embarrassing for us all so we’ll leave ‘what to do’ up to you. Just to let you know though, you probably won’t get the toilet paper back.


Feb 14th, 2009

We’re Melting

by Maria
Posted in Cambodia | No Comments »

It’s unbelievably, unbearably, stinking hot. The thermometers on our cycling computers have been in the low 40 C for the last week. We try to start our days as early as we can, but we’re dripping in sweat within minutes of starting our ride regardless. We can feel the beads of sweat dripping down and our skin broiling in the blazing sun. Stopping is worse; at least you get a breeze as you cycle. I have to admit, the big guilty pleasure of the day is finding a Telemart gas station. Cold drinks, ice cream and sweet, sweet air conditioning. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, the simple pleasures of life. Good thing we chose to ride in the cooler winter months. 8-O

Back in August, we posted “You Know You’ve Been Cycle Touring For a Long Time When…”. It’s now 6 months later; this is the sequel. You know you’ve been touring for an even longer time when:

  • You regularly pick the ants out of your sandwich or soup but continue eating. You did pay 50 cents for it after all!

  • All of your clothing is mended or patched in some way. You even make the difficult choice of sacrificing one pair of cycling shorts to save the other two.

  • A new pair of socks is cause for huge celebration, perhaps even a tear or two.

  • It’s been months since you wore anything with a zipper.

  • You wake up one morning and you can’t remember what country you’re currently in. Tunisia? Laos?

  • You don’t even flinch anymore when a group of woman gather around you and start poking your thighs saying things like “oh lady, very big”.

  • You nonchalantly open your hotel room door and escort out the humongous (easily 2.5 inch) cockroach you found curled up next to you on your bed. A few months ago, this incident may have perturbed you.

  • After you spot a rat running into the kitchen of the restaurant you are eating at, you look at each other and agree that “that was a pretty big one” and continue eating your dinner.

  • You justify buying that expensive deodorant with the reasoning that you’ll spend less money on laundry… (Hey, don’t you judge us. These are desperate times).

  • Your hair is so dry, sun-damaged and frizzy that you have trouble checking your blind spot.

  • You have to wear your bathing suit bottoms because the laundry shop lost your underwear.

  • You never miss a chance to steal toilet paper or wifi.

  • You’re ragged looks are scaring your friend’s children.

  • Despite the rocks that have been thrown, the dogs that have given chase, the saddle sores, the broken bone, the sore muscles, the stifling heat, the bitter cold, the nausea, the projectile vomiting, the explosive diarrhea, the dwindling bank account and the ragged looks, you’re still smiling from ear to ear.

Feb 13th, 2009

Lost In Translation

by Maria
Posted in Cambodia | No Comments »

Travelling through Southeast Asia, we’ve seen some pretty amusing English translations. Here are a few:

  • We do not accept squeches. ( I think they meant cheques)
  • We serve catholic and alcoholic drinks.

The menu items are usually the most entertaining:

  • Hot boiled cube (I have no idea)
  • Fried fish powder
  • Fish pudding with vegetable
  • Pineapple moan porn pizza (well, maybe not a translation error but funny nevertheless)

And my personal favourite:

  • Grilled unimaginable pork…..mmmmmmmmmm unimaginable pork

Okay, it is a little mean to poke fun. I wouldn’t feel right about it unless I divulged one of my own translation booboos. So here goes. A few years ago, we were staying for a few days with a French couple in Provence. Though I was born in Montreal and do speak French, I have forgotten quite a bit since moving to Vancouver. Anyway, the husband makes dentures for a living. One night, his wife was telling me about his work. I asked, or at least thought I asked how long it takes him to make a set of dentures. Well, I must have mixed up my grammar because instead of replying how long it takes to make a set, our lovely and generous host (who has housed and fed us for days, who has taken us all over Provence) got a very funny look in here eye and proceeded to tell me how long she has been wearing dentures…. 8-O Shoot me now.

Feb 12th, 2009

Floating Villages

by Maria
Posted in Cambodia | No Comments »

VillageThe Temples of Angkor are justifiably the reason why many people visit Cambodia but there are many more things to see. For us, one of the more unforgettable experiences was visiting the floating villages around Tonle Sap Lake. During our stay in Siem Reap, we visited the floating village of Chong Kneas, the flooded forest and village of Kompong Phhluk (a village built on stilts) and also took the eight hour boat ride from Siem Reap to Battambang. This was a very interesting journey through narrow waterways, along a meandering river, passing through many villages. These villages are a stark reminder of the poverty and living conditions of a large portion of the population.

PaddlingThe floating villages move over the year, depending on the water levels. The homes, stores, churches, schools, general stores, even playgrounds are floating or built on 7-8 meter high stilts. Most of the homes are mere shacks. To say that the river is polluted would be putting it mildly. Everything is dumped into the river. The river, where they bathe, wash dishes, do laundry, wash livestock and play. The visible garbage that you can see strung along the riverbanks is astonishing. It’ll make you mad, it’ll make you sad. You’ll see kids going to school, people purchasing their produce by boat and you’ll be greeted by hundreds of kids, smiling and waving emphatically.

PlayingIt wasn’t the first time we visited Chong Kneas. Back in 2006 we visited the floating village while on a short trip to Angkor. It was an interesting, though somewhat surreal, and we felt it to be one of the more profound experiences we had had. I’m not proud of it, but I cried for a very long time. I hid it well behind big glasses and a hat, but it was wrong to do. Tears alone don’t make a difference. Fortunately, things did look a little better, and this time it was the smiling faces and the laughter that left the strongest impression. After spending so much time in third world countries, you are bound to ask the question: “Who is happier? Those with precious little (when it comes to material goods), or those with way too much”. I won’t pretend to know the answer to that one, though I don’t think it’s that black and white. I think it depends on a person’s individual ability to cherish what they have. Having more wealth can make things easier, but it surely doesn’t guarantee happiness or fulfillment.