Til The Walls Come Tumbling Down

By Stephen Ewashkiw | October 3, 2013

In a few days we fly to China, where we will visit The Great Wall, a now-crumbling, once-mighty barrier meant to keep China safe and free from marauders from the West. I am particularly looking forward to traversing sections of the wall that are not maintained for tourists. Lots of the wall is tumbling down, one brick at a time.

When Jane and I began our world travels way back in 1997, one of the first places we visited was Belfast. The Troubles seemed to finally be ending, and Northern Ireland was just coming out of a long, dark period. It actually appeared to be on the road to recovery. However, when we walked around Falls Road and Shankill, the “Peace Walls” and armoured vehicles didn’t do much to convince us that peace would be lasting.

While living in LA, we ventured down to Tijuana a few times. When you walk across the border from San Ysidro, you get a clear view of the US-built wall that’s supposed to keep Latin America separated from the north. The US border fence now covers some 3,000 km, yet does very little to stem the flow of people – people desperate for a better life – into America. Nor does it keep US weapons from heading south to arm drug lords in Mexico and beyond.

Can putting a wall up really bring peace and stability?

Open The Borders

Today being Tag der Deutschen Einheit, the anniversary of the official re-unification of Germany in 1990, and a public holiday ever since, Jane and I rode our bikes to the East Side Gallery, the last remaining section of the Berlin Wall.

For the last six months, we have seen constant reminders of the Iron Curtain and its role in separating people in the East from those in the West. Coming to see this piece of the Berlin Wall clarifies the past in a way a park, monument, or placard cannot.

Its solid physical presence makes it easier to imagine what it might have been like to walk along it when it surrounded West Berlin, not really knowing what or who was on the other side.

Walking along the Berlin Wall.

Walking along the Berlin Wall.

The wall is now an art gallery that runs along the shore of the Spree, with murals on every surface. Many of the murals relate to freedom, to human rights, and to the breaking down of barriers.

Everyone deserves peace, a mural on the Berlin Wall.

Everyone deserves peace, a mural on the Berlin Wall.

It is a stark reminder that Europe as we know it now is a very new concept.

Even idiots deserve free speech, East Side Gallery, Berlin.

Even idiots deserve free speech, East Side Gallery, Berlin.

Currently, there is a photo exhibit on the west side of the wall Called Wall On Wall. It is a series of photographs by Kai Wiedenhöfer. He travelled the world shooting the walls humans build to keep people on one side from gaining access to the rights, freedoms, and prosperity enjoyed by those on the other side.

A photo of the US-Mexico border wall, on the Berlin Wall. That's the photographer, Kai Wiedenhöfer, in yellow in the background.

A photo of the US-Mexico border wall, on the Berlin Wall. That’s the photographer, Kai Wiedenhöfer, in yellow in the background.

The photos are displayed commentary-free, but they speak volumes. Being here, in Berlin, and now able to walk on either side of the wall, to be free to move and live as we please, is a luxury that Berliners still do not take for granted.

Way to go America, yours is the longest, at the Berlin Wall.

Way to go America, yours is the longest, at the Berlin Wall.

Hopefully this exhibit will make foreign visitors to the city pause, reflect, and appreciate the freedoms they have, and those their own government restricts.

Und Den…

The rest of our day we spent ticking off things on our To Do list. Repairing holes in our panniers with the magic that is Sugru. Washing our tent. Cleaning soot off of our camp stove.

Cleaning soot from the camp stove.

Cleaning soot from the camp stove.

Sorting through every bag and deciding what goes with us, what goes in the garbage, and what goes. Adjusting a few nuts and bolts on my bike.

Lost in China.

Lost in China.

And, whenever there is a spare moment, trying to figure out just how we’ll tackle cycling in the enormity that is China.  

Did you like this post? Please share it!

Hi, I’m Stephen, full-time travelling yoga teacher & founder of Adventure Yoga. I’ve taught yoga in 25 countries and have had adventures in 50! At My Five Acres, we inspire you to live your most adventurous life and help you to travel more and more mindfully.

6 comments

  1. Comment by Stacey

    Stacey Reply October 9, 2013 at 10:39 am

    I’m loving reading these posts and am in awe of both of you! What an amazing adventure! I’m also wondering what camera you’re using to document this journey? The photos look great!

    • Comment by Jane

      Jane October 12, 2013 at 8:22 am

      Hi Stacey,
      We use a Olympus OM-D EM5. It’s a micro four thirds camera, meaning it’s a little smaller than an SLR, but with most of the bells and whistles, including interchangeable lenses. I love love love the camera and am glad you’re enjoying the pictures. Now that I’ve had a lot of practice shooting, I really want to get better at photography, but haven’t had the time to sharpen my skills much as we travel!

  2. Comment by Roxy

    Roxy Reply October 4, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Excellent post!

    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen October 5, 2013 at 3:51 am

      Thanks Roxy, and thanks to my amazing editor…

  3. Comment by Cassie

    Cassie Reply October 4, 2013 at 8:07 am

    My stomach did a flip at the site of the map of China, can’t imagine how you guys are feeling.

    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen October 5, 2013 at 3:52 am

      China is HUGE. Fortunately we have narrowed down our trip to a “small” (the word is relative in China) portion of the country. We only have six months after all…

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Go top