In what seems like a lifetime ago now, way back in January I shared the story of Karlis Bardelis, an ocean rower who has slowly but surely been making his way across the Pacific Ocean over the past two years. At the time, the Latvian adventurer was in Indonesia and plotting the final leg of his journey to Malaysia. Now, that stage is complete at long last, although his arrival back on land hasn’t been without controversy.
As you can probably imagine, the route from Indonesia to Malaysia brought plenty of challenges. The shipping lanes in that part of the world are amongst the busiest in the world, making safe navigation extremely difficult. Bardelis was able to navigate those well-trafficked channels however, and reach his destination at long last. But, as it turns out, Malaysia is closed to foreign visitors until the end of August, which requires the rower to remain on his boat for now, despite the fact that he has been totally isolated an quarantined from any other person for days.
When we first covered Bardelis’s journey almost six months ago, the coronavirus was still a minor news story. At the time, we knew that there was an outbreak of this strange new disease in China, but it hadn’t yet begun to have the impact on the world that it would grow into. Back then, Bardelis had stopped in Indonesia and was still looking ahead to the final push to the finish line. Two short months later however, and the world would find itself turned upside down. Now, we’re still navigating the pitfalls of the pandemic, which is what he discovered upon making landfall.
The Latvian rower first set out from Peru back in July of 2018. Since then, he’s been island hopping across the Pacific, stopping at places like Hiva Oa, Tuvalu, the Salomon Islands., and Papua New Guinea. The row was part of a much larger project, which saw him circumnavigate the planet under his own power. Previously he had also rowed across the Atlantic Ocean and cycled around the Americas. Now, he’s eager to get back on land, although continuing his journey seems unlikely while so many borders are closed do to COVID-19.
The first step is getting off the boat of course. At the moment, he’s still waiting to hear from Malaysian officials if he is clear to come ashore. He should learn his fate in the next few days however, but where he goes from there remains to be seen. Wherever it is, he deserves a major congratulations however. Rowing across the Pacific from South America to Asia is no small feat. Hopefully he’ll eventually get to continue the remaining stage of the planned expedition, which would involve cycling back home to Latvia. Right now though, that seems like an unlikely scenario.