Leaving the economic turmoil of Greece behind, Stergios Gogos initially set off to discover the world. By the tip of Africa he’d found much more than he’d bargained for.
RICE AND DIRT | OUR FIRST BOOK!
Follow Stergios and his PX200 Vespa scooter across deserts, mountains, tropical beaches, forests and savannas. Envisage breathing the air of the countries he visited; taste the food, share his concerns, fall repeatedly and get back up from the mud in the Congo, enjoy both solitude and the company of others. But above all, get to know the people that would change his life immeasurably; and meet one in particular. This is a story of physical, emotional and mechanical challenges, of selfevaluation and blossoming relationships.
Roaming the roads of Africa through the unpretentious writing style of Stergios and Alexandra, we are led to a place much deeper than any travelogue could take us. This book manages to steer clear of literary travel classifications and thrills with its liveliness, eloquence and welcome candour.
"Funny, perceptive, revealing and well written. Oh, all right then, it’s a very good book."
– Ted Simon author of Jupiter’s Travels
"A story that spells out the importance of packing a smile; highly recommended."
– Overland Magazine
"The lilting and uplifting text transports you into Africa’s heady blend of colour, challenge and corruption. Infused with mischievous wit and enlightening observation, Rice & Dirt might just make you want to point a Vespa towards sub-Sahara."
– Martin ‘Sticky’ Round, scooterlab.uk
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Shuvvy Press Ltd (August 2018)
Translated from the original Greek: Katerina Soumani
Dimensions: 13.5 x 21.5 x 1.5 cm
Average Customer Rating
An absolute must read
What an absolutely fantastic book, which, it seems I got wrong at first. For initially I thought it was a love story to travel and Vespa’s. Then I thought it was a love story to Alexandra. But finally I realised it was simply an incredibly powerful love story to life and optimism.
For as a Overlander / Round the World travel book it is quite different to just about all the others I’ve read.
OK, it’s got all the stories of riding an over loaded bike, falling off, worrying about petrol and tank ranges and where to sleep or eat tonight. Plus of course the inevitable punctures and breakdowns. But what sets this book apart is Stergios approach to, and observations on, life. Each carefully recorded and shared.
For having come from a life, family and country which was all but destroyed in the 2008 financial crash, Stergios decided to give it all up and simply go travelling around Africa. Doing so he had an almost unique observation point, which he shares with the reader.
For on the one hand, coming from a bankrupt country with virtually no money himself he understands that he shares much with those he meets along the way. Daily encounters of financial hardship and shattered dreams, along with bureaucracy, corruption, officialdom and the casual and systemic abuse of power. And yet, by the mere fact he is a white European male, he is also keenly aware that he is often treated as a member of a privileged class. Frequently afforded rights, opportunities and access to things which are denied to those who actually live in the country he is merely passing through.
And as I say, the book cleverly brings you into those two worlds, and their frequent bizarre social contradictions, with his fascinating observations and insights revealed and shared on almost every page.
An absolute must read, in my opinion, for anyone considering life, travel or Africa.
A highly recommended read
I was very lucky to get an advance copy of the English language manuscript for this book, first published in 2017 in Greek only. That means it’s not possible to discuss the physical book: imagery, page count etc as it’s due for release later this summer. However, I can attest to the fact that the content, is superb.
Everything we dream about is here: adventure, excitement, struggle, happiness, mechanical trauma, human kindness and there’s even a love story at the end. Nobody should care for a minute that this pan-African journey happened aboard a Vespa scooter with ten-inch wheels. If anything, readers will find themselves doffing their cap to the abilities of the brave little bike and the gloriously bonkers antics of its crew.
The journey starts in Greece with a couple of Vespa fans (on two machines) turning their backs on their national economic malaise and riding to Italy before catching a boat to Morocco and aiming their little automatic commuters on a zig-zag course to Cape Town.
The two become one in West Africa and the main protagonist, Stergios, carries on boldly, alone. Although he meets and travels with others off and on, he gets plenty of time to really consider his surroundings, especially the social and economic factors that have, and continue to, shape Africa. Opening himself completely to serendipity and letting chance steer him, he discovered a not insignificant Greek ex-pat community in Lubumbashi, after three months struggling to cross the DRC on what must be the world’s worst intercity highway. He was immediately given coffee and lodgings and briefly met Alexandra, who was just leaving for Athens.
Months later in Jo’burg they met again at a BBQ and thought ‘just maybe’… so Alexandra hopped on the back of the Vespa for a one-month trip around Lesotho. The rest, as they say, is history.
The translation of the text is excellent, losing none of the wit and attitude that Stergios has. It’s beautifully written, refreshing to read and one of those books that really, really should be on your shelf. This is a story that spells out the importance of packing a smile. As for the bike, take whatever you’ve got! A highly recommended read.