Show Notes for Podcast #124

Stefano Melgrati on minimalist ADV overlanding and the joys of connection 

Stefano Melgrati is an infectiously joyful traveler, with a broad smile and love for seeing the globe and meeting its peoples. Stefano traveled on $28 per day, crossing Europe, Africa, and the Americas.  


Guest Bio:

Stefano is an Italian by random chance, architect by generous luck, photographer by passionate love, and dharma bum by stubborn dedication. Based mostly between Vilnius, Madrid, and Milan, he combines architectural creative design with on-field photo reportages around the world. His best clients are International NGO’s, a few awesome travel publications, and himself, too. During the last year, he’s spent some time reporting from conflict zones in the Middle East including the plundered city of Qaraqosh in Northern Iraq, connecting with Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and Palestinian refugees in Jordan. On his life journey, Stefano has made the happy discovery that unlike money, the more time one spends traveling, the richer one gets.


Host Bio: 

Scott Brady

Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal and is often credited with popularizing overlanding in North America. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and includes three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar expeditions include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. @scott.a.brady

To follow Stefano on his adventures and check out his photography

Click the links below:


Instagram: @stefanomelgrati


















Stefano Melgrati Podcast

Scott Brady:  Hello and welcome to the Overland Journal podcast. I am your host, Scott Brady, and my special guest today is Stefano Mel Grati. Stefano is a great friend of mine and we even used the same barber, but I ran into Stefano while I was doing a motorcycle trip down Baja Mexico, and he was on his way having ridden the entire length of Africa and then come up the entire length of the Americas. We just happened to come across each other in a taco stand in Mexico. But in our conversation today, we talk about his trip around the world and we talk about his time working as a reporter in conflict zones, and we also talk about how he funds his adventures. He's a professional architect and he talks about he, how he's able to save and then travel the world and traveling around the world. As Stefano says, the more time one spends traveling, the richer one gets. This content is brought [00:01:00] to you by Overland Journal, our premium quality print publication. The magazine was founded in 2006 with the goal of providing independent equipment and vehicle reviews along with the most stunning adventures and photography. We care deeply about the countries and cultures. We visit and share our experiences freely with our readers. We also have zero advertorial policy and do not accept any advertiser compensation for our reviews. By subscribing to Overland Journal, you're helping to support our employee owned and veteran owned publication. Your support also provides resources and funding for content like you are watching or listening to right now. You can subscribe directly on our Stefano, thank you so much for being on the podcast today, man. It is [00:02:00] so great to see you. It's been now at least three years since we've, we've seen each other.

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah, yeah. Moving to four years almost. 

Scott Brady: Unbelievable. Yeah, unbelievable. I think the story of how we first met is just such a fun one, and I think you should tell it cuz I've told this story many times cuz you're one of those people that you have this infectious enthusiasm for life and it's just, it's something that I respect so deeply about you and I adore about you as a friend. And it was that initial meeting that we had where I was able to see, Your enthusiasm not only for life, but for travel. So maybe you tell the story of how you, how you remember us bumping into each other.

Stefano Melgrati: My side of the story. But first of all, I'm, I'm also very happy to hear the timing that, uh, made it possible is beautiful because of us now traveling, uh, through the United States and, uh, with a very little notice. I, I asked if it would be in town and it matched perfectly because now you're living for a, for a, a tour yourself. 

Scott Brady: I [00:03:00] am. Exactly. It was just the perfect day. Yeah. That you were gonna be here. So, and how fun to have you on the podcast. 

Stefano Melgrati: So, Totally surprised, taken aback almost the first time that I do anything like this. So I'm a little, uh, excited. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, you'll do. Yeah, you'll do so good. You'll do so good. 

Stefano Melgrati: So my side of the, how we met this, my side of the story, it actually starts even with some sort of caution and I'll explain what I mean. Traveling through BA California with motorcycle, I was already on my probably 15 plus months on the road. And here in, uh, when I, well I say here, I mean in where we met in BA, California, I came across many very well equipped, uh, people from the states, uh, that I had impressions. Sometimes people would think that purchasing the equipment for adventure meant actually acquiring the experience that comes with the trap.

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: And so when I saw, I was driving along this route, I saw a taco stand and I was very hungry. I usually back then had one hot meal a day, and that would be in my hot meal for [00:04:00] the day. And I saw this bunch of very well-equipped  good motorcycles. My very initial reaction, I don't know if I've ever told you this, was, uh, I'll just go ahead and not stop here.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Because I basically didn't want to hear for another time that was, I, I was under equipped to do the travel. 

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: So sometimes it was a little tiring to have to say, no, no, you can actually do it. Don't worry, I'm not gonna die tonight. And um, so my initial reaction was, well, I'll just go to the next taco stand, but this was the first taco stand I had seen the whole morning. So I wasn't sure how many more I would find.

Scott Brady: That's true. 

Stefano Melgrati: So I would stop anyway. And that was probably the best decision ever because from that it came the friendship with you and many, so many other people. 

Scott Brady: Yes. 

Stefano Melgrati: Kurt was also there, Chris forget. 

Scott Brady: That's right. 

Stefano Melgrati: And uh, and then through that also Ray. Yes. And then I got in touch with you.

Scott Brady: Yes. 

Stefano Melgrati: So with him through you. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, that's right. Yeah. Ray Doni from Landover Las Vegas. 

Stefano Melgrati: Uhhuh Uhhuh. Yes. 

Scott Brady: Close. Awesome. Close friend of both of ours. Amazing guy. Yes. And we'll get to Ray a little bit more in a bit cuz you're currently driving [00:05:00] driving an interesting vehicle. But that's such a, a good perspective to know your side of the story again, that, that you had been traveling through all of Africa, you've been traveling and we're gonna talk about your whole adventure here in a minute. But I'm so glad that you pulled into that taco stand, so. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah, me too. And also it was amazing for me to see.  how you mentioned before, enthusiasm. Yeah. For traveling. And it was amazing for me to see a bunch of people there that had so different backgrounds and at the same time they happened to be doing by some sort of causing  alignment.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: The same thing. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So we were out on, uh, for different reasons. We were, we were out doing exactly the same thing and experience the same moment. And somehow that is some form of selective combination where people end up meeting not because of random accident, but because of they chose to do the same thing.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: They were driven to do the same things and they happen to. Found the comment denominator. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: That would [00:06:00] make that moment possible. 

Scott Brady: Yes. Kind of like the Star Wars bar, right. , you know, where you got the, you know, everybody's coming into the Star Wars bar from all these other places. 

Stefano Melgrati: Exactly. That was kind of what exactly Santa Rosa Leah was exactly at in that moment. And yeah, we got to, we got to share a, a meal together and, and I got to get some of your contact information and I bumped into you again in Baja. 

Stefano Melgrati: I remember I was, um, on this two, uh, 50 CC motorcycles. 

Scott Brady: Mm-hmm. . So my daily displacement would be in the range of 200 Ks, so 150 ish mm-hmm.  miles, maybe 140. My crew speed would be 60, 70 Ks per hour.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: To save the engine too. And I remember that day the second time we met , that I was looking in my review mirror as I often did, because most objects on the road would me move faster than I would. So there was no actual need to look forward. , most of the time I was looking backwards. 

Scott Brady: So you didn't get run over it yet.

Stefano Melgrati: Exactly. So I say these two specks approaching very fast. [00:07:00] Only when you were got very, very much closer. I, I suspected maybe it is them because I know the route you would take back north. 

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: And I remember then filming the video of that moment,  and I shared it with, um, Jeff. 

Scott Brady:Okay. Yeah. Jeff Camacho. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah, exactly. 

Scott Brady: Because who I was traveling with. Yeah, exactly. 

Stefano Melgrati: Because in this video you can see them after we chit chat and, and, and say goodbye. You can see the two of you just taking off literally. And, uh, and Jeff.

Scott Brady: Fake news. Fake news.

Stefano Melgrati: Did it, did it in one wheel. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, he did. It took a wheely, a wheelie outta there. I mean, we had five times more displacement on the motorcycles.

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. And uh, the thing about chance meetings like this, and this is why I wanted to talk about it in the podcast, is that it's so important to talk with other travelers mm-hmm. , because you never know who you're gonna connect with. And now I have a lifetime friend that because of a taco stop in Baja, and because we both chose, you chose to stop and we [00:08:00] chose to be open 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah.

Scott Brady: And spend time with you. We were able to create this incredible connection. And I think that that is such a beautiful outcome of travel Yeah. Is the people that you create these lifetime connections with. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. So, and, and the interesting thing is you can apply this to.  life. Yeah. Doesn't matter. It doesn't have to be with travel. Meaning that sometimes what a kid does well that we do normally adults do wrong, is that when you play as a kid, you're not expecting any outcome from the play. You just do it for the sake of exploring and then see what happens when you do this and that at the same time. And 

Scott Brady: Sure

Stefano Melgrati: What's gonna be the outcome we met there in BA because we were open to break the routine, go out and And have a day different from the previous and see what happens.

Scott Brady:Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: But the good thing is when you come back from a travel, you can apply that to your day then and then stop thinking, okay, I'm gonna go to work on this route because the one that I do is the shortest I'm gonna go to this coffee shop because it's the one where I go, always go. You just start traveling in your daily life.

Scott Brady: Oh, interesting. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. And and the good thing is then the people you meet in a, [00:09:00] in a taco stand, you can meet next door or three blocks from your home and it's a guy that lives next door for five, 10 years. 

Scott Brady:Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: That was interesting him just because you felt stuck in that sort of routine. Scott Brady: That's an interesting perspective and I think that that's so true. Travel in your daily life. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: And you never know what you're gonna, who you're gonna bump into your trip around the world. There are so many lessons for things that I've learned from you, and also I think that the listener can learn from you to kind of dis summarize you. Basically, you leave Italy and you drive the length of Africa.

Stefano Melgrati: Mm-hmm. 

Scott Brady: And then you drive the length of South America and then you drive the length of mm-hmm.  North America as well. But talk a little bit about where you grew up in Italy. What brought you to this point in your life that you said, and I think you had even done some travels before that. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yes. 

Scott Brady: But talk a little bit about your travels. What led you to this point of saying, I'm gonna leave Yeah. On a two 50 and right around the world. 

Stefano Melgrati: My old man has defaults. 

Scott Brady: Mm-hmm. 

Stefano Melgrati: Can you say that? Like it's the, the guilty part in this? Yeah, [00:10:00] because, and I really owe, and that since very young age, he never put a break on, on curiosity, meaning I would be 12 years old and tell him, you know, dad, I would love to camp with a friend of mine in the woods on I run because it feels more authentic than just going with the family, the whole bunch. And now looking backwards, I would think that the normal response to that would be, are you nuts, ? 

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: And instead he said, how many days you plan to be there? And he asked why? And he said, well, depending on that, it's the amount of water and food that I need to prepare. I remember saying five just because it was the first number that I could think of.

And, and so we were with a friend of mine, 12 years old in the woods, probably a few kilometers where my family were renting a house.  and they took us there with a bunch of two bicycles because that was uphill from the house. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So the idea was, I take you there with food, water, and two bicycles and then when when you're done, you just come back.

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Keep in mind back then, no phones. Yeah. No connection possible to this day, I believe my father, every now and then would just check on us without telling us. [00:11:00] 

Scott Brady: Sure, sure, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: But we did that. We were four nights in the, in the woods on our own. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. So the feeling that there's no real, let's say intrinsic danger in being out, the danger is the same one you would have crossing the road, which is be careful.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Be responsible. There's a consequence for what you do. That's, that came from that. So instead of you say teaching, you be reckless because you could think that, ah, who is so reckless to bring a kid in the woods? Maybe not. Maybe it's a very good university to the very opposite. As in you on your own, in a good way.

Scott Brady: You're better, you're better prepared for life. Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. That was the very first experience. And from then on, my old man kept doing the same meaning when I was 18 and I purchased my first big bike, so to say, it was a 350 a 350 cc. Yeah. It was a piece of crap , but I loved it. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Beat a motorcycle.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: And I remember buying it and saying, you know, dad, this summer I planned to go from the land, uh, all the way to the Atlantic Ocean in, in Spain. So [00:12:00] the I You said that. Scott Brady: Okay, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Okay. And I remember we were having dinner and I said, this is my plan. He cited and said, no, on your own. No, it's too dangerous. So I thought, oh, right, but it failed. Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: And instead he said, to my surprise, and my brother surprised, which who by then was 13 year old, he said, you know, not what, you're not gonna go. Why don't you take your brother with you? So it was me 18. HIM 13 on our bike. No credit cards. No phone call, no, no cell phones.

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: No GPSs. Yeah. I mean just the old school paper map. Yeah. And we did it. And we went. 

Scott Brady: Amazing. 

Stefano Melgrati: And for two weeks they knew nothing about us. And then we came back since like, well, kind of safely because we, we had a minor, um, bike drop on, uh, on gravel. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: And, uh, back then, I wasn't too, let's say too experienced the mechanics. So what happened is, uh, we fell, um, handlebar twisted. 

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Little I knew that on those bikes it's meant to be, uh, elastic. So it's just such a way that it takes the [00:13:00] hit. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So basically you're just losing some bolts, put it back straight and, and drive. Instead of that, I came all the way back with, uh, 45, 45 inclined handlebar. 

Scott Brady: Oh no. 

Stefano Melgrati: It made it a little hard to I bet. But, um, that was another, let's say, another step into making me feel very comfortable in, in going out and, and, and to see what happens. Scott Brady: What an incredible story. Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: This. Armando is my father's name. Armando is.

Scott Brady: Well, thank you Armando, for is a big part of this. Yeah, of course, of course. 

Stefano Melgrati: So from then on, it just, uh, grew where every free time that I had, I would travel either with a bike or later on I bought, um, uh, Volkswagen Desal van. And that, let's say, made it, that's a good thing about traveling, that there's no way, one way to do it and. 

Scott Brady: There's no right way to do it.

Stefano Melgrati: No. Yeah, no, no. And so it was totally different than traveling with a bike because you bring your own, let's say bubble. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Your own microcosmos with you and it's way more comfortable. But at the same [00:14:00] time, it's also exposes you less to the environment, which is as a matter of fact, what you're looking for, even if it's uncomfortable.

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: So I love traveling with the van, but was not nearly as, Easy to integrate with people around you, basically, because when you go with a van, you're secure. You, you have everything you need. When you have everything you need, you don't look for it elsewhere. Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Whereas when you are with a bike and, uh, maybe a 20 kilos package most with you, you constantly need people assistance.

Scott Brady: That's right. 

Stefano Melgrati: And that's very good because you kept, you keep meeting people just because of the, the sh the sheer necessity of it. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Which then becomes something addictive and you keep looking for people living when, when you don't need them.  

Scott Brady: Yeah. Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: So in short, I think I prefer by much traveling on a, with very minimal gear, with very minimal, so to say, protective environment. So to say, you know, the bubble that I meant like the, the van follows you and brings a little bit, say a few cubicle meters of your home. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. [00:15:00]

Stefano Melgrati: Anywhere you go. But I think I prefer better, I enjoyed better in my experience, traveling with a bike and very minimal gear. 

Scott Brady: And if I remember too, I mean, I think you had maybe like a giant loop bag or something like that. Was that, was that what you had Endura standing? 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. Dry bag. 

Scott Brady: Those are nice. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. I think it was a tornado or hurricane, anything like that. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. Um, but very small. A very small, it was about, remember you had a really small bag, 20 liters, 27 liters. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: That to, okay. Not to make commercial, but when people does well their job.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: I'm happy to, to recognize that the two side bags were from, uh, Wolfman. Scott Brady: Okay. Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Saddlebags. And they were amazing. I, I treated those. So poorly, not because lack of affection, but just because the travel was hard and, and many times the the bike falls and, and yeah, so they take all the weight. They were perfect.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: 24 months of, uh, pure massacre and they held up very well. 

Scott Brady: I think one of the things that stood out to me about your trip, and I, [00:16:00] for those that are listening, this is gonna blow your mind, but on average, you spent 26, 28$ a day, a day

Stefano Melgrat: On the 24 month period, meaning Exactly, it would counts for Ethiopia, where you would spend the dollars a day.

Scott Brady: Yeah 

Stefano Melgrati: A dollar a day. And then in the US much more, of course, Canada be much more, there's gradients. And also keep in mind, when you travel 24 months, you can choose the season you are traveling. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So in say it's the wet season in, uh, central America. . Even if you love camping, you're gonna end up using motels fairly often because yeah, we're talking about maybe a hundred liters a night per square meter

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: It's gonna swipe you away. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So that would also have an impact on, uh, on the budget. But say I was also very much surprised when time went by and I was able to calculate a fairly accurate estimate and reliable estimate of the, let's say the budget that you actually need. It's very low. It was [00:17:00] between $2, the, the cheapest country. 50 the most expensive. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: But then, like you said, the average would be, I think out of 24 months, I , it ended up costing nearly $22,000, so less than a thousand a month. But that would include not only the travel expenses, but your life expenses, because when it's two years, you need still need to go to the dentist and need to replace some part of the equipment you have.


You have, uh, Let's say not only the travel maintenance.

Scott Brady: But your everything. Yeah. Shipping the bike and. 

Stefano Melgrati: Absolutely. And all those things. And, and the flights and uh, and the flight. Scott Brady: Yeah. All of the flights. And, and there's times that you have to fly, in most cases. You ship from the south of Africa, right? 

Stefano Melgrati: Yes. 

Scott Brady: From the Southern Africa over to South America. 

Stefano Melgrati: Over to, yeah. So you had Argentina too. Buenos airs. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. So you have to, you have to fly yourself at that point in time too. And. What was the motorcycle you used? It was a Yamaha, right? 

Stefano Melgrati: Yamaha 250 Wr? 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Wr 250R. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Which is a pretty sweet bike because [00:18:00] it's simple. But extremely high quality. I found out also this applies to the equipment you take with you as well. It's a cliche, but quality more important than quantity. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: So a simple bike, well built. Way better than over specs. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: How do you say? Like something that has a.

Scott Brady: Yeah, overdone. Like all the other stuff you saw in Baja Uhhuh.  all over, all overdone. So now how much did you spend on the motorcycle and getting the bike ready? Ready to leave? 

Stefano Melgrati: I bought the bike, it was a third hand. Uh, I still remember the kilometers it had on it. A thousand.  372 kilometers. 

Scott Brady: Okay. It was so fairly low.

Stefano Melgrati: Absolutely low. It was brand new. I mean, I think it's considered by Yamaha as broken in, is that an expression? At 1500 and I was 1300. 

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: The thing is, uh, it was bought in Milan by a guy who found it uncomfortable to drive with. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: And indeed is not a very comfortable bike. His friend mocked him and said, I'm gonna buy it and show you how to use it. Never did. And then when he bought it, he, the reason he said he was [00:19:00] selling it, because of course you wanna ask such a new bike, but two people already sold it. Is there something that I should know? And they said, no, I'm selling it because I find it, uh, very uncomfortable to go from Milan Torek, which is a hundred something kilometers.

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: It's not fit for a long distances. And he asked me, what do you plan to use it for? And I said, going to South Africa. And uh, and then as a tease, and as a joke, I kept posting this guy maybe a picture a month from different locations, with a caption saying, yeah, not too comfortable.

Scott Brady: Exactly. 

Stefano Melgrati: But that was very cheap. He was back then, I think. . And here I'm fishing from memory, so I could be wrong, but I think it was around 7000, $8,000 new. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: I paid a 3,100. 

Scott Brady: Yeah.

Stefano Melgrati: I remember the figure. And then the setting up was, again, good quality, but little few items. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So if you focus where you put your efforts, you managed to set it up. Set it up for a very, let's say, I don't think I spent another a thousand on it. 

Scott Brady: So I mean, just for my own math and I'm, yeah. And for those listening. You bought the [00:20:00] bicycle, or you bought the motorcycle, you maybe spent $5,000 total. 

Stefano Melgrati: Probably less. Yeah. 

Scott Brady: Uh, probably less. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: You spent $24,000 all in.

Stefano Melgrati: 22.22.

Scott Brady: 22,000.

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: For 24 months. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: You're 25, 26,000 dollars for 

Stefano Melgrati: Two years of life.

Scott Brady: For two years seeing the world. And people will spend that on, I mean, they'll spend it on a watch, they'll spend it on a used car, and I mean, they, it's just, it just shows how Absolutely possible.

Stefano Melgrati: Absolutely. 

Scott Brady: It is to make different choices in your life. If seeing the world is important and it's really what you want to do, it can be done for a very reasonable amount of money. You got to see the world. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: Like how, like how do you even put a price on that? 

Stefano Melgrati: I remember, um, a couple of times, well, maybe a little bit more here in the States, I was invited to give speeches about the travel. I remember that I had a question that kept being asked. I, for the first few times, I didn't know how to reply to that. And it was, why did you do this? And I was taken [00:21:00] aback because it's a question that I wouldn't, it would not even occur to me. And until one day, an answer popped by automatically. And since then I used this because I thought, oh, okay, it fits. When this guy asked me, why did you go on the travel? I asked him, look, can I, can I reply with another question? If you had a kid and the kid was out playing in the, in the backyard with bugs, would you ask him why is he not watching TV? And is he outside? Yeah. Wouldn't the question be the opposite? , are you not doing it?

Scott Brady: Why are you not doing? 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. I mean, as long as you're out playing with bugs and so you shouldn't be, be investigating why you're doing it. You just keep doing it. If you're having fun,  that. Yeah. That was something that surprised me. 

Scott Brady: I like that. And it's interesting how many people choose to just sit and watch the television.

Stefano Melgrati: Okay. I You came to develop some sort of a theory about it. It's a matter of fact that we need to act in order to feel that we, we are, yeah. That every passing day makes sense. And so when you need to act, you need to somehow coordinate your, be your, your actions to a behavior and this behavior. Very often is given from the [00:22:00] outside, be it in the form of fashion, be it in the form of uh, any sort of, I don't mean to sound harsh, but any sort of. 

Scott Brady: Celebrity or anything else here.

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. Or some sort of, uh, implicit manipulation that you are subjected to where there are things that being already approved as meaningful. You don't have to go through the process of, uh, evaluating if they really are meaningful to you. They are meaningful in general. Imagine if you are in the woods and you need to survive and you need to try different roots and, and, and veggies. It's risk. Any that you eat might feed you, might kill you. Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So what do you do? You just follow what It's already been proven to be healthy and okay. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: But sometimes it's also the lazy choice. Sometimes it takes, maybe there's an amazing berry just next to you and you're not trying that because nobody's doing it.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So, of course doesn't mean let everybody be reckless and, and expose yourselves to any danger. I believe that there's a minimum amount of danger we are meant to go through. To be alive. If you [00:23:00] deprive yourself from a doses of risk, the minimum doses of risk, you're gonna end up anxious, depressed, sad, nauseated.

Scott Brady: Yeah. So I, I think you're right. 

Stefano Melgrati: So there's a little bit of exposure that you need. I think it's the one that I mentioned before when I was a kid, a little bit. I'm sure I was never at risk. My father was there looking for me, I'm sure of that. But at the same time, the message that I got was.

Scott Brady: Try the, try the berry.

Stefano Melgrati: Try the berry. Oh, there's a zen story. Very nice one that I remember. There's a monk.

Scott Brady: Okay. 

Stefano Melgrati: I'm walking next to the cliff, and all of a sudden a tiger pops out. So in order to escape the tiger, he jumps into the cliff and grabs a, a brunch. So hanging there, and he looks up and, and there's a tiger just, yeah, a foot from him. He looks down and there's a, a pismo, how do you say it? Like a, a boy? 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: And then he looks on the side and on this very brunch, there's a berry on it. And the zen story ends with, How good was that berry? So all of a sudden the perspective switches, the focus switches from possible dangers [00:24:00] to the actual local benefit that is next to you and that you could actually enjoy and then see what happens next. Yeah, which doesn't mean, let's say, like I said before, be reckless. Just eat bears and then drop to your death. Or be eaten by the tiger, by a tiger. But only there's always gonna be danger. Some of them are healthy. That's only what I'm saying. Some of them are really necessary. 

Scott Brady: Well, and and if you think about most of human history, we were exposed constantly to danger, and we were constantly exposed to problem solving and navigating and using our minds in these very complex ways right now. Most people operate in, like in Celsius, they're operating at 20 degrees Celsius. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: 21 degrees Celsius all the time. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: They're very comfortable. Life is not, yeah. We're not exposed to the elements. And I think that you make a good point that the more that we expose ourselves to reasonable risk and reasonable danger and the unknown, I think the stronger [00:25:00] we are.

Stefano Melgrati: When you mentioned now problem solving, I believe, well, at least speaking for myself, I don't have an extensive, uh, let's say sample case to analyze. Analyze except myself. But if I don't have something that I choose to worry about, which is a travel, which is, uh, an adventure, I will worry about something else. It's, it's not that I will not worry. So if you at least choose the worry, it becomes a challenge and not a, can I say pain in the ass on here? . Scott Brady: You can say it. Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So it's not a pain in the ass. It's something you choose. And when you choose a tr a problem, it becomes a challenge. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So I remember another thing that they would ask me is, um, Um, did you have travels on the, on the, on the, on this adventure and I said I, I started to travel looking for problems and I was lucky because I found tons of them.

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Lots of them. So many that would actually keep me busy and train this mechanism that you just mentioned of problem solving, but focused on something necessary. Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: And not something fictitious in my head. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: That was a very healthy mechanism. [00:26:00]

Scott Brady: Or, or why you want the new car or why you're upset because you didn't get the new Armani suit or what. I mean, it's just, I think you're right. Human beings will fill in that space with something unhealthy. It might as well be something healthy that we choose. 

Stefano Melgrati: That's probably also why there's so many people doing. And good for them. And, and, and vol, voluntary work, how do you say? 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Um, yeah. Voluntary work.

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Because it's a way to worry about something you're not directly involved with. So you're gonna do your best because worry is a little bit out of the equation. Ask for yourself, you know what I mean? So you can perform fully, very often you will be able to face, let's say, somebody else's problem and help them fix it better than you would do with your own problems,

Scott Brady: That's so true. And we always give other people this, the advice that we need to tell ourselves.

Stefano Melgrati: But because the storm is not so close from home.

Scott Brady: Yeah, that's right. 

Stefano Melgrati: In, in that moment. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. So true. You basically spent somewhere around 25, 26,000 dollars and you are trained [00:27:00]as an architect. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yes. 

Scott Brady: And you're, you're a professional. Give a little bit of insight into how you got ready to leave. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: How you saved money. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: Uh, how you put yourself in a mindset to be able to go on this trip. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. Especially.  we just spoke about, uh, let's say the financial element to it. But there's one element that is probably more important, which is the time element. I mean, money you can accumulate. There's gonna be people always richer than you and more poor than you. But time we pretty much have the same budget. Yeah. Day by day. There's nobody that has much more than time, even four hours a day. 

Scott Brady: Even Bill Gates has the same amount of time that we do. 

Stefano Melgrati: So my point is that very often when I would speak about the travel or plan, the travel myself, the main concern of people was not money was Yeah. But I don't have the time to do it when actually time is the only thing they have. And I have, and very often we end up doing some work that actually turns into renting or selling eight hours of our day in exchange for money. So that's a little dangerous because you don't sell your talent or your abilities. Make themselves is the bad word. But let's say [00:28:00] you don't make a living out of your talent, but just out of renting time. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So eight hours you're there, you have no creative control on how to spend it. Those.

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Eight hours. So as I finish architecture, normally the common path would be you go into an office, do some practice there, and then eventually you will open your own office, your practice, or, I don't know how to say that in.

Scott Brady: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So that happened when I was 24. By the time I was 28, I was extremely unhappy and I couldn't understand why, because on paper everything was perfect. I had a very good job in a very good office. I'm still in touch with these guys, and we still work together. So I could understand why if economically and financially, the situation was very, good. Personally, it was extremely good, very good people. It was creatively challenging. Everything was good on paper, and I wasn't happy. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: And again, Armando, my father, was a very good help because I knew I would eventually leave this job. But if you have to fight against, let's say, your closest environment and everybody tells you that that is what you are supposed to do [00:29:00] as a grown adult and you don't want to do it. I believe if you're strong enough, you will end up changing your path, but you're gonna have to fight a lot of wind resistance that is unnecessary and will end up you weak, weakening you. So I remember being very upset, not understanding why I was not happy with, uh, Monday to Friday job. And I remember , I locked myself into the bathroom of this office and I called my dad and I said, look, dad, I don't know what's wrong, but everything should be fine and I'm not happy. And he said, well, get out of there. And I'm, yeah, I'll get out of the toilet eventually. No, no, no.  get out of that job. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: And I remember as a test. I told him, oh yeah, dad, but they, it's such a good job and they pay so well. And he said, if I hear you talk again in the same sentence about money and being happy, I'm gonna kick you. And to me, that was exactly what I had in mind. But I wanted him to say, you're not insane. This makes a lot of sense. 

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: So I remember taking a few months just to let the idea sink and not take a decision based on impulse. When I saw that after three, four months, [00:30:00] I still had that in my mind very clearly. I went to these, uh, to the three partners in, in the office, and I told them, look, I, I want to leave. One of them looked at the other two and said, told you . And I said, did you know? I said, yeah, I'm surprised it, it took you so long to leave. So long story short, that's when I, I quit working for an office because I couldn't hand handle very well. The fact of selling my time. Yeah, it would, sorry, I, my mind keeps going from one side to you.

Scott Brady: Yeah, no, you're doing well. 

Stefano Melgrati: I remember, uh, for instance, they would assign me, uh, some work for the week and on Wednesday, because I'm working hard and, and many hours, I would've finished it and I said, you know what? I'm gonna go and take the motorcycle and go around Madrid. Back then, I was working in Madrid. They said, oh no, you can do that because if we do it with you, we have to do it with everybody else. I said, but hey, finished my job. Would, so would you like better that. Fake slow working. So I dilute my work in a week. So what's the point? You pay me for the results or the time? No. So that was my.

Scott Brady: Yeah.

Stefano Melgrati: Short circuit in, in my reign. So eventually what I missed was exactly the capability, the [00:31:00] ability to manage my time together with the work done. So from then on, we started working as a consultant. Best decision ever. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Because you now I'm responsibility is on what I deliver, not on the time that it take me to do it.

Scott Brady: Sure. And you still work with those guys? 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: That's amazing. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. Yeah. 

Scott Brady: So see, it all worked out. Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: They said, no, no, no, this is never gonna work. . And, uh, it did . 

Scott Brady: So you had to have been very disciplined and saved your money. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yes. Yes. 

Scott Brady: And then was it that you knew once I got to this amount of money I was gonna leave? Or you just decided this was the date? 

Stefano Melgrati: No, no. 

Scott Brady: This was the date and I was gonna go.

Stefano Melgrati: I, I truly believe that Overplanning is, is a, a real killer and, uh, that he should plan. The means, but never the, an outline of the, the actual adventure. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Meaning you gotta make sure that you have the time and the money to start.

But you should not see an end to it. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: It's like falling in love with somebody and thinking, mm, how much love I have for this [00:32:00] girl. Mm. Okay. Two years and then it's over. It doesn't make any sense. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So you start with the illusion, how do you say that? The enthusiasm enough? Maybe a little bit of both.

Scott Brady: Yeah. Illusion and enthusiasm. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. In Spanish illusion. It's funny, but it means not a deceive, deceitful, how do you say? Yeah, sure. But enthusiasm. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: So, they go, I like that. They go hand by hand. 

Scott Brady: I like that. 

Stefano Melgrati: Anyway, in talking a bit by numbers other, otherwise I get a little carried away. But let's say, first of all, I did not set off thinking I'm gonna go around the world for two years. First of all, I tricked myself into believing. I know I would've never had the guts, the money, the mind clarity to say, okay, I'm ready to face this. So I tricked myself into believing that it would be a few months to South Africa, and I had enough time and money for that. As things went rolling, it became more and more, but at no point it was a plan for two years. It was also always a plan of. Okay, let's go a bit more. Maybe a few weeks, maybe a month? Yeah, maybe. Okay. Maybe it could be a a, an objective in time or in space. Could [00:33:00] be okay. And more One more month or I'll get to this place in Patagonia and then I'll say, yeah. Again. One of the reasons I believe you don't have to plan too much is because by planning too much, you set the extents of your experience beforehand. Before you limit it. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Because you have no idea what's gonna happen on the route that is gonna expand that possibility of experience. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: To give a practical example, once I got to South Africa, I had no clear idea where I could go from there. If I had planned, imagine and booked already, uh, traveled to some location, I would've not have the good accident of going there to the port in South Africa, in Cape Town to speak to a shipping agent to see exactly what I was going to do with my bike.

Exactly when a couple of Russians and pensioners.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: They were there and they were trying to ship their car to Argentina and their English was so broken down that actually me having a broken down English could understand them, but a local couldn't. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: So I was helping them translate English into a slightly better English

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: As it [00:34:00] turns out, these guys, uh, were renting a, a container and the container, when you buy it, you purchase up to six ton back then at least that you can ship in it regardless of what's inside. So I asked them, would you mind if I put my 130 kilo bike in your container? It's so long story short, they could ship the bike for free from Cape Town to Buenos Aires.

Scott Brady: Unbelievable. 

Stefano Melgrati: But if I had planned in advance, I would've missed this chance. If I would've say booked already a, a cargo ship somewhere, yeah. I would've not had this opportunity. So that's why I'm always a little keen of leaving many blank spots in the plant.  

Scott Brady: Allow for some serendipity. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah, absolutely. 

Scott Brady: And one of the things that I remember you talking about in Africa was your favorite country. And I, and I'm curious if I still remember that, right. But what was your favorite country in in Africa? 

Stefano Melgrati: Oh, man. I don't know what I told you because.

Scott Brady: Well, there's so many amazing countries, but what, I guess it was maybe the one that really surprised you, that you thought it was gonna be one way and it ended up being so amazing.

Stefano Melgrati: [00:35:00] Oh, man. 

Scott Brady: When you were in Sudan, so.

Stefano Melgrati: Okay. But the reason I, I was so, um, uncertain is because depending on the moment of the year or the Yeah, the day you asked me, I would probably give you a different answer, because of.

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Of different things that struck me. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: But, um, what I loved very much about, uh, the northern part. So say Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia was the variation in, uh, The landscape bo both human and geographical topographical landscape because you go from white deserts to basically rugged hills of, uh, Ethiopia with everything in between, but especially in Sudan, which is possibly what I mentioned. And now it was my very first experience of traveling long distances with no reference at all. No roads, nothing that tells you that you're actually moving because anywhere you look around you 360 on the horizon, you see this flat line and it's blue on top of it. And it's yellow. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. Down below, but there's no reference. So [00:36:00] you use, uh, your gps in navigation, uh, sorry, in um, maima, in C routing. How would you Sure.

Scott Brady: That Sure. Yeah. Like so like point of reference? 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. Point of reference. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: And then you just move with a composite that tells you you're going five degrees offset, or, yeah. It was the first time that I, again, I repeat myself. You would move 80 an hour, 80 kilometers an hour, and nothing will come close to you ever. So it, it was both stimulating and a little bit anxiety generating. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure.

Stefano Melgrati: Because you feel like you're like in, you know, in dreams when you run and you, you don't actually move.

Scott Brady: That's right. 

Stefano Melgrati: Same thing. I was running and I wasn't going anywhere. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So you started.

Scott Brady: And it's a big country too. Sudan's a big country

Stefano Melgrati: So you start thinking, I'm stuck here. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Even though it's not true. Another element to it was, uh, hospitality in such rock environments. 

Scott Brady: You mentioned that. Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: There's a, like a linear correlation between how hard it is to leave somewhere.  and how normally friendly and helpful people will be there.

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Because exposure [00:37:00] to need and, uh, let's say discomfort will lead them to be extremely sensitive to read and detect that discomfort in others. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: And try to put an end to it. Yeah, sure. It wasn't absolutely uncommon that you would be offered their bads. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: So it would really take you almost a confrontation to say, I truly have my own teeny tiny in bed and the sleeping bag. And you would have to show them. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: That before they would say, okay, yeah. Okay. I will let you deny my offer. And, and uh, there.

Scott Brady: How, how incredible is that though? It's just that there are places in the world where a family cares for you so much as a total stranger that they're willing to give you what very little food they have and what very little comfort that they may have. They, they want to share that with you. It's amazing.

Stefano Melgrati: It probably has to do with the fact that that connection, human connection, and the fact that whatever comes to you is a loader or a bearer, a bearer of, uh, [00:38:00] novelty and, and, and information and new experience. We somehow become, I believe, anesthetized okay to this because we are subject to such a bomb, bomb variation. How do you say? Like a bombing of image. Just think of the amount of images you see every day on your phone. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Thousands of thousands of different places. You're somehow crammed with that information to the point that necessary, I believe you are hunger for it diminishes. And it's like if you are at buffet and they keep showing your food, you get to a point where you don't wanna know anything about it. But now imagine you live with your family in a, in a tribe of 20-50 people. Basically a family clan and then you get, you are given the possibility, well the possibility, the chance to meet something, someone that is the bearer of just something different. You have a different level of curiosity and I believe that together with danger, we mentioned before, what really makes our time here worthwhile is the given into curiosity.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Somehow and can asking questions. 

Scott Brady:Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Asking questions. All design and what better way is to find somebody that has a total different life than yours and see how we been such similar animals. 

Scott Brady: [00:39:00] Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Live different lives. It is so, so enrichening. 

Scott Brady: It really is. And it just a reminder of. The things that are most important, which is connection and you know, our families and all of that. You make it all the way down to South Africa, you ship to Argentina, and then you make it all the way down to UAA and you start heading back north again. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yes. I'm sorry. I'm a terrible, uh, interview. 

Scott Brady: No, no, you're doing wonderful because.

Stefano Melgrati: I, I'll go out one step back. One thing I haven't mentioned, and it's absolutely worth mentioning, and it's important. When I left Italy, I left with a buddy, with a friend, and our plan was to go down to Cape Town in 10 weeks. So it was more of a rally like experience Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Than a journey to, let's say, uh, be drifting slowly [00:40:00] around. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So we had 10, 12 hours day on the bike. It was quite physically demanding, but absolutely beautiful. It was really a nonstop, yeah. All, all days was of course on gravel roads when possible.

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Or local roads in, in tarmac when not possible to choose the other option. But never ever on major roads. 

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Never, ever. So sometimes we would be 12 hours on the bike, but you ever Speed would be, speed would be 40.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: 35. So yeah. You wanna point this out, first of all, to give Johan, who is the buddy who was with me, is, uh,  stays here and, uh, is the funniest guy. And to travel with somebody who has sense of humor, , it's fundamental because you are exposed to stress so much that if you find a way to catalyze that stress and convert it into something else, namely humor.

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure.

Stefano Melgrati: It is such a relief and it's, uh, every, every occasion becomes a reason to have a good story to tell when you go back. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. What was one of the most funny moments that happened with you guys? Stefano Melgrati: Um, well, we would have this, [00:41:00] this unspoken, and that was what really made it, uh, work well unspoken connection, where in moments of stress, one of the two would take the, the lead and the stress situation. The other one would just drift away. It was unspoken, so it was just a matter of looking at each other and non-verbal communication. It would be like, oh, you take this. Okay, I'll, I'll go. And for instance, it was very often that it would ask, uh, be asked bribes right from the get-go. We found out that the best way to deal with them was, again, humor. So if you have a guy playing tough and saying you were speeding when you were not, it's never gonna work. If you try to insist you were not speeding. 

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: You just make, you just play silly. Yeah. A bit clownish. So that is gonna break character. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: It cannot play tough if you play silly. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Without being offensive. Of course not by silly, I don't mean mocking him. Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: But example, I remember on one occasion they would, uh, stop us and ask for, um, an insurance and we gave them the paper. The guy popped the insurance and said, now you have to buy it back so you could, [00:42:00] you know, play tough. I'm gonna call the consulate and this is unacceptable. And, but instead we said, you know what? Money, we don't have much, but we have plenty of time, so we will try to buy back with time and patience. And it was taken back. It was what we mean. Yeah. Like, I don't know what we mean. We are just gonna sit down here and see what happens. And we sat there. At his feet.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Literally at his feet. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Got the Kindle out. Stutter reading. Yeah. Got the cookies out, which is where in our living room. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: And eventually, uh, human beings, even if they played tough and confrontational deep down, they just are curious. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Like we said before. So eventually we would take out, say the, the tablet and go through photos and he would be asking where those photos were from. And then you would give him a cookie and he gives you whatever cigarette you smoke or whatever it is. And eventually after four or five hours, he would ask you where you plan to sleep it at night, and you tell him, look, if you let us go, This place, but we only have so much light now. And then it would give you the, the, your documents, uh, pat on your [00:43:00] shoulder and goodbye. So it's some way to deescalate and diffuse. Yeah. And Joon was very good in this kind of stuff. 

Scott Brady: Oh, that's amazing. 

Stefano Melgrati: For instance, I remember occasion, one occasion where a guy was extremely insistent on selling us some wooden masks. Beautifully made, but huge. And we were on a bike , and we were trying to make him understand there's no way we can buy it even if we would like, and he would not stop trying to sell. And so Johan looked at me and was like, what's this? So basically he chose a mask. So he entertained the guy for 20, 30 minutes. Again, not because he was being cruel, but just because the guy didn't seem to want to leave.

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: So eventually he shows a huge mask and he said, okay, I'll pick this one. Can you fold it for me? And the guy looked at him, and then at me, I raised my arms and said, I warned you , that this guy's a joker. So basically he understood that like we're, we couldn't take it. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So that was just kind of.

Scott Brady: Yeah. No, those are so good though. Those are such good experiences and, and it's, it is so important to keep that [00:44:00] attitude, that positive attitude.

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. So going back to your original questions, I made this digression just to say, Africa was some sort of a sport adventure. Yeah. Where we would just ride ride, right. And then have socializing in the evening when, when we would that up in, in some village. Once in the Americas, I totally switched. So by then I was on my own and I decided that I just wanted to some somehow drift very slowly with nearly no plan other than a direction like south, more or less.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: My, let's say my rate of progression changed dramatically. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So now I will be riding maybe a hundred Ks, two a hundred Ks uh, a day. Sometimes I would spend, uh, days in with a family in Patagonia ina.

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: So it totally changed, it became, travel became just a way of, let's say, of means of experience, but it was not even the, the objective anymore.

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: It was just a way to expose myself to other experiences. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: But sometimes I [00:45:00] didn't even feel that I was actually traveling because I was moving so slow. So somehow randomly that Simi was not even the objective. 

Scott Brady: Sure. And, uh, you were just being yourself. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah, exactly. You just, oh, you, you get to meet so many people.

Scott Brady: You do.

Stefano Melgrati: And, uh, I remember in, of course, being the budget low at some point, um, I usually camped, but there, back then in Nuia, since it was not a planned trip, I ended up there in autumn nearing winter. 

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: And nights were sometimes 18 degrees below zero in the tent. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Because it was the summer tent meant for a trip. Never.

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Once I get to , I was definitely nearing uptown going through all the whole Patagonia tent. I needed to be in some warm room and warm shower. And so I was going door to door from the hostels and asking for prices, and keep in mind it was raining and snowing and raining. So you get to a hostel, get off the bike, get all the clothes away, it becomes some sort of a ritual.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: You go in, uh, get for the [00:46:00] quotes and the race, and then go out, think a bit, go to another place. It's maybe the fifth or sixth that I'm hitting. They gave me a rate, which was good enough, something that I could afford, but still they saw me a little doubtful note thinking and they said, look, breakfast is included. And I said, okay, what if we take breakfast off ? He smiled and he said, where are you coming from? And I showed him the map and he said, and he, I'm sure he made that up on the spot. He said, oh, you're lucky because we have a deal that if you have been on the same journey on three different continents, then your stay is free. And I said, oh, no, I, I understood that, that he was just being generous.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So my initial plan was, I'm gonna stay inia good week, 10 days to rest. Yes. Since I was getting that as a present, I didn't wanna take advantage of 

Scott Brady: Sure, sure, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: So I stayed there a couple of nights, and then on the third day, Packed everything. And I was ready to leave and he said, uh, so I go through reception, I'm doing the checkout, and the guy said, where you live? Where are you going? I said, well, well, I'm ready to go and travel more. And he could read me. He said, , you just, you just don't [00:47:00] wanna take advantage of, of the stay. So he basically forced me between brackets to stay there longer, And my way to give something back was that the day that I left, I went to the supermarket and, and bought a huge, let's say, breakfast kit. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So that it would refurnish the The morning buffet. So. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: And I remember he got pissed and he said, you are not supposed to do that because I, I, I was offering you this, uh, to which I replied, yeah, you own a business. You're not supposed to have people stay here for free. Who wins. 

Scott Brady: Oh. But it, yeah, the generosity of people. 

Stefano Melgrati: Right. 

Scott Brady: Amazing. Yeah. So, uh, some questions come to mind for me. Um, and then we're gonna get to the end of your trip cuz I think people will find it fun. But what were some of the, the, the key things that you learned crossing Africa and crossing the Americas? When you went back to Italy? How had you changed? What had changed about you? 

Stefano Melgrati: A radical thing. The ability to read nonverbal communication. When you are alone and [00:48:00] exposed to different environments, radically different environments, say you are alone in a tribe in Ethiopia, you are entirely dependent on the way you read non-communicative, non-verbal intentions.

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: So how people are looking in you, what they're looking for in you. And it's vital to be quick in that, in reading what they, what their intentions are. And based on that, just your behavior as in very friendly, not so friendly. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Openly aggressive. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Because sometimes you would have to fake, I remember that I, I came to the conclusion. Sometimes you have to fake some sort of unreadable state of mind. Uh, I'll try to explain. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: If you are very openly kind with somebody kind, boom, easy connection. If you do that with somebody with nasty intentions, you just weaken yourself. \

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: So when I sense that the environment was not so friendly, or at least a little bit dodgy, I would give mixed signals.

Scott Brady: Yeah. That is super interesting to do so people with will. Think they have an open plan with you or at least a [00:49:00] clear plan when they think they could read you. But now if you lead them through different roads, they don't really know where they are. So that would be achieved by being very open and smiling and all of a sudden have a twist in mood or do something unpredictable nearing the aggressivity.

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: So imagine they, they're being friendly and then somebody tries to, takes advantage and maybe touches your bags and tries to go to to your belongings and then you snap. But it's not a real snap. It was simulated. And then just after that big, broad smile and they are confused as hell. They don't know what's going on in your head and you also don't know.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: But the thing is you mix them a little bit more reluctant to frame you as potential victim as.

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: And that worked very well. So in short, I think you have. Be enough, assertive as to not be, be taken advantage of, but not to the point to become a threat to anyone. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: So you would always have that mixed balance between.

Scott Brady: Because you don't want it to escalate.

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. [00:50:00] So now this is an interesting question. Did you find then that non-verbal communication was fairly consistent? 

Stefano Melgrati: Yes. 

Scott Brady: Interesting. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yes. 

Scott Brady: So despite the cultural differences, despite the language differences, yes. These core human, non-verbal, communi communication styles have

Stefano Melgrati: And I have no elements to say that on a scientific base, but I would say that verbal. Communication is a fairly recent thing. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: And we've had an, an animal communication for way longer than words. Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: And I believe that is still there. 

Scott Brady: Interesting. 

Stefano Melgrati: You can still read like a, a dog. Yeah. Depending on he moves the way he moves, uh, his ears. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: You will know what is what's in his mind.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: We have the same, even though he is not taught at school. In school.

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: But the way you move your eyebrows and your, the muscle and your neck hands.

Scott Brady: It makes sense. 

Stefano Melgrati: Oh yeah. 

Scott Brady: It totally makes sense.

Stefano Melgrati: You can clearly tell what the guy, despite what he's saying, you can tell if what he's saying matches his body language or not.

Scott Brady: his intentions. Interesting. Well, so then what were some of the things that you learned? 

Stefano Melgrati: I've always been, [00:51:00]  like we mentioned before, now you always need something to worry about. So I've always tended to overthink anything. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: In life. 

Scott Brady: I think most people do that. Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. But it's something that I never was pleased about. So my policy is very simple. If you don't like something, don't keep doing the same mistake over and over. And it's not easy, but at least the intention is clear. I believe that as with poison, when you get exposed to very small amounts of it over a long period of time, you become some sort of immune to death. Being exposed to the anxiety of travel, of an uncertainty, of an, of traveling on your own for so long, put wars into perspective. Meaning now I can be way more detached by things that I see as silly. And maybe five years ago, 10 years ago, I didn't see as silly. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati I saw as important, vitally important, and now I recognize that on the grand scale of my life there not really that much.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: The insurance has doubled on my bike. Oh, okay. Forget about it. And before I wouldn't eat like that. I would [00:52:00] attach to, to the worry as a, how do you say what? As a tick to a body. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. Yeah. And it would slowly.

Stefano Melgrati: So it definitely changed my perception of, uh, what is really, no, I really, this sounds, uh, pretentious, but. Let's say I'm less prone to react right away in a cause effect mechanism. 

Scott Brady: Yeah.

Stefano Melgrati: I don't know if I, yeah, that makes sense. Explain myself. So now let's say my buffer time before reaction is longer than it used to be. So something happens and before I would snap. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: And now I'm like, I should probably snap, but let me think of it. You know, you know.

Scott Brady: Its funny if people would just take a breath Before they respond. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: Even one breath. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: When someone says something that frustrates them or. If they would just take a full breath before they respond. I think the outcomes are, I mean, that's what I choose to do. Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: Is no matter what, no matter what I'm responding to, I take a full breath. Cuz in that way it just gives me just enough separation from our, from my [00:53:00] emotional response to have more of a, of a human or an intellectual response. 

Stefano Melgrati: For sure. 

Scott Brady: And we're gonna take a quick break to talk about what makes this podcast possible. The Overland Journal podcast is brought about by Overland Journal Magazine, which is our premium print publication, but it's also brought about by expedition, which is our website. If you go to expedition, you'll be able to interact with about 300,000 other overlanders that are in our forum, and then you can read up to 4,000 articles that we have on the home. So we thank you all for listening, and we thank you for supporting the Overland Journal magazine and expedition Your trip was such an inspiration to me and, and it has been to so many. We've featured your, your photographs in over in Overland Journal, and it, it was, it's just was such a joy to see you make it through that whole, whole process and you make it all the way up [00:54:00] to Alaska.

Stefano Melgrati: Yes. 

Scott Brady: On this, on this motorcycle that, that endured so much. And I, I believe you made it to Fairbanks for the to Fairbanks. 

Stefano Melgrati: Exactly. 

Scott Brady: And then what happened? 

Stefano Melgrati: Fairbanks, like I said, the plan was never a fixed plan, but by the time I was in Fairbanks, The plan at the moment was to cross into Russia, and then why not make it all the way back overland to Italy. So crossing potentially probably Russia in the stands.

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: I dunno if you called it that way. 

Scott Brady: Central. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: Central Asia. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. But by the time, so keep in mind, this bike has been two years on the road, um, very often exposed to high altitude deserts with all the minerals and uh corrosion that might happen there. So in the last few months, electric wise, it was being a little bit jazzy, meaning that if you would put a turn signal on the engine would respond to the , to the actually ramp. 

Scott Brady: Okay. That's exciting. 

Stefano Melgrati: So by the time I got to Fairbanks, the stater had collapsed. So I was, uh, able to find a new [00:55:00] one. Put it in. Problem was that the, the original stater had failed because the, it had been, let's say it was overtaxed.

Scott Brady: Okay. 

Stefano Melgrati: By the fact that there's so much dispersion was occurring through the wiring harness. 

Scott Brady: Okay. 

Stefano Melgrati: Being by consuming way more than it should have. The stator had to work way more than it was supposed to work for. So that basically cooked the time, the moment that I put on a new one, the new one, delivering full capacity, I believe it was 14.8.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Watts was, it basically fried everything. 

Scott Brady: Oh, wow. 

Stefano Melgrati: So the ECU, everything you can imagine. I was gone. So then I stopped in Fairbanks in a, in a shop called Northern Power Sports. 

Scott Brady: Okay. 

Stefano Melgrati: Lovely guys. They helped me keep in mind, I I, back then I was not in, in a situation where I could pay for, let's say four or 500 Euro dollars just to have four hours of a guy checking what was wrong. So the guy did it on spare time. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: As a, actually I believe they stole their own time.

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: And it was not just fair time as they sold Anyway, the, [00:56:00] the DI diagnostic. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. Was that, um, like I said, everything electric was gone. So we were talking about having parts delivered from Europe because the European model is different due to contamination regulations. So all the plaque connections are different. Everything electronic is different. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Problem was, it would've been a couple of months between the delivery. The price would've been way higher than the bike in long story. I didn't have the cash for there. Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: At the same time, I didn't feel like, uh, raising the white flag and saying, okay, I've been defeated by failure. And I'm going back to Italy. So this shop had, uh, two bikes on sale secondhand. One was a vrom totally destroyed, probably used by somebody else to do an overland tour.  

Scott Brady: Sure, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: An overland for any trip. And the other one was a bike that didn't have anything to do with mine, at least my way of traveling. And it was, um, Kawasaki, ZG 1000. Scott Brady: Okay. 

Stefano Melgrati: It's basically like imagine a couch that that rides real [00:57:00] fast. 

Scott Brady: Okay. Gotcha. 

Stefano Melgrati: And. So these, these guy's, Craig was his name, uh, they sold me a bike for a very good price, lower than they should have. And with that bike, I went the only place where I could, uh, easily work, which was, uh, Mexico.

Scott Brady:That's right. You went to Mexico City. 

Stefano Melgrati: So from Alaska, I went all the way down to Mexico, where I stayed for one year. And, uh, well saving enough money to go back to then, but the idea is still there to retrieve the bike up in Alaska, eventually have it fixed and continue traveling or continue traveling with another bike.

Scott Brady: Yeah, that sounds like an adventure just to get, I mean, hopefully the bike.

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: Is still around. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: And like you said, it would be understandable if it wasn't, it's been a few years. Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: Maybe the bike is still there. So those are listening. We're gonna find out 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: If Stefano's bike is still in Fairbanks and if it is, if it is. Maybe we could all pull together to see if we can get that fixed. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah, that would be awesome. 

Scott Brady: And then you gotta, you gotta make it up to the end of the road. You were so close to the end of the Pan American. Yes. It was also [00:58:00] so impressive for me to see your lack of attachment to that. Like, you, you, you didn't feel gutted, you weren't, you weren't upset. I mean, you were probably slightly disappointed, but.

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: It didn't seem like it, it took away from the whole journey.

Stefano Melgrati: So, no, when, when, like I said, when in two years time you see that out of many accidents, good stuff came out. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Uh, you become a little bit more reluctant to judge an event as bad before you see the outcome. And the outcome was actually very good because it came out one year of Mexico that I was not ever planning on. I lived there, I knew people there. I was able to work there. I. And it was random. I would've never picked that. Not because of lack of, um, interest, just because the option was not on my table.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: And then it abruptly  on my table. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. That's probably another thing that, before I mentioned, asked what I made of the experience. That's probably a third thing. Limiting the prejudgment of personally, the personal events, things that happen to [00:59:00] you, being less swift in saying, okay, I want this. I don't want this because often I don't have the elements to. Until I've given it a try. Yeah. And, and maybe they're just meant to teach us something sometimes. Yeah. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. And often. And if we allow, allow it to teach us something. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. Because I think of it, when you plan a trip, you have to be creative enough to imagine certain experiences.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: I wanna go there. I wanna experience that. So that's very good because it stimulates your creativity. At the same time, the experience is limited to your creativity. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: And as good as it can be, it's now never gonna be as extensive as accidents. Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: So, you know what I'm trying to say? 

Scott Brady: Totally.

Stefano Melgrati: That, that accidents can actually boost your creativity. So, Gotta be careful when you plan out to not overdo it, because it's good to, let's say, start dancing, but you don't wanna know exactly every move at the end, because otherwise it's choreography is not a free dance anymore. It's a That's true. It's, it's an act. It's not, yeah.

Scott Brady: It's not real life. It's not real [01:00:00 life. I'm thinking about the, the man or the woman, they're, they're currently working right now in Denver, Colorado, and they're an architect and they want to go see the world. What advice would you give them? What would you, if you were, if you were gonna talk to yourself five years ago, seven years ago, whenever, whenever it was that you started your trip and you were to give yourself some advice or you were gonna give that man or woman in Denver, Colorado, the architect that's about ready to want to go around the world, what would you tell him? What would be the advice you would give him?

Stefano Melgrati: I would tell 'em that it's harder to rent a room than to make a travel like this. That only the first step seems difficult. I guarantee any other step is way easier than getting out of bed to go to this routine job way easier. So my advice would be to myself, because you always feel in time that when in you reach something in life, you wish you had done that before. So what I would tell myself would basically be this, just take the first step. And I know it sounds cliche and it [01:01:00] sounds like, um, trite you say that. 

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: But things are way easier when you do them than when you plan them. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So that's why over planning, it's truly ridiculous because not only takes energy to plan, but it also sucks energy to the actual experience. So it's a lose lose situation. 

Scott Brady: Sure. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. My, my advice to myself would be, don't overthink it. Make sure that you're always the owner of your time. That if you have a job, you are being paid for the outcome of your job and not for the time it takes you to do it. And another right element that everything is short.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: And uh, you only get a shot at life. One is enough if you use it well yeah. But there's a good chance you don't use it well. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So try. Try to change course. If you see there's no shame in change course. Yeah. If you see that you're not happy, there's probably a reason for that. 

Scott Brady:Yeah, exactly. 

Stefano Melgrati: And, uh, better find out before you can't find out  anymore.

Scott Brady: And then that's when regret happens when you. [01:02:00]

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: When you get to the end of your life and you haven't. 

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. But I believe regrets are also, there's also a way to twisted the omelet on the good side also. Regrets are a great mechanism. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: It tells you there's still enough time. Nobody regrets when there's no more time. I, I don't believe that. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So once you feel the, it's like, uh, imagine you put your hand on the fire and it hurts. That's because your flash is still alive and it tells you there's still something that can be done. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: Take your hand away. The moment it doesn't hurt anymore is because the hand went into necrosis.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: You don't have any need to take it away because it's dead already. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: So same with regret. If it still hurts, it means you can still do something about it. So you it the flesh is alive. Yeah. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: It's only when you don't care anymore that, that it becomes dangerous. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. No, that's, that's wonderful advice. And, and I, I just want to thank you for being Oh, who you are,  and for being my friend and being in my life and for taking the time to come down to Prescott to have breakfast with me this morning. And I know that you're traveling around in [01:03:00] this beautiful little West Folia.

Stefano Melgrati: Oh yeah. 

Scott Brady: That, uh, that Ray d Bernardi let you use from Vegas. And it's just, it's so great to see you and it's also so helpful to have these conversations and remind people that. You can literally go around the world for years on less money than it would take to buy a used car. Stefano Melgrati: Absolutely. 

Scott Brady: So it's just absolutely incredible what's possible if we put our mind to it.

Stefano Melgrati: Also, my very first podcast and, uh, it's amazing. I know you better now than, than an hour ago. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: It's a very good tool. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: I have no idea that it would be so, uh, pervasive, how do you say, uh. 

Scott Brady: Connecting.

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: Yeah. Well, it's, this is the, this is the most favorite part of my job. 

Stefano Melgrati: I can see why.

Scott Brady: And I have, and I didn't know that when I started podcasts. I have been so fortunate to have so many people that I know and love sit across from me and ask them the questions that I've always wanted to ask them about their life.

Stefano Melgrati: Yeah. 

Scott Brady: And about what they've learned. And [01:04:00] so to me it is the greatest honor to do this. And it's also the part of my job I love the most. So I, I feel like it's a win-win for me too, . So I get to, I get to hang out with people that I care about, so. 

Stefano Melgrati: Fantastic. Thank. Yes, exactly. Thank you. And for those that wanna follow your adventures, uh, can you give some information on, on, uh, what Instagram account you have and.

Stefano Melgrati: Oh yeah. It's, uh, I don't know how to, well, Stefano, Mel Grati.

Scott Brady: Yeah. 

Stefano Melgrati: And uh, so the spelling would be S T E F A N O and then that's my first name. And then the surname would be Mel Grati, which spells M E L G R A T I. 

Scott Brady: There we go. Stefano Mel Grati on Instagram. You can check him out, see his beautiful images and his travels around the world. We're gonna do a little bit of work to see if his motorcycle is still in Fairbanks and see if we can help him complete his journey up to the Arctic Ocean. Um, so look for more information on that in the podcast. Stefano, thank you again for being on the podcast, [01:05:00] and we thank you all for listening and we'll talk to you next time.