After covering more than 59,275 km on his bicycle around the world, Alvaro Neil is all smiles and looks strong. Yesterday, the 41-year-old Spaniard adventurer was in Thimphu on the road toward fulfilling a dream he calls “Miles of Smiles Around the World.”
“The people here are very friendly and helpful,” said Alvaro, who stayed in Thimphu for 3 days. The globetrotter quit his job as a lawyer and began his adventurous journey from his hometown Oviedo, Spain, to South Africa through the west coast in November 2004. He has already covered 51 countries, including Egypt, Africa, China, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
“I’ve been to many countries, but never came across a country I’d like to live in,” he said. “Bhutan is a country I’d love to live in. I’m honoured to be here.”
Alvaro travels around the world on his bicycle, which accommodates all his requirements, including a tent and stove for cooking. “Everything I need is on my bicycle and with it I’ve crossed deserts and snow,” he said.
His bicycle has bags strewn on all sides and a box in front containing souvenirs and gifts that he collected from all over the world. A small flag of Bhutan is hoisted near the front tire of his bicycle, given to him “by a kind man in town”.
Besides travelling, Alvaro is also a writer and professional clown. He has performed 49 shows for more than 16,000 people in certain countries, mainly for disadvantaged people. The last show he performed was in Kolkata, India.
“I’m very grateful to the Government of Bhutan,” said Alvaro, referring to the 15-day free visa he received from the government. “$200 a day is too expensive for me,” said Alvaro, adding that he spends $250 in a month.”
When asked what put him on the road, Alvaro said, “This is the only life I love. If I spend more than three days in a place, I get nervous.”
He will leave Bhutan from Samdrup Jongkhar on April 18.