It was only when the intoxicated man stomped towards him while waving an accusatory finger that Garth Lezard (40) felt the oppressing heat of Mozambique.
Here he was, completely exposed to the elements in a rural part of a foreign country. All he had with him was his bicycle, scanty belongings and the camera he just used to take a portrait of a woman and child.
The advancing threat of an inebriated local made him realise he was in God’s hands.
As soon as the man reached for his camera, Garth took out a lighter and dangled it in front of him, saying: “Here we go! I believe you are looking for a lighter!”
A moment of hesitation from the man gave Garth enough time to jump on his bicycle and flee the scene.
While he was riding away he wondered why on earth he was pedalling around the world, taking photos and raising awareness for good causes.
The answer? “I do this to raise awareness and funds for Cheshire Homes. It gives me the confidence to court the media, to speak about what I’m doing. If it was just about the cycling I would have stopped a long time ago,” he told TygerBurger during his visit to Eric Miles Cheshire Home in Milnerton.
As for the dangers of crossing borders and momentarily distracting drunken locals, he said there is an element of danger in every moment of life.
“All you have to do is realise this and get out of difficult situations as soon as possible. The secret is to persevere. I also firmly believe in one’s relationship with the Holy Spirit. That will keep you calm and give you the realisation you might have to go through something difficult to achieve good.”
For every lowlight he encounters, however, there are 100 highlights.
“The biggest one happened in Surinam, a remote place in the Amazon. I was on the road, about two days from the main city. While I was cycling a car pulled over and someone got out. I told him my story and at that point Surinam was about the 15th country I had visited on my round the world trip. I shared my story with everyone who came within my vicinity. By chance this guy was a reporter from a local paper in the capital city (Paramaribo). I was on the front page and he got me on television. It was from that point that I realised I could make something more from this story than just putting my head down and cycling. It was a catalyst for me.”
He has already been around the world four times, the first time from 1997 – 2000 as a surfer.
Then his passion for photo journalism took him around the world twice, from cowboy festivals in Argentina to cage fighting in Russia.
Part of his current global cycling tour involves going from one Super Rugby team stadium to the next.
“I share my journey and the charity, take photos with the players and do a little video interview with them. I will edit it all together in a documentary. I did all the New Zealand and Australian teams, and that is what brought me to Cape Town this time.”
The photo journalism and rugby take a back seat to his greater purpose though.
“After a round the world trip I explored a number of social problems I could get involved in. While visiting family in Lusaka, I heard that my cousin used to volunteer at a children’s Cheshire home and I joined her one day. There I heard about Cheshire Homes all over the world. I have now been to more than 20 Cheshire homes on six continents. They were my natural choice of charity to raise awareness for.”