Canadian cowboy sets out on 16,000 km trek to Brazil
Published Sunday, July 8, 2012 3:58PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, July 8, 2012 10:01PM EDT
A Canadian cowboy has set out on an epic journey that will span 12 countries over two years on horseback.
Filipe Masetti Leite said it was his father’s dream to travel across the world on horseback and the 25-year-old hopes to fulfill that dream for the both of them.
On Sunday, Leite began the trek that will take him from the Calgary Stampede grounds to his birthplace of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
“So just being here, riding out from here, I’m winning already,” Leite told CTV News. “Whatever happens on the road happens on the road.”
Accompanying him on the 16,000 kilometre journey are two horses, Bruiser and Frenchie.
"The idea is we found two really strong quarterhorses, they have big bones, big feet, athletic horses and we do it very slowly," he said.
However, Leite didn’t get off to the best start with his travel mates.
“I got bucked off and almost broke my finger. But after that, they get used to you. The horses, they need to trust you so much, just like you need to trust them.”
He plans to ride 30 kilometres a day, four to five days a week, and he hopes to camp between rides with farmers and ranchers along the way.
Leite, whose name means “lover of horses,” immigrated to Canada from Brazil.
“We moved here when I was really young. We were an immigrant family so we didn’t have a lot of money,” he said, with tears in his eyes. “My dad never got to do it, so in a way this is for us.”
Beyond achieving a life-long goal, Leite said he hopes to raise awareness about the illegal drug war raging in Latin America.
“Eighty-eight per cent of the drugs produced in Colombia and Central America are going straight to the streets of the U.S.A. There's a lot of innocent people dying down there so I feel if something does happen to me it will help bring light to something that is so hypocritical," he said.
News of Leite’s adventure caught the attention of Brazilian media, who say his story is a test of human strength.
“His journey might turn out to be calm and unproblematic, or not,” said TV Global Brazil correspondent Luis Fernando Silva Pinto. “He may turn out to be exactly the same two years from now or a very different person.”
Leite's family returned to Sao Paulo seven years ago and they will meet him at the end of his expedition.
Leite said while finishing the trek would be a plus, what he truly wants to do is inspire others to live their dreams.
“I wish more people would have the courage to go and live their dreams because when you do it it’s so worth it,” he said. “What I’m feeling right now, you can’t buy that. That’s just amazing”
With a report from CTV Calgary’s Kumutha Ramanathan and files from The Canadian Press