The first thing I notice about Alex Bellini as I sit down with him in Time Out is his eyes. The Italian adventurer has an energy that burns from those icy-blue eyes and draws you in to his world.
What do you do when you have rowed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and run right across America. Well, of course you go and live on an eroding iceberg…
“This is a way of life I always dreamed of” he tells me as he sips a cappuccino. “At 23 I was studying accountancy at university.
“I was happy enough but one day I looked forward ten years and what I saw really frightened me.
“I asked myself how I could change that and live a life that I would never regret.
“I started walking, and that gave me time to think. I walked through the Sahara Desert in 2001, then wanted to do more so I ran across the Moroccan desert.
“Then I flew twice to Alaska and walked across it, and between those I started dreaming about rowing across an ocean.
“I was born in a small village in the Alps in Italy and in my town nobody has ever seen a rowing boat before. So I learned to row and in 2004 my first attempt lasted only six hours before the conditions became too bad.
“Eleven days later I tried again and this time I rowed for 23 days before I ended up shipwrecked and almost died. If you know Formentera then you know it is almost all sand, but I hit the only big rock it has!
“I believe you learn from every adventure and I decided that if I wanted to succeed then I needed to shift my attitude and be more professional.”
I ask him whether, when he is putting himself through such gruelling tests, there is a little bit of him that wishes he had stuck to the accountancy?
“To be honest all the way across America one side of my brain was saying keep running and the other half was saying go back home to your wife!
“The biggest adventure was finding a balance between those two sides of me and to try and find a place to live without regrets.
“My wife is the real hero. I want to follow my dreams but that is only possible with her help and support.”
I sense a fierce determination as Alex talks about what lies ahead:“I don’t want to be an environmentalist I just want to be myself, and I want people to hear my story and talk about it and what is happening to the environment.
“We don’t know how long the adventure will last or how dangerous it will be.
We are doing our best to assess the risks but anything can happen.”
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