Written by Bill Waller. Mr. Waller is a author and contributor local blog, Southwest Georgia Politics. He enjoys writing, traveling, and researching history. He currently resides in Albany, Georgia.
Written by Bill Waller
A cyclist from Chicago, Illinois has set out to ride his bicycle in the 48 continuous states with the mission to help raise money to build a water well for a town in Cameroon, Africa. Jose Merlos started his trek in Seattle, Washington nearly six months ago, and he made a stop on Albany on December 7, 2011. Merlos has traveled roughly 6,800 miles, and he has been in 28 states.
When asked about the most important tool that he carries, Merlos said it is his Bible. “It has opened many doors for me. All I have to do is to go through them.”
Jose Merlos has not always lived such an unusual life. He describes his life a year ago as being typical. “I had an apartment, a Yukon, and I managed a Piggly Wiggly grocery store. One day the truck broke down. I bought a bicycle to commute to work and discovered that I really enjoyed riding the bike.” Nearly a year ago, an old friend found Jose Merlos on Facebook and invited him to church. “It sounded like the sermon was being preached directly to me,” Merlos said. He returned the following week and had the same experience. “I picked up the Bible and it changed my life.”
In an effort to combine his love for cycling and his love for God, Jose Merlos decided to turn a 48 state odyssey into a mission trip to help provide good drinking water for the people of Cameroon. His goal is to raise $15,000 for the project. So far he has raised about $1000 so his work is cut out for him. People can follow him and donate funds through his web site, www.josemerlos.wordpress.com Merlos says that he sold most of his possessions to fund the trip. He carries what little he owns now on his bicycle.
When he was back home, his family and friends warned him about being in the “Deep South.” They made references to the movie Deliverance, but his experience was far from the stereotypical expectations. During his stay in Albany, he went to Pearly’s to try grits for the first time. The staff of the restaurant saw him on the news the night before and reimbursed him for his meal. Jose Merlos also tried another southern specialty for the first time, boiled peanuts from Mark’s Melon Patch in Sasser, Georgia. Before leaving, Jose Merlos said, “Albany has been good to me.” He said that he wouldn’t mind living in the Good Life City.
On Friday morning, it was time to start turning the pedals again. Jose Merlos got on his bicycle loaded down with all of his gear and headed north on highway 19 with the goal to be in Griffin, Georgia that night.
Jose Merlos is traveling through all of the lower 48 states in an effort to raise money for charity. Last week, he was in Albany.