On July 8, 25-year-old journalist Filipe Leite straddled one of his two horses and rode out of the Calgary Stampede under the escort of the Royal Mounted Police to start a 10,000-mile, two-year-long, 12-country journey that he hopes will end on his family’s ranch in Brazil. To understand the motivations for the cowboy's quest, it helps to start with his birth. His father, a cowboy, named him Filipe because it means friend of horses in Portuguese. He rode a horse before he could walk. As a little boy, his father told him the story of Aime Tschiffely, a Swiss schoolteacher who decided to ride from Argentina to New York City in 1925 on a pair of horses. Tschiffely rode over 16,000-foot mountain ranges, down into humid tropical jungles, and slept in Indian villages on his way through Central America. He didn't make it to New York City, but landed in Washington, D.C., where he was greeted at the White House by President Calvin Coolidge in 1928. “Of high adventures, hairbreath escapes, and deeds of daring, there were few; yet in all the annals of exploration I doubt if any traveler, not excepting Marco Polo himself, had more leisure than I to see and understand the people, the animals, and plant life of the countries traversed,” said Tschiffely in an article about the expedition.
Leite said Tschiffely's journey inspired him. The Brazilian hopes to chronicle his expedition in a documentary. For now, he is resting in Delta, Colorado, roughly 1,000 miles from his start in Canada. He estimates it will take him another a year and nine months of riding before he arrives home at his family’s ranch in the small town of Espirito Santo do Pinhal, Brazil. “My horses will be retired there where they will enjoy fresh water and green grass for the rest of their days,” says Leite. “I'm giving them to my little sister. She's six years old now and will spoil them to death.”
We caught up with the cowboy by email to find out a bit more about his journey.