Ramona Schwarz

Photojournalist

I was born in East Germany, in 1976. Although I grew up under the oppression of Communism, I was fortunate for the non-conformist influence of a couple from a nearby village who inspired me to challenge my world and think for myself. At 13, the fall of the Berlin Wall spared me much trouble, allowing me the freedom to explore who I was and who I wanted to be. Even then, I realized that I wanted much more than a conventional life.

Years later, when my boyfriend Uwe popped the question, inviting me to ride a 640 KTM Adventure around the world with him, I didn’t think twice. The notion that all my worldly possessions would fit into two panniers was a fascinating idea — as was learning to ride a motorcycle! It wasn’t until I faced the vastness of the desert at 125°F that I grasped the full meaning of my enterprise. The first year was hard. Africa was a culture shock. I stopped counting my falls. Again and again, I jumped back on my KTM and rode on.

The world became my home. I learned to get by with very little, earning a living as a travel writer and photographer. I slept under the stars, bathed in cold rivers, and warmed myself by the fire. I trusted my gut feelings. Wonderful people crossed my path. Only once, when captured and held me against my will in Ethiopia by warriors wearing loincloths and brandishing AK 47s, did I feel endangered. After 5 years on the road together Uwe and I came to a junction: he rode left and I right…

A year later, I met my husband, Herbert, at a BMW film project that involved riding off-road from Canada to Mexico. Now, surprisingly, I’m back living in Germany, married, and a mother of two little kids. My after-pregnancy wanderlust took the form of cycling across Cuba with my husband, kids in tow. And, yes, they love it!