Meet Your 2021 Saskatchewanderer
· 7 min. read
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There has never been a Saskatchewanderer like Felipe Gomez.
Unlike the past ten Saskatchewanderers, Gomez isn't originally from Canada. He was born in Santiago, Chile during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. His early and teen life was challenging, but it was through those challenges that he developed a love for music and travel. His family couldn't afford music lessons when he was younger, so he became a self-taught musician. Because of this, he believes every child should learn how to play music, and he has spent the last decade of his life doing just that.
Gomez moved to Canada in 2011 but only received his citizenship in 2020. He created The Bass Invaders in the early 2010s and started the cross-country Bike and Bass Tour shortly afterward in 2013. This tour involved biking from one venue to the next, all the while carrying a bass guitar and amp with him. It was the Bike and Bass Tour that escalated him into the international spotlight.
The tour had several legs and spanned several years. It began in 2013 with a bike tour from Tofino, British Columbia to Saskatoon. This was a total of 2,626 kilometers (1,631 miles). In 2014 he continued the journey from Saskatoon to St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. This was another 7,753 kilometers (4,817 miles). In 2015, he did a shorter but more extreme tour from Tuktoyaktuk to Whitehorse, Yukon, which was 1,492 kilometers (927 miles). In 2016 he did another tour, from Saskatoon to Uranium City 4,612km (2,865 miles) and in 2017 he would also do a tour from Flin Flon to Winnipeg, which was a "short" 951km (591 miles).
In total, The Bike and Base Tour travelled over 17,400 kilometers or 10,800 miles. All the while Gomez would perform in schools, music venues, instrument stores and whenever else he could to promote music and inspire people to travel.
In 2015, The Bass Invaders would win "Best International Release" at The Indigenous Music Awards in Winnipeg, and in 2017 Gomez was chosen to be a member of Canada C3, a 150-day expedition designed to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday.
In 2018, Gomez was invited to take part in the Winter Cycling Congress in Moscow, Russia. However, he didn't feel it was right to fly from Canada into Moscow, so he flew into St. Petersburg and biked to Moscow instead. He biked during the night "because it was safer". The distance between St. Petersburg to Moscow is 706 kilometers or about a 7-hour drive. Gomez biked this distance in five days, averaging 120 kilometers per day.
In May of 2018, Gomez also started Rockelele, a program to teach students across Saskatchewan how to play pop and rock music on the ukulele. In September he resumed The Bike and Bass Tour, this time focusing on Southern Saskatchewan. A month later, he travelled to South Africa for the South Africa Bass Tour.
In 2019 and 2020, Gomez taught Kindergarten, Grades 3, 4, 5, and 6, and presented his multi-media performance "The Adventures of the Cycling Fox" in and around Saskatoon.
Gomez has seen a lot of Saskatchewan already, both from his time biking through the province and from living here. He has travelled over 4,000 kilometers in Southern Saskatchewan and visited "almost every little town". However, because he was so busy, he never had the chance to really experience what they had to offer. As the Saskatchewanderer, he wants to experience the places he missed, and share them with his followers. He is also very, very happy to have live music venues back in Saskatchewan, and recently experienced the second annual KrugoFest at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Regina.
Although Gomez has been spending a lot of time in Southern Saskatchewan, he wants to give Northern Saskatchewan the exposure it deserves. He recently visited Tinker's Camp in Buffalo Narrows where he stayed in a lakeside RV before going on a day of fishing. He also went glamping at Twin Falls Lodge, explored Nistowiak Falls, and had a tour of La Loche with Mayor Georgina Jolibois, to name a few locations.
When asked where he wants to visit the most in Saskatchewan, Gomez said The Four Corners, a monument that sits on the provincial and territorial intersection of Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. There has never been a Saskatchewanderer at this location since it is so remote, but then again, there's never been a Saskatchewanderer like Felipe Gomez.
Gomez also breaks the mold by being 38-years-young, a decade senior to the previous oldest 'wanderer. Because of this, he has some idea of what he wants to do when he finishes up his time as the Saskatchewanderer. He plans to work on a graphic novel of The Adventures of the Cycling Fox, and has plans to join a 6-month art residency program.
Gomez's time as the Saskatchewanderer has been challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and he had a late start to the year. Because his journey began on April 1, 2021, it will end in March of 2022. Although he finally feels himself getting into the rhythm of being the 'wanderer, he admits the job is a lot harder than people realize. This same testament has been said time and time again by past 'wanderers. It may be the best job in the world, but it isn't an easy one.
When asked for advice for future Saskatchewanderers, he said to "start working on it today" and that "any experience will make a difference".
If you want to follow along with Felipe Gomez's adventures as the Saskatchewanderer, you can see him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on their website.
Thank you to Felipe Gomez for taking the time to meet with me (this was the first time since 2016 I've actually had a meeting with a Saskatchewanderer and not just a phone-call) and to Felipe for the photography in this article.
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Categories: Canada, Saskatchewan, Saskatchewanderer