June 16, 2014 - 4:55 PM
CALGARY - A Canadian cowboy can truly call himself a long rider as he has reached his destination country in an epic horseback journey to Brazil from Calgary.
Filipe Masetti Leite, 27, who immigrated to Canada from the South American country when he was a teenager, rode out of the Calgary Stampede grounds in July 2012 along with his two horses, Bruiser and Frenchie. He added a third horse to his team, Dude, from a ranch in New Mexico.
Leite says his ride took him through 10 countries and covered 14,000 kilometres in North, Central and South America.
"Setting out from Canada's largest rodeo and one of the best in the world was a huge honour," he said in an email.
"I feel like I'm dreaming," he wrote as he crossed the border from Puerto Kijaro, Bolivia, into Corumba, Brazil.
Leite said he and his horses crossed Yellowstone National Park, encountered a grizzly in Montana and rode through the Chihuahua Desert in Mexico.
"This has been the hardest but most gratifying years of my life," Leite said.
"I hope my journey inspires others to follow their dreams, no matter how hard or crazy it may seem."
Leite's family returned to Sao Paolo, Brazil, nine years ago and is to meet him at the end of his journey.
The inspiration for the trip was a similar quest in 1925 by Aime Tschiffely, a Swiss school teacher who rode 16,000 kilometres alone from Buenos Aires to New York City.
The young cowboy, who has a journalism degree from Ryerson University in Toronto, has been documenting his travels.
His goal was to draw attention to the illegal drug war in Latin America. He said a lot of innocent people are dying and 80 per cent of the drugs are ending up on U.S. streets.
He may have reached Brazil, but Leite's trek isn't quite over. He still has 2,000 kilometres remaining to his home in Sao Paulo.
The timing of the trip sits well with him.
"I love soccer and left in 2012 from Canada just so I could arrive in Brazil for the World Cup."
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News from © The Canadian Press, 2014