I have the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree within shipping and logistics and have worked within the field for more than 12 year, so Maersk has obviously always possessed a certain respect with me.
Of all the countries in the world, the Vatican City might be the place one would least expect to find Maersk business.
Home to the Pope, just 44 hectares large and with fewer than 1,000 people, it is the world’s smallest country both by area and population. It’s fair to say it does not have a lot of trade, or oil reserves.
Nevertheless, Torbjørn C. Pedersen spotted Maersk there.
The Maersk Group has a global business, operating in more than 130 countries and employing roughly 88,000 people. Pedersen has an unusual way of confirming that global reach, having spotted containers, ships or other Maersk material in every one of the 114 countries he has so far visited on his flightless journey around the world.
“I wanted to spend 24 hours in the Vatican and talked my way past the first two security points. After the second security check I was walking through a courtyard in the Vatican. And lo and behold – there was a Maersk container,” says Pedersen, a Danish traveller who has set out is to visit all of the world’s countries, which he totals at 203, without flying. “That's when my personal game got serious.”
“I have the equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree within shipping and logistics and have worked within the field for more than 12 year, so Maersk has obviously always possessed a certain respect with me,” he says. “As I left Denmark in October 2013 I noticed a Maersk container before crossing the border. The next day I saw one in Germany. Then one in the Netherlands.
“It gradually developed into a game for me. Would I see one in the next country? I actually shared this on the project’s Facebook group last year and several people responded that they play the same game.”
Once Upon a Saga
Pedersen set out on the trip, which he calls Once Upon a Saga and could keep him away from home for five years, because no one had done such a journey before without boarding an aeroplane, and he believed it was a challenge he could take on. With a background in logistics, he thought he could manage the complicated planning, plus it would be a huge adventure and it could bring opportunities in the future as a professional speaker.
It gradually developed into a game for me. Would I see one in the next country? I actually shared this on the project’s Facebook group last year and several people responded that they play the same game.
He is also a goodwill ambassador for the Red Cross, visiting their offices all over the world and writing reports on each of them, and is keen to show the world in a positive light and the friendliness of people all over, in contrast to much of the news we read in the media.
So far he has covered much of Europe, the Americas and Western and Southern Africa and is currently visiting the island nations of the Indian Ocean. The trip has also involved two voyages on Maersk ships, travelling from the US to Bremerhaven on board Maersk Carolina and from Cape Verde to Guinea Bissau on Clara Maersk.
“I've been treated royally,” he says of the experience. “I think many men of the sea have adventurous spirits and enjoy what I do. They get to ask questions and tell stories of their own.”
In some countries, Pedersen has wondered if Maersk would show up – but it always did.
“I was in the Central African Republic. But I didn't go to the capital, Bangui, where I was sure to see a container. I was getting desperate, I couldn't find a Maersk container,” he explains.
“At some point during my visit I was being introduced to a witch doctor. It was an old woman who understood the medicinal value of the many plants in her garden. There was an old overgrown container which she used for storage. It was a Maersk container.”