Not all remarkable cycling trips could be described as fortunate. Oliver McAfee, a 29-year-old former gardener from Northern Ireland, had decided to carry out a pilgrimage on his bike from Essex to the Israeli capital of Jerusalem and got lost in the desert. Even his closest friends don’t have the slightest clue concerning his whereabouts. Israeli police and volunteer rescue teams have been searching for him since 21st November – the date Oliver had been seen for the last time.

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However, there’s still hope. According to the Israeli Police spokesman, the search operations are continuing and police believe that the missing cyclist is still alive and camping somewhere in the back country.

A volunteer searches the northern precipice area of Ramon Crater.

Oliver quit his job as a gardener in Essex last April to cycle across Europe. He took the route as his quest. Before his family contacted the police department asking for help, Oliver had already cycled over 14,000 km. Even though police deployed helicopters, drones, dogs, and special searching units, all efforts have proved to be worthless so far.

Police learned that Oliver intended to travel across Israel from north to south through Jerusalem, with the goal to arrive to Eilat by the Red Sea. His possessions including a Cannondale bike, a tent, a laptop, and personal belongings were found in the Ramon crater, which is a huge landform in the Israel’s Negev desert.

Police found extracts from the Bible in Oliver’s handwriting referencing to Jesus’ fasting. This finding leads to the theory that Oliver might have been possessed by the so-called Jerusalem syndrome. People afflicted by the disease believe to be transformed into some biblical character or feel obliged to pray openly in the streets. The mental phenomena manifesting by obsessive ideas, delusions or similar psychosis-like experiences is supposed to be triggered by visiting Jerusalem and could happen to followers of any religions or denominations. The syndrome mostly affects people who already had some mental health issue. There is evidence that Oliver seems to have been doing different kinds of ceremonies, which sense is hard to understand.

Oliver’s fate stays unknown. However, his friends launched a Facebook page in effort to find him.

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