Like with whatever else you do day in day out, this trip had a bit of everything; excitement, joy and routine, as well as times of boredom, frustration and anger.
It’s been almost two years since we landed in Cancún, Mexico, all happy-go-lucky, no clue what was actually awaiting us. Heat and humidity, long days on flat highways, food poisoning, popusas, taking boats across estuaries, camping and cycling on beaches, in churches, firestations and schools, and yacht-ing to bypass the Darian gap (which we probably would’ve tried with our current experience). After taking five months off in Canada to avoid rainy season we headed back to the Andes; dirt roads, insane climbs, elevation sickness, wind, rain, mud, heat, thirst, sickness, teaching at a local school, hike a bikes, deserts and salt flats, illnesses, robberies, sand, corrugations, green forests and lakes, almost drowning in an attempted river crossing, volcanos, blackberries, glaciers and the cold. We had so many experiences, the memories will last for the rest of our lives.
We met some amazing people along the way; locals, tourists and fellow cyclists. To name a few: Melissa in Costa Rica, Linda in Panama, a sweet little boy in Colombia who went around his village finding new T-Shirts for Dan, Hanni in Bogota, fellow cyclists Anna and Adrien in Colombia, Rutber in Colombia, Mariano in Otovalo, Victor in Alausi, cyclists Paul, Sam and Lukas in Huaraz, Victor in Lima, John, Lindsay, Margy, Emil, Johanna, Heather, Clinton and Bala in Cusco, Abi from Lima, Tam and Danny in San Pedro, Hannah and Chris in Pucón, Caro in Puerto Montt, Mauro and Diego in Villa o Higgins… Not to mention our families and friends who were always there to help and support us, and the various companies who sponsored us. Thanks to everyone who was part in making this trip what it became. Special thanks go to Dan who loved researching gear and prepared us well for this long journey, who immortalised our tour with beautiful photographs, who would push and motivate me and even carry my bike when I couldn’t do another step.
My love and thanks go out to you all.
Afterthought: a different world entirely
It is very strange to go from cycletouring in Latin America for a year and a half to being back somewhere like Europe. It’s a reverse culture shock.
The biggest part of this trip was the adventure of having nothing but a bike and little gear. In northern countries remoteness and few (big) restock places made cycling tough yet rewarding. The further south we got in Chile/Argentina, the less challenging it felt.
Back in Europe, I have a hard time adjusting. People here have so much stuff, sooner or later most of it just ends up as garbage. The availability of everything is overwhelming and somewhat nauseating. Just as an example, think about bread: everyone wants the choice between various different types that have to be freshly baked – in most of Latin America’s small towns, bread (normally only one type) is sold out before more bread is produced.
I’ve been thinking a lot about consumerism, overproduction, waste, sustainability, development and education. There’s good and bad sides about every part of the world.
Even though we didn’t stop anywhere long enough to maybe teach people things that could be valuable to them, I hope that we could show at least some people that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.
The trip had a huge impact on my life – in some way more in retrospect after processing things than at the time. I hope that I can return one day without a destination and spend more time in places where help is needed.
The fun stuff
For information like the number of days we cycled and rested, gpx files and a couple of selected photos, follow these links:
If you still feel like reading… Sometimes the days seemed like a blurr and it got hard to remember what happened where. So we compiled a list of some of the most memorable moments in each of the countries that we passed through.
Wide range of different yummy yoghurt drinks
Into the touristy turquoise sea for the first time
Shily trying empanadas for the first time
Communication problems, culture shock!
Gina enjoying a swim in the sea, Dan staying away from the murky water
A hotel guard, Vincen, inviting us to enjoy the pool, we had some drinks on top of it
Howler monkeys (keeping us awake at night)
Loud music (keeping us awake at night)
Did we mention loud music keeping us awake?
Timidly trying street food like yummy fired banana balls
First food poisoning
First big climbs into some more refreshing elevations
Insane climb Rashukah
Pupusas, quite possibly our favourite street food on our tour
First warmshower experience with José
Sleeping on an island
Boat to Nicaragua
Ometepe island – rocky cycling
Playa Gigante – couchsurfing at a hostel
Beach riding and camping
Melissa, saviour of the day
Frank the crazy cyclist (on the road for five years and still going – with a LOT of stuff)
Muddy river crossings
Quiet but complicated border crossing
Linda, welcoming expad
Friendly construction workers
Boat Luka to cross to Colombia
Super friendly people
Empanadas and generally street food
Getting given shirts and all kinds of stuff from a little boy
Hanni and her family in Bogota letting us leave our bikes with them for five months
First unexpected hike a bike only three days after our return
Adrien and Ana, cyclists from France and Argentina
Rain rain rain
Mud mud mud
El Angel national park
Salinas – chocolate and cheese
Morocho (rice-raisin-cinnamon drink)
Alausi, Victor helping us out
Inca trail and train into Cuenca
Best hot chocolate and best chocolate cake in Cuenca!
First time in a Casa de Ciclistas in Quito
Lucuma yoghurt drinks (Gina’s favs)
Lamas and alpacas
High! Insane passes
Getting robbed at gunpoint
Coby our cute puppy
Cordillera Blanca and Huayuash
Meeting Paul, testing out gear
Teaching in Lima
Hike a biking Salkatany in the company of tourist groups
Getting backpack with valuables stolen in Puno
Too little water on climb after La Paz
Shops that sell hardly anything
Sandy corregated roads – ouch
Nude shoots on the salars Coipasa and Uyuni
Rewarding pizza in Uyuni
Jeeps feeding us leftovers on the Lagunas Route
Horsefly allergy = biiiiig lip
Waking up to a pool of water in our tent
Grido Helado!!! Best value for awesome ice cream ever!
Almost drowning in attempted river crossing
Bumping into Danny and Tam and “cycling” together over Copahue
Hiking in El Chalten
Lush green and plenty of water
Favourite hike a bike in Villarica National Park
Excursion with Skyler
Great company at eco camp Tsonek in Villa O’Higgins