Photos, Patagonia.

Photos, from two and a half months ago, on a different continent, the other hemisphere. Photos from winter while now in Maryland it’s summertime, but morning dew is still a thing. This photoset uploaded from home, where it’s nice to be back working farmers market routines, back to a different kind of relentless activity. Right now is the intermission before life back in California. But that’s now, and this is back then.

Photos. We leave the Carretera Austral via Paso Roballos, heading back to Argentina from Chile. See the fringe of snow on the mountaintops? We stay huddled in our sleeping bags all night long, and nights were long. It’s either Autumn or Winter, whichever, doesn’t matter, either way it’s late enough so far south that the dusk-time light stretches on and on, propelled by a sun that can’t quite hit the peak of the sky anymore. The dirt road over the pass deposits us onto Argentinean pampa, see the shrub bush by the roadside. Take the dirt until it ends and intersects Ruta 40. Follow paved highway lines into the sunset. Continue reading

Report from Patagonia.

Patagonia, April/May 2015.


Autumn time, the trees are those colors reminiscent of home in fall, or months and a year ago in Colorado. Walking, leaves scrunch underfoot, each step pushing down into the dirt tattered pieces of that carpet. The sun crests low in the sky each day. Breakfast generally happens once it’s light enough out that surely the sun must be up, but we’ll sit outside by the stove warming coffee and it’ll still be an hour before sunlight actually reaches and warms us. Paul pronounced a few weeks ago, “There’ll be a time when the sun comes out but it’s not actually warm.” We’re not there yet, but we’re getting close.


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Chile 1. To Argentina, via Paso Vergara.

There was a brief stint of riding in northern Chile. Then there was a jump ahead to go spend the holidays with a friend from home and her family. It’s been a while on the road, and the end looms near. Being able to spend time welcomed and treated as part of a family, incredible. Thank you.

We have alternative extended families in other cyclists, effectively. The cyclist network connects more or less all of us now. So many of us are looking at calendars and it’s been 1 year, 2 years, maybe more that we’ve been on the road. Slowly we meet each other, slowly word gets passed around of who else is nearby or rode through in the past few months. Slowly the network grows. By the time we get to central Chile and Argentina, we all know each other one way or another.

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Southern Hemisphere life. Ecuador 1.

imageEquator crossing achieved, few days south of the Ecuador-Colombian border. It’s hard to miss, going south along the Panamerican highway just look for the giant orange pole sticking out of the ground. Since entering Ecuador, rode out on the first stretch of non-highway routes south to Tumbaco and the Casa de Ciclistas at Santiago’s house, just outside of Quito. One night of food poisoning en route, and the rest of the last week has been resting, recovering, cleaning everything.

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Colombia, 2: Medellin to Bogotá.

Medellin to Bogotá, via La Ceja, Sonsón, Nariño, Aguas Termales de Espiritu Santo, Florencia, La Dorado.

Into the Cordillera Central. Geographically, Medellin is a sprawling valley trap. You climb to get there, you climb to leave. Better start getting used to the 1000m ascents. Lowest gear spinning gives you plenty of time to appreciate the sky (it’s getting closer!) and work on your Spanish proverb practice. Once in the mountains themselves, settlements become farther apart. Small farms- fincas- dominate the landscape, herding cattle or growing fruits and vegetables. The latter get washed right next to the road, wherever a small stream comes out of the mountainside, then packed into burlap sacks. The farmers are universally friendly, waving or shouting encouragement or inviting you in for aqua de panela, hot sugar cane juice, they claim it’s the secret to the Colombian cyclists’ success. Colombians took 1st and 2nd in the Giro d’Italia this year, did you know? I love this country.


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Colombia photos, 1.

Off the boat at Turbo and rolling. No waiting around, this is the start of South America, continent #2, chapter 3. The Andes are calling mountain promise, but first a few more days biking across banana tree flatlands. Then up over the first cordillera branch to Medellin and the Casa de Ciclistas there. Meet 7 other traveling cyclists resting there. 4 of us leave together, but the other 3 headed straight for Ecuador, me to Bogotá. More on that next. Here the first set of photos from this fantastic country.





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imageThe last segment with Sebastiaan. We leave Honduras, reputably the most dangerous country in Central America, for Nicaragua, reputedly the safest. Yet in Honduras we were overwhelmingly welcomed into peoples’ homes, and 10km into Nicaragua a teenager spat at my shirt, which probably only helped clean the sweat and salt encrusted thing. Safety is funny sometimes.

imageWe crossed the border at Las Manos, at the peak of the mountain pass. Either there or the last few days in Honduras we crossed over the Continental Divide, returning to the Pacific. The Divide is easily noticeable throughout Central America as the Caribbean side is characterized by hot and humid weather, and the Pacific side lies hot and dry. Parched, especially now, since we’re coming through in the hottest part of the year, just before the start of the rainy season.

image Beating the heat.

image First stop in Nicaragua: Somoto, just across the border. Resting a few days there, reading and watching football and taking a hike through the canyon.

image Following the track down to the river.

image To walk a bit, then cool off in the water and float downriver a ways. The current strong enough to pull us along, weak enough to be able to just sit back and relax.

image Sheer walls, rocky bluffs.

image Back on the road, aiming to beat the heat by heading back into the mountains. We’ve been avoiding as much as possible the Pan American highway, the main traffic route through Central and South America that stretches all the way down into Peru and Bolivia from Mexico, with only a few interruptions. After riding the PanAm for 40 miles from Somoto, we turned onto the stone-paved road to Jinotega, coffee country.

image A quiet road, past farms and not much else. All would have been well, except both Sebastiaan and I started getting flat tires, and since Honduras our tube patches have not been holding up. Maybe we each had a bad batch of glue, or bad patches, but we would fix a puncture only to roll out and flat a few minutes later, when the puncture invariably blew a hole in the side of the patch. Patching over the patches inevitably just wasted patches. Replacing the punctured tube with a new tube was the best strategy, until we ran out of spare tubes. In any town down here though, it’s always possible to find 26″ inner tubes, so as long as we could limp to the next town, we could keep moving forward. Sebastian was riding on 700c tires, and while most small towns won’t have that sized tubes, it’s possible to fit in a 26″ inner tube, carefully, despite the larger sized wheel. Rubber stretches.

image But up we went, to the permaculture retreat of La Biosfera. Suzanne welcomes in traveling cyclists, so we spent a few days there, resting and recuperating from a bout of intestinal parasites.

image Parasite symptoms include: stomach cramping, nausea, diarrhea, some combination of the above. Parasite medicine costs: $3US for the name brand meds, $1US for the generic ones. Espresso costs $1-2US. From bad water or food, parasites have been explained to us as a routine matter since Guatemala, with most people saying they just get the test done once a year and take the corresponding medicine to knock out the little buggers.

image Parasites cured, our final days riding together took us to Granada, the first city the Spaniards founded in the Americas. Beautifully colonial, and in the summer heat all foot traffic gravitates to whichever side of the street offers some shade from the surrounding buildings.

image Not even the heat can stop a baseball game, either the children playing or the old men standing about watching.

image Many sports going on; the city was built on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, and was being used as the arena for the Paddle Board World Championships.

image City built from stone, swathed in colors.

image Also, more bug problems. This round: bedbugs! They bite, they itch, and there’s no easy medicine. One pharmacy suggested smoking ourselves. We didn’t know what that meant. A few days of riding and sweating under the sun seems to have cured them now.

image And then our final goodbye. Time for me to continue to Costa Rica to meet some friends, and Sebastiaan to start returning to Mexico to catch a flight home in a few weeks. A great riding buddy, sad to say goodbye.

image Sebastiaan, between Granada and the border you missed out on some wind, windmills, and volcano views. Safe travels man.