It’s been almost 3 years since my last day of work in 2012 and there’s still a lot I haven’t yet processed of my trip, starting with all the pictures after Malaysia. I’m still working on it, slowly but (not very) surely. In the meantime, I doodle with maps, planning other adventures, short or long. In the last couple of days, thanks to another traveller, I discovered this mapping site that lets you upload a lot more points than Google Maps, it’s called uMap and here’s the nicest map of my trip that I’ve managed to create so far. :-)).
On July 18th, many things happened. Many important things: friends had babies, other friends moved to foreign countries and, by far not the least important, at around 8:30PM, Central European Time, my mom asked my dad if he had any news from me because she was worried.
On July 18th, I woke up tired (1). I hadn’t slept well for no particular reason and the sun woke me up through the windows of my room in the basic but acceptable Hotel Pacífico 2 in Choluteca, Honduras. I went for a local breakfast of “baleadas” on the main street and had a lot of fun when the breakfast lady started telling other customers that I was going to “put a baby in her” so that he would have my blue eyes and blonde hair. She was joking though. Passing by the Wendy’s at the corner, I checked the internet, the hotel didn’t provide any wi-fi. At 9 I was ready to leave on my way to Santa Rosa de Copán and so I did. A bit later on the road, a bee got stuck on the bracelet I was still wearing from the Masaya National Park in Nicaragua and stung me (2).At around half-past eleven, I was riding the outskirts of Tegucigalpa and decided to get into town to look for an ATM, I was low on local currency and my stop for the night may or may not be in a small town. While I was at it, I thought of having lunch and I did (3). and I took the chance to use the free internet at the restaurant.
With a full belly, at around 12:30PM Honduran time, I set off again, determined to get to Santa Rosa de Copán, a bit of an ambitious goal but I would cross into El Salvador from there. Just wondering how many hours I would have to ride to get there, I looked down to the GPS screen (4) and when I looked up I realised that the Honduran police had put some cones on the road for people to slow down (5). On a curve!!! I’m not trying to blame them for this but, who puts cones in the middle of a fast bypass on a frickin’ curve! I freaked out and instead of swerving or deciding that fuck the cones and I would ride over (or in between) them, I pulled the break, very hard (6).
The next thing I remember is to be skidding on the ground, with my right legged pressed down against the asphalt by the bike and my right hand rubbing the ground too, both in great pain. Somehow, I was separated from the bike and I stopped, the bike continued for a few more meters. I got up, checked the landscape and sat on the kerb while the police and some soldiers gathered the contents of my map pouch that were scattered on the road. I seemed to be alright, I asked one of the cops to tell me if I was bleeding anywhere around my face and since he said no and I was conscious, I removed my helmet and started checking the rest of my body and bike.I had a big scratch on my leg and a smaller one on my arm, a blister was forming in my hand. I asked them to help me pick up the bike and where was the closest hospital. I rode to the Hospital Militar a few blocks away and got my wounds cleaned, an antibiotic and some other stuff injected and was released with instructions on meds to take and things to wear. I followed most of it and stayed in Tegucigalpa for 2 nights to kickstart my recovery. Now I am in Antigua Guatemala, resting and trying to fix the bike.
I read somewhere that for a catastrophe to happen, there has to be concourse of 7 bad or unusual little accidents. Until today, I had only identified 6 of them:
- I woke up tired
- A bee stung me on my right wrist
- I had lunch (I almost never do when I ride)
- I was looking down at the GPS screen
- The police put cones in a curve on the road
- I pulled the brake while my front wheel was not straight
There you are:
- The front wheel bearings needed changing
7 little accidents that got together to cause the big one. 3, 4, and 6, can be considered pilot error. Maybe also 7, since the pilot is also the usual maintainer.Of course, if I am writing this it’s because I am alright, just a bit bruised so you needn’t worry and ask me if I’m alright. I appreciate attention but not repetition.
Oh, and the bike has not windscreen anymore.PS: 12:30PM Honduran time is the same time as 8:30PM Central European Time.
Fear. Horror. Terror. Catastrophe. What are these guys doing with my bike? And why is that shirtless Spaniard straddling it?
In truth, I do know what they were doing. They were taking my bike to the Stahlratte to cross to Panama. I didn’t know this when I started this trip but there’s no road across the Darien jungle and the only way is to take a boat. In my case, I’ve chosen a 4-day cruise on the South Caribbean through the San Blas islands. I’ll be sailing on the fabled Caribbean Sea! Woohoo!!!!
Two things are in my mind as I think of the journey ahead and none is probably what you are thinking. Here they are.
An argentinean song:
And, of course, this great classic of classics:
More than anything else, that game always made me dream of the Caribbean Sea. Now, will I find the Big Whoop treasure? Will I at least get to insult-fight the Sword Master? More in 4 days when I’m on the other side.
Oh, and I won’t have internet until I’m on the other side. See you!
I felt it for the first time in Humahuaca. I had been riding through the beautiful, what do I say, stunningly beautiful, Northwestern tip of Argentina. Purmamarca, Tilcara and finally Humahuaca to settle for the night. The days were warm enough, very warm even and the scenery just impossibly colorful.
But when night fell, it was time to hide away. Time to crawl under a blanket as fast as possible and don’t go out until morning. Yes, I was getting closer to the Equator, the weather could only get warmer, but at the same time, I was climbing higher and higher in altitude. The nightly chill followed me into Bolivia and though the scenery was getting even more beautiful (Bolivia is kind of the undiscovered beauty of South America), it was getting colder and colder. On my way to Uyuni, night caught me in a smallish town called Atocha. Over time, I’ve created a category for this kind of town, I call it “ghastly little mining towns”. They give you a much deeper insight of life in the country outside of the tourist circuit but the regular comforts that I’ve come to expect from city life are non-existent. I checked-in at the better looking *hotel* without even realising that the name meant that it was right next to the train tracks.But the train stopping next to my window and blowing the horn multiple times at 1AM wasn’t the worst. The worst part was that I had to sleep inside my winter sleeping bag. Partly because I didn’t want to touch the bedsheets but mostly to avoid freezing to death during the night. It was also the most expensive accommodation I paid in my whole stay in Bolivia.
Eventually I woke up the next day in good enough health to ride to Uyuni and enjoy the incredible views of the altiplano. I almost didn’t survive the electrically heated shower (proper insulation being one of those comforts we’ve come to expect from civilisation) but that’s just a small detail.
The scarcity of oxygen was playing some tricks on me and at some point of that beautiful ride through the high plains, my wondrous steed and I found ourselves moving at different speeds and both with the wrong parts of our bodies touching the ground. I, slowly dragging with my ass on the ground and her sliding on one of the panniers. None of us were badly hurt but it was sobering. I should be more careful when I’m lacking oxygen. Also, sand was involved; I hate sand. I eventually found the salt flats, wondered at their white flat immensity, took the customary false perspective pictures, then gawked a bit more and withdrew to the town of Uyuni. A town that would probably fall in the aforementioned category if it wasn’t for the proximity of the salt flats. It was also freezing at night. A side effect of freezing night and unheated hostels is that the common room quickly becomes a place where you don’t want to be and everyone is sleeping by 10PM.
It’s getting late and I ride to Colombia tomorrow so the rest of this post will just be pictures of other beautiful places where I froze my ass. Suffice it to say that I was getting tired of being cold and breathless (for lack of oxygen) but stayed at high altitude because, paradoxically, I didn’t want to miss any of the breathtaking scenery that Bolivia has to offer. Also, because most of Bolivia isn’t very close to the sea. The chill followed me into Peru and stayed with me until around the Ecuadorian border. I don’t regret it, it was an awesome experience and I’ve seen scenery, ridden roads and met people that will stay in my mind and heart forever. It was incredible and there will be more posts about Peru. I just wanted to convery a bit of the other things that you don’t get to feel in the pictures. In this case, the cold.