Tag Archives: Adventure

Goodbye, Colombia

The moment after we jumped in the ocean on our first days’ ride where everyone was drying off in the sun daydreaming about what was to come.

The moment of arriving at our new camp site and all having rituals of setting up tents, jumping in the river, playing music and eating cookies.

The moment of reconnecting after a fantastic downhill where despite whatever else happened on the ride, in that moment we were beyond happy.

The moment of hearing a really good song and we’d all start singing.

The moment of hearing a really, really good song and we’d all start dancing no matter where we were.

The moment(s) of funny situations occurring from not understanding Spanish.

The moment of trying to act cool, but really we all wanted more dessert.

The moment of feeling anger and exhaustion and self-doubt and deciding to push through it for myself, and for my friends.

The moment of sitting around a campfire playing cards like this is just totally normal everyday life.

The moment of getting to the top of a climb or hike and feeling so tired and so awe-inspired at the same time.

The moment of realization that I’d rather be camping with these two people than in a hostel.

The moment of sunsets and sunrises.

The moment of realizing this is something I can, and want to do.

The moment of finally letting go.

The moment of knowing things about the people your with in a way that’s indescribable and then learning from it.

The moment of making friends with dogs more often than humans and not feeling bad about it (…duh it’s an adorable puppy why wouldnt we be happy).

The moment after moment after moment of feeling like all of this is too good to be true and there’s no way this is actually happening.

These moments and feelings are what I already miss fiercely about my first bicycle tour. I cannot express enough how extreme everything felt in every moment; the good and the bad.

I’d like to thank the academy, my travel companions, everyone I met along the way and most importantly, Colombia for this amazing trip. My heart is full and my head is light as I head off to my next adventure.

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Biking Through a Colombian Desert

To finish our trek along the Caribbean coast, we decided to make our way to Cabo de la Vela for New Year’s Eve. Riohacha was our jumping off point for what we thought would be a day ride through a desert to get to a mostly Colombian tourist destination.

Almost immediately I began to regret doing this ride. The wind was so strong I could barely keep my bike moving. And oh yeah, we left most of our stuff at the hotel in Riohacha so I only had 1 small bag and my backpack with my sleeping pad just in case.

The view was stunning, of course. Blue-green water on our left and a barren expanse to the right. Until the road ended. The pavement literally just stopped and became compacted sand and dirt for as far as we could see. There are no real roads or paths, you just kind of go until you reach the other side. Alrighty then.

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I don’t know how long we were in there, but it was long enough for me to reeeeeeeallly hate my bike. And the desert. The sun and dust made it so uncomfortable I just wanted to sit down and hope someone with a truck would pick me up. The desert and I have a very special relationship in which I chose to express those feelings with a few choice words I yelled (repeatedly) into the wind.

But I did it. We made it through to a small, small town for some much deserved cookies and Gatorade. None of us particularly wanted to keep riding, and it was getting late, but this place had no hotels and we didn’t have our tents. So onward we went, laughing slightly hysterical at our situation…

…On to a rocky, dirt road, still no tree cover and definitely no stops along the way. It was bumpy and with only one narrow smooth, ish groove that the motorcycles would ride. My hands were numb, my eyes were glazing over in exhaustion making it hard to ride straight, Sam got a flat tire as the sun was setting and still we rode.

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And then finally, FINALLY we hit pavement again. It was probably the best feeling Ive had all trip. The guys were a ways a head of me and I mayyyybe made up a song about how much I loved biking on pavement. From then on we rode single file and I had a burst of energy taking the lead. I distinctly remember listening to my musical soundtrack dancing to songs from Fiddler on the Roof and Annie Get your Gun.

The city of manaure had only one hotel. We checked in, bodies covered in sweat and sand and decided food should come before shower. The streets were crowded and as we sat waiting for our pizza no one spoke. We were zombies unable to think or move. I felt like a child almost falling asleep at the table. But we’d done it. The hardest, longest, most exhausting day of riding in my life.

The next day we threw our bikes on a truck and got a ride the rest of the way to Cabo.

The Magic of Minca

Having been on tour for about a week at this point, Team Siempre Perdido made their way to Minca; a small town up the mountains about an hour drive outside Santa Marta for some much desired R&R. We stayed at a hostel called Casa Elemento. An oasis in the mountains. A place to rest tired legs and exhausted bodies.

This hostel is known for its massive hammocks. And by that I meant three different hammocks fit about 12 people each and hang off of the side of the mountain. They have a wooden deck that leads out to one and that’s where we three sat for about three days.

imageIt gave us the best view of the valley, straight to the ocean. Everyday at least once we would be completely engulfed in clouds. The bar had local beers (Happy Toucan and Happy Jaguar. Yum). The bathrooms were what we call “a loo with a view”, which had open walls to enjoy the nature. And our meals were family style with everyone at the hostel mowing down delicious food. And after long days of sitting, we needed our nourishment.

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Loo with a view!

There is a hike you can take to some waterfalls. And to the local brewery. And in general, beautiful hikes anywhere you go.

But we did none of those. And I do not feel bad about it. I loved staying in one place. I loved the view and just spending the days in peace and reflection. I got some solid “girl time” with friends made at the hostel. I even played a little Cards Against Humanity.

Our second day at this hostel we were surprised to see our old friends, The Yucky Boys! Our paths surprisingly crossed again. It was great to let them know how we’d been doing since we spilt- how much lighter out bikes were and where we’d gone.

I was also surprised to run into someone from our hostel in Cartagena. He recognized me as the girl that asked him to turn the light off in the dorm at 11pm when he was trying to read. Four of us were trying to sleep, but he wasn’t happy at me for making him move to a common room. Sorry not sorry. Good to see you again, buddy.

At night I heard what I later learned were howler Monkies one night far off in the distance. We saw crazy cool looking birds. And one morning we had a large swarm of bees rise up in front of us, hover overhead for enough time for us to wonder if we needed to run for it, and then fly away. The sound of that loud buzz haunts me to this day.

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Anyways, those days were beautiful in their simplicity. We were still figuring out so much about bike tour, it was nice to take a break from all that.

 

Colombian Bike Tour Necessities

As we reach 1 month of bike touring, I’ve compiled a list of the things we pretty much always need. Some things were obvious from the start and others we learned along the way. I hope it gives you a little insight as to what we live everyday. In no particular order…

1) Working headphones: because how else do you survive biking into strong headwinds, deserts, marshy peninsulas, and up hills/mountains with out good tunes?

2) Empanadas: because flaky pastry crust filled with meat and veggies are the best fuel for the day

3) Cocacola: because it comes in a glass bottle with a really long straw and is made with real sugar. And it’s ice cold

4) Aguila: because a cheap cold beer is the best way to reward yourself after that ride

5) Festival cookies/ice cream: I don’t know how to explain this one. They are just mind blowing

6) Bike clothes vs Non bike clothes: because you bike in one outfit and wear your other outfit when you’re clean. Or at least slightly less sweaty. Maybe…

7) Baby powder: to help stay dry

8) Hard candies: to help you get up the really big hills

9) Tortillas: and anything we have available to put in them. Peanut butter, jelly, cheese, avocado, lentils with potatoes and little hotdogs and any combination of the above mentioned items

10) Water from a bag: because that’s how fresh water comes down here and you have to rip it open with your teeth and try not to look like an idiot spraying water everywhere, but it’s cold and refreshing so just go with it

11) Dance Parties: at the campfire. On the side of the road. In our hotel room. Basically anywhere will do

The Tales of Siempre Perdido Part 2

The morning of day 4 Team Siempre Perdido rose early full of determination to ride their biggest day so far. Despite Steves gps leading them on a small and unnecessary scenic tour of Barranquilla and after only slight frustrations the team crossed the bridge out of town.

And then Nürph got a flat tire…

…Which ended up being a great stop at a gas station with AC, a super friendly security guard, and cheese sticks.

The ride really kicked in then, with a slight head wind and unshaded marshlands as far as the eye could see. The Team teamed up and rode single file to help break the wind, but it was still a grueling, long day.

With only about 6 miles to go, they stopped and had the best papas (potatoes) con carne ever and as usual, a Coca-Cola.

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Arriving in cienaga the team found a place to sleep. beers were bought and a magical sunset on the beach finished out the day.

Day 5 of bike terrr began in search of breakfast- and an iguana fight to near death in the middle of the town square. Typical Colombia, amiright?

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The ride to Santa Marta was uneventful. The hostel search ended with the discovery of the Mango Tree. Beautiful, clean, quiet and basically the best hostel ever. At this point, all three team members had come down with a cold so a few days a rest were well received by all. Yummy street food was eaten, lots of naps were taken, and beautiful sunsets were watched.

**the tales of Siempre Perdido, shall henceforth be told in a more normal format. Tips of Bike Terrr, what it’s like biking Colombia, and more coming soon!

New Ways of Adventuring: Cycle-Touring

If someone had asked me a year ago what I would be doing now- I think I’d have said something like “I don’t know, maybe moving to Portland?” or “I don’t know, maybe going to travel Australia?” or “umm, I don’t know…” **awkwardly changes subject**

What I wouldn’t have said was “Bicycle touring around Colombia with 2 people I just met a few months ago who, like me, have never done anything like this before”.

But hey, life is full of surprises! In less than 2 days I will be off to South America to explore Colombia, Ecuador and Peru by bike for 3 months. Things I’m feeling right now: excited, nervous, ready, unprepared, pumped up, freaking out, scared, and SO HAPPY.

Since I have the “I Want To Go Everywhere” version of wanderlust, South America was of course included in my To-Do List. But seeing it by bike? Not even on my radar. Not until my friend essentially told me that’s what we were going to do and I surprisingly agreed.

After 2 months of planning and researching and purchasing, I have my bike (a Surly Long Haul Trucker) all supped up with racks and panniers, loads of new gear including SheBeest cycle shorts (the best most comfortable shorts ever), and for the first time ever bike shoes with clip pedals. And yes, I did fall once while clipped in. And yes, it was near a busy intersection where plenty of people got to watch. #winning

GLbikeride

It was difficult for me at first to fully commit to doing a bike tour. I am used to traveling by bus/train/plane and living out of a backpack ready to move and adventure at a moments notice. Adding a bike to the mix complicates things. What if I want to go on a trekking tour for example, where do I leave my bike? I don’t want to miss out on the experiences I am used to having…

…On the flip side, there is a whole new world opened up to me by traveling by bike. All of those little villages and towns my train zooms past are now available to explore at my leisure. All of the beautiful nature I miss by being in a plane? Now I will be right in the thick of it! And all of the locals I’ll get to meet by camping out in farms, or fire stations or having to ask for directions..they will surely add to my positive experience!

And that’s basically as far as my thought process has taken me. There’s only so much reading other people’s blogs and looking at maps can do until I am actually down there. The plan is to stop someplace after a while to find a farm or school or hostel to work in, partly as a cultural experience and partly as a rest for our bums.

So cheers to new adventures!

**wish us luck!

 

BRbikerideyoga

AwkwardGirl Series: London

A few people have mentioned that some of my stories don’t make me that awkward. Well, I had these on a separate page, but it seems as though they’ve been over looked. So for the next few weeks I will share just a small portion of the individual moments during my time abroad that were particularly awkward.

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While walking to find my hostel I walked past a bus stop just as the bus pulled up. Kept walking. Bus pulls away going my direction. As it comes up next to me the driver honks and points in my general direction. Thinking for some reason he was trying to see if I wanted a ride, I smiled and waved some indistinct gesture of refusal/confusion. As I’m flapping away, he starts pointing behind me and I realize that my shoes had fallen out of the side pocket of my bag.

ooook then.

Everyone on my side of the street is of course, watching me go pick them up. Sure it was really nice of him buuut having the driver of a big red double-decker bus point out my complete unawareness to my own things on a very busy street was not the way that should have gone down.
I had to smile that one off real hard.

The next day I paid to take a Harry Potter walking tour. No, that’s not the awkward part, that’s the awesome part. It gets awkward when I’m the only one there BY MYSELF. Everyone else has a group of friends or kids or loved one.

Not me.
I’m alone.
Just imagine that for a second….

Since I was switching from a hostel to couch surfing that night I had all of my stuff with me, too. AND I was basically Hermione Granger quickly answering all of the questions the guide asked (except for one because I couldn’t hear him) because I’m never competitive unless it comes to HP trivia. Everyone else was too shy. WHY BE SHY WHEN YOU CAN BE AWKWARD???!

The Leaky Culdron!
The Leaky Cauldron!