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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.

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.

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!

AwkwardGirl Series: Munich

So this post could probably go on for pages, but I will condense it with just a few highlights.

Let’s start with how for months I was spelling the name wrong of the girl I was an Au Pair for. Her name is Elisabeth. I was spelling it the American way: Elizabeth. This is only important because the mother kept all of her drawings and had me put her name and date on the back of each. It was at least 5 a day. So how she will have tons of pictures with the wrong name on them.

Another time after my host mother and children had just left in the morning I ventured upstairs (I tried to emerge from my cave of a room after the family has left, too stressful otherwise) only to find my host dad still in the kitchen…in his boxers. I gave a quick high pitched ‘oh! hello!’, kept my eyes down and fumbled around in the fridge trying to avoid looking everywhere.

Months later, the dad was going to take the kids upstairs for a bath after dinner. What I missed was that he was taking one with them. I walked in the bathroom to put some clothes in the hamper and low and behold there he was. I’m not even sure I said anything. I think I just walked right out.

And how about that time I couldn’t cook pasta. Plain noodles turned to complete mush. Everyone was trying to be nice like ‘oh I think they are just a bit soft’ and ‘maybe we can use these for the baby’. But let’s be real, I’m 26 and I messed up pasta.

Lastly, the story of one of the main reasons I gave up trying to learn German: A month or 2 after I had arrived in Germany I went to one of the Christmas markets with a friend. I went to the window to order some food in German and the man literally laughed out loud and then continued to speak to me in English. That’s not exactly the type of encouragement I needed at that time. Not cool buddy. Not cool.

My Worst Travel Fear Come True

I was stopped at a border.

The US border.

I’m not sure why this is such a major fear of mine.  I am and American citizen. For some reason I have this fear that they will not only not let me back in, but that they will put me in jail, too. As an avid traveler, I would think I would be happy if they didn’t let me back it. Free pass to keep traveling, right? Cool.

But it finally happened. On my landing card I put that I had not brought anything with me back into the country. Which was a LIE.

At the gate the guard asked for my ID and from where I had just arrived. Then he asked if I had any food in my bag.

I could have just said no and no one would have known. It wouldn’t have mattered. But I panicked. I imagined him searching my bag and sending me to jail. So I said “Yes. I have 2 apples”.
It was the truth after all. Straight from the Lidl.

What followed was the bumbling conversation of me trying to explain why I lied and hadn’t put those two apples on my card. I probably made some awkward joke about always needing snacks when I travel and totally forgetting but I think I blacked out for a minute and umm can this be over now??!

I had to go through this special area to document my forbidden apples. They re-scanned all my bags. They joked about how I had so much stuff (which was true) and I joked about wanting to eat my apples for lunch. It was a no-go.

I finally made it out and I was officially back in America. Phew.

Dressing While Traveling

I love to wear sweatpants. A lot. Anyone who has spent any time with me will know that. People used to be shocked to see me in anything else. Wearing jeans is still kind of dressing up for me.

I should mention that I’m an not exclusive to sweatpants. We are talking yoga/harem/hammertime/gypsy varieties as well.

I enjoy being comfortable.

This includes while I travel. I don’t care if it’s a 1 hour car ride or a 10 hour bus trip. I will wear leggings. I will wear any shoes and still bring nice, warm socks to put on for the trip.

My hair will be in the way that annoys me the least for that day. In a way that could allow for sleep if I were able to succeed in sleeping on a bus/train/plane/car.

The longer the travel time the less likely there will be make-up*. I hardly use it anyways. Who am I trying to impress on a red-eye to London anyways?

I don’t smell. I stay clean. But I will dress like a bum. And I will travel with my own snacks packed.

 

 

*I usually spent time putting on water-proof eye-liner the day before I travel as a way to procrastinate from the packing process. I don’t know why. It’s just something I sometimes do.