It’s official: my bike tour began July 2nd.
Erv (pictured) was instrumental in kicking off my South American bike tour. Though she and I had never met, she graciously accepted Bob & Surly into her apartment when I shipped them from Texas, where for over a month before my arrival they were house guests. Despite Surly’s leaving the seat up and Bob’s bad jokes, she even allowed me to stay while I made last minute preparations in her adopted city, Cartagena. This photo was the culmination of many e-mails, shipping invoices, dinner parties, and unprecedented hospitality. Thank you Erv.
Everything I heard about self-sustained bike touring was true. It’s more mental than physical; people are curious about your travels and welcome you to their
village/town/city/country (besides many outstretched thumbs up from passing cars, several vehicles slowed to my crawl to verbally wish me the best); you feel at peace with the sky overhead, countryside all around, and unraveling road on the horizon. One bike touring aspect I underestimated was the intensity of hunger that hits after several long climbs. Many experienced cyclists told me it’s not unusual to eat six meals per day, drink liters of Coca Cola at rest stops, suck sugary candy non-stop while in the saddle, and still lose weight. Personally, I couldn’t eat enough.
Between Cartagena and Barranquilla I stopped to play in Volcanoe Totumo’s miracle mud. Surprisingly, the $2.00 entrance fee included zero background information about its soothing benefits. My equally surprising curiosity had me asking everyone if they knew how this mutant bubbling anthill came to be and if it’s widely-talked about curative powers were based in reality. Not a soul knew. Not even the male masseurs who spend their days in the slop rubbing down tourists cared to elaborate on the tiny cone’s mysteries. It seems they are hoarding the secret to eternal life for themselves….
All in all, I’m loving life on the bike, which is good because Argentina is still a few pedal strokes away.