Sorry it’s been a while folks, my computer charger died a few weeks ago and we have been super busy with the World Cup in full swing! We left off in Natal where we had an amazing time staying at Moab’s house with his family. Unfortunately Jack’s camera had gotten stolen in Salvador so we lost a lot of pictures and footage from the trip.. Oh well.. The memories will last forever!!
Jack and I suited up and headed south for one of my favorite days of bicycle tour in Brasil. Natal to Pipa! We could have taken the BR101 highway inland about 80km but we opted for the more adventurous route down the coastal roads, sand dunes, and a river crossing; which was shorter but more uncertain. We cruised south out of Natal with good weather. Along the way we stopped at the Brasilian Aerospace Museum. Natal’s position on the north east coast of Brasil with its close proximity to Africa provides for a strategic missile launching site. One of the coolest things about bike tour is being able to stop and check things out.
After the museum, it was coastal cruising along the Atlantic Ocean. Massive sand dunes on your right and the aqua blue Atlantic on your left as we headed south. Passing through the coastal towns it was nice to get out of the city and be back on the bikes. Eventually we made it to the end of the road and were faced with 5 km of beach to travel down at high tide. Sounded like we might be pushing the bikes on the beach which sucks. If you’ve ever tried to push a bike in sand it is not very enjoyable. We inquired about catching a ride on a dune buggy but were put off by the massive price tag of 70R$. This is about 35usd$. For 5km? Yea right. We managed to catch a ride down the beach with some local fishermen for free. Thats more like it. It was awesome riding through the dunes in their truck to the river crossing!
At the river we scooped a ferry ride to Tibau do Sul the other side and continued along the amazing coastal road on to Pipa. We were searching for a place to set up camp before the Germany Ghana game started but with no time left we just biked to the bar and hoped to figure it out after the match! Naturally as things go on bike tour, these swiss dudes were psyched on our tour and invited us to crash at the house they rented for the month!
Pipa is a sweet little beach town south of Natal. Its a bit touristy but it definitely has a party vibe. Especially during the World Cup! That night we partied in the streets and made friends. The next day we went and checked out the beach. Jack and I hitch-hiked to the main beach with some really chill Brasilians from Natal! We hung out with them for the day and got psyched to watch the USA x Portugal game.
There was a ton of Americans in Pipa, and it made for a great environment to watch the US take on Portugal! We had tickets to that game but it was in Manaus back in the Amazon and we didn’t have the means to backtrack there. I gave my ticket to a USA fan who was going and who promised to give it to someone who deserved it! We watched the game in a bar with a handful of fans who were going crazy! Jermain Jones scored one of the goals of the tournament to equalise. A howitzer from 20 meters leaving the Portuguese keeper Beto stunned. Everyone in the bar was going absolutely mental! Then Dempsey scored and we were on route to another victory! It was all going for us until Portugal scored a last second equaliser. It felt like we lost pretty much! But everyone was impressed by the USA’s performance which was cool because a lot of people had written us off before the tournament had even started! Once again the streets were flooded with people after the game. Lots of Uruguayans were there getting ready for their upcoming clash vs Italy in Natal.
The next day we had to leave Pipa and head to Recife for the USA x Germany game and it was pouring rain! We cycled on some crazy jungle roads south of town instead of going to the main highway. It was truly adventure cycling as we were cruising through flooded dirt roads. Eventually we managed to get to the highway. That night we stayed with Brasilian family! They cooked us dinner and we got to watch the Brasil x Cameroon game at their house. We slept in their little church behind their house and prepared for another day of rainy cycling.
3 Days of rain riding and we made it to Recife. We had organized to couchsurf in Recife with a guy named Filipe. He biked out to the highway and escorted us through town to his house in the favela north of Recife. We took it easy that night and got ready for USA x Germany. We had to take a bus into town and then hit the metro to the stadium. The Pernambuco Arena is actually 2okm from the city of Recife. With all the rain and flooding it took over 2 hours to get to the stadium! The German fans were raging but so were the US faithful! We were pregaming on the way to the stadium and partying outside before kickoff. Once we were inside we joined the American Outlaws in the terraces behind the goal. The rain was pouring down but we didn’t care. The last 3 days of cycling through the rain had hardened us to being eternally soaked! We were chanting “ponchos off” to all the gumbies still wearing their raincoats!
The Pernambuco Arena was one of coolest arenas we got to go to. Its brand new, and very big. The seating feels like it goes straight up! We were stationed behind the goal with the American contingent being loud and crazy! We were holding off the Germans in the rain until the second half when Thomas Müller put in a well placed precision strike off a Tim Howard rebound. The USA didn’t manage to equalise and we were holding our breath that Portugal would get a result against Ghana. In the end we lost to Germany but Portugal beat Ghana so we advanced to the knockout stages! Awesome indeed as we made it through the so called group of death! I knew we would, thats why we were here!
After the game everyone was partying in Recife! The Germans were going hard and so were the US fans! It was a win win situation for everyone involved! We met some cool Brasilians at fan fest and hung out with them for the remainder of the evening! Since the USA made it out of their group we were destined to go to Salvador for the next game vs Belgium! This worked out for us perfectly as Salvador was much closer than Porto Alegre where we would have played if we had beat ze Germans! Also our good friend Iago, and the chilenos we had met on the Amazon river trip had rented a house in the favela in Salvador so we already had a place to stay!
Stay tuned for adventures in Salvador and Rio
We bounced from Manaus on another riverboat, this would be the last of the river trip. 5 days 4 nights aboard the boat. We met some American folks headed downriver as well going to the USA ghana game. We made plans to catch up with them later on!
We arrived in Belem’ Brasil. The last city on the Amazon! Jack and I spent two days in Belem’ and the owner of Amazonia Hostel was psyched on our project let us stay there for free!! He runs sustainability projects in the amazon and wanted to reach out to us! Belém was a very cool city. There are very old style houses with huge mango trees lining the city streets! You can feel the jungle is still there! We enjoyed cruising around on bicycles and we checked out “the best bar in Belem” and met some cool locals. The city of Belem was kind of bummed not to get to be a host city for the cup for the Amazon, instead Manaus got the spot. Belem actually has football teams whereas Manaus doesn’t so what will happen to the stadium after the tournament…?
With only a week till the start of the World Cup we had to fast track a little bit. We took a bus from Belem to Fortaleza. This was a 30hour bus ride covering 1500km. It would have taken at least 2 or 3 weeks to cycle that far. The north east of brasil is a big desert! It was kind of cool to be back in the desert since I hadn’t been there since Baja!
Once we got back on bikes it was relatively flat cruising through the Brasilian countryside! There was lots of wind and the desert landscape was a nice alternative to the river jungle that we had been exposed to for the last 3 weeks!
After 5 days of cycling we arrived in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, BRASIL! On the way into the city the local news reporters saw us and did an interview with us about our trip!
on globo news in Brasil!
We had arranged via warmshowers to be hosted by some locals! They live right by the stadium and have been amazing hosts. Jac and her boyfriend Moab have been hosting us. Moab’s mom make the best fresh fruit juices ever and we have been getting spoiled!
The world cup started June 12th we were down at the beach partying for the game! The last couple of days have been spent watching football, hangin at the beach, and partying! US Soccer hosted a night before party that was pretty wild! It was the most gringos I’ve seen in one place in the last 8 months!
For the USA x Ghana game Jack and I went to the fabric store and got some stars n stripes and made some flags! I didn’t want to carry all my USA shwag for the last couple months so we just made some of our own! Lots of crazy fans down here looking rad!
We marched towards the stadium! We only got about one block from our host’s house when some Brasilians at a pub invited us in for a beer. Naturally we obliged. A quick beer and a shot of Cachaça followed and on we marched! The USA fans were congregating about 3 blocks from the stadium and it was wild! RED WHITE AND BLUE everywhere! Singing our go to chant of “I BELIEVE!, I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!!”
Once we got into the stadium we continued to party! Dempsey scored in the first 30 seconds and it was insane! The roar of the crowd, the whole stadium shaking, it was amazing we were in ecstasy! We lost Altidore to a hamstring injury which was not good. After that the team chemistry was off. Aron Johannsson came on as a sub, but its always difficult to come into a match for an early injury and try to influence things. I think in the next match he will be more prepared. We were raging with the USA fans all game chanting, singing, and believing! Ghana had been pushing us back pretty hard taking pot shots from distance, then on 81 minutes Ghana equalized after much pressure! This dampened our spirits only slightly as the USA fans BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN!
Our belief paid off as German born 6′-4″ Hertha BSC defender John Brooks wrote his name in the history books with a commanding header off a Graham Zusi corner kick in the 86th minute!! Brooks is now a legend folks!! During the insanity that followed I got a entire beer poured on my head, lost my sunglasses that I had managed to hold onto during the entire trip, and ground scored a sweet USA scarf! We were bouncing up and down in the terraces waiting for the final whistle after that. 5 minutes of extra time were added which was about 5 more than we would have liked! The final whistle blasted after the last passer passed the last pass! WE did it! USA vanquished the demons that had been haunting us for the last few world cups! Ghana knocked us out of 2006 and 2010 WC and we wanted revenge! TAKE THAT GHANA!!!! WOOOOOOOOO!!!!! WE WANT PORTUGAL!!!
After the game we partied the night away! The next few days were spent taking it easy, chillin on the beach, and relaxing! Since we were staying in Natal we also went to the Japan x Greece game. It was not nearly as crazy and we were not nearly as drunk for this game! We were rooting for Japan during this match and went to party with the Japan ultras! Chants of Vamos Nippon echoed through the stadium. The game ended 0-0 but it was still a fun experience!
After spending over a week here in Natal we are planning on cycling down the coast to Recife for the USA x Germany game! The big one! On the way we will be checking out some chill beaches, and soaking it all in, Brasilian style.
Uma Nação, Uma Equipe
One Nation, One Team
Crossing the Andes by bike, hitching a ride with the river!
We were finally able to leave Quito! After spending a month based in Tumbaco, a suburb on the outskirts of Quito it felt like we might never leave! Santiago, our amazing host helped us build Jack a new bike after Ike’s had gotten stolen. It was quite funny, the power had gone out and we were in Santi’s bike shop wrenching furiously on the bike in the dark with our headlamps on.
Pedaling out of Quito was a slow process. We didn’t leave till 13:00 so it was definitely a late start, but hey, at least it was a start! We had to get Jack’s bike used to being toured on. Stuff kept falling off and he got a few flat tires.. Our route was to pedal to Coca and then take boats down the Rio Napo towards Peru.
We pedaled for a few hours to the base of the mountains. It came the time to find somewhere to stay and luckily we encountered a house that was for sale! The door was open and it was an inviting shelter from the ever present rains that had been plaguing us lately! The house was right on the edge of a sweet canyon and had a great view of Quito from across the valley!
It was all uphill as the road towards Coca heads directly over the Papallacta Pass at a whopping 4064 meters (13,333ft) This was a new highpoint on tour! The road up the mountains is pretty new, except for the end where it turns to gravel. Climbing up the pass was a pretty awesome experience. The Andes continue to boggle the mind! You are so high from elevation, the mountains, and the scenery, you can touch the clouds! As we summited weather was moving in and it was time to don some layers for the massive downhill!
Blasting down the other side of the pass was extreme! We had summited around 16:00 and it was slightly late in the day! Falling out of the sky on our bikes we blasted down this amazing valley at 75km almost melting the brakes! Due to the amount of geothermal energy incubating under the earths surface there was plentiful hot springs in the Papallacta valley! Naturally we soaked it all in and took a deserved rest from a huge day of climbing!
After hot springing we bombed more downhill and then found a place to camp in a small field that was for sale on the side of the road! The next morning the dueño showed up with his cow wondering what we were doing there? We explained to him that we were traveling and just had spend the night there and we were on our way! He was glad to have helped us out, unknowingly.
More spectacular downhill followed as we descended next to the river canyon towards the town of Baeza. In Baeza we ate some breakfast and then turned south towards Narupa where we would then take the road to Coca. we were treated to amazing riding through the mountainous jungle as we slowly climbed through another spectacular valley! Once we reached the top it was more wild downhill next to the clouds. The Andes are very amazing mountains and we felt slightly guilty for leaving them so soon! Alas, we have to get to the Amazon!
Finally after two days of descending we were close to Coca. The mountains had stopped but it didn’t mean the end of the hills. We were treated to some gnarly jungle hills about 140km from Coca. Then Hen’s back wheel broke down and there was a torrential downpour! Jack and Hen sought shelter in a little roadside bus stop! Barely big enough for us to sit under we waited an hour in the down poor. As we sat soaking wet and shivering in the little bus stop, we watched the water pooling up on the ground. Not a good sign for camping! In fact where would we camp that night, providing that the rain stopped.
Then our savior showed up. A truck had stopped to help us and it turned out the driver was heading to Coca and would give us a ride! Perfect. A chance to fast track to the river as well as wrench on bikes and find boats the next day!
We arrived in Coca that evening and found a cheap hotel to spend the night and attempt to dry out all of our stuff! The next day we cruised town, got supplies, and wrenched bikes. The dude at the shop said he was busy and just let Hen use the tools to fix his bike himself. Coca is a pretty cool river town in the Ecuadorian jungle! It has the feel of a beach town without the beach! We enjoyed the afternoon sipping beers watching the Napo River flow by. There was a boat heading to Rocafuerte at the Ecuador Peru border leaving the next morning and we made plans to board it!
The riverboat we got on was awesome! It was about 8 hour trip down river to Roca. Riverboating is super relaxed way to travel. For the people who live along the Rio Napo, riverboating is the only way to get around! We cruised down river dropping people off to their little jungle huts along the river bank all day. Finally we made it to Rocafuerte where we met some travelers heading to Brasil as well! Pedro is from Brasil but he lives in Denver, and Iago is from Spain, we teamed up with them and made plans to head downriver!
After waiting a few days in Rocafuerte for a boat we found one that was heading to Santa Clotilde Peru. This boat was a slightly modified dugout canoe with a shade structure and a tak tak 5.5hp motor attached to the back! We were traveling with a Peruvian family who had family up river and was dropping off some livestock to them. On our return we had 4 chickens and a baby pig with us!
We crossed into Peru and ran into Ike and Genia at the little border town of Pantoja. They had been waiting in Pantoja for a few days and figured we’d show up when we got our passports stamped. It took 3 days of riverboating on the small boat down the Rio Napo to get to Santa Clotilde! At night we would stop at local river peoples jungle houses and set up hammocks!
Once we had gotten to Santa we took a rapido or “fast boat” to Mazan where we biked across a land bridge to the Amazon river where we took another boat to Iquitos, Peru! Iquitos is the largest city in the world non accessible by road! Iquitos was amazing! There is no cars in the city only motorcycles and moto taxis! It was very fun to ride bikes through the concrete jungle in the jungle!
We checked out the famous Belen market where you can buy anything! We got to try some caiman (crocodile) and an assortment of delicious juices! We also partied in the street with some of the crazy locals! It turned out to be a fun few days spent there. There was a riverboat heading to the Peru/Brasil/Colombia border the next day so we jumped aboard and headed down the mighty Amazon River towards BRASIL!
It took another 3 days of riverboating to get to the tri border area. This riverboat was significantly bigger than the last. With about 100 + passengers crammed in on two levels, everyone slings up their hammocks for the duration of the journey. Riverboating is extremely kicked back as you just lounge in your hammock sipping beers watching the river slide by as it does.
We entertained ourself with some 10 sol poker. Soles are the currency of Peru. (10 soles = 3$) This Belgian guy named Kevin who was also heading to Brasil cleaned us all out. After 3 long days of riverboating we made it to Santa Rosa, the Peruvian border town. The next day we cruised across river to BRASIL!!! Woooooo we made it! Wow nearly 7 months of traveling and we did it, we entered Brasil! After checking in with migracion we walked to Colombia because we could!
The next day we found yet another riverboat heading down river, this one going to Manaus! This riverboat was huge! It was more like a cruise ship it was so big! We piled aboard for a 4 day trip to Manaus! Once again its all about the hammock time as we set up for the ride. We met a handful of people heading into Brasil from all over. Lots of Colombians, Germans, Dutchies, Spaniards, Argentinians, all making the pilgrimage to Mundial!
During sunset when it was cooler, we played football on the top deck of the riverboat! You had to be disciplined to keep the ball on the deck! We lost a few balls but it was worth it! In the evening we congregated at the bar as you’d imagine, having multilingual conversations with fellow international travelers! People were busting out their instruments and a jam sesh ensued! Good times on the boat!
We finally made it to Manaus where we will take care of some things before Jack and Hen head to the coast! Ike and Genia will head south to Cuiaba for their World Cup game Chile vs Austrailia.
We are super psyched to get to BRASIL! What started as a half-baked day dream has become a reality, although we still have to finish our voyage down the Amazon, and then some to get to Natal by June 16th where USA take on Ghana!!
Tudo Beleza ! ~
-Hen, Jack, Ike & G
So we left off with Ike & G heading out on their own adventures, and Jack teaming up with Hen for the World Cup dream! We all cruised to the Brasilian Embassy in Quito to apply for our visas. We went there on a Monday hoping the get them back by Friday! It turned out we didn’t have all the necessary items for a visa… You need all kinds of stuff, they want bank statements, airplane tickets, hotel reservations, travel itineraries, etc. to which we had none. So naturally we jetted over to a local internet computer lab and made up our own travel itineraries and concocted hotel reservations. We returned the next day with the “proper” documentation and submitted our visa applications! It’s pretty cool because World Cup Visas are free if you have tickets to the games! Otherwise you must pay 180$ plus all kinds of other secret fees they love to hit you with! The kind Brasilian lady told us to come back in a week to get our Visas.. Stuck in Quito for another week….
Instead of spending the week in Quito, Jack, Chelsea, and Hen decided to head down to the coast! Chelsea’s professor was having her birthday party and using her connections Chelsea extended the invitation to Jack and Hen! Perfect! We LOVE to party and figured we could liven up the bash with our contagious psychitude and legendary senses of humor!
We all piled onto the night bus to Pederñales from Quito and were transported through the Andes down to the Pacific Ocean! Arriving in Pederñales at 4am we were without a place to pass the rest of the night! We wanted to camp on the beach but it didn’t look too safe! Hen found a loft of a beach bar that he climbed up to. It was secluded, safe, and out of sight. “Out of sight out of mind!” Good enough to sleep a few hours until dawn. Unfortunately, after Jack had clambered into the loft, as Chelsea was about to ascend the night watchman told us we couldn’t stay there because we were trespassing or something. It all worked out in the end as Chelsea managed to use her charm to get the 3 of us a room in a hotel for 10$ total! Perfect. We slept in and then drank coffee on the beach, followed by beer!
After a relaxing morning on the beach, our tried and trusted guide Chelsea took us to the small coastal village of Tabuga where the rest of her classmates were doing their internship work. We visited a small organic Cacao Plantation owned by an Italian dude named Alessandro! He was very cool as he gave us a tour of the farm and we enjoyed sampling the various stages of the Cacao.
After the farm we waltzed on down some fun trails to the beach! Its been a few weeks since Hen’s ill fated sailing voyage on the Pacific, yet it still remained as beautiful as ever. This beach was quite the contrast to the beach in Pederñales. There it was quite ugly as the fishing town had its influence on the coastline. Here in Tabuga the beach was rather exquisite. We cooked up some dinner on the camp stove and enjoyed a superb sunset as the sun sank into the ocean as it has done for centuries. After dinner we helped a local fisherman move his nets around and then headed up to Lalo Loor Reserve where we would spend the night!
Lalo Loor Dry Forest Reserve is pretty neat! It has protected about 500 acres of forest between the wet forests to the north and extremely dry forests to the south! It is a kind of transition zone between the two ecosystems. The area is very bio diverse, housing species from both habitats! The students from Chelsea’s program were staying there and it was fun to hang out with them! The next day we went on a hike through the jungle and Chelsea was on top of things with her identification of multiple species of spiders, monkeys, and of course FROGS that can be found on the reserve!
After hangin hard on the reserve for the morning it was THAT time! You know that time… PARTY TIME!! We all dressed up in our saturday’s best and made for Joe and Cath’s house on the beach! Joe and Cath are the professors for the program that the students are in and they invited everyone in town to the beach bash! Their house overlooking the coast is phenomenal. It is nice to see what people can accomplish when they put their effort into it! We kicked things off with a couple of drinks then headed down to the ocean for some spray! Outrageous fun followed as everyone was getting loose, playing in the surf, boogie boarding, kicking footballs and throwing the throwball around! Another amazing sunset followed and everyone made the trek up to the casa for the party!
There was a massive pile of pasta as our gracious hosts supplied everyone with dinner, not to mention a lot of booze! Mojitos, Gin & Tonics, Whiskey straights, Vino Chileno, Cervezas, Rum Colas.. Which led to DANCE PARTY! So much fun out on the dance floor! People were burning up the tiles left and roight out there! Being the seasoned party animals that we are we managed to groove all night AND bust out the late night dish duty and earn our spot to sleep in the hammocks and on the patio!
Morning came too soon as it always does as we were awakened from our coma like slumber by the sounds of people who get up early! Fighting the urge to tell them to shut up, we roused ourselves for some coffee, BACON and eggs. (On a side note, you know when your cooking bacon without a shirt on and some of the grease hits you and burns you, and your like “Dammit bacon, I hate you! Why you gotta do that!?” And then you think “Oh im sorry bacon I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, I love you!”) I digress, but seriously Bacon! We dont get to eat it much on this trip so when we do its extra special!
The morning was spent frolicking in the ocean and getting ready to leave the coastal casa! We hitched a ride with Joe to Finca Mono Verde, where we were gonna say hi to friends and pass the night! When we got there no one was there, after hangin out waiting we decided to venture into town. Naturally everyone was gathered around the football pitch and we ended up getting in on a game. They play 30$ games with the winner getting the spoils. Jack and Hen pitched 2.50$ each to get into the second game and we balled out with the locals. It was quite fun to be playing on the tropical field! The grass was nice and soft and Hen played barefoot while Jack got hooked up with some boots. We ended up drawing 2-2 and we just got our money back with a slight donation for the field usage! After the game we went back to Mono Verde where we met up with Arnaud and his wife Monica and their young son Mael! We hung out with them for the evening and played cards to pass the time. We all fell asleep to the sounds of croaking frogs in the jungle!
We made the travel day back to Quito, this time on the day bus and were treated to the amazing views of the Andes as we climbed back towards the capital city! Hen feeling a pang of guilt for not getting to cycle these amazing mountain roads as the bus wizzed by the amazing scenery. We ended up getting back into Quito and to the Embassy Monday afternoon just in time to grab our freshly processed 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP BRASIL VISAS! Yea BABy! This was a slight concern as being American’s we cant get into Brasil with out a visa. Check that one off the list!
The high of getting visas was quickly evaporated as we got back to Santiago’s house to find that Ikes (now Jacks) bike was missing! This was not cool! It was a slightly peculiar feeling as there were other valuable objects lying around for a thief to take, yet they only took the bike. It was hard for Hen to break the news to Ike that his bike was gone, although Ike wasn’t as upset because he wasn’t using it anymore.
We talked to Santi who was in the Galapagos and he said he could build another bike when he got back! Stuck in Quito again…
Most of the week was spent hanging at El Portrero! Chelsea had gotten the invite from her friend Rodrigo to come play some footy there! Portrero is sick! Its a football complex, a climbing wall, and of course PINGPONG! They also sell beer too which is pretty sweet! Naturally we enjoyed spending time here as it catered to our needs! We met the two dudes who ran the place, Rodrigo and Francis! They are totally rad! They met a few years ago battling it out on the soccer field and naturally became friends and business partners! Francis used to live in South Florida playing highschool and college soccer! These guys hooked us up with some drop in footy on the artificial indoor pitch and some climb time! Thanks!
Wednesday night we went to a party at Danilo’s casa in north Quito! Danilo is Santi’s Daughter’s Boyfriend! In Ecuador they celebrate Primero de Mayo (the 1st of May) I told them that its all about Cinco de Mayo where we come from but whatever, we LOVE parties! It was cool to go to an Ecuadorian bash! We were jammin to salsa music and dancin in the living room! There was Aguardiente which is the local liquor as well as some Ron Abuelo! Ron Abuelo is from Panama which brought Hen back to the days hangin at the marina in Panama City waiting for boats with the gypsies! On the dance floor the rug was getting cut by everyone busting out their choice dance moves!
We had arranged with Rodrigo that we would play a footy match at 11 am. We woke up at 10 Chuchaki (hungover) We showed up at 12 having missed the game but we got into another match on the indoor field! It was pretty fun to run off the hangover! After footy we made moves to the climbing wall and pulled down on some of the fun boulder problems! Of course, Hen and Chelsea renewed their pingpong rivalry with Hen taking the cake after losing the first game, he won the second two! Until the next time!
We made plans to come back saturday for the festival that was going on at the fields. Francis and Rodrigo were renting out the soccer field for a music festival. We showed up early for some climbing and then VIP’d our way into the festival. In Ecuador they are figuring out things as they go along and we slipped the security saving a whopping 30$! The festival was pretty cool except in Ecuador they dont sell beer at concerts… We just couldn’t fathom that. The couple opening bands weren’t anything to write home about and we were about to head home for the night when we saw a bunch of artists warming up their brass instruments! Instantly psyched to boogie we headed back into the festi tent and checked out the band Rocola Bacalao ! They are an Ecuadorian ska/reggae band who ripped it up! Hen and Jack were all up in the mosh pit getting blasted by the funky tunes! Afterwards when we were hangin backstage we got to meet Jose from the band! “You see theres the band, and the people who know the band.” Jose was way chill as he explained they’re heading to Porto Alegre in Brasil just before the World Cup to play a handful of shows! Porto Alegre is the host city of Ecuador and it should be a wild time for them!
So now its time for us to leave Quito foreal! It has been a rad 4 weeks chillin here, and it feels like home! We gotten to hang out with tons of cool people and go to some really cool places! As the World Cup draws nearer, football fever is in the air! We are gonna have to book it across the continent as we head EAST towards town of Coca, where we will catch a ride on the mighty Napo River towards Iquitos, Peru. From Iquitos we will be taking the baddest river on the planet, the AMAZON, through Brasil, to the Atlantic Ocean! To everyone we’ve met in Quito THANKS so much for everything! Also special thanks to Chelsea, you have been an amazing tour guide and a great friend, its been a fun couple of weeks hanging with you! Its time to go! Siga no mas !~
Its all downhill to the river, and down river to the ocean!
~ Hen & Jack
Video of the botched sailing voyage!
After returning to Panama City from the epic sailing adventure we decided to chill out for a bit and look for yet another sail boat going to Ecuador. After 4 days of sitting around, we met up with our friend Robin who had been training for a cayuco race through the Panama Canal. Cayuco racing started from the indigenous people who created long canoes made from hollowed out trees. These boats (now made of wood and fiberglass) hold 4 people and can be very unstable. Racing these boats have become a competitive sport, with people of shapes and sizes.
Robin asked us to help them train as they were 2 people short of a full boat. While practicing close to Veracruz, Panama, we met Ted Henter who has been in the last 15 cayuko races through the Panama Canal. Ted used to be a world renowned road motorcycle racer until he got into a crash in England and became blind in both eyes. Being blind has done anything but slow him down as he has won the world championship for blind waterskiing and is still active as ever. He says that being blind doesn’t make your other senses better per se but it creates more awareness of things that you wouldn’t recognize otherwise. Ted helped create a software that helps blind people learn different skills. Ted showed us how even the biggest challenges can subside, and how happiness does not have to be seen but can purely be felt, heard, tasted and smelled.
We realized that we were sitting ducks, with little luck finding another captain and decided to look into other means of transportation. No boats heading south to Ecuador until May! We did not want to stay any longer in Panama City! Henry’s Grandparents came to the rescue, by allotting us some of their frequent flyer miles, we were able to get two tickets to Quito via aeroplane… As the sustainably south crew thought about other options and were anxious to leave Panama, they decided to push the button and get 2 flights to Quito, Ecuador! Being the sustainably aware team, we wanted to explain the impacts of flying compared to biking. In general riding your bike at a moderate speed burns 472 calories/hour, while driving burns just 148 calories/hour. We calculated our carbon footprint riding bikes 7000km from San Diego to Panama City and found out that we burned 152,000,000 calories along the way. We also calculated our footprint flying from Panama City, Panama into Quito, Ecuador which created around .54 tonnes of carbon emissions. This is a little less than .54 tonnes more than it would have been if we were able to bike through the tumultuous Darien Gap.
Living on the itchy, buggy island, we decided to ask Ted and his greatastic wife, Mel if it would be possible to stay at their ocean side adobe abode in Veracruz to get our stuff in order before the 1 hour and 2o minute flight. We stayed here for a few days hanging by the pool and packing our bikes in boxes. We also realized that we couldn’t take our chicken, Cisse’, on the plane with us so we ended up building her a new coop and giving her to the zoni couple Ted and Mel. Thanks guys! Enjoy your new home Cisse’ we’ll miss you!!
So we did it, we took an airplane.. Something we were trying to avoid on this trip.. We tried sailing.. we tried.. We had to take our bikes apart and pay around 130$ for them to be placed on the plane as cargo… The lady at the baggage counter didn’t understand and was trying to charge us 500$ but we talked to the manager and everything was cool…
After getting into Quito we quickly assembled our bikes and decided to bike to Tumbaco, a small town on the outskirts of Quito, where we heard about Casa Ciclista. This is a place where Santiago and his family hosts cyclists from around the world who are doing tours like us. Camping in the back yard free of charge was great! Had a kitchen, bathroom and a cool town to check out. Great to have a place to make homebase but Ike was on a mission to go find his girlfriend Genia who had been hanging on the Ecuadorian coast for the last month and a half. He wanted to make it a surprise so told her he was still waiting for another boat to cruz to Ecuador… again! Arriving at Casa Ciclista, Ike decided he would leave the following morning for the coast where he would try to find Genia who was supposedly staying on a farm called Finca Monoverde.
The first day was made up of city navigating ascending for the first 6 hours of the day. Ike managed to skitch a truck pulling a front end loader, making for quite the interesting train! During the climb Ike was able to stop at La Mitad del Mundo which was where the Equator crosses thru Ecuador. It is here where there is told to be mysterious energy and chilllllll vibezzzzzz.
The landscapes started changing from concrete and asphalt to mountains and trees, with amazing views of the Andes and the villages buried in between.
After the never ending uphill climb, Ike finally reached the summit of one of the many peaks and started the 1 1/2 hr downhill ride. Farms built into the elevated highlands, making it look like a patched quilt laid on top the steep mountainous terrain.
Coasting down thru the junglesque canyon felt great as the 6 hrs of uphill had finally paid off. The day was dwindling and Ike was getting tired from the Andean ways, so he found a farmer who was scoping his land and asked if he could sleep on his land. The coffee farmer, Luis, was more than happy to host Ike and showed him where to set up camp. Luis had a family in Quito but lived by himself and his dogs in a small shack growing coffee and other crops to get by. He was amazed at Ike’s traveling kitchen and invited him to eat rice and sardines with juice made with fresh naranjillas from his property.
The next day Ike awoke early with even more motivation to crank than before. Starting uphill it felt great getting an early start. On top of a ridge, the riding began to turn into a slight downhill, passing many cloud forests and foggy rolling hills. After lunch the ups and downs seemed to blur and Ike felt like he was in robot mode, pedaling without thinking about the difficulty of the terrain. Stopping towards the end of the rainy day on the side of the road, Ike noticed an abundance of snails on the road. Never being able to afford escargot, he said what the hell and started collecting the slimy creatures. He asked a few locals what they thought about eating them and they answered with uncertainty and disgust. Not having a clue about these slow strange slugs, Ike decided to stay with the original menu of rice and veggies, like most every night.
10 hrs on the road, Ike realized he had just pedaled 163 km which was the farthest distance that had been achieved in one day since the tour had begun! Wiped, wet and muddy, Ike stopped to ask if he could stay in a muddy backyard of an old ladies cabana. She told him it was private property and that there was a pueblo 10 km up the street. Not understanding the situation, Ike continued up the hill till he saw an opening in the roadside weeds that opened into a small orchard. Ike cooked dinner and got into his tent as the rain started to pour. Waking up many times in the middle of the night from the puddles lying in his tent, the closeness of the people walking on the road and the overall excitement of what to expect when he surprises his girlfriend.
The next morning Ike woke early to everything soaking wet and snails climbing all over his tent. They seemed to be upset from the dinner joke the day before..
Ike packed up and hit the road for Pedernales, which was where the pacific ocean was in site! 2 hrs later (around 11 am), Ike arrived in Tabuga 300 km from Tombuca, on the third day, where he would cross a small creek and open the gate to Finca Monoverde. Stoked to see the reaction on Genia’s face, Ike quietly walked the bike up the farms steep path. At the main house Ike realized that nobody was there! Thinking that everyone went to get lunch or something, Ike posted up and started reading, watching down the hill for someone to arrive. 3 hrs later he decided to take action and ask the neighbors if they had seen anyone at the farm. They said that they may have gone to the beach so Ike put the swimsuit on and ran barefoot thru the forest to the ocean a few miles away. With cut up feet and an excited feeling, Ike got to the beach where he found a family of Ecuadorians hanging out, with the beach to themselves. A little frustrated, Ike jumped into the pacific and ran back into the jungle. A house to the left appeared and he stopped to ask for a glass of water. The family gave him a glass of water and a glass of beer as Ike explained why he was so distraught. They invited him inside for more beer and Ike excepted. 3 beers later he realized he needed to continue the search so thanked the family and ran back to the farm.
Ike saw a man under the house and quickly asked if he knew where his girlfriend might be. Sam, who was watching the farm with his girlfriend Maria told Ike she had left for Mompiche the weekend and took all of her stuff. Not knowing if she would return, Ike quickly thought up a plan. He would pack a small bag, leave the bike at the farm and catch 3 buses to Mompiche before dark. On the third bus he met 3 young traveleres who turned out had met Genia in Canoa a few weeks prior. They had told him that they might know where G might be staying, which stoked the fire for sure. Off the bus, they all checked the hostal that they thought she might be at. Nowhere to be found, Ike roamed the small surfing pueblo along the moon lit streets. In and out of most all the hostals in town, there was one more at the end of the strip. Mudhouse was the last place she could be. Ike asked if a Genia had checked in and the woman at the front replied with a smile “Yea she was just sitting here at the bar!” With a sigh of relief Ike looked towards the back of the open aired hostal and saw G sitting at a table in the back with a few other travelers. Ike walked over as G turned and was totally blind sided! “Are you f#cking serious!” she shouted and the surprise was a success! After 5 1/2 months of virtual skyping, they were stoked to be back together. Stayed a few nights in Mompiche then they went back tot the farm to get Ike’s bike.
On the other hand, Hen was still staying at the Casa Ciclista. Realizing He didn’t have the same level of psyche that Ike had to pedal to the coast he decided to chill out and see what Quito and the surrounding areas had to offer! Luckily our friend from FoCo, Chelsea had been studying here in Quito for the last 4 months and made for the perfect tour guide!
Chelsea is wildlife and conservation biologist who also studied at Colorado State University’s fabled Warner College of Natural Resources. She is completing her final semester here in Ecuador; doing field work ranging from the high peaks of the Andes, to the Amazon jungles, all the way out to the bio-diverse islands of the Galapagos! Hen was lucky enough to be shown around Quito by this lovely young lady! From riding bikes on the local trails, and INTENSE ping pong battles, hiking the local hills, to wandering the streets of Centro Historico and the Mariscal; we even tried to go to a Liga de Quito football match but got the kickoff time wrong and ended up missing the game! Oh well, still had a blast !
After hangin around Quito for a week waiting for our good buddy Jack to fly in from Colorado, he finally showed up! Ike had given Jack some directions to Santi’s house and eventually stumbled in! Its cool to have our Colorado homies showing up left and right! Jack had wanted to come on tour with us starting in October, but decided to work a winter season in order to save money! Jack works as a dog sled guide for Good Times in Breckenridge Colorado! He is super psyched to be joining us on tour and will be taking over Ike’s bike and rollin with Hen to Brasil!
With Jack and everyone back at the Casa, we all decided to take a trip to Quilotoa while waiting for our Brasil Visas to be processed in Quito! Quilotoa is an indigenous village high in the Andes (about 4000m high) that is built around a beautiful crater lake which is told to have no bottom. The water has a turquoise tint and the mountains enclose the enormous body of water. We spent 2 1/2 days here where we hiked into the crater and explored the village.
Of course we managed to find some cliffs to jump off! The sulfuric water was extremely cold but that didn’t put the team off as we stripped down and plummeted into the bottomless lake!
We stayed with a family for a cool $3 a night where we were able to see how the family lived from day to day. It was nice to hang out in the high alpine tundra and dawn some warm clothes!
Being Easter weekend, the trail was packed with people. It seemed like most were from Quito, but also met some people from Peru and Italy. Ike visited Quilotoa 2 years prior and noticed much more infrastructure and marketing to this amazing place. Ike explained, “2 years ago I think my dad and I saw 2 people walking the trail, now it looks like the Great Wall of China swarming with tourists!”Easter weekend definitely had a large part to do with the immense population of tourists but you could still see how this village has been increasing their tourism market.
We found many bags of trash next to the lake, which we packed out, but couldn’t understand the reason behind trashing this natural spectacle. Hen interviewed a local guide who managed the mules. They have about 90 horses and mules for tourists to use for trekking around the lake. Being budget travelers we ourselves we were put off by the 10$ price tag for a horse ride. Although if your feeling lazy these push button horses can whisk you away down or up the crater!
Back in Quito the team splits up! Ike and Genia will be heading towards Brasil on foot, while Jack will take over Ikes bike and head down the Amazon river, the mightiest river on the planet towards the World Cup!
Having bike tour withdrawals, Ike realized that he will be starting a new adventure with Genia as they will become river rats and bus bats to Cuiaba, Brazil for a World Cup game Australia vs. Chile. Ike has traded his bike and panniers to Jack for his backpack so that Jack can bring the bike to Brazil and ride to the games that Hen and him have. Ike has had a great run on the bike for the last 5 1/2 months and wouldn’t have traveled down here any other way. It will be a crazy change of pace riding rivers instead of roads, not worrying about flat tires or semis tickling your shoulder.
River Rats, Bus Bats, & and Bicycle Bandits!
See you out there ! ~
– Ike & Hen
After a relaxing week chillin in the mountains of Boquete! It was time to head to the big apple in Panama and look for a boat to South America.. Panama City!! We cruised the 480km from Boquete to Panama’ in style and arrived at the infamous Canal you all have heard about.. Crossing the bridge of americas was interesting. We set up camp on Isla Perico where we lived with a bunch of gypsies for a while waiting to set sail. Naturally we checked out what the city had to offer including the Canal zone, the ghettos of El Chorrillo, Cinco de Mayo, and the old town of Casco Viejo. We found a sailboat, the “Evenstar” which was heading to Ecuador! Perfect. We joined forces with Captain Rick and made plans to head south! Stay tuned for the next installment of Sustainably South as we head out to sea !!
highlights from the mountains around Boquete PANAMA