We leave Vilcabamba with mixed emotions. One reason is because I do not look forward to camp in lousy abandoned structures where wetness reigns. Camping right along the main road in rainy season in a rain forest is just not that very desirable.
Our next stop where we hope to be able to take a longer rest is Vilcabamba. Not knowing anything about the town it turns out not to be much of a typical Ecuadorian village but an Ecuadorian village infused with heavy American influence. There are people who developed into Mother Earth-types, believing that the center is right here in Vilcabamba. In this town inhabitants consider to reach an older age than elsewhere because of certain minerals. Worse is that the prices went up drastically by expats who spread money as if sowing papaya seeds.
Over the years I transformed from a traveler going from city to city to one who’s avoiding them. Simply because cities are stressful, where nature is powerful. I guess age has to do with it as well?
The Kickbike was bought March 2020 in USA. Geo and I tried to kick through several states in east of USA.
We drive from Tingo Maria to Tocache. It rains every day, and with each drop my mood sinks. With every passing cloud, I wish to be back at the Pan American highway, where it was at least dry. There is not much beauty to my eyes, only trees, green lushness, rivers and never very far to have my sight wander. In the jungle uninterrupted views do not exist.
An honest critique without negative undertone
By now, sitting on the back of a motorbike is no fun anymore. Neither is camping in the jungle of North Peru, it never really was. Yet, looking back, it is always less problematic than in the very moment. Sitting on a porch, writing under a roof while the rain falls, makes up for the dragging ongoing in a humid jungle. Let’s go back to where I was in my previous post.
When Geo and I were in South America we often ate bread which was not too memorable, not when it comes to quality. Soft, white, sugared dry bread is what South American countries often offer.
I try to give an honest critique without negative undertone, hope I succeeded…
Camping in the jungle? Is that fun? The word fun I dislike, so let’s call it interesting. Well, interesting it certainly is! I think on any long term travel fun only happens out of the blue, when an unexpected happening takes place. By now, sitting on the back of a motorbike for days on end is no fun anymore. It was fun when I met Geo, when we went on a short tour through the loose sand of the Chaco in Paraguay. Camping in the jungle could be fun in that way too, but by now, we find it hard to enjoy camp spots.
I knew Geo would get fed up with the ugliness of the Pan American highway at some point. I knew the time would come we would traverse the Andes again. I just sat quietly at the back of the Kenton, until the auspicious moment would arrive. Now it has.
A motorbike is more intense. Traversing and therefor absorbing goes faster. On average I have to process more motorized vehicles passing by, which adds up to more stress. Remarkable enough, the sound of our own motorbike does not disturb me. I also have to deal with more scenic camp spots in a shorter time lapse than being on a bicycle. This luxury position translates into the need to write and photograph. In short, I have more incoming imagery than a mode to digest. The route may contain less beauty in comparison to the Andes, I still see more beauty than ugliness.
A sort of opposite experience has been revealed: the motorbike shows a very different content of the Peruvian coast than cycling. Perhaps our negative feel is due to the fact that we choose to drive beyond Camaná. When I cycled the costanera, I deliberately avoided the stretch between Lima and Camaná. However, Geo does not want to be in the Andes anymore and I reckon he will change his mind sooner or later, as the costanera will become ugly. To such an extend he will seek his escape into the Andes, and I just wait until that happens…
Snorting like a dog with flattend face, the 150 cc Kenton made it over 4500 meter altitude. We are at salar de Surire, a bomb of beauty. Both muted by the sound the engine makes upon turning the key one single turn, we praise our Kenton for starting without hesitation.
The desert makes me sleep easier than usual, deeper than anywhere else and better on a whole. In fact, I go as tired to bed now as when I was cycling, which puzzles me. I hit the air mattress extremely satisfied, and it are especially those moments, when I lay down, that are the best of the day. Only rivaling with the moment of waking up. As I am equally eager to start exploring the surroundings of where my tent is.
A sky full of stars let me feel that I exist, that I am alive. All else falls quiet by witnessing dots of light against a dark indigo sky. The silence is everywhere. Around me, in my head and in my ears. Everything is being omitted; worries, dreams, thoughts, fears, hope, wishes, things, hassle.
‘It was a success given the circumstances’, says my husband. What does Geo mean by that? He has traveled a great deal. Lived in slums among drug abusers and visited homeless on garbage dumps. He has voluntary lived in misery with Bimbo bread and cheap Poloni sausages. Geo walked through the Zimbabwean savanna with a 2 euro compass. He has been lost and found. He has cycled through the dryness of Paraguay until he got a poisoning. He also roamed in Romanian villages a lot. In short, he did things.
Minimalism & Romanticism at an Altitude
I am not sure what exactly I was thinking when we primed for this trip? It could have been lightweight. Or perhaps it was minimalism, which is about the same topic. But maybe I was just all about romanticism? And when romanticism is at play, even an organized, wise and thought-through mind makes mistakes. Obviously.
Heike asked me for an interview. As always, I am very interested in her sort of questionnaire. This time over, it turned out to be an awesome post. Heike put a lot of effort into this very informative, great read.
Our journey can only start once we are reunited with the motorbike, so with pressed jaws, a backpack on my back and one in front, we set off in a city bus to the main bus station in Asunción. After a dull seven hour ride we are back in the capital of the Chaco, Filadelfia.
The view from the airplane says it all: small parcels of land, plenty of green, small villages and red earthen tracks.
There is no need to debate whether a truck is better in cold and wet weather than a tent. A truck has the advantages a house might give yet it has not the prison-alike feeling of a house.
Now, just have a look how homely and fantastic the inside of a truck can be! Without planning, drawing nor measuring Geo has built us quite an amazing home. The ideal mix between a tent and a house.
Want to add a bit of extra beauty to where ever your ride takes you?
Why would someone live in a truck?
Let’s start with why I decided to live in a truck? I dislike to live in a house. After being on the road for 5 years where I camped mostly in a tent I distanciated more. Then I met my husband on a farm in Paraguay. Geo, came with this extra ordinary idea (to which I had to get accustomed). He wanted to move out of his house too and I soon was appealed to the idea of living in a truck.
I had to get out.
‘Let’s have lunch at the Indian. You can walk home from there,’ says Geo.
I never wanted to eat at Indian restaurants outside India, sole exception London.
I stopped cycling. Yet, need to be in nature. I married with a fantastic man called Geo. Here are my little outdoor adventures, clustered together:
‘When you are too long on your own, chances are you might get weird. However much I am a loner, I too need others to mirror myself with.’
‘Long term travel will make you see, by stepping out of society as we know it, that the West has gone far, far overboard.’
I have embraced the fact that I stopped cycling and am not missing it a whole lot. But sometimes there are these pangs of wanting to feel that excitement, the newness, the unknown, the full outside living, traversing vastness and fully soaked in to another culture.
‘When cycling you will often be seen as someone doing something extra ordinary. This lift up your ego after a while. After years of this extra attention you get used to it and thus it becomes normal.’
A rest did me well. The sort of rest where you have enough time to do what is needed to be done.
Meet Jeffrey, a Dutchman I met in Chile. He a guy on a motorbike. I a woman on a bicycle. Same stretch of road. Same philosophy. How does he experience adventure, and what exactly is adventure?
A blessing and a curse came our way in the form of an enormous house where we had to take care for, which took us three full months to convert into 3 livable apartments that can be rented out. This prevented us from working at the truck, let alone to live in it. Nevertheless, preparing a house was a fun task in a beautiful surrounding. I loved the work and beautifying the 3 apartments, yet inevitably I missed being outdoors a lot.
‘Adding the fact that ‘doing good’ comes from the heart, does not mean the mind has no say in this. Building toilets for ‘poor black’ but able Africans or distributing bags of rice to people along the fertile bushroad is not smart.’
The pro’s and con’s of deciding to live life differently, focusing on a cycling life.
A year in retrospect: I left Paraguay, tailing the trail of Geo, whom I married. Trying to combine a husband, a house, a truck and myself is a different cookie than traversing the world on a bicycle.
Is South America on your wish-list of countries to travel through, perhaps by bicycle, then I hope I can inspire you. When you like to see pretty, soothing or curious photo’s, here they are.
From traveling the vastness of the earth by public transport to a bicycle came to me as a flash. I got myself a bicycle and I cycled over 5 years nearly constantly, through more than 40 countries, a total of close to 50.000 kilometers.
At the end, this post has bloody images, unsuitable when you’re having your lunch synchronous with reading this post. But when you’re a carnivore, I urge you to watch them.
The farm had slaughtered a cow as she was having a tumor of some sort. She was released relatively painless.
Have you decided to explore the world on a bicycle, then camping is part of it. As the outside seems so much more spooky than a house, the first thing that comes to mind is: ‘Is it not dangerous?’ But in fact, it is not so much about danger, much more camping is about management of daily changing circumstances and how to deal with them. Rather exciting and never dull indeed!