nancy's blog

Nancy's Poem: Climbing over the top

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Crawling my way up the highest peak,
I wonder if I can do this.
Can I ride my bike up to the heavens?
Or will I die, will my heart give out,
Will I fall off the edge from the lack of oxygen?

I adjust my height of seat
I mount my metal steed
I pedal up the gentle grade,
I take a breath, I gulp another
I want more but the air resists
I chew some coca, I spit out the spines
Round the pedals turn, ever so slowly
My eyes start to burn, my lungs fight
Focusing on the ground ahead,
Listening to my music
Progress is being made,
My vision becomes smaller
My focus sharpens
Making it to the top is my only thought

I miss the sheep dogs attacking,
Three come from nowhere,
The charge shocks me back to reality
I dismount rapidly in fright
My bike protects me from the circling dogs
I throw a rock at the alpha dog
They back away, they retreat
A 4-year-old child chases them
With a bigger rock then mine,
Gracias, niño,

I crawl my way up to the top,
I fight, I want to cry
No, too much energy
My nose is running wild,
Drule pores from my mouth
As I gasp for another breath,
I leave it, to much energy to fix.

I stop for a rest I have resisted,
The air all seems blue,
Sounds and space is distorted
I wonder if I know
Can I count?
What is my birthday?

What is 4 plus 4
It all comes so slowly
I have to go on.
I yell to myself
Pay attention
No crying,
Get on with it
Obediently I pedal on  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Back on the road, Climbing up into the mountains

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Stillness of the desert
Stillness of the desert (View on flickr)

Click here for all of our favorite photos from this section
After more than three weeks of not riding we are back on the road once again in Peru. We made a two-week trip back to the United States to see all our family members and are glad to report all are well. It was good to see the family as well it was a delight to see all our wonderful friends.

We returned to Trujillo, Peru and stayed once again at the Casa de Ciclistas where Lucho and his family have offered free hospitality to cyclist for 23 years. Randy and I were visitor 998. While staying there, we meet 7 different cyclists from all over the world.

We have now been on the road for 5 days and are taking a rest day in Caraz. The ride from the coast up to Caraz has been amazing, spectacular, a hard ride on mostly dirt road, some good and some awful. The best part is the lack of traffic which permitted us to enjoy the majestic views of the mountains and the river valley we pedalled through.

We rode for one day on the Panamerican highway south to Chao. The road had a good shoulder, big trucks and a landscape which brought to mind the sand dunes of Saudi Arabia. Huge hills, not really mountains, of nothing but sand dunes. Nothing lived in this region, no houses, no people, no business thrived, no birds chirped, no butterfly fluttered by.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

The Potato Truck Ride from Leymebamba to Celendín in Northern Peru

Loading the potato truck that will take us to Celendín
Loading the potato truck that will take us to Celendín (View on flickr)

OK, I must confess we took a ride in a truck full of freshly-picked potatoes. The 100-mile ride took 10 hours through some very high mountains of northern Peru and down though hot valleys and back up to the heavens.

We have decided (or is it that I have decided?) that occasionally it does make sense to take alternative transportation through some areas which seem too difficult for biking with our load. The route we have taken through northern Peru has taken us through very beautiful, amazing landscapes. And amazing elevation climbs, descents and ascents. In one area from Leymebamba to Celendin, after reading another cyclist's blog through this area, I was intimidated and decided I would rather take a bus then climb up to 3600 meters (12,000 feet), descend to 900 meters (3000 feet) and then climb back up to 3100 meters on a dirt road, along cliffs that drop thousands of feet with only a slice of road carved on the face of the mountain.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Mountains and People: Perceptions of Northern Peru

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Donkeys everywhere
Donkeys everywhere (View on flickr)

Peru has some of the biggest mountains and deepest valleys we have encountered so far. We find it very interesting to ride the high mountains of Peru because the sierras are inhabited by indigenous people who live in the traditional ways they have maintained for centuries. Not much has changed in hundreds of years. In some areas we have been riding through there is no electricity, no running water, no paved road, lots of sheep, cows, chickens, donkeys which carry cargoes of milk, wood, heavy loads of vegetables like potatoes, corn and cabbage. The people themselves carry huge loads on their backs. The women wear the same traditional clothes they have for ages including special hats which identify the area they come from. Around Cajamarca the women wear short skirts with ballooning petticoats, tall, wide-brimmed hand-woven hats made of fine strands of straw. They all have wraps and ponchos to either keep warm or carry a load. They're even shorter than me. From the distance they sometimes remind me of the profile of Halloween witch The women in Northern Peru can be seen herding donkeys loaded with metal containers of milk, babies on their backs and walking along a high mountain road while spinning wool on a stick, preparing the wool for knitting or weaving. The women always have busy hands. Always. Where we are right now the women knit afghans of multiple colors, ponchos, and sweaters. If they don't have a baby on their backs they're carrying a load of firewood, twigs, or huge bunches of herbs and greens.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Riding into Peru at La Balsa

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Mudholes everywhere, climbing up from Namballe to San Ignacio
Mudholes everywhere, climbing up from Namballe to San Ignacio (View on flickr)

They master riding early in this part of Peru
They master riding early in this part of Peru (View on flickr)

We are now in Peru. Another country! This is the 11th country we have entered with our bikes. With something like 11,800 miles (19,000 kilometers) we crossed the Ecuador border into Peru at La Balsa. This was the quietest and most rural border crossing we have done to date. As the immigration officer stamped our paperwork, a chicken roamed the room pecking at crumbs, a herd of cows passed out front and the money changers sat on the bridge enjoying beer on this late Saturday. No one came up to us asking if we wanted to change our money from dollars (which they use in Ecuador) to Soles (Peru's currency). That was a first.

From the border we started off following a river and actually had a flat road for 7 kilometers. Yes flat. We heard that Peru is flatter then Ecuador but we could not believe it. Of course, we found out otherwise in the morning, as the road rose above the village of Namballe. The people were so friendly on our ride from Namballe to San Ignacio! We feel like rock stars once again. Everyone waves and beeps and everyone says hello and "welcome to Peru". We even got filmed by a couple passing by on motorcycles. He explained it is for marketing material promoting tourism in the town of San Ignacio. Along the route a young boy ran after us with two papayas in his hands to give us as a present. His name was Carlos and he had no shoes but he had a wonderful smile to go with his kindness. We have found the people much more outgoing and less intimidated than the reserved folks of the highlands of Ecuador. We like it when people think we are special. We make more contacts and find out more about the people we see along the way.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Cuenca to the Peru Border

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Indigenous boy posing for us near Saraguro
Indigenous boy posing for us near Saraguro (View on flickr)

Randy showing the kids what it's like
Randy showing the kids what it's like (View on flickr)

The ride from Cuenca to the Peru border was one of the best and most beautiful (and hardest) rides so far on this trip. We rode on quiet roads, some paved but most dirt. The landscape was gorgeous and the views amazing. We rode through small indigenous villages where the women wore colorful traditional dresses, jewelry, and felt hats. The traffic was almost non-existent as soon as we left Cuenca. It picked up a little as we rode in and out of Loja. In Loja by chance we met Chaski, a Peruvian man who is walking the Inca trail, learning about the traditional ways people grow potatoes. He is an educator and he is connecting the indigenous people of South America together. We had met him in the far north of Ecuador and got to have dinner with him again.

The next day we rode to Saraguro, a pleasant village with proud and friendly people. The people seem to have a nice life, a sense of community and continue with the traditional Ecuadoran Indigenous life style. Many of the indigenous villages we had passed through seemed reserved and hardship seems to weigh on their shoulders. This village was strikingly different. It was a much happier place. The people more open and had smiles to share. We wanted to stay for the Sunday market but Vilcabamba was calling us.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Down into the Amazon basin and back up to Cuenca

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Skirts of Tungurahua volcano showing mudflows
Skirts of Tungurahua volcano showing mudflows (View on flickr)

We have surfaced again and now are in Cuenca, Ecuador. After riding the Pan-American highway south from Quito for a hundred kilometers or so we decided to go to Baños to soak in the hot springs. Well, we liked that route much better than the Pan-Am, we continued down to the eastern Amazon region of Ecuador on the edge of the jungle and followed the roads south. Most of the time the roads were brand new and magnificent and other times dirt and pretty bad but the jungle lowlands were enchanting with wild bird sounds all around, exotic flowers, low traffic. The rain would would come and go most of the day and most times we found somewhere to sleep in a town. Actually the fanciest hotel we have slept in on our whole trip was in the delightful little town of Sucúa. It was our 3rd wedding anniversary and we felt we had found the honeymoon suite for $16 and just in time because we were like drowned rats arriving there in a big rainstorm.

A good part of the first part of the trip was around huge volcanos. We stopped in Baños for some hilly walks, soaking in hot springs and a visit to the local zoo. We then dropped down to the jungle on the way to Pugo. The road from Baños to Puyo was a mountain biker's dream come true. Though there were 7 tunnels along this road, the cyclists were diverted around on dirt roads and through wonderful forest.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

Our Trip to the Galápagos Islands

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perfect picture for a  postcard
perfect picture for a postcard (View on flickr)

Note: You can see all the pictures of the Galápagos trip here.

Having cycled all this way, we decided since we were kind of in the neighborhood, we should visit the Galapagos Islands, which are part of Ecuador and 600 miles west of the Ecuadorian coast. We made the reservation for an 8 day tour of the Galapagos through the Happy Gringo travel agency in Quito, which had been recommended by another cyclist. Not knowing exactly when we would get there we communicated through email for a few days prior to our arrival in Ecuador. I was very impressed with their quick and thorough responses to our thousand questions.

When we finally got everything arranged, we had reservations on a 100-year-old twin-masted ship called the Sulidae (built in Denmark at the turn of the 20th century). They call it the pirate ship because of its age, style, and because it's painted black as night. Seeing the ship for the first time, I knew we would have a unique experience.

We flew out of Quito and arrived at the San Cristóbal airport where we met most of other passengers we would share this experience with. Right off, I knew we would all have a great time together. They seemed like similar folks with similar interest and all choosing to do a similar medium cost adventure.  read more here... lee mas aquí... »

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