Archive for September, 2008
…and suddenly 250 km becomes a massive challenge!
Just a very brief note here from Cotagaita, a dusty village 85.7 km north of Tupiza which I left this morning.
It´s been another super hard day mainly due to the, at (most) times, tragically sad surface of the roads here in southern Bolivia. The first 20 km out of the valley where Tupiza nestles beautifully was pretty much up hill on sandy, stony, windy roads. To spice it all up, a lot of road construction was going on, making the dusty roads even dustier, and sending me on some mean and steep detours in loose sand.
3 hours after I left Tupiza at 9AM, my bike computer told the sad truth: less than 15 km pedaled so far.
After a little more than 7 hours of pedal pushing I just arrived in this small village where I´ve checked in to some basic family-run hostel (2.5 USD).
The landscape is bleak and wild western-like. It is beautiful but today I hardly had time to appreciate the cacti-clad hills and valleys with my eyes constantly focused on the gravel. The bumpy roads have taking its toll on my HD video camera. It´s full of strange sounds and doesn´t seem to work at the moment. Pity, that.
The Koga (my bike) is suffering on the washboards as well. Gears are starting to fuck up because of all the dust and me, well, I just hope the non-stop shaking won´t shake the manhood out of me.
It´s slow, it´s rough, I feel under pressure because of so many different factors up here, it´s beautiful, it´s poor, it´s very different culturally, it´s frustrating, it´s remote, I feel alive, I´m dreaming of asphalt, and very soon, I´ll be sleeping in my simple alojamiento.
Can´t think anymore. Gotta go.
In case you missed this week´s WT article in the Danish paper MetroXpress (which I feel pretty confident you did, if you read this UK (and not the Danish) version of WT!), you can see and read it here (it´s on page 26-27, just scroll via the arrows below in the link)
Photos will come…
Jujuy -> Tilcara (hostal)
Distance (km) : 86
Time on bike : 5h 03m
Brutto time: 10.10 – 17.00
Avg : 17.0 km/h
Total (km) : 34.754
Altitude (end of day): 2.461 m
Photos to come…
Tune of the Day: Disarm – Smashing Pumpkins
Salta -> Jujuy (hostal)
Distance (km) : 94
Time on bike : 4h 45m
Brutto time: 10.55 – 16.50
Avg : 20.0 km/h
Total (km) : 34.668
Altitude (end of day): 1.260 m
It’s a legendary cycling day today from Salta to Jujuy. La Ruta 9 is one-laned most of the way and goes through beautifully smelling pine forests and up to a mini pass at some 1.500 mas.
It’s hard for me to keep the lips smooth and “crack-free” under the fiercy Argentinian sun. Countless beers in Salta probably didn’t help. So here I am, walking around with my index finger constantly in the Blistex-lip balm. Just like a chick, yeah.
Jujuy is not nearly as bad as people say. I cruise around town for 3 hours, the last of which searching for a place to eat.
Judged by the abnormally high level of flirting looks, I guess quite a few of the young ladies here in Jujuy wouldn’t mind having a little blond Fjumse-baby (Fjumse being me)
(Photos to come)
Sorry, but this post is not available in English
Photos to come…
(Photos to come…)
My main mission here in Salta is to relax, socialize, get ready for the next chapter, Bolivia (a process that for most parts takes place in the upper, mental regions), get to know the city, and enjoy some days off the bike. It’s an easy mission.
Every day here in Salta I go for some massive walks around town. I simply love it here and flashlight thoughts try to tell me that Nicolai, you could stay here if you want. Stay another week….
The beloved curse (or luxury problem) of travelling (living, really) without a day-to-day schedule other than the one the mind suggests.
(Photos to come…)
It´s day #888 in Camp WT. A beautiful number if you ask me. And not quite as diabolic as its younger brother. I promise myself that in 112 days from now, I´ll celebrate myself, WT and everyone around. Promise.
Cerro San Bernardo.
That’s the name of the hill immediately east of Salta that dominates the view from all the east-west bound streets downtown. The top of the hill is easily accessable either by road, by cable car or by a staircase that zig-zags it’s way to the top (1.071 steps) 284.92 metres above the city and 1.454 m.a.s.
I know my figures about that hilltop. I did my homework today.
I opted for the zig-zag way to the top. Nice views from the top, though somewhat restricted by clouds and hundreds of fellow tourists (mostly the cable car variety).
Tune of the Day: Trubbel – Häkan Hellström (Sweden)
It’s been on my mind for quite a while, and now I’ve finally (and not without a shadow of proudness ) found and installed a cool little plugin that makes it easy and convenient to look back on those golden WT-days of years past.
From now on, at the end of every post in my diary you’ll find links to “On this day…” in 2006, 2007. In other words, it’s a chance to either re-read or discover for the first time the places, the sights, the thoughts the is all part of the WT-past now.
Check it out here! How beautiful (and steep!) that cycling was on Lombok!
The captain of the boat is enjoying the plugin a lot and he hopes the crew’s happy as well…
(Photos to come…)
Salta has a lot of colonial charm, quite a big city buzz without being loud and ugly, a beautiful plaza (some people claim it’s the prettiest in the world. I find that kind of statements brave, but sure that Plaza 9 de Julio is nice), Argentinian street life and none of the inflated and hysterical tourist prices you often find in the wake of the influx of loaded foreign tourists. It’s hard not to like Salta.
Tune of the Day: Shine On – The Kooks
Sky’s grey, air’s cold today. I see it as an invitation to have a proper working day in Camp WT in front of the laptop at the Los Cardones Hostal.
God Bless free wifi!
(Photos to come)
A slight morning-after feeling follows me most of the day. It feels great for a change. And it was good to feel the foolish wonders of cold beers yesterday. I gladly pay the price today.
My thoughts are a bit distorted and hungover all day. I spend a considerable amount of time wondering how an otherwise graphically beautiful word like “tennis” lost one “n” in this Spanish-speaking part of the world…
And I realize that I don’t really support (nor understand) the concept of the doggy bag. No matter the size of the portions served in front of me, I finish the plate to the very last grain of rice or whatever. I never have to ask for a separate box for the leftovers. My stomach is my doggy bag.
It’s quite some contrivance, I tell you.
If you ever wondered where all the words have gone, try and have a look here . They do exist, though in a slightly different tongue (and probably one you’re not too familiar with – the Danish).
La Viña -> Salta (hostal)
Distance (km) : 88
Time on bike : 4h 08m
Brutto time: 08.05 – 13.00
Avg : 21.1 km/h
Total (km) : 34.568
Altitude (end of day): 1.184 m
Today’s cycling doesn’t compare scenically to the spectacular wild west landscapes of yesterday.
I don’t care. I just want to get to Salta. Zülle (my alter ego, in case you didn’t know) is focused in the saddle along the plainish, shoulderless highway.
It’s 27 degrees C when I arrive in Salta City in the early afternoon. Full-on sun. Lots of short skirts and a great big city feel (both rare guests for me here in Argentina). It’s love at first sight.
I’ve cycled 1.700 km in 17 cycling days since I left Santiago, Chile 22 days ago. Think I’ll stay here in Salta until the the wanderlust starts talking to me again…
As my hostel, the great Los Cardones, I hook up with the German twins Leonore & Susanne, and French traveller Ben around the cerveza-filled tables. It turns into an unexpected and great evening out, with new friends and live music on Salta’s main night life drag, Paseo Balcarce…
9PM: Mission: Get drunk.
04.30AM: Mission completed.
How would you describe the countries you´ve been to so far with only 3 words?
No one ever asked me that question but I thought it might make for an interesting (if superficial) observation…and I had to keep myself busy waiting for my pizza last night anyway!
(Some things are clearly not descriptions of the country at all but more like what comes to my mind looking back…)
Poland – forests, flat, Pablo
Slovakia – brief, Tatra mountains, camping
Hungary – flat plains, unpronouncable city names, moving
Romania – medieval, rustic, favourite
Bulgaria – summer feeling, Rockets of Varna, old cars
Turkey – fantastic, hot, Soccer World Cup
Georgia – authentic, charming, beautiful
Azerbaijan – hot, Russian, hospitable
Turkmenistan – strange, desert, Pres. Nijasov
Uzbekistan – Silk Road, fascinating, stunning cities
Kyrgyzstan – photogenic, untouristy, adventure
China – challenging, unforgettable, beautiful
Nepal – restitution, spiritual, most pretty
Thailand – hedonism, socialité, paradisiac
Cambodia – history (tragic), Siem Reap, blind massage
Vietnam – family visit, super cheap, in-your-face
Laos – mountaneous, unpolished, Mekong
Malaysia – green, friendly, faith
Singapore – world class food, humidity, up-beat
Indonesia – volcanoes, magnificent, diverse
Australia – outback magic, hospitality, varied
New Zealand – pure, impressive, hilly
Tonga – unspoilt, paradisiac, isolated
French Polynesia – picture perfect, relaxation, expensive!
Chile + Easter Isl. – Andes, mythical (Rapa Nui), friendliness
I just arrived in Cafayate, Salta Province, NW Argentina this afternoon (06SEP08).
I’ve been in the saddle 11 out of the last 12 days and will take a little break here in the little charming town of Cafayate. Vino Tinto is huge here so I guess I’ll have a look at that too.
The last weeks of cycling have been phenomenal. Beautiful, desolate landscapes, dry river beds, parrots, the wind in my wheels and face, donkeys and old cars, cute villages etc. etc have been the daily menu.
Until a few days ago, I thought the weather’s always sunny here in Argentina. Snow and a bitterly cold southerly wind around Hualfín (2.000 mas) two days ago showed another face to the weather pattern here.
Anyway, I just posted a few photos from last week’s cycling around San Juan.
Will be back soon…
Pituil -> Belén (hotel)
Distance (km) : 150
Time on bike : 6h 33m
Brutto time: 09.35 – 17.35
Avg : 23.0 km/h
Total (km) : 34.104
Altitude (end of day): 1.150
Tune of the Day: Little Wonder – David Bowie