Archive for December, 2008
The following 3 photo sets each contain 1.000 (it is Xmas time, after all) of my personal favourites from the last nearly 1.000 days. See the link?
As usual, I suggest viewing the photos as a slideshow. Just click the “Slideshow” link after clicking the links below (and click the photo once to see text pop-up).
Chronologically, this set shows 1.000 favourites from Poland (April 2006) to Vietnam February (2007).
From Vietnam (February 2007) to Australia (December 2007)
From Australia (Jan 2008) to Bolivia (September 2008)
…and may 2009 enrich your life (inner-, work-, family-, spiritual- or otherwise) and be just as challenging and fulfilling as you’d wish for.
Be patient with the world and the people around you. It’s all our first time here.
Don’t rush yourself and other things that aren’t meant to be rushed. (End of gibberish)
I hope I’ll see you here next year as well!
Happy New Year to all WT-readers…
Nicolai (Pasaja, Ecuador – 27DEC2008)
Máncora -> Carleta Cruz (hospedaje)
Distance (km) : 87
Time on bike : 3h 33m 33s!
Brutto time: 15.00 – 19.00
Avg : 24.3 km/h
Total (km) : 39.350
Difficulty: 1 of 5
Am feeling crooked and sickboy-ish all day. No fever, just a mad headache that I’ve never felt before and that I can’t quite decipher. The local Ibuprofenos that Ragge picked up at the farmacy for me is my friend all day. Am not feeling very sociable but just manage to gather the energy for the delicious Xmas dinner with the 70-80 other dinner guests at the hostel…
On my bike the other day I suddenly realized that this will very soon be the end of 2008. We all have these moments, and I just couldn’t get it into my head. Just recently I started feeling comfortable and familiar with the sound of 2008, and now, well, it’s about to be replaced by another unfamiliar set of digits, 2-0-0-9. All part of the process.
Luckily for me, WT is out there, and without the documentation I’d find it hard to believe that we’re on the brink of a new year. Dividing the year in months, countries, faces and places it became obvious to me that, wow!, a lot of stuff’s been going on this year (as well as in 2006, 2007, and, I suppose, the years to come).
I still feel extremely (such a vague word compared to what I feel here) happy and fortunate being able to live my dream. And being able to share my dream and my thoughts with you, ladies and gents, makes it all seem even more worth while. I’ve said it too many times already, but thank you so much for the attention, the feedback, the encouragement, the thoughts, and for being part of my mental support, my army of unsung heroes when smiles are wide as well as when the going gets tough. I really do appreciate it all and I hope we’ll meet here again in 2009.
Looking back on 2008
I started 2008 with a beautiful ride on the 1st of January from Sorrento (where I spent Christmas with good friends) to Melbourne, where I stayed most of January.
Beginning of February I met up with Jens, a Danish film-maker and anthropologist (and good friend), who cycled with me for a month from Melbourne to Sydney while making a WT-documentary. It was so much fun to have Jens on board the otherwise solo WT vessel, we made some good footage, Aussie nature was outstanding. Rumour has it that this coming year will see more of that travel documentary coming.
Leaving Sydney and Australia wasn’t easy for me. Tears were shed at the Sydney Int’l Airport on March 23rd when I left for Christchurch, New Zealand. As an all-round country, Australia (see mini-movie here, quality is bad) is probably my favourite country and I sometimes miss it (the nature and my friends) more than I miss my Danish home turf. Weird, isn’t it?
New Zealand was stunningly beautiful as everyone’d told me. I spent 3 months there touring both islands and meeting heaps of hospitable kiwis along the way. It’s a great little isolated paradise they’ve got down there. The natural splendour of New Zealand is unbeatable and I experienced a great degree of freedom and being out there amongst the Gods of Nature (see mini-movies from New Zealand’s South Island and North Island.)
End of May I left Auckland, NZ and swopped chilly Kiwi temperatures with the tropical delights in the Kingdom of Tonga. I totally loved Tonga, for its sheer beauty, laidback atmosphere, and almost complete lack of touristy knick-knacks and infrastructure.
On the 08.08.08, the day the Olympic Games started, I arrived on Rapa Nui/The Easter Island where I spent a week before the LAN Chile plane took me the last bit across the gigantic Pacific Ocean to Santiago, Chile.
South America was a reality and being back on the continent after 6 years absence, ready for an uncertain number of months cruising the Andean countries was another dream come true to me.
I’ve cycled a total of 6.360 km since I left Santiago, Chile late August this year. As the crow flies that’s the same distance as from my hometown Copenhagen, Denmark to the African Equator near Kampala, Uganda – if anyone should ever wonder what happened to me this autumn. Exclusive of this are the occasional extreme headwind days, crossing the gigantic Andes Range, the high-altitude cyling on the Altiplano, the seemingly endless ups-and-downs in Bolivia and Peru, the heat of the Peruvian desert and the cold of the Bolivian 4.000+ m mountain passes etcetera.
The route so far has taken me across the Andes from Chile into gorgeous Argentina, up through the north-west part of the country along the famed and magnificent Ruta 40 (see movie from Chile + Argentina), into and across Bolivia via Tupiza, Potosí, Sucra, Cochabamba, La Paz, and Copacabana. Bolivia is another favourite country of mine.
When I cross the border into Ecuador between Christmas and NYE, it’ll be two months since I crossed the border into Peru (photo album out soon) on the Titicaca Lake.
It’s been a week already since I met up here in Máncora with my friend from back home. Ragnar (who’s originally from southwestern Norway but lives and works in Copenhagen) is here in Peru (and Chile) for 3 weeks and will fly back to Denmark on the 28th of December. I keep my fingers and toes crossed that 2009 will see me re-unite with more familiar faces from back home or wherever. No, I’m not discreetely asking for sympathy, but being away from your beloved ones is probably the single most difficult thing about cycling around the world.
It’s been (and still is) great to catch up on the past, see memorable jokes arise, and enjoy social times with someone you know and knows you. I can hardly imagine a better Christmas present, and I’m extremely pleased and happy that we got to meet under this blissful Peruvian sun. His was the first familiar face for me in two years (!) since I said goodbye to my parents and my sister in a tearful taxi in Saigon, Vietnam on the first day of 2007.
Gastronomically, I’ve been treated very well ever since I arrived here in South America almost 5 months ago. It’s really cool that finally (after 11 fairly anorexic months money-wise in Australia, New Zealand, and Polynesia) I feel I can actually afford eating out several times a day, and it is a welcome luxury to my life that I don’t have to cook every meal myself, that going out doesn’t ruin my slim pockets, and that I can afford sleeping in cheap hostels and thus save both time and energy by not camping, putting up the tent every day, cleaning pots and pans and other quotidian tasks. Me getting lazy? No way!
Specifically, the abundance of cheap mangos has given me numerous fruit parties over the last 6 weeks or so. At just 0.60 USD/kilo the mangos are hard to resist for me and my daily intake has been around 1 kg (3 big ones). Having resorted to this nomadic bicycle life in celibacy it does feel great to experience this kind of food porn on a daily basis. Pure heaven, I tell you.
Distance cycled, 2008: 14.000 km
Distance cycled, 2007: 14.150 km
Distance cycled, 2006: 11.100 km (9 months)
Total distance cycled: 39.250 km
A sketchy estimate for 2009
As said, I will get to Ecuador before New Year and I plan to roughly just head for the mountains and the mainroad, the Panamericana, and relatively quickly (on your bike, everything is indeed relative) cross the country and head for Colombia.
From Cartagena (Colombia) on the Caribbean I’ll take a sailing boat to Panama and start pedalling up through Central America, across Mexico and into the US where I plan on sticking to the southern States and end up in Florida (alternatively New York) from where I’ll hop across the Atlantic (via boat or plane) to West Africa (likely Senegal) and go home from there. Sounds easy enough, huh?
Things can – and most likely will – change, and that’s the beauty of it all. This is my premonition for now, though. It’s still a long way to go. A long and lovely way to go. I still feel quite confident that I can/will knock the bastard off as Edmund Hillary said after reaching the top of Mt. Everest.
All too soon it’ll be a whopping 1.000 days since I left Denmark, and 2009 will be the fourth consecutive calender year on the road. Hard to believe – even for the captain of the ship.
Merry Xmas to you all. And may 2009 find you in high spirits and good health.
Nicolai (Máncora, northern Peru)
I’ve uploaded the original and uncut 11’13” minute version of the latest mini-movie from Chile and Argentina on Vimeo – a video sharing site comparable to YouTube.
Apart from the social highlights of having my good friend around – I’m getting used to the good company now! – it’s a fairly standard day here in Máncora. Lazing on the sun beds at the pool under the fierce sun (seems like Southern California isn’t the only place where it never rains) swimming in the Biggest Swimming Pool in the World, as Ragge (my friend, as you’d all know by now) calls the Pacific Ocean, eating a cheap set lunch at the local market in Máncora, partying and socializing at night.
Oh, and during my afternoon 10k run along the beach a notable zoological sight was a dead dolphin on the shore being voraciously hollowed out by a dozen of ever-hungry vultures. It wasn’t pretty.
If you’ve made a comment here on WT and you want to quickly find out if there’s been a response to your comment (or in case you just want to see recent comments in general), you can just click on the “Comments” link at the very bottom of the WT front page…
Trujillo -> Pacasmayo
Distance (km) : 111
Time on bike : 5h 15m
Brutto time: 11.00 – 17.30
Avg : 21.1 km/h
Total (km) : 38.755
The stretch of the Panamerican Hwy between Trujillo and Pacasmayo (110 km to the north) has been the scene of numerous attacks on longdistance cyclists over the past years. Last year, a fellow Dane, Eva Køngerskov, was the victim of such a nasty assault when 4 young guys in a motortaxi attacked her and took most of her valuable belongings (of which most was later recovered).
Because of this – and because he loves his bike – Lucho, my host at the Casa de Ciclistas in Trujillo, has decided to come along with me and Brazilian cyclist Dorico on today’s ride to Pacasmayo.
Lucho’s in his chatty mood and enlightens me with some fairly gruesome anecdotes from the assaults on cyclists of the past. He and his family has also been threatened physically and by telephone because he’s come to know the faces of some of the local gangsters and will do whatever it takes to see an end to the crime. He’s determined not to give up against these young highway criminals and is convinced (he might be right) that the local police near Paiján takes part of the banditry. I try to stifle my surprise when Lucho mentions his little handgun that he carries in his pocket today. Better safe than sorry, huh?
The bike ride is an easy one. A strong tailwind pushes us northward through the desert-like landscape. One hour before Pacasmayo a crazy crosswind full of rolling desert sand hits us.
It’s pretty terrible cycling, or as Lucho put it Es un baño de arena horrible! (It’s a horrible shower of sand). When we arrive in Pacasmayo, I’ve heard a lot of bandit stories and attacts but none have I seen. Luckily, it’s normally like that.
Though I do believe that this area is a high-risk spot for the often defenseless cyclist (unless Lucho’s by your side ), I still generally refuse to let what I hear, what other people have heard or what they think they used to know etc. draw my picture of the world. I feel that I’m in a situation (for which I’m highly grateful) where I don’t need to let dubious stories, rumour, reputation, and other second-hand reports mould my opinion and perception of the world and its people.
I’ve seen and experienced enough places and faces to create my own personal optics through which I see the world. And tell you what, the view through my optics, created primarily by first-hand encounters at eye level, is almost always less dramatic, more beautiful and balanced compared to the monochrome, politically biased, driven-by-sensationalism, and media-created optics that (sadly) too many people view the world through. Enough said.
In Pacasmayo we’re met by Lucho’s cycling friend Juan who lets Dorico and I stay for the night in his house where he lives with his wife Anna Cruz and their cute and well mannered daughter Lucia (6). It’s goodbye to Lucho who’s been a great host for 9 nights in Trujillo. The tears in his eyes after a few goodbye-hugs in the street tell of the sensitive social fabric of his. Such a good man. Thanks for all, Lucho and Aracelli!
At night we all share heaps of stories in the living room while listening to Juan’s latin rock/pop collection on the stereo, the proudness of the house.
Later, as I lie on my bed for the night (8 square couch cushions on the living room floor), I remind myself of the wonders of staying with random strangers – something I haven’t practized much lately, mainly because a private bed for the night (here in Peru) at just 3-6 USD often seems very tempting after a long day in the saddle when my need to chat and socialize is infinite.
After more than 3 hours of uploading yesterday, I bitterly realized that Youtube doesn’t allow movies longer than 10 minutes. Mine was 11’13”. Bummer. Went back to my laptop and spent a few hours cutting, editing and re-arranging everything and, after another 3 hours of uploading today, here we are at last.
The new WT movie from Chile and Argentina is here and it has to serve as this year’s christmas present from me to ye’ all.
(if the movie is not processed and ready on Youtube yet, please come back soon. Shouldn’t be long)
Feedback – be it blue or black – is welcome as usual.
Nicolai (Trujillo, northern Peru)
At 32 I feel entitled to a few liberties here and there. One of them was enacted last night at the local peña (live music dance club) here in Trujillo. I was already in my bed reading my book, when my room mate Jean-Baptiste (Canadian + French) and two younger girls asked if I wanted to join them to the peña. It was Saturday night, so why not give it a go.
The place was packed with a refreshingly mature and very salsa/merengue/cumbia-happy audience. A quick look at my All Time Top 100 Albums might suggest that I’m not the salsa/merengue/cumbia-happy kind of guy. The music really doesn’t do anything to me, apart from bore me. It’s just not my thing.
On par with being told to wait is being asked for a dance when salsa/merengue/cumbia is on the stereo. When I was younger and didn’t always have “NO” in my mouth I’d reluctantly end up on the dance floor with some way too salsa-happy girl who’d try to teach me the right moves and who’d repeat over and over how eaaaasy it all is while I’d awkwardly try just not to look too gawky. I didn’t (still don’t) find it easy and just wanted to get back to my beer, alternatively leave the place altogether.
This salsa discomfort started on my first trip to Latin America in 1997/1998 and over the years it has turned into a mild (but nonetheless very unpleasant) trauma that kicks in every time I enter a dance club with grooving salsa hips galore.
Back to last night. Jean-Baptiste and I were the only white boys in the club, and it didn’t take long before I was asked for a dance. Trauma time, Nicolai, I thought to myself. There was no way I was going to join the salsa hordes, and so I started blablah’ing about my disliking everything salsa and that if the solid rock would show up then I’d be happy to have a dance with the girl. It took me most of 5 minutes to convince the girl that I was serious about this (traumas are serious matters) and that I was (kind of) sorry about my lack of tact (and courage, but I didn’t tell her that). I took the liberty of turning down that young girl and thus breaking the unwritten rules of social dance club conduct, not because I was playing some hard-to-get thing but simply because of my traumatic salsa condition and, I guess, lack of balls…But hey, I really didn’t feel like dancing.
Later, at the rest rooms, I tipped the toilet cleaner who obviously didn’t expect it (no tip box, no asking). For no other reason than he appeared to be a sensitive, old man, he looked like Bruce Springsteen, and I wanted to somehow make up for turning that girl down, on the global see-all karma balance we are all part of, believe it or not.
So what else is new? Not too much. Have been hanging around Trujillo, a city that is slowly gaining on me. Not least because of the before-mentioned extremely cheap fresh fruits at the local market. I see absolutely no reason not to munch through a minimum of a kilo of mangos/strawberries/avocados a day + all the liquidized stuff from the fruit shake stalls.
After a relaxing week in Trujillo and surroundings, I’ve finally found a (rather exclusive, but who cares) restaurant with wifi-connection and it works swimmingly. Unless the restaurant suddenly decides to close the business for the day, I hope to have a new WT-movie ready very soon.
I got a nice e-mail the other day. From back home. From someone who wanted to point out, that my statement in my Profile that I don’t remember ever having given flowers to a girlfriend isn’t quite true.
Well, it is true that I don’t remember such an occasion, but this girl – my first teenage love that I was hopelessly and sometimes sleeplessly in love with for years, hoping for some kind of juvenile action that never really happened – reminded me (to my great surprise and laughter) that one day when she was on her way back home after school she noticed a little bunch of flowers on her bike’s luggage carrier accompanied by a letter (sort of love, I guess) the content of which I can only shiver, some 20 years after the event.
It was one of the greatest walks down the inscrutable memory lanes.
Parenthetically and strictly speaking, my statement still conform to reality since she was not my girlfriend at the time (approx. 1989). Rumour has it, that (at some other time) for a striking 2 weeks we actually were boy- and girlfriends though in that time we didn’t (as far as my memory goes) see each other, it was all very hush-hush coz she was a year older and it had to remain absolutely secret. It stopped even before it’d started. Very innocent indeed. Such were the harsh realities of my childhood love life…
December or not. The sun’s up so I head for the nearby beach village Huanchaco, a 12 km/30 minutes minivan drive from Trujillo.
The smell of Nivea in December never fails to seduce me. I find a peaceful spot on the dark sand beach, with mangos & strawberries – my new friends – under fierce sunlight (a fact that I realize far too late – SPF 15 just wasn’t enough today).
It’s more than 4 months since I last went to the beach. On Moorea, French Polynesia and this part of the Pacific Ocean in northern Peru totally fades in comparison but it is nonetheless a nice break from the hustle and bustle of Trujillo.
City shots from Trujillo downtown (810.000 inhab.)…
Saludos from Trujillo – with a very pink and burnt stomach…
Young or old, far or near – there’s no December without presents. With all respect to this Christmas fact, I’ve been working on this years present to the WT reading lot.
I spent all day editing and fiddling with a new WT mini-docu from Chile and Argentina that’ll be out there as soon as the @-connection here in Trujillo allows. It’s a 154 MB mastodont at 11’13” minutes so it might take a little while. Stay tuned!
Fruit intake of the Day:
1 kg of strawberries
3 glasses (0.35 L) of mixed fruit shake
0.8 kg mangos
Strangely, my stomach’s been acting weird these last few days.
Apart from the fruit parties, my plan is not to have any plan today. Reading, resting, strolling, looking out (at people), looking in (yours truly), finding nothing too interesting and settle for another mango and a catnap. The bleak desert of just a few days ago seems endlessly far away from the nice and busy main streets of Trujillo…
An extra note…
Not just the rest, the fruits, the sun, and the sleep has given me the energy back. I was really happy for all the supportive and encouraging emails and notes that I found when I checked my inbox tonight. Thanks a lot. You are all part of my essential/mental vitamin pill.
It’s funny how fast the weathercock can change direction in my inner chicken run. The zest, the good mood is back today.
It’s washing day: I handwash my salt-stained clothes and the bike on the rooftop of the Casa de Ciclistas. My love for my unhuman bike is unlimited and human. Don’t know if it appreciates my effort with the sponge, though.
A Brazilian cyclist who stays here as well shows me his heavy 30 kg oldie bike and parts of his gigantic 50 kg bundle of luggage (incl. a Tom Cruise idol book in an unhandy A3 format!, Bee Gee and TopGun DVD (he likes Mr. Cruise). I can’t believe he’s actually travelling with all that shit but it seems like he has his own, private reasons for everything. Every man to his taste. His bike would pass as scrap in any Danish family.
At the market close to Lucho’s (my kind and cycle-obsessed host) house a large jug of fresh fruit juice is just 0.25 USD. And there’s a new player on the fruit pitch now: Strawberries (yeah, a berry, but it plays on my fruit team nonetheless). I find out that a kilo is just 0.33 USD – an incredible bargain for a fruit freak!
Back at the house I flatten out on the rooftop in the sun and with a kick-ass playlist in my iPod. Then the strawberry party (1 kg) begins, and after a bit of push- and sits-ups I let the mango party (1 kg) take control – it’s a foaming one-man enterprise and it isn’t pretty!
I don’t feel very social at the moment. Don’t know why and – more importantly – what I can do to change it. I know it’s just a little adjustment in one of the inner departments, though. Have been tired, without rise-and-shine-energy since I left Lima. I find it difficult to find out what I really want. Relax for a few days? Go ruin hunting in the area? Get going? Arriving here in Trujillo yesterday (a few days ahead of time) gave me no pleasure – the climax didn’t come…
Even though I’m staying at the famous Casa de Ciclistas with other cyclists around, I don’t feel much like socializing. After some great, social days in Lima where pretty much all communication was in English (or even Danish!), it’s hard to go back to the basic Spanish that comes out of my mouth. It surely is enough to get me going and all, but when it comes to really making myself understood, being able to crack jokes, flirting (verbally, that is), sharing thoughts etc. I often find my 7-year old Spanish frustratingly inadequate. Being tired doesn’t help a thing.
Good news is that my Norwegian friend Ragge The Badger – a great friend that I know from Copenhagen – is coming to see me here in northern Peru in just a few weeks. His will be the first familiar face for me in two years. I’m so excited (and I just can’t hide it…)
I go for a walk into Trujillo’s centre and the impressive Plaza de Armas that I remember vaguely from my first visit in 1998. The city (820.000 inhab.) is full of beautiful, colonial buildings and it is quite understandable that Trujillo is awaiting approval on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Lunch in the sun on a bench on the plaza while trying to fend off semi-irritating city tour-salesmen, beggars, wanna-be-my-friend?-guys, pamphlet-folks and street vendors.