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    Archive for April, 2009

    Day 1.117 – Baby powder

    Thursday, April 30th, 2009

    Cerro Azul -> Tampico
    Distance (km) : 141
    Time on bike : 6h 56m
    Brutto time: 09.20 – 18.00
    Avg : 20.2 km/h
    Max.speed: 56.3
    Total (km) : 46.037
    Altitude: 10 m
    Difficulty: 4½ of 5

    I have a high momentum in the pedals all day. The terrain is hilly and much drier than just a few days ago. Not exciting. Exciting, by contrast, is the idea of arriving at Tampico before night falls, but I know – just checking the distance on my map (135 km) and with both the terrain and wind conditions as the eternal unknowns – that it will require all the best, I have learned about long distance cycling and disciplined, focused cycling to reach town. At times I have a fine wind from behind, but the foothills slow me down considerably.

    Mom + puppies

    In the town Naranjos I look for a coke light at a gas station kiosk. But the kiosk is closed due to renovation accordig to a sign on the door, though I can see no renovation at all inside the shop. But through a small hole in the door (think night time pharmacy), a sales clerk accepts my order. I ask whether this thing is because of the swine flu, but she just gives me a smile and repeats that it is because of the “renovation”. I can (as always) be wrong, but to me it just seems like a bad excuse …

    With a focused pedalling – a total of 7 hours today, time equivalent to 2-3 marathons under the Mexican sun – I slowly generate a long mental trance in the afternoon, boosted by the heat, that is wild and savage. My thirst is uncrunchable. Ass hurts in the permanently wet bike shorts and shouts for help. Or at least just a little baby powder.

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    Wes and Scott from Ohio. A nice road side encounter...

    The temporary rescue from the work-out is American Wes and Scott from Ohio (photos of our roadside encounter might pop up here), who wave for me to stop when I’m about to pass them next to their 4×4 car. I’m partly in a trance. Immediately the put an ice-cold coke (and later 2 cold peanut bars) in my hand and I have a delightful chat with the brothers who are on their way home from a short trip down to Guatemala. A great social boost, which makes me even more excited about getting to the States where my tongue will be free and liberated again. God bless liberated tongues.

    46.000 km. 30 km south of Tampico, Mexico.

    I cross 46,000 km today 30 km south of Tampico. Fist goes in the air several times this afternoon when I start to believe that Tampico is within today’s reach. Am really proud of today’s (and the last 4 days with a total of 490 km) stint.

    Puente Tampico - not made for cyclists...

    After having crossed the elegant Puente Tampico, that crosses the Rio Pánuco, I’m guided by random local guys towards the center where – several hundred meters away – I spot a hotel sign that entices me with prices at only 100 pesos (8 USD) on the busy Calle López de Lara. It sounds almost too good.

    Shoeshine men in Tampico, Mexico.

    And so it was. The 100 pesos was for 1 hour, the receptionist, who – understandably – are more interested in playing with her daughter at 15 months (I asked) than in serving me, explains. An entire night costs double that. I ask for something cheaper and am not put off by the fact that the place apparently (also) works as a hooker hotel, because it seems completely new and I am tired. The girl calls her lifeline – the boss, I’d say – and returns with the acceptable price of 150 pesos for a shiny new a/c room with bath, without TV. Deal. For that price it means less to me that there are plastic covers on the bed …

    Part of my survival kit, diary and bike computer...

    I have a great and massive dinner tonight.

    8:23 PM

    8:45 PM

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    A Legend (UK)

    Thursday, April 30th, 2009

    If you need a bit of mad dog bike action, i.e not the touring-along-flat-hot-Mexican-highway-kind-of-thing, then check out this dude…Legend!

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    Day 1.116 – Le petit voyeur!

    Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

    Papantla -> Cerro Azul
    Distance (km) : 115
    Time on bike : 5h 45m
    Brutto time: 10.45 – 18.20
    Avg : 20.0 km/h
    Max.speed: 65.0
    Total (km) : 45.896
    Altitude: 100 m
    Difficulty: 3½ of 5

    On the local bus to the (closed due to flu scare) El Tajin ruins - note the surgical mask...

    Just to finish yesterday’s Marco Antonio mystery, I can tell you that at bedtime I noticed some pubic-looking hair in my bed. It is seen many times before, and it is one of the things I never want to learn to get used to. Moreover, there was a floater swimming in the toilet, so all in all I do not know whether I actually made a good deal by saving 30 pesos and then pretend to be this Marco Antonio dude. :-)

    Another river crossing...

    I wake up early and catch a local bus just before 09AM to the El Tajin ruin complex (6 km to the west), which is the great, historical crowd-puller in this part of Veracruz state, and which I have looked forward to. After 30 minutes the bus drops me off at the entrance. And it was about as close I came to the pyramids, for the site turns out to be closed today. Until May 6th, a guard tells me. I can not believe it. Why?, I ask and should have known the answer. The swine flu has caught up with me and what a bummer. Back in the saddle without my ruin fix.

    At the El Tajin ruins...

    In the outskirts of Poza Rica, a truck passes me for a second time. Men sit in the back, shouting greetings to me. In the passenger front seat sits a man with a broad smile from ear to ear and hands out a porn magazine to me. All the colored pages flutter in the wind, and I laugh back to the guy and sort of thanks him for the fine gag. Jesus, I think to myelf, is it really so obvious how needy the Silver Munk is?

    Having a Coke break in the Oxxo convenience store...

    The day is like a long jump from one Oxxo shop to the next. The concept is similar to the familiar 7Eleven. I love everything at those stores, from the driveway suited for disabled people (perfect for my Koga baby), the air conditioning, the prices, the cleanliness, the product availability, the cappuchinos, the little table/chair arrangement inside the store, that is perfect for cooling down with a little coke/coffee taking diary notes, the ice cubes the open freezer (for cooling the water in my bottle). There are so few of them along the road which make them desirable and just enough of them to find them reliable when you most need them. Love it!

    Tropical cycling in central East Mexico.

    It is a pretty hot day. Even at 5PM the thermometer shows temperatures that lie entirely outside the Danish summer temperature range. There are endless fields of orange trees. I am tempted to go fruit munching but remain focused in the saddle.

    Taking a leak...

    The village of Cerro Azul is today’s terminus. Hotel Los Pinos (pine trees) is night’s pitstop. I am being treated like a rock star here in the village (too), that probably hasn’t seen a white tourist for months. As soon as I go out into the street from my hotel after a shower, I hear whistling from across the street where a girl sits on the curb/kerb, giggling.

    Cerro Azul is a nice Mexican acquaintance. Am very surprised at the ease with which life seems to go by in these villages, devoid of foreign tourism, surprised at the calmness that seem to prevail in the towns (this is obviously a rather superficial view, I know).

    Monument

    The only bump in the skating rink is the universally annoying group of younger men (18-35?) that drive around in too fancy cars with windows down, music up. They always have something stupid they feel they just have to yell. As with most universal annoyances (I am not necessarily talking about swine flus and the like) total disregard is the best remedy.

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    Taco-party (2×5 pieces) in a small food stall at the market, where I’m seated in a cramped cage-like booth with a fine view of the street life behind the chicken wire grid. For once, I enjoy being the observer and not being observed. Le petit voyeur!

    Supertienda in Cerro Azul, Mexico.

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    Day 1.115 – A Guy Called Marco Antonio

    Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

    Palma Sola -> Papantla
    Distance (km) : 140
    Time on bike : 7h 18m
    Brutto time: 10.00 – 19.00
    Avg : 19.2 km/h
    Max.speed: 50.9
    Total (km) : 45.781
    Altitude: 200 m
    Difficulty: 3½ of 5

    Nature's symmetry...

    Last night I saw a commercial on local TV about “la gripe porcina” – that you need to remember to wash your hands and seek medical help in case of flu symptoms. I wash my hands and keep myself updated about the whole thing on a daily basis, but otherwise I do what I’ve always done. Could very quickly become tired of the mass hysteria.

    Just pick your Mexican favourite!

    Today I see the first Mexicans with surgical masks. Also the guys at gas stations, assistants and other service people have begun to wear masks around. As long as I can get my cold Coke Zero – when did I actually become dependent on cold drinks? – people can wear all the masks they want.

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    It is flat, tropical cycling the first 90% of today. There are palm trees (the coconut and banana variants), maize fields, quiet donkeys, completely flat (and just as quiet) dog pressed well down into the asphalt.

    Cocos locos...

    Nicolai

    The last mile up to Papantla (45,000 inhabitants) is in a slightly hilly terrain – it is still very fertile and beautiful in the sunset light.

    Orange tree plantations.

    A man with a monster telescope lens of a camera suddenly stands in the roadside next to his car and have me (sweating, struggling upwards) in focus. I pass him, ignore him. He gets back in the car, overtakes me, and does the same trick again one km up the road. He says nothing, but he starts to irritate me. “Un peso, un peso,” I say with an extended arm when I pass him. I get no alms but may end up in some local paper tomorrow …

    Smooth and swift...

    In Papantla, I head for the central square, the zócalo and soon find Pulido Hotel, where a young guy shows me a room for 180 pesos (15 USD). I ask if he has a more economic room or whether he can give me the room for 150 pesos, but I can see that the guy is young and probably has no authority to go down in price.

    Papantla mural...

    The Laughter:
    So I quietly accept the price of 180 pesos. Then the guy gets all mysterious behind the door inside the room in a way I find strange. The guy’s not done with me, and he is now pulling a white rabbit out of the hat that no one (least of all myself) had expected. If I can be called Marco Antonio, I can have room for 150 pesos! I am tired, but do not miss seeing the fun of the situation. If I can be Marco Antonio …

    It is a clause I absolutely have no problem with, and I don’t ask how things are related and who this Marco Antonio is.

    Papantla street life...

    Flores

    The city of Papantla is really cool and – again – very Mexican and totally devoid of tourists this evening. The plaza, cathedral, my super hot evening tacos on the local market (the chefs laughed at me when the sweat broke out my forehead because of the chili), a quiet moment at the cast iron pavillion in the middle of the zócalo – it all adds up making this an entirely enjoyable night.

    Papantla zocalo/main square...

    DSC02363

    Good night from Papantla,

    Marco Antonio

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    Day 1.114 – A Flat & A Ruin

    Monday, April 27th, 2009

    Veracruz -> Palma Sola
    Distance (km) : 92
    Time on bike : 4h 58m
    Brutto time: 11.00 – 18.00
    Avg : 18.5 km/h
    Max.speed: 63.9
    Total (km) : 45.639
    Altitude: 50 m
    Difficulty: 2 of 5

    Where the river meets the ocean...

    I have decided to skip Mexico City. Yesterday’s CNN and internet reading says that the capital has turned into a ghost town and that most public institutions, bars, restaurants etc. are closed, that the parks are deserted, all that for fear of the swine flu. Would you cycle a detour of 400 km, from sea level to Mexico City at 2200 m to experience it? Nope.

    It feels good to be on the road again, going straight north, towards the United States. Right from the start I decide not have any super-ambitious goals for the day. Simply not to pressure myself unnecessarily in the heat. For once the dog in my smells blood …

    On my way up to the Quiahuiztlán ruin north of Veracruz, Mexico.

    The heat is manageable today. And the wind comes from the side or slightly from behind me. Feeling happy all around.

    At the entry to the Quiahuiztlán-ruin (see link for additional info) the rear tire is flat. If “shitfuck” is a word, I think it describes neatly what I had to say about the matter. Fix it in the shade of a mango tree on private property.

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    Had I known that there were 3 km up to ruins and that they all went fairly steeply up, I had surely dropped the plan. But I did not know, so here I am, snailing my way up the windy dirt road while I curse the project mildly. 20 minutes later I reach a small car park and lock the Koga to a sign. The ticket man asks for an entry fee. I tell that I am an anthropology student and show him my old student ID from Copenhagen Uni. He accepts it without blinking and then my supper is saved.

    Quiahuiztlán ruin north of Veracruz, Mexico.

    The area was an important burial site to the aztecs, and it’s quite nice and especially the view down the coast and the village Villa Rica is fine. A flirting couple lies in the grass, otherwise I have the place to myself. A massive rock formation forms an impressive backdrop to the entire complex. It was worth the detour.

    Quiahuiztlán ruin north of Veracruz, Mexico.

    Quiahuiztlán ruin north of Veracruz, Mexico.

    Down in the sleepy fishing village of Villa Rica, located right next to the Gulf of Mexico, I get myself a late lunch and actually expected to stay here for the night. But the offers I get are unreasonably expensive, I find no obvious place to camp, and then the Koga rolls again. Still have a few hours of daylight and feel no fatigue. Is surprisingly clear and fresh in my head, no trance today.

    Quiahuiztlán ruin north of Veracruz, Mexico.

    Villa Rica Village, Verzcruz State, Mexico.

    In Palma Sola (2400 inhabitants), third try is – as has been seen before – my lucky try when it comes to checking hotels. Hotel Arcos (200 pesos, 14 USD) provides a spotless 3-bed room with fan and bath. I carry all my gear (bike + equipment) up to first floor, some 60 bulky kilos, ‘cos – hell yes! – did I go to the gym in Veracruz yesterday.

    Near Villa Rica, Mexico.

    Delicious tostadas...

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    Visuals

    Sunday, April 26th, 2009

    Just a brief note here from Veracruz, Saturday midnight with wifi from my hotel, to let you know that I’ve just posted heaps of photos from the last long trek from Antigua, Guatemala to Veracruz, Mexico.

    See more here!

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    Day 1.113 – A Woman On My Sarong

    Sunday, April 26th, 2009

    Playa Mocambo, Veracruz - Gulf of Mexico.

    Tune of the Day: Invincible - Muse

    A breezy Sunday in Veracruz. I grab a local bus and go along the nice Boulevard towards the city beaches that dot the coast south of Veracruz. Lying on my sarong, listening to Muse, two girls suddenly pop up and ask if they can take a photo with me and their friend. No probs. Another lady shows up and I invite her to have a sit on my sarong for that photo. Girls are all laughing and it’s all a bit weird. A man near by indicates that I need to put my arm around the lady, and so I do. The group of people (around 20), that the lady on my sarong is part of, then start yelling “sexo, sexo, sexo”, clapping their hands, laughing their asses off. I laugh too. But find the sex thing on the beach a bit too daring. Madness. Next thing, the girls want some full-body celeb-shots and they go crazy with their cameras. Should have asked for a tip. Just a little celeb tip.

    Well, what can I say? The joys of travelling a bit off the beaten track? The joys/burdens ( :-) ) of being blond? At least I asked for a photo too. If you don’t believe I had a 40+ year old woman on my sarong on the beach today…

    Random lady and I. Playa Mocambo, Veracruz.

    Boca del Rio architecture, south of Veracruz, Mexico.

    Boca del Rio and Veracruz skyline...

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    Day 1.112 – The Swine Flu (S.O.S)

    Saturday, April 25th, 2009

    Swine flu in Mexico! Swine flu in Mexico!

    CNN’s message is loud and clear as soon as I wake up in my lovely little den at Hotel Amparo (highly recommended). I’d be damned, I think to myself. I’ve come all this way, 45.000 km and 3 years on my bike and now this shit’s come up in and around Mexico City – my next anticipated destination up in the Sierra Madre mountains at some 2.200 m.a.s.

    My new and non-sticky handle bar! It's silver!

    Can’t really do anything about it but keep an eye/ear open and stay informed about the situation. So I continue with my insignificant quotidian tasks. Fixing a flat rear tire (again), new handle bar (duct/gaffa) tape, laundry (the money-saving way, in a bucket i.e.), WT updates.

    Drying line

    Menu of the Day at Restaurant Sirena, Veracruz.

    My favourite taco vendor in Veracruz.

    Crowded Malecón in Veracruz...

    A beautiful, homemade mango sorbet!

    Great and highly skilled live music in Veracruz.

    Street entertainment. Veracruz - Mexico.

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    Milestones Page Updated

    Friday, April 24th, 2009

    45.000 km makes around 45 photos. Check them out here!

    Nicolai (Veracruz, Mexico)

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    Day 1.111 – A Stylish Coffee

    Friday, April 24th, 2009

    Morning coffee in Veracruz, served the slick way:

    A "lechero" (coffee w/ milk) served with style, the Veracruz way.

    I have a few errands to do today. Get some new tubes (auto valve) for my rear wheel (after the blow-up the other day), more glue and patches (the big ones for car and truck tubes, with which my success rate at fixing flat tires is much higher), duct tape for my handle bar (the old tape keep messing up my hands ‘coz the sticky side is exposed) – in Spanish it’s cinta para ductos, should anyone ask – new wallet (zipper’s gone in the old one from Thailand 2007)…

    Café Catedral, Veracruz - Mexico.

    The Peanut Vendor.

    Socially, I haven’t been very extrovert since I left Antigua some 11 days ago. Truth be told, I haven’t really had any proper conversation apart from the random and daily WT run downs that I do automatically and without much enthusiasm. Don’t blame me, that story’s been told soo many times and it doesn’t exite me any longer.

    Note-taking in the central plaza (zócalo) in Veracruz.

    I thought tonight would be the night for a bit of socializing, but the bar I entered at around 8PM was packed with dancing locals, very loud – and poor me hadn’t even had a single beer to straighten my mind! It was almost too much of the good stuff, I was too sober, and so I left after my first Corona Beer. Excuses, oh, I know ‘em all…

    More live acts in Verzcruz...

    Dancing in central park. Veracruz, Mexico.

    I had a nice, homemade ice cream instead later on. Friday night in Veracruz, with an ice cream – an ice cream! that I’d have loved to swap with a little princess – in my hand. Doesn’t look too good, Nicolai, does it?

    Nievería (ice cream shop) in Veracruz. Yummy sorbets!

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    Day 1.110 – Señores y señoras: VERACRUZ!

    Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

    0 km etc.

    Waking up knowing that I don’t have to do any riding today is a bliss. On the other hand, my mind knows that there’s a lot of WT stuff to do – and thus I wake up way too early with countless thoughts racing through my mind. No more sleep – although I made a promise to my body last night that it could sleep as long as it wanted today. No quite so.

    Zócalo, Veracruz.

    In between WT updates I take a long stroll around Veracruz and what a great, colonial city that is (480.000 inh.). Very Mexican, very relaxed, very hot.

    Faro, Veracruz - Mexico.

    Sculpture, Veracruz - Mexico.

    Malecón, Veracruz - Mexico.

    Puerto de Veracruz, Mexico.

    Baluarte, Veracruz - Mexico.

    Exhibition Hall, Veracruz, Mexico.

    Colonial building, Veracruz, Mexico.

    At night Veracruz really starts kicking some proper ass. There’s live music (the local joracho type) practically at every little plaza I see, and everyone (minus me) gets up and shake those booties, young or not so young, doesn’t matter as long you’ve got something to shake. It’s simply brilliant!

    Evening taco vendor, Veracruz, Mexico.

    Joracho dance in Veracruz.

    Joracho dance in Veracruz.

    Live music in a callejón (little side street) in Veracruz.

    More joracho music in the back streets of Veracruz....Lovely!

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    Day 1.109 – With Turbo & 6 Cylinders

    Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

    Cosamaloapan -> Veracruz
    Distance (km) : 148
    Time on bike : 7h 16m
    Brutto time: 10.50 – 19.30
    Avg : 20.3 km/h
    Max.speed: 77.7
    Total (km) : 45.547
    Altitude: 10 m
    Difficulty: 4 of 5

    Sugar cane truck and the sugar factory. Veracruz State, Mexico.

    (Translated by Google, re-read by NB)

    The stretch from Cosamaloapan and onto the coast at the Gulf of Mexico, just east of Alvarado, is beautiful and completely flat cycling along a not very busy 1+1 road through pleasant villages along the Rio Papaloapan.

    Cementerio Municipal San Pedro

    There are plenty of slow lorries loaded with sugar cane ready for processing on the local sugar factory. Particularly the slightly larger village Tlacotalpan fascinates me, with pastel-colored one-level houses and a pretty central plaza.

    Just north of Cosamaloapan, Veracruz State - Mexico.

    Tune of the Day: Den Döda Vinkeln – Kent

    Beautiful plaza in Tlacotalpan

    The huge Gulf of Mexico appears to the north in the afternoon. At 3PM a road sign tells me there is 92 km to Veracruz. My plan about reaching the city doesn’t look too good, no matter how much I want to get there. But after a drink stop in Alvarado, I press the inner turbo button (and I kick on 6 cylinders today). The wind hits the same button and pushes me from behind. Over the next 2½ hours I swallow some 65 km of asphalt, now and then with the accompanying fist in the air – this is cycling as Zülle wants it. Much of the afternoon is on a slender isthmus with the Gulf of Mexico to the north and Laguna de Alvarado to the south. Pretty.

    Cool yet hot cycling north of Tlacotalpan...

    East of Alvarado, Mexico.

    My performance in the saddle today exceeds my own expectations. 148 km of cycling, even though I didn’t leave Cosamaloapan until 11AM. Crazy. Together with the crossing of the Australian outback in 2007, the last 9 days of cycling from Antigua, Guatemala (1,100 km) is physically one of the best performances in Camp WT.

    Boca del Rio, south of Veracruz, Mexico.

    Canon self-portrait. Room at the Hotel Amparo, Veracruz - Mexico.

    I feel at ease, a physical calmness, and deep, deep satisfaction after my arrival in Veracruz today. Now I really want to relax and enjoy the fruits of the last 9 days of hard work. Have logged in to the lovely Hotel Amparo (recommended on Wikitravel.org), 180 pesos/night. You can’t get better quality at a lower price here in Veracruz, I guess. The city seems really nice and local at first glance.

    Veracruz

    Dancing performance in Veracruz...

    The idea of not having to get up and ride tomorrow, the idea of not having 130-150 km asphalt to be eaten in front of me, makes me really happy, as I sit here, late night in a burgerbar with today’s newspaper, El dictamen. No pain, no gain, as they say.

    CNN chilling in Veracruz after 9 long cycling days...

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

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    Day 1.108 – The Price of Progress

    Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

    Sayula -> Cosamaloapan
    Distance (km) : 116
    Time on bike : 6h 22m
    Brutto time: 10.00 – 18.30
    Avg : 18.0 km/h
    Max.speed: 41.1
    Total (km) : 45.400
    Altitude: 30 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    A few morning shots from Sayula:

    Chicks for sale...

    Meat vendor in Sayula.

    4-5 km north of Sayula I reach the autopista, that along a beautiful, relatively flat toll motorway (which cyclists are not required to pay for) sends me in a northwestern direction throughout the day.

    Piñas aka pineapples

    Oh, yeah, Vera, I'm coming your way...

    Koga Miyata + Road + River

    The sun smiles at me, the emergency lane (shoulder, i.e.) is wide and (again relatively) free from the worst roadside rubbish and junk (nails, wire, stones, glas), so I am happy today, and have a nice atmosphere inboard, in particular thanks to a blessing series of shuffle songs in my iPod. Focused and concentrated from start to finish.

    No one really seemed to care about it here...

    Tune of the Day: Walk In Fire - Doves

    Swamp near Cosamaloapan, Veracruz State - Mexico...

    It is a great surprise to arrive at Cosamaloapan in the early evening. There is a carnival in the city and the streets are full of Mexican meat (both the human and the BBQ variety). I arouse too much attention, though, when I pull through hordes with my gear in search of a place to sleep. People are happy and drunk. I am tired and dirty.

    Carnival in Cosamaloapan, Mexico.

    Hotel Roble (160 pesos) on the main road is my saviour.
    I’d planned to just relax all evening after 8 days in a row on the bike (956 km), but the carnival sounds seep into my room and lure me out of the nest. Thousands of people are gathered in the streets to witness the long procession, which primarily consists of open platforms with dressed-up carnival people (most, inc. the drag queens, very lightly so) and large speaker systems drawn by tractors, latest models. It is organized madness.

    Carnival in Cosamaloapan, Mexico.

    Carnival in Cosamaloapan, Mexico.

    After my taco dinner, a local family strikes up a chat with me at the end of the main street where hundreds of carnival-people are united under the loud street music. I meet the whole family and am bombarded with WT-related questions. The family (3 generations) is really sweet, and if I had not had nearly 1000 km in my legs/body over the last 8 days, I would have taken up the offer of a beer and hung out a bit more with them. But I do not have the energy in me tonight.

    Carnival in Cosamaloapan, Mexico.

    It comes with a price tag to totally work yourself out in the saddle each day. Progress has its price, and so it has always been…

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

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    Day 1.107 – The Unfair Element

    Monday, April 20th, 2009

    Matías Romero -> Sayula
    Distance (km) : 130
    Time on bike : 6h 18m
    Brutto time: 10.40 – 18.50
    Avg : 20.6 km/h
    Max.speed: 58.5
    Total (km) : 45.284
    Altitude: 50 m
    Difficulty: 4½ of 5

    (Translated by Google, reread by me)

    Rain against the window. It is a strange, dare I say, Danish sensation waking up this morning. I have not seen real rain for a very long time, but it falls heavyly as I go milk-hunting in sleepy Matías Romero. The thought of a rest day passes me, but there is something appealing to the cool 22 degrees this morning – and then the choice is kind of made.

    Coffee + ice cream break...

    With the rain I knew pretty much what I had to deal with from today’s start and the rainy cycling is a welcome change. Had I, however, known about the ridiculous headwind that blew me in my face for over 120 kilometers today (just think of how sick it is!), I would’ve probably stayed in bed this morning. I am frustrated and hysterical because of the unfair element – shout and curse over the rolling Mexican landscape.

    King of Sudoku...

    Rain stops at 1PM. The wind has no stop button. Don’t want it. It is mentally, physically stressful. I am trying desperately to find something to keep my thoughts busy with, trying to find a peg to hang them on, because it is hard to face the reality of the long headwind roads in front of me, hard for the psyche. I am thinking of Australia, of all the faces back home that I have not seen in more than three years and that I miss big time, and it reassures my mind for a while.

    Mexican countryside...

    Once again there is plenty of heckling, hooting, and honking from passers-by. I ignore most. Don’t feel I have the energy to greet and smile back, and even lifting my arm in salute (and thereby change my entire body weight on the bike – quite painful for the already hard-pressed pressure point – seems a waste of effort and distraction of mental concentration, that I really need on a windy day like today.

    Zapatería in Sayula, Mexico.

    About sunset I finally reach Sayula where I check in to assumedly the only hotel in town (Portal de Santa Rosa, I think) at a record-low 100 pesos (7.50 USD) for a clean, simple room, right next to the plaza with the strange church that looks like something from an theme park.

    5 out of the last 7 days I’ve cycled 130 km or more. Overall 840 km or 120 km/day on average.

    I have a small taco party in a small taquería, 1 hour internet, a new taco party at the same place, then good night Zülle.

    Sayula cathedral at dusk...

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

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    Day 1.106 – Master of Deception (ego)

    Sunday, April 19th, 2009

    Tapanatepec -> Matías Romero
    Distance (km) : 133
    Time on bike : 6h 14m
    Brutto time: 10.55 – 19.20
    Avg : 21.2 km/h
    Max.speed: 65.1
    Total (km) : 45.153
    Altitude: 200 m
    Difficulty: 4 of 5

    Although I have been in a fatigue and heat trance most of the time so far here in Mexico, I haven’t missed noticing that the provincial towns have something relaxing and anti-chaotic about them. And suddenly I got a much deeper understanding of the genius behind the concept siesta.

    Did you say boring? I say hot!

    I feel much better this morning than the two previous mornings. Feel ready. Whether it was the tennis-finals fix this morning or the liter (!) milk, I consume during my breakfast, I do not know.

    Celsius, that is!

    It’s really dry here in southeastern Oaxaca. The day temperature sneak up to 50 degrees Celsius in the sun. Nothing new on this front. To the north burnt mountain sides, to the south burnt, tropical lowlands.

    Heat, super heat, God damn you!

    Lots of wind and sun in the afternoon. I – Master of Deception - imagine (as has happened before) that the 50 degrees C hot water in my bike bottle is just thin, lukewarm tea.

    Road side drama...

    Road side drama...

    Before La Ventosa I hit a long, unexpected stretch of road without settlements (and kiosks), and slowly run out of water. I discipline my water intake (pure damage control), but eventually the water bottles run empty. In such a situation, I am mentally in a energy-saving mode, mouth closed in order not to get unnecessarily dry, and I visualize the cold bottle of water/coke, I know will turn up sooner or later.

    Near La Ventosa, Oaxaca - Mexico.

    At an intersection, I find a small kiosk and immediately down 2 L fluid. I am half in trance, but I do sense, however, the instant impact of the divine drops.

    Forest fire in Oaxaca, Mexico.

    Am super-concentrated, focused, professional in the saddle all day.

    Over-heated, wolf thirst.

    Just after sunset I reach the village Matías Romero and check in to the first hotel I find. Shower, wash the salty/sweaty bike clothes in the shower, have a taco dinner on the street, do my daily diary notes on the street while everyone stares undeterred at me.

    Taco factory in Matías Romero.

    Am I a monkey? And should I sit in a cage and be fed with bananas by curious Mexican tourists?

    Tacos!


    (Photos to come…)

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    Day 1.105 – Zoo

    Saturday, April 18th, 2009

    Tonalá -> Tapanatepec
    Distance (km) : 70
    Time on bike : 3h 55m
    Brutto time: 12.10 – 17.00
    Avg : 17.9 km/h
    Max.speed: 39.1
    Total (km) : 45.021
    Altitude: 100 m
    Difficulty: 2 of 5

    (Machine translated by Google)

    Mexican street scene...

    Mexico 2009.

    Fatigue still haunts me even after 9 hours of fine sleep. Again I have no particular lust for the cycling day in front of me. Is fond of the flexible check-out times at hotels in Mexico (between noon and 2PM), so I extend my “pre-noon room trance” and get my beloved tennisfix from the TV screen.

    Jesus is the rock...

    Bicycle day is short and poor on events worth writing home about. In the early sunset light I log into the only hotel in Tapanatepec, Hotel Casablanca, and go out to have a look at the small town that exudes life this Saturday night.

    Munching lunch tacos...

    The boys play basketball and football on the concrete field in the middle of the plaza. Table soccer games and other amusement park stuff rotates and the air is full of carnival. People whistle, greet and stare at me everywhere I go. Both sexes, all ages. Me no like :-(

    Trash in Mexico.

    Just outside Tepanatepec, Mexico.

    So instead of being stared at as if I was an animal in the zoo, I barricade myself in my hotel room (aka the sanctuary) with homemade killer sandwiches and forgettable cable TV from the big world.

    Tapanatepec cathedral.

    Guess the menu?


    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

    (Photos to come…)

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    Day 1.104 – Leaving Loneliness Behind…

    Friday, April 17th, 2009

    Pijijiapan -> Tonalá
    Distance (km) : 88
    Time on bike : 5h 20m
    Brutto time: 11.50 – 19.00
    Avg : 16.4 km/h
    Max.speed: 45.6
    Total (km) : 44.951
    Altitude: 40 m
    Difficulty: 4 of 5

    (Translated by Google)

    I woke up a few times last night. Was totally sleepy and definitely not ready to start the day. Felt like a cake taken out of the oven way too early. After breakfast I fade out in my bed with tennis from Monte Carlo on television. Am crazily tired and still zip back and forth between dream and tennis for a few hours. Therefore the tennis battle seem a bit stroboscopic, and so I feel as well. Don’t feel like cycling. The heat of noon is wild.

    Mexican money...

    On the 100 km stretch between Tapachula and Mapastepec yesterday I counted 18 road kills. It was mostly dogs, a few raccoon-like animals, a few birds of prey and – sadly – a cat. The rest were uncertain because of the grotesque and often quite “flat” constitution. There was nothing unusual in this number of roadkills, I just decided to count carcasses yesterday. There were certainly more, because I didn’t exactly scan the roadside, and repeatedly the dreadful stench hit me even if I could not see the dead animals. If you multiply the 18 roadkills/100 km up to 44,806 km, then you get an awful lot of dead meat…

    Fine for throwing trash: 90 minimum wages!

    The prices here in Mexico do not frighten me. Food and drink are very reasonably priced (1 Taco on the street, 0.35 USD, 1 L Coke Zero, 0.80 USD ex.). Accomodation, however, is significantly more expensive than in Central and South America, and is often around 10-20 USD/night, but the quality is correspondingly much higher than I have been accustomed to over the last 8 ½ months in Latin America (cable TV, private bath, good beds, fan, towel and mini soap is the default), so it not unfair.

    Endless asphalt! Chiapas, Mexico.

    I listen to music almost all day long. Because I can not live without it, and – my psychologist might add – because it has a therapeutic, calming effect on me on this long odyssey. I do not want to let loneliness seep into me, is afraid that it will be hard to get rid of again, so I fill myself with music and pace myself in the pedals.

    Sometimes I wonder if this is really where I belong…

    Sometimes I wonder if this is really where I belong...

    On arrival in Tonalá, I momentarily lost my rationality. I spend a ridiculous 2 hours (and 10 km) finding a place to sleep, despite the fact that there are quite a few places in the city. Check out 3-4 places, none of which attract with its mix of high price and low standard.

    I ask around and is told to try another hotel near the highway (where I came from). The place is fine, so I give the hotel guy money for room and believe that today’s Christmas is finally rescued. But the hotel has no food and the city is located 3 km from here. Moreover, the door to my room has no key and there is no cable TV (the tennis semifinals from Monte Carlo was my carrot all day). I have already taken the bike bags off the bike when I change my mind. Apologize to the hotel guy, get my money again and bike back to town. Sick me.

    Cat-fix of the day!

    The good thing about these 2 hours waste of time was that I am now so tired and frustrated that I am completely indifferent to the 280 pesos at the Hotel Tonalá. I managed to haggle down the price 30 pesos (my dinner :-) ). Even when tired, the hustler in me is alive…

    It ain't pretty, but it sure is tasty!

    After hotel check-in I find a small food market. I am ordering tostadas (crispy Taco shell loaded with meat and vegetables, delicioso!) and ask about a knife & fork. I get a spoon. Foodmama laughs at me. The man next to me says I have to eat it with my hands. Just like a mango!, another woman adds. There is, in other words, consensus on the fact that we need to get messy here…

    Street vendors in Tonala, Mexico.

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

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    Day 1.103 – A Mental Paradigm Shift…

    Thursday, April 16th, 2009

    Tapachula -> Pijijiapan
    Distance (km) : 149
    Time on bike : 6h 23m
    Brutto time: 09.40 – 19.40
    Avg : 23.3 km/h
    Max.speed: 65.5
    Total (km) : 44.863
    Altitude: 500 m
    Difficulty: 5 of 5

    Welcome to the first machine translation, made by Google (I made minor changes to make it more digestible):

    I have this constant internal battle going on to justify not visiting sights, not to choose the most beautiful route, but simply to choose the shortest / quickest way forward. It has not been like this the whole time and it may well be seen as a natural consequence of having been on the road for over 3 years.

    I clearly feel a mental paradigm shift in my relationship to the route selection criteria now compared with the first, say 2 years of the expedition. For example, I would now never choose to take on the 5 ½ months long detour around South East Asia (from Bangkok through Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and back to Thailand), I did in 2007. Am happy that I did, but had it been today …

    Now that I am at one of the last WT-stages, it appears that the vast majority of attractions on the way (which I in principle could visit) pales in comparison to the prospect of completing the expedition, the prospect of coming home. With perhaps 15,000 km to go, I know that it is too early focus on the “final stretch” and that I have to find a little more of the old adventurer spirit, which I have partially put aside in the name of progress.

    Tune of the Day: Were Not Alone – Dinosaur Jr.

    Typical river setting. Chiapas lowland.

    My thermometer says 43 C when I at 1.30pm (Mexico is currently. 1 hour ahead of Guatemala) roll into Escuintla. The rescue is an a/c Oxxo store (like 7Eleven) and a Coke Zero. Is completely exhausted. It is hard. It will remain hard. I have 74 km in the legs, 75 km to go. Could sleep immediately here in the refrigerated kiosk, if I were allowed.

    Mango hunt.

    Mango episode.
    There are lush mango trees in many places along the way here in Mexico. I love mangoes. So under a gigantic mango tree (on private property, but with the fallen fruits in the roadside) I quickly find a handful of fruit and sit down on the elevated asphalt, with traffic thundering just behind me. The next door dog barks. Soon a boy comes to me with a 3 m long secateurs, which he leave on the barbed wire fence and says that I can use it to get mangoes. He simply gives me a tool to loot his orchard. That I call hospitality. I sit in the shade for I do not know how long and eat I do not know how many mangoes. Mango threads in the teeth, luck on my shoulders.

    Flat tyres never have good timing...

    The Little Accident.
    Idyll ends soon when on a descent going 50 km/h I suddenly hear a mad KAPOW! (just as in the comic world) from the back tire and hell breaks loose. The tire releases its grip on the wheel rim (technically, it is vice versa), my speed is still very high and I repeatedly visualize the inevitable crash (so it seems). Miraculously (such it seems to me), I retain control of the bike and manage to slow down the sick patient.

    My heart is all rock ‘n roll, as I stand astride the bike moments later. The hose exploded and is cut right through – stuck in gear and brakes. I put my stuff down into the deep backhoe trench, away from traffic. It is obviously good-bye to the tube, and I fear the same fate for the tire, because I have no one in reserve. A pick-up truck stops to check if everything is okay. Yes thanks, but no thanks.

    Inside the tire there is an open wound with a little wire sticking out, which will undoubtedly cause more punctures. Am relieved the damage is not worse. That it is brutally hot under the Mexican sun is unnecessary to mention. I cut a piece of blown-up hose and use it as a protective sheath between the new hose and the bad spot inside the tire. Am pretty satisfied with the operation. For safety’s sake (and in the event that angels really exist), I do the cross sign of God before I hit the road again. Heavily sweating. Still with mango strings in my teeth.

    Smooth cycling in southern Chiapas, Mexico.

    Talk to a random Mexican:
    Mexican: Where do you come from today?
    Nicolai: Tapachula.
    Mexican: Wow, how long has it taken?
    Nicolai: 5 hours.
    Mexican: Isn’t it boring?
    Nicolai: No, it’s never boring. I have my music and my thoughts.
    Mexican: Isn’t it hard then?
    Nicolai: Yes, it is. Gotta go.
    Mexican: Have a great trip.
    Nicolai: Thank you, sir.

    Poor boy!

    After 107 km cycling I should have some 25 km to go to Pijijiapan. But a heartbraking road sign says there is still 38 km (which ends up being 42). That news does more evil than one might think.

    Rural Chiapas.

    But I reach the town, whose name has five letters in line with dot above (i and j). Any higher? Fjumse you run yourself too hard now, a voice in me tells me several times.
    I look like a skull and feel more dead than alive when I arrive in town and find Hotel Sabrina. 149 km today. The young hotel maid looks somewhat scared off by the sight of me. I try – despite the total lack of energy – to assure her that I’m okay that I am human all right. But it is hard to hide that I have rarely been so physically exhausted. My eyes seem strangely hollow, the body is flaccid and my trance-like head kicks on maximum 2 cylinders.

    Sunset over Chiapas, Mexico.

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame :-)

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    Day 1.102 – Bienvenido a Mexico!

    Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

    Mazatenango (GT) -> Tapachula (MX)
    Distance (km) : 133
    Time on bike : 5h 56m
    Brutto time: 09.40 – 17.40
    Avg : 22.4 km/h
    Max.speed: 78.2
    Total (km) : 44.714
    Altitude: 200 m
    Difficulty: 3½ of 5

    The Bugger!

    Yeah, frontera Mexico...

    Guatemalan cattle.

    Leaving Guatemala.

    Welcome to Mexico!

    Taco party in Tapachula, Mexico.

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    Day 1.101 – Leaving Antigua

    Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

    Antigua -> Mazatenango
    Distance (km) : 139
    Time on bike : 5h 55m
    Brutto time: 10.00 – 17.15
    Avg : 23.3 km/h
    Max.speed: 65.0
    Total (km) : 44.580
    Altitude: 350 m
    Difficulty: 3½ of 5

    44.444 km. Antigua, Guatemala

    Rock formations between Antigua and Escuintla, Guatemala.

    Fuego.

    Suffocation

    Cow + cowboy.

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    Day 1.100 – A Shopping Frenzy

    Monday, April 13th, 2009

    The Egg Delivery Guys in Antigua.

    Second-hand shopping at Antigua's market.

    It’s time to leave beautiful, lovely Antigua…

    Yeah, so soon, buddy...

    The Arch. Antigua - Guatemala.

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    Top 56 Songs For Rainy Days

    Sunday, April 12th, 2009

    It’s time for another Best Of from Camp WT.

    This list (alphabetically ordered) is a collection of sometimes tearjerking, always beautiful songs that – at certain times of my life – were all important to me, songs that in intricate ways found their way into me and simply stayed there.

    Songs that I feel connected with (in whatever way, for whatever reasons) and that I share a piece of my past with. Songs that might touch you as well, be it on a rainy or a sunny day…

    1 – Adriana Calcanhotto – Devolva-me
    2 – Alceu Valenca – La Belle de Jour
    3 – Antony and the Johnsons – Fistful of Love
    4 – Band of Horses – No One’s Gonna Love You
    5 – Björk – Venus as a Boy
    6 – Blur – The Universal
    7 – Eva Cassidy – Autumn Leaves
    8 – Coldplay – Sparks
    9 – Counting Crows – Colorblind
    10 – Crowded House – Fall At Your Feet
    11 – The Cure – A Letter To Elise
    12 – Dave Matthew’s Band – I’ll Back You Up
    13 – David Gray – Babylon
    14 – dEUS – Nothing Really Ends
    15 – Djavan – Nem Um Dia
    16 – Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach – Painted From Memory
    17 – The Fray – How To Save a Life
    18 – Feist – So Sorry
    19 – Heather Nova – Paper Cup
    20 – Håkan Hellström – Jag hater att jag älsker deg…
    21 – Jeff Buckley – Lover, You Should Have Come Over
    22 – John Legend – Save Room
    23 – John Mayer – Back To You
    24 – Joni Mitchell – River
    25 – José González – Heartbeats
    26 – Josh Rouse – Sad Eyes
    27 – Kashmir – The Aftermath
    28 – Kent – Chans
    29 – The Magic Numbers – I See You, You See Me
    30 – Maria Bethânia – Tá combinado
    31 – Mazzy Star – Fade Into You
    32 – Mono – Life In Mono
    33 – Pearl Jam – Last Kiss
    34 – R.E.M. – Nightswimming
    35 – Radiohead – True Love Waits
    36 – Damien Rice – The Blower’s Daughter
    37 – Ryan Adams – Avalanche
    38 – Sarah Blasko – Flame Trees
    39 – Sophie Zelmani – Going Home
    40 – Antonio Carlos Jobim – Corcovado
    41 – Starsailor – Way To Fall
    42 – Sting – Fields of Gold
    43 – Suede – The 2 Of Us
    44 – Teitur – Josephine
    45 – The The – Love Is Stronger Than Death
    46 – Thomas Dybdahl – From Grace
    47 – Tina Dickow – Room With A View
    48 – Tomas Andersson Wij – Vi Är värda så mycket mer
    49 – Tori Amos – Pretty Good Year
    50 – Tracy Chapman – If Not Now…
    51 – Travis – The Humpty Dumpty Love Song
    52 – U2 – One
    53 – Vanessa Mata & Ben Harper – Boa Sorte (Good Luck)
    54 – The Verve – Sonnet
    55 – Rufus Wainwright – I’m Going To a Town
    56 – Windmill – Fluorescent Lights

    Do enjoy and feel free to drop a comment…

    Nicolai (April, 2009)

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    Day 1.099 – Rainbow Café (DK only)

    Sunday, April 12th, 2009

    Dinner & chill-out in Antigua with Couchsurfing friends...

    Guilloume tequila-shooting at Reilly's Bar, Antigua.

    Reilly's Bar, Antigua - with new friends.

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    Will You Ever Settle Down, Nicolai? (UK)

    Saturday, April 11th, 2009

    I do receive quite a lot of e-mails these days, from people asking various questions about my cycling life (about the preparations, equipment, route-planning, loneliness, best/worst experiences, colour of my undies etc.).

    I do appreciate the interest from all over the world and try to address the questions whenever I have a minute or two available. Recently, I’ve been trying hard to catch up with the present, to get the diary back up-to-date – an attempt that has been poorly lacking words (but a lot of photos!).

    I just got an e-mail from a british guy, David in London, who asked me:

    Do you ever hope to settle down, do you worry that you should have a wife, kids one day. Or will you travel indefinitely. I have worried too much about things and now time is running out!

    In this recent lacuna of words, I’ll post my reply here, in case unlikely event that other people have been wondering along the same lines…


    Hi David…

    Thanks for your words…

    Reg. your questions, I try not to think too much about what’s ahead of me, in terms of my future life, most likely in Denmark, but I try to keep my doors open and am sort of ready for whatever pops up/comes my way.

    I do fancy living in Denmark, at least for a while, once I hit Danish turf, around April 2010.

    My expedition needs all the focus I can afford, which is pretty much why I try not to “plan ahead” etc. I will have wife and kids one day. Absolutely. And this “missing link” in my life does, to be honest, take up more and more mental space on the journey, which is now running for the 4th consecutive year.

    Of course I do think a lot about my family, friends and girlfriend-to-be out here, away from everything that used to constitute “normal life” to me. Instead of actually missing all of that, looking back, thinking: “Shit, it’s been soo long since I’ve been with the people I love and really care about”, I try to look forward and think of it as a present to be opened in the (now not so distant) future.
    I often visualize the actual hugs with friends and family, and that is quite a tearjerker. Crossing the border with Denmark next year will be so immensely emotional to me. Goosebumps all over. :-)

    Get out of that comfy armchair of yours, David and get rolling. Regretting is not part of any bike trip!

    Hope all’s good in London.

    Best regards, Nicolai

    There is a lot more to be said on this matter, naturally, but this is it for now…

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    Day 1.098 – A Word On Jesus (DK only)

    Saturday, April 11th, 2009

    A day at the (mobile) office. Nicolai in Antigua, Guatemala.

    Iglesia La Merced. Antigua, Guatemala.

    Monoloco Bar. Antigua, Guatemala.

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    Day 1.097 – Men In Black & Semana Santa Processions

    Friday, April 10th, 2009

    Running away

    The Peanut Man. Antigua - Guatemala.

    Antigua city scene.

    Selling dulce stuff in Antigua.

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala.

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala.

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala.

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala

    The Tortilla Woman.

    Something cooking...

    Food stalls at night. Antigua, Guatemala.

    The long and very impressive processions kept going all through the night. There is something indefinitely spooky about all these men dressed in black, right?

    Semana Santa processions at night in Antigua, Guatemala

    Semana Santa processions at night in Antigua, Guatemala

    Semana Santa processions at night in Antigua, Guatemala

    Phew! Intense day. And all that just because of this bloke:

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala

    Amen!

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    Photo Album From Nicaragua

    Thursday, April 9th, 2009

    It’s been a sort of busy day in WT world for me. Preparations for the 3-year birthday tomorrow (10APR2009), I guess we can call that kind of busy. A new photo album from lovely Nicaragua is ready.

    You know the game. 3 options as follows:

    1. Nicaragua photo album as slideshow

    2. Nicaragua photo album as a standard presentation.

    3. See the album below:

    Do enjoy!

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    Day 1.096 – Alfombras

    Thursday, April 9th, 2009

    Street musician in Antigua.

    Another day of wifi, cruising around the delightful fairytale town that is Antigua, snacking from the street vendors, partying.

    Creating alfombras (flower carpets) in Antigua for the semana santa (easter) celebrations...

    Creating alfombras (flower carpets) in Antigua for the semana santa (easter) celebrations...

    Stuffed tortillas in the streets of Antigua.

    Creating alfombras (flower carpets) in Antigua for the semana santa (easter) celebrations...

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    Day 1.095 – The Day With More Than 24 Hours (UK)

    Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

    Unfortunately, there’s no room for words today. The number of photos will explain why.

    Sculptural images ready for the street processions. Antigua, Guatemala.

    Sculptural images ready for the street processions. Antigua, Guatemala.

    Today happens to be my dad’s birthday (62) as well, which I confirmed through a Skype birthday call back home to my old man.

    Antigua Man.

    Sculptural images ready for the street processions. Antigua, Guatemala.

    Beautiful Antigua.

    Plaza in Antigua.

    Mayan woman doing the laudry...

    Iglesia de Hermano Pedro, Antigua - Guatemala.

    The Mango Woman. Antigua, Guatemala.

    The Fish Woman.

    The Fruit Woman.

    Maya woman surrounded by veggies and fruits...

    Antigua Market...

    Convento de la Recolección. Antigua.

    The Firewood Family.

    I hope he was just really hungover...

    Street vendor in Antigua.

    Street vendor in Antigua.

    Veggie shopping in Antigua.

    Flores.

    Flower Women in Antigua.

    …and because it’s not all about women:

    Sun protection, Guatemala style.

    Beautiful Antigua.

    Working out in Antigua Gym...

    Volcán Agua from Antigua.

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala.

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala.

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala.

    Am wondering if today, April 8th 2009, really had only 24 hours…

    Me and Danish Henrik, the proud owner of Reilly's Irish Bar in Antigua.

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    Photo Album From Costa Rica is out…

    Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

    I’m back with more visuals from Central America. Please enjoy.

    See my favourite photos (60) from Costa Rica as a slideshow (best in full-screen mode) right here!

    …as a traditional Flickr presentation here!

    …or watch them below:

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    Day 1.094 – Delirium Tremens? (UK)

    Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

    Mosaics at the Iglesia de San Francisco, Antigua - Guatemala.

    At 9AM I wake up to some small tremblings in my body. Hell’s bells, did I really drink that much last night. I just turned 33 and now delirium tremens hits me badly…

    Luckily, I soon realize that it’s not just my slightly hung over body but the whole house that’s trembling. Xela, the dog with the longest legs ever seen on a dog, barks as does the dog next door. Our four-legged friends (cats included) sense things like this way better/earlier than we do. Respect.

    The tremblings continue for 30 seconds and then everything is still, dogs shut up. Tremblings like these are quite normal here in Antigua and no one really seems to care about them. It is a serious reminder, though, who’s got that last killer hand in the classic poker fight between man/culture vs. Earth/nature…

    Antigua, Guatemala.

    Iglesia de San Francisco, Antigua - Guatemala.

    Otherwise, it’s a quiet and relaxing day for me in Antigua. Wifi from the nearby Y Tu Piña Tambien Café, a visit to the San Francisco Church and another not-so-crazy night out with Jorge…

    Mosaics at the Iglesia de San Francisco, Antigua - Guatemala.

    Iglesia de San Francisco, Antigua - Guatemala.

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    The Quiet Dane – a short story

    Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

    I met Bill Nelson first time in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2007 and again in Wellington, NZ in 2008, where he kindly hosted me for a few days in the Kiwi capital.

    Bill has written a travel article, The Quiet Dane, that he submitted for a writing contest. It was his first travel story ever, and he came a very fine runner up in the category New Travel Writer of the Year. Big congrats to Bill!

    It’s a great little story and you should definitely have a go at it here (down at the bottom)

    And yes, The Quiet Dane is me, Nicolai Bangsgaard, and being the main character of that story puts a proud feather in my hat…

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    Day 1.093 – Birthday in Antigua

    Monday, April 6th, 2009

    Plaza Central, Antigua.

    It’s my birthday today. 33. Little did I know that it turned out to be one long (some 18 hours!) series of different settings with different people, when Jorge woke me up at 8AM with a birthday cake, the Danish flag (tradition back home, nationalists you may call us Danes :-) ) and a cup of tea – a the first line of Happy Birthday…

    My birthday lunch beautifully prepared by friend Matthew. Antigua, Guatemala.

    In the afternoon, Jorge and I are invited for lunch at Irish guy Matthew’s house together with Patricia from Guatemala City. Chilling in and at the pool afterwards, with a cold stubby in the hand, is a fine way to celebrate your birthday.

    Enjoying a birthday beer at the pool...

    The locals are still getting more and more into their alfombras (flowers carpets) making…

    Preparing the "alfombras" (flower carpets) for the Semana Santa (Easter Holiday) in Antigua, Guatemala.

    Xela, the house dog. Yes, very long-legged, very weird position.

    Xela, the dog with long legs...

    Buying sweets from the local street vendors...

    Sunset over the mountains west of Antigua on April 6th 2009, my B-day.

    Sunset over the mountains west of Antigua on April 6th 2009, my B-day.

    Birthday drink at Sky Café, Antigua - Guatemala.

    Birthday dinner in Antigua.

    At night it’s movie night in the house where Jorge and I live. Jorge’s invited people from here and there, and in the end some 18 people show up for the Woody Allen-movie (Vicky. Cristina. Barcelona).

    Movie night in the house...

    Now that’s what I call celebration and a big thank you to Jorge, Matthew and friends for setting it all up so beautifully.

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    WT article in Danish paper (Danish only)

    Sunday, April 5th, 2009

    As has been the norm every fortnight over the last three years, I had a WT-article in the national paper MetroXpress last Friday. It’s all in Danish, but here goes anyway…


    MetroXpress 03APR2009, Part 1

    MetroXpress 03APR2009, Part 2

    Metro 1

    Metro 2

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    Day 1.092 – Nocturnal Debauchery (UK)

    Sunday, April 5th, 2009

    0 km etc.

    Café Y Tu Piña Tambien, Antigua - Guatemala.

    Antigua, Guatemala.

    Mayan girl in Antigua, Guatemala.

    Jorge and I at the Reilly's Bar...

    Los Daneses in Antigua.

    The last day as a 32-year old turns out to be a mad mix of pictoresque religiousness and nocturnal debauchery in the Reilly’s Irish Bar, strangely enough, run by Danish guy Henrik who’s not tight-fisted when it comes to the Tequila Shot Rounds that are deliberately poured into the guests’ (mine, most importantly!) mouths from the bartenders standing on the bar.

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala. Spooky, ehh?

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala. Spooky, ehh?

    All bars officially shut down at 01AM here in Antigua. Thank God for that, ‘coz I was already hammered when Jorge and I stumbled home at that time. Those tequila shots, those tequila shots. It’s going to be a funny B-day for me tomorrow, I reckon…

    Semana Santa processions in Antigua, Guatemala.

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    Log updated

    Saturday, April 4th, 2009

    36 WT countries in 36 months. Makes it easy to figure out the average time spent in each country, right…

    Updated log

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    Day 1.091 – B/W (UK)

    Saturday, April 4th, 2009

    0 km etc.

    Plaza Central, Antigua.

    I feel all black/white today. Revisiting Antigua is great, and it’s just as beautiful and colonial as I remember from my two weeks back in 1998.

    Plaza Central, Antigua.

    Tune of the Day: Use Somebody – Kings of Leon

    Cathedral, Antigua - Guatemala.

    Lots of cervezas, cubas and laughter with my old friend, Jorge. In the house and in Antigua’s healthy night life…La Vie Douce.

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    Day 1.090 – Reunion in Antigua…(UK)

    Friday, April 3rd, 2009

    Escuintla -> Antigua
    Distance (km) : 38
    Time on bike : 2h 34m
    Brutto time: 08.15 – 12.00
    Avg : 14.7 km/h
    Max.speed: 42.8
    Total (km) : 44.441
    Altitude: 1.530m
    Difficulty: 1½ of 5

    Ugly Escuintla.

    People queing up in front of my hotel in Escuintla, Guatemala.

    Kids playing soccer in Ciudad Vieja, Guatemala.

    Oldies but goodies.

    Drink stop in Ciudad Vieja, outside of Antigua.

    Ciudad Vieja, Guatemala.

    Ciudad Vieja, Guatemala.

    Welcome to Antigua!

    I met Jorge (Danish=Jørgen) first time back in the autumn of 1997 when we were both looking for a travel mate. We met up a few times and soon decided to go to Latinamerica together. And so in November 1997 we flew to Mexico City and travelled all the way down to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil over the next 6 months. Jorge has been living in Antigua, Guatemala since September and has invited me to come and stay with him in the house where he rents a room.

    Jorge and I in Antigua!

    Preparing the "alfombras" (flower carpets) for the Semana Santa (Easter Holiday) in Antigua, Guatemala.

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    Day 1.089 – Guatemala In My Hand

    Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

    Acajutla (ES) -> Escuintla (G)
    Distance (km) : 156
    Time on bike : 6h 50m
    Brutto time: 08.00 – 17.40
    Avg : 22.8 km/h
    Max.speed: 87.7
    Total (km) : 44.403
    Altitude: 350m
    Difficulty: 4 of 5

    Border bound!

    I completely surpass myself and my own expectations today. Crazy day. 156 km and nearly 7 hours constant pedal-pushing. Over the last 6 days, I’ve cycled 707 km now. On a mission.

    Farmer, El Salvador.

    Street market in Cara Sucia (Dirty Face) - El Salvador.

    In Cara Sucia in the western most part of El Salvador, I have a drink stop. As usual, the lady in the shop reaches for the plastic bag and a straw for my juice. I immediately stop her semi-automatic default costumer act and tell her that I don’t need either of them. “Así va ser menos basura en la naturaleza, verdad?” (This way there’ll be less rubbish in our Nature, right?), I tell her educationally. “Si, verdad!“, the lady confirms and looks half-surprised, half-smiling at me as if I’d just invented the ecologically spotless soup plate…

    Crabs up for grabs.

    Western El Salvador.

    Cutting through...

    I reach Guatemala, my WT-country #36, after 36 months of travelling.

    Bienvenidos a Guatemala!

    I’ve become so goddamned used to the terrible smell of carcasses in the road side that my nose is now able to tell a dead dog from a dead horse/cow from a dead snake (relatively odour-free), from a dead kangaroo, from a dead vulture. Admittedly, it’s is a fairly macabre quality to refine, and I could easily live without, but you gotta take the rough with the smoothe, and three years of seeing/smelling road kills has given me this delicate “distinguishing ability”. I’ll spare you the visuals this time!

    Nice Guatemalan country side...

    Tune of the Day: I Could Be Nothing - Great Lake Swimmers

    This man, Mainor Orlando, gave me a drink in return for a few road side stories...

    Rural settlement, eastern Guatemala.

    Night snacking in Escuintla, Guatemala.

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    Day 1.088 – Eating habits & 80s Pop (UK)

    Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

    La Libertad -> Acajutla
    Distance (km) : 86
    Time on bike : 3h 53m
    Brutto time: 09.40 – 15.00
    Avg : 22.2 km/h
    Max.speed: 60.8
    Total (km) : 44.247
    Altitude: 10m
    Difficulty: 2½ of 5

    Playa La Libertad, El Salvador.

    Brekkie at the veranda in La Libertad.

    Unless I’m not eating solo (which practically is always), I prefer having something to read in front of me. Newspapers, books, maps, nutricional ingredient labels etc. Just letters. This morning I was amused to see that my müsli bought in Nicaragua has honey bee in it.

    Did I really eat honey bee?

    The Skinny Dog, El Zonte - El Salvador.

    When I left La Libertad this morning, I was sure that I was just heading some 20 km further west to one of the black sand beaches that dot the coastline named Costa del Bálsamo. Need a rest. But somehow I convinced myself that this ain’t no beach holiday, but a cycling expedition, and thus I did what I always do, and continued towards Guatemala after a visit at the Playa El Zonte. Black sand beaches never really did the trick to me anyway…

    Playa El Zonte, El Salvador.

    Túnel #1 out of 5 on today's cycling in southern El Salvador.

    Great coastal cycling in El Salvador.

    Plant + Sea

    Thought:


    It’s going to be such a mayor change in my life when I get back to Denmark when suddenly I don’t have to think about constant progress, movement, filling up water bottles, reading maps, applying sun block on my shoulders, planning the next food stop, recharching batteries for my army of electronic gadgets, and hundred of other, small quotidian things that make up my life these years. To suddenly focus on something that is not (directly?) connected to WT and my egoistic solo project. Am somehow looking forward to that, and yet I know that getting back to Denmark, getting used to non-movement (or maybe creating another sort of movement, ‘coz movement I do like) will be an even greater challenge for me than the physical ardours and joys of WT that I’ve become used to by now. Weird thought.

    Acajutla town scene, El Salvador.

    It’s not that it’s all new to me in Central America, but 80s pop seems to be the only thing that really matters on the music scene here in El Salvador. From car stereos, front porches, markets, and busses you hear all the classics from the 1980s. Blondie, Scorpions, Whitney and what not. Funny, that 80s pop obsession, or maybe they are just a bit slow and suave around here? What do I know…

    Coffee time!

    So far, my 4 nights in El Salvador has cost me 26 USD, haggled down from a total of 33 USD. (5->4, 8->7, 10->7, and 10->8, for the record). Standard has been (surprisingly) low, but still somehow acceptable. But hey, at 6.50 USD/night on average, I’m not complaining.

    Acajutla town scene, El Salvador.

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