Christmas Note From Camp WT (UK)
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)
On this day..
Day 1.354 - The Signature Pizza (UK) Dag 1.354 - Pizza (UK)- 2009 Milestones Updated Milepælene opdateret- 2009 Day 989 - Squid Dag 989 - Blæksprutte- 2008 Day 624 - Torquay -> Leopold... Dag 624 - Torquay -> Leopold- 2007 Day 258 - "Would You Pass Me The Sun Screen, mum?" Dag 258 - "Gider du række mig solcremen, mor?"- 2006