Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Argentina And Chile - solo
Raul will cycle Chile and Argentina solo. I decided to pull out.
Why? As we kept saying from the very beginning of this trip it has never been about destination. But we had to choose two points on the map to draw the line of the journey between them.
When we left Alaska two and a half year ago, we had countless number of turns and junction ahead. That's the beauty of a road trip – freedom of choice, lack of routine, spontaneity. We rarely turned down invitations from locals; we would stop in the middle of the day just because someone invited us for 'chicha' or stay a day longer in a village, because Dona Maria promised to cook local speciality for us or her children wanted to show as their hideout in the forest. We would take longer ride just because someone told us that there is something beautiful to see that none of the guidebooks talk about. We would stay longer in a town just because we like its vibes or there was a local party coming up.
Neither was it about cycling, at least not for me. It was always about travelling freely. To be honest I had very serious doubts about 'the whole bike thing' at the beginning. But now, with no doubt, I can say that bike is the best vehicle to really be there with the environment and with the people, to truly experience the place, not just look at it. Cycling lets one engage fully with the surroundings. Whether it's uphill or downhill, whether is hot or cold, rainy or windy (or both ;)), whether we pass through the most stunning canyon or in between traffic that follows no rules in La Paz, whether it smells pine forest or sh.t – we feel it all, with all our seances. But the most beautiful is the experience with people; bikes have opened for us many doors and even more hearts. This trip was the best lesson of human generosity and kindness. Ans I'm sure no other vehicle would give the same experience.
However, few months ago we noticed Ushuaia on the map. The destination, the end of the trip, became an obvious part of it. And it wouldn't be a problem, if it wasn't for the fact that each day it was gaining more importance. Soon we realized that if we want to arrive to Ushuaia on time (there is a very small gap of good weather), we have to speed up. To do so we even decided, for the first time, to take a bus in Peru, which I didn't like at all; it was killing the spirit of the trip. And yet counting days and kilometres we realized that we are still too slow. We started to turn down invitations, we couldn't afford to 'waste' time to wait for a fiesta that is in few days time, we had to plan how far to go each day in order to make 'the minimum daily distance' etc. The priorities switched; it was more about reaching Ushuaia by bike rather than about the journey. And I didn't like it, didn't like it at all. I didn't want to cycle across Chile and Argentina in order to reach Ushuaia, I wanted to experience those places. So I decided to pull out. I might be back one day. And then I'll start from Ushuaia and go North. This way I'll have all the time I need to explore. Free again.
Raul keeps cycling. The fact is that he is faster then me, so by making a bit more kilometres every day he is 'saving' more time for exploration. Yet he has to keep Ushuaia in mind; he has to speed up significantly. But he still have the strength and determination to do so. However I doubt he'll find much time to share his stories with us. I'll however post sometimes on his behalf on Facebook, just to let you guys know, how is he doing. And we'll definitely post pictures from Peru and Bolivia some time in near future.