1 0 Posts from: March, 2012
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Bikes rule in El Salvador

Posted by on March 28th, 2012 9 Comments

As we’ve begun to learn, crossing into a new country usually means you will have a change in traffic types and road conditions. El Salvador was no different – after the border we were greeted by a wide road with a five-foot smoothly paved shoulder, and an astounding amount of bicycle traffic – with almost more bikes than cars! Bicycle repair shops seemed to dot the side of the road, and we saw one at least every 10km our first day in the country. It was amazing to see so many people using this mode of transportation to move between small towns, usually carrying wood or supplies, or even their children or their spouse and baby on one bicycle. Most of these cyclists would keep a pretty leisurely pace, so it would usually be a surprise when we overtook them with ease on our enormous rigs. Maybe it was the cycling culture in El Salvador, or maybe the people there just have a competitive attitude, but we began to notice that sometimes the folks we passed would start to put a little more effort into it and whiz by us a few minutes later. It was great fun having these spirited little races with school kids and teenagers who were always determined to out-cycle us – and even more fun playing silent games of ‘leap-frog’ with the adults who obviously felt the same way.

March 04 2012 DSC 7877 548x279 Bikes rule in El Salvador

A series of six tunnels took the edge off some of the climbs.

We met up with the Pacific again on our second day in this fine country, once more hugging the coastal cliffs with their challenging climbs. We had last seen the beach weeks ago in Mexico, so we were shooting for a rest day in El Zonte, a small town with a reportedly relaxed scene and great surf. We were pretty certain it was about 80km away, meaning a rather long day for us considering the hills we anticipated. Early in the day, a pick-up truck pulls up along side us and the woman offers us a ride to our destination. It was tempting, but we didn’t see a reason to cut out a day of riding with potentially beautiful views.

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The Evolution of Independence

Posted by on March 19th, 2012 10 Comments
January 25 2012 DSC 7113 548x266 The Evolution of Independence

Hammock time

From the moment a child enters this world they are on a continual mission to gain independence from their parents. It’s not easy at first – in fact, they are completely helpless as infants and parents must do everything for them, sacrificing significant time, energy, and precious sleep. But ever so slowly, something magical happens. Children begin to do things on their own! From simply rolling over, to walking, eating, speaking, and using the bathroom on their own, the list of independent actions grows and grows with each passing moment.

DSC 6474 548x359 The Evolution of Independence

Not too long ago, helpless Harper let Eden read him stories. Now he won't sit still long enough icon smile The Evolution of Independence

Witnessing this evolution as a parent, you feel a great sense of pride. A rather strange and new type of pride that is both born of excitement over your child’s accomplishment, as well as the knowledge that it was you who helped bring them to that point of independence. This sense of pride grows with each new stage of development and is often accompanied by an equally strong feeling of relief – “Wow, I never again have to change their diaper! Or brush their teeth!” Every month and every year your responsibilities as a parent change. Slowly, your form of assistance progresses from being mostly physical in nature to more of an emotional, spiritual, and intellectual guidance – “Mommy, I’m sad.” Or “Daddy, how did that baby get into that mommy’s belly?”

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The Highlands of Guatemala

Posted by on March 15th, 2012 3 Comments

February 27 2012 DSC 7684 548x316 The Highlands of Guatemala

Lago de Atitlan in Guatemala, often dubbed the prettiest lake in the world, certainly took our breath away. The lake itself sits in the massive crater of an ancient volcano, and many more volcanoes fill the views across the water. A smattering of small, unique villages packed with tourists, ex-pats, and indigenous Mayan peoples ring the shores of this amazing body of water.

We woke in our hotel room eager to hit up a restaurant for breakfast, one of our favourite meals to eat twice. We were enthusiastic because Panajachel, like many tourist towns, caters to travellers with tastes for foods from all over the world. Most of the time we are drawn to the local food, but when the scent of cinnamon rolls, pancakes and strong coffee hit our olfactory nerves, we grabbed a seat at a trendy cafe. This marked our first breakfast, which, while very good in taste, was a little small in portion and a little large in price for cyclists on a budget. So we sought out another restaurant where we enjoyed healthier portions of beans and tortillas and hotcakes and eggs. Our appetites finally tamed, we returned to the hotel to do some chores like laundry, bike maintenance and running out for groceries. Walking back, we passed one of the many travel agencies that run shuttles to nearby cities – including one to Antigua, which we planned to visit in a few days. We had been toying with braving the hills to Antigua on our bikes, or once again hopping a chicken bus to get there, but after comparing prices and services (the shuttle would pick us and our gear up from our hotel and drop us off at our camping spot in Antigua) we opted for the shuttle instead. If anything, it was a chance to experience another form of transit.

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Potholes, Chicken Buses and Lanchas, Oh My!

Posted by on March 11th, 2012 3 Comments

How can I attempt to claim an experience in a country I only spent nine days in? Certainly our time in Guatemala flew by, with new experiences around every corner and so much left undiscovered that we are thoroughly enticed to return again in the future. We could easily spend two months in this country and not get bored.

February 26 2012 DSC 7616 548x253 Potholes, Chicken Buses and Lanchas, Oh My!

Lago de Atitlan at dusk.

Our first full day in Guatemala we travelled from Coatepaque to Mazatenango on rough, wide roads dotted with potholes, dancing with enormous trucks overloaded with sugar cane and seemingly endless quantities of ‘chicken buses.’ These amazing vehicles are colourfully decorated, totally pimped out old American school buses living a full second life down here in Central America. Instead of being used solely for school-based travel, down here, they form the base of many people’s daily, local, and long-distance transportation needs.

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Crossing Borders

Posted by on March 4th, 2012 6 Comments

While taking a few simple pedal strokes from one state or country into the next may not change the scenery at all, to a long distance bicycle tourist, it marks a major milestone and sense of accomplishment – as well as a new burst excitement and energy for the trip as a whole. We felt this when we crossed the Mississippi in the first month of our trip, when we reached the Pacific Coast in the Fall, when we crossed into Mexico near Christmas – and even more so entering Guatemala, our first Central American country, a few days ago.

February 15 2012 DSC 7405 548x232 Crossing Borders

We had been counting down the days until the Guatemalan border throughout our last week in Mexico. We cruised through our last day in the state of Oaxaca, heading towards the state of Chiapas over flat roads and through fields of wind farms – both of which are usually a clear indication of one of our worst enemies – strong headwinds. But not on this day! Fortunately for us, the windmills stood still as we rode by at a healthy 25km per hour, covering the distance from Juchitan to Zanatepec in record time. Here we were warmly greeted by Warmshowers hosts Rodrigo and Lupita and their two young sons Ethan (3) and Mateo (1). The four of them took us around their town that evening – Eden and Harper especially loved the children’s activities in the Centro such as a trampoline and electric toy cars they could ride around in circles. Mexican towns and cities really come alive at night, so this was something we truly enjoyed as we rarely explore much after sunset.

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