When did the sun set on the easier times?

23 Feb
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Huanchaca, Peru

Don’t take this post the wrong way, this is not a moan, it’s our observations on a very real part of this type of travel and before we left UK we promised ourselves our blog would always be honest. We consider ourselves to be incredibly fortunate to be doing this trip but we’ve been asking ourselves recently, ‘when did this trip suddenly get so much harder’? Because it has. Looking back over our blog posts it would be easy when reading them from a distance to think it was all sunshine and roses. So when did it change? Was it on the long straight roads of Patagonia with their strong winds in Southern Argentina that it became harder work?SouthAmericaContinent What about the rough ripio roads of the Carretera Austral in Chile or the Atacama Desert further north with its extreme dry heat? No, none of the above. It seems to us that it was when we got into Bolivia and Peru. It has to do with a variety of factors and perhaps it’s useful to write about it for others embarking on a similar trip. We crossed into Bolivia (& then Peru) after about 3 months on the road. In that first three months in Argentina and Chile we never really got fatigued other than a bit knackered at the end of a particularly hot days ride. However things have changed a bit.We’re not youngsters anymore (just like to think we are) and the altitude has affected us as has the heat and humidity on the coastal plains & cities – it’s one or the other at this time of the year in Bolivia and Peru. Perhaps we underestimated fatigue as part of ‘Adventure Travel’; actually I don’t think we ever really considered it. It seems to us that the thing that gets to us is keeping the daily routine going.

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Trunquillo, Peru

So what exactly is this daily routine that is exhausting us: Get up, don heavy hot bike gear, eat breakfast (or try to find a café that sells breakfast), check the room carefully to ensure nothing is left behind, pack everything back into your bags, load the bike then it’s away – maybe tarmac, maybe not, usually hot and sweaty and boy is that sun bright! Try to find somewhere to get lunch (not as easy as it sounds especially in Bolivia in small poor villages in the mountains unless you want Fanta or Coke), arrive in next town between 2 pm and 4 pm in the heat of the day, try to find the hostel you looked at on the internet the night before (if you had internet) and in Bolivia and Peru the street level satnav mapping isn’t good anymore so just finding it is a challenge. Has it got safe parking and is it clean and cheap.If the first hostel is not good ride around town to find another in the heat and traffic trying not to get wiped out by a mad taxi driver. Either park the bike easily or all too often, wrestle it into a hotel foyer or up a big kerb and through a few obstacles into a courtyard. Unpack the bike again, get covered in the dust and dirt that your bags are covered in, lug your stuff up at least one flight of stairs, collapse on the bed and then rouse yourself for a shower. Where are we going to eat? Into the town that you don’t know and try and make up your mind (between 2 of you!) what you want to eat (toss up between pizza and chicken/rice) when in fact you actually don’t really feel like eating. If there’s a kitchen in the hostal it’s off to find the market to buy stuff then cook it. Eat, quick walk around the town, back to the hotel/hostal/backpackers and put helmet intercoms, cameras, laptop etc on charge. Download the day’s photos/video, maybe prepare a blog post. Look at map, choose destination and route for the next day, have a quick look on wifi (if it isn’t too slow) for at least one hostel to start off with when you arrive, go to sleep (if the constant traffic noise and tooting of horns allows it). Repeat. Not every day is like this but you get the picture. The heat is a major factor, it drains you. Also in Bolivia and Peru (when outside major tourist centres) everything is just a bit more difficult than in Argentina and Chile. So that’s travel fatigue for us. Nothing to do with being fed up seeing new things & meeting nice people but a combination of factors revolving around the daily routine – the effects are not to be underestimated. Long distance adventure biking is not like going to Europe for a couple of weeks camping or on an organised tour with comfy hotels at the end of the day. It is more of a way of life that after the initial freedom rush wears off and takes time to adjust to. After all, if it was easy it wouldn’t be ‘Adventure Travel’. Would we swap it, no. Have we actively considered the easy option of returning to UK and our comfy easy home life, yes, more than once. Will we, no! So we keep riding, ever northwards, and we keep looking after each other; that’s really important. The Central American countries with their notoriously difficult border crossings are fast approaching so we brace ourselves and make 20 copies of every document we have with us! Now, let’s have a look at booking.com – where can we stay tomorrow night and what’s for lunch – Fanta or Coke?

17 Replies to “When did the sun set on the easier times?

  1. Hi Guys, you sound abit down and in need to recharge those batteries. You’ve worked hard over the last 3 months. Working at altitude is not fun especially as you’re not local to the area and as you have highlighted that bike is now over a quarter of a tonne.

    Take a few days off it sounds like you need to

    Stay safe now

    Cheers, Dave

  2. If it was easy everyone would be doing it. Stay positive guy’s you’ll look back on this as the achievement of a lifetime and we’re all very proud of you!
    All the best!

    Bill

  3. Hang in there guys. I am sure you will remember this for a very long time. You will be able to look back with pleasure at all of your high and low points. Very envious

  4. Hi guys. Thanks for being honest. I guess that’s the difference between holiday and travelling. The awesome days are way more awesome then a week all in in some resort, the awfull days are way more afwull… Don’t underestimate the effects of the altitude on man and bike. And remember: you are living a unique adventure which is making you wiser every day! Try to enjoy it again. Go with the flow (easier said then done, I know). Take care and be safe!

    • Hey Karolien, great to hear from you. Hope the weather in Belgium is being kind to you and the depths of winter are not too harsh. Keep looking after that lovely V-Strom of yours; the good riding weather will be back soon enough 🙂

  5. It was never going to be all Sun and Smiles !! My only useful advice [if you can do it] is to at least once a month stop for 2 or 3 days. Find a washing machine !! Rest !! Have a Beer or two – Build up your obvious enthusiasm all over again – and get back in the saddle !!

    • Thanks Paul. Yes you’re right and that’s the approach we’re going to take more in the future (starting with a 4 night stop here in Huanchaco Peru). After all, we’ve got a year. (Now where’s that beer of mine gone) 🙂

  6. Thank you for such an honest blog. Life is full of highs and lows and your adventure really is a trip of a life time. Hopefully there are more highs on the horizon. Keep looking after each other, if you’re lucky someone may throw dandelion & burdock into the mix!
    Love you lots. Xx

  7. He guy’s, we do know exactly what you are going through mate, whilst posted to Texas I had a really rough time with deployment after deployment nearly 9 months solid (Sarah was hanging off the ceiling – big house, swimming pool, tonnes of money but on her own) Surprisingly post an Op in Ukraine my SO1 grabbed me and told me that I could take a 6 week break and head-off anywhere. We packed our ppl carrier and the kids and off we went. Over the next 6 weeks we drove over 5000 miles (San Antonio, El Paso, Phoenix, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Las Vegas, Death Valley, Zion Canyon, Sacremento, San Francisco,San Jose, Montaray, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, San Diego, Palm Springs and then home via pheonix again, despite the fact it was only 6 weeks and we were in an air conditioned vehicle and staying in nice hotel’s and visiting ‘all the key attractions’ we were all totally knackered when we got back to San Antonio – the fatigue and additional stress brought about by being on the bike, in the heat will be immense. You most definitely need to find a reasonable location with good security and stop for up to 3 days to totally recharge the batteries, spend a whole day in bed vegging (and whatever else comes up) and the get back in the saddle or may I suggest you’ll get to the point of no return or worse still. I would give just about anything to be there with you, the whole trip looks and sounds absolutely awesome and I think it is probably true to say you’ve done the least attractive bit first thank goodness’ and as many have said before me “something you’ll both remember for the rest of your lives” Stay strong, stay safe and most importantly stay happy” Love you guy’s David & Sarah xx

    • Wow that was some trip, no wonder you were knackered. Many thanks for the words of encouragement and the overwhelming advice from people is as you say, take a break. SO we have and we’re going to total 4 nights here in Huanchaco Peru in a quiet safe hostel on the beach. We’re doing a lot of reading and laying in !

    • We see where you’re coming from Jack; now there’s an expression I haven’t heard in a while (can make it 7 p’s but that would be rude!) It’s certainly true that prior preparation etc is really important and when we prep’d for this trip we were also trying to be careful not to overplan it as we wanted a trip with flexibility and spontaneity so we concentrated our P’s on making sure the bike and kit were all good and noting a list of places we thought we’d like to see on the way – other than that, no real route, just a start and end point. What we have found though is we couldn’t have anticipated the effort in the heat and being closer to 60 than 55 has had an impact – in my mind I am still super fit, do lots of sports, have the body of a greek god and ….you get the idea – and I was wrong!

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