Cycling
Roads to ruins

Roads to ruins

In every bike tour, whether two weeks or (like this one) two years, there comes a point when the cyclist realises that the best riding is behind them. It’s not that there aren’t stretches of splendid cycling ahead, because there often are; and it’s not that the countries themselves don’t hold plenty of off-bike appeal,...
Say what?

Say what?

On New Year’s Day in 1994, a group of masked, armed men entered San Cristóbal de las Casas, the capital of the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, and seized control of the city. Similar attacks followed in other nearby towns, plunging Chiapas into chaos. Initially caught off guard, the Mexican army eventually pushed the rebels...
The bit in the middle - Cycling through Honduras, El Salvador & Guatemala

The bit in the middle – Cycling through Honduras, El Salvador & Guatemala

When you fall ill with symptoms you don’t fully recognise, the worst thing you can do is search for those symptoms on the internet. Within five minutes, you’ll be seriously sick. Within ten, you’ll have developed a rare and lethal form of cancer. And within a quarter of an hour, you’ll have convinced yourself that...
Come the revolution

Come the revolution

The Museum of the Revolution sits in a plum location opposite the cathedral on the main square in León, Nicaragua’s second city. Designed in the 1930s as a telecommunications centre, the building was later used as a judicial court under the US-backed dictatorial regime of Anastasio Somoza. Between them, Somoza and his two sons ruled...
The gold mine

The gold mine

Although Corcovado has been a national park for nearly 40 years, it was only in February that the Costa Rican authorities insisted all visitors must be accompanied by a guide. (Above, that’s Ruth with ours, the excellent Rodolfo.) The main reason is the obvious one. Many experienced hikers have trekked successfully through Corcovado, but a...
Knowing when to stop

Knowing when to stop

On a long bicycle tour, some bike-free breaks naturally suggest themselves. There are cities in which to pause and explore (Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, La Paz, Quito and Medellín, among others). There are diversions, best visited on there-and-back trips aboard trains and boats and planes (Iguazu Falls, Argentine Patagonia, Santiago and Valparaíso, Peru’s...
In Panama

In Panama

Panamá, Panamá, Panamá. So good they named it thrice. In what might be useful pub-quiz knowledge if Latin America had such a thing as pub quizzes, the country, its largest province and its capital city all share the same name. Granted, this useless trivia isn’t the most interesting thing about what the anglophone world knows...
Month 14

Month 14

10 August – 9 September 2014 Countries Colombia, Panama & Costa Rica (total 11) Distance 1,450.86km (total 16,007.16km) Climb 12,542m (total 155,127m) Longest day 147.17km, Santiago de Tolú to Cartagena de Indias in Colombia (longest so far: 160.11km) Top speed 66.5kmh (fastest so far: 67.4kmh) Punctures 1 (total 24; Will leads 17-7) Touring cyclists encountered...
South America redux

South America redux

click here for a larger version of the map Continents 1 Countries 9 Nights 408 Days of cycling 186 Distance 15,297.62km Climb 148,577m 100km days 49 Punctures 23 Broken spokes 4 Chains 5 Touring cyclists encountered 66 Passport stamps accumulated 56 Bottles of sunscreen used 8 Socks lost 3 Headphones broken 5 Hospitals & medical...
Four exports

Four exports

Much of Colombia’s contribution to the world’s second largest single-product marketplace is cultivated in a sizeable chunk of land in the centre of the country. Hilly paisaje located at a suitable altitude (between 1,000m and 1,800m above sea level) and blessed with a temperate climate (sunny, regular rainfall, highs around 18-23°C), the region has long...
The opposite of dancing

The opposite of dancing

Like most people who pass through, I took some dance classes in the Colombian city of Cali (tourist tagline: World Capital of Salsa). They were held at sunset in the attic studio of the pool house at our hostel, orange light flickering through mango leaves to finger the towers of downtown below. (Somehow, I fancied...
Month 13

Month 13

10 July – 9 August 2014 Countries Colombia (total 9) Distance 964.51km (total 14,556.30km) Climb 16,422m (total 142,585m) Longest day 136.57km, Popayán to Cali in Colombia (longest so far: 160.11km) Top speed 65.3kmh (fastest so far: 67.4kmh) Punctures 1 (total 23; Will leads 16-7) Touring cyclists encountered 1 (total 65) Planes 2 (total 6) Most...