Wandering
Song of the South

Song of the South

To a European visitor, no part of the US feels more foreign than the South. This is not a matter of landscape or geography but of attitude. The South feels different because, for reasons both quantifiable and intangible, it is different, and because those who live there are happy to see those differences – their...
It's too late to stop now - A week in New Orleans

It’s too late to stop now – A week in New Orleans

Crossing the border from Mexico into the US six weeks ago felt like the end of… something. Leaving the Spanish-speaking Americas didn’t signal the climax of our trip; at the time, we still had more than 4,000km to ride. Even so, more than at any other border crossing, we sensed we were leaving behind a...
In Oaxaca

In Oaxaca

It takes a stubborn cyclist to tour through Mexico without taking in the city of Oaxaca de Juárez. The alternative routes through the country to the north are apparently a bore, while bypassing the city to the south requires an extended visit to the troubled state of Guerrero. It’s not quite correct to say that...
Feliz Navidad, una vez más

Feliz Navidad, una vez más

A year and a day ago, the Argentine family in whose posada we were staying invited us to join them for Christmas dinner. For us Englanders, there was a twist: the dinner was held not on Christmas Day, but – in traditional Argentine fashion – late on Christmas Eve. Midnight was greeted with cheers, present-opening...
The Night of Radishes

The Night of Radishes

During the 19th century, competition grew tough in the markets of Oaxaca. There were too many vegetables and not enough shoppers, and traders were forced to seek new ways to attract passing trade to their stands. At some point, several stallholders began carving their vegetables into shapes, figures, even tableaux. This novel marketing method proved...
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...
Dancing in the dark - Mexico's Day of the Dead

Dancing in the dark – Mexico’s Day of the Dead

Just as we’re aware of the different lives through which we pass on the road, so we’ve become sensitised to the different attitudes to death we encounter. The recent histories of many of the countries we’ve visited – and the present-day lives of a few – are punctuated by civil war, genocide, torture and plain old...
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...
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...
Mind the gap

Mind the gap

The sole land border between Colombia and Panama is occupied by the Darién Gap, a 160km-long, 50km-wide area of largely unexplored forest and swamp. The name is easily explained: ‘Darién’ after the Panamanian province in which it sits; ‘Gap’ for the break in the Panamerican Highway, an otherwise continuous 48,000km road between Alaska and Patagonia,...