Wandering
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...
It's only faster if it moves

It’s only faster if it moves

After 391 days and 14,556km on our beloved bicycles, we’ve been delayed mechanically by nothing more complicated or time-consuming than a puncture. After six hours and 140km in a borrowed Volkswagen Polo, the only time on this trip we’ve been behind a steering wheel rather than handlebars, this happened: A broken clutch, a truck-assisted U-turn...
¿Cuidado?

¿Cuidado?

Ask a European to name an event from Colombia’s history, and there’s a good chance they’ll mutter something about the assassination of footballer Andrés Escobar after the national side’s exit from the 1994 World Cup. Although it occurred 20 years ago, the murder of Escobar still goes a long way towards defining Colombia in the...
In Quito

In Quito

It sometimes surprises us how many of the cycle tourists we meet regard Latin America’s big cities as obstacles to overcome or annoyances to avoid. It shouldn’t, perhaps. Not everybody is as predisposed towards city life as this pair of Londoners; indeed, many riders are drawn to Latin America chiefly for the opportunities it affords...
Colombia 2, Uruguay 0

Colombia 2, Uruguay 0

Before     During     After     from San Juan de Pasto, Nariño, Colombia
Crossing the line

Crossing the line

In alphabetical order: Brazil, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Indonesia, Kenya, the Republic of the Congo, São Tomé & Príncipe, Somalia and Uganda. The Equator runs through the land masses of 11 countries (though not, curiously, Equatorial Guinea). Ecuador, however, is the only one named after it. Several hundred years ago, it...
Faith

Faith

The dismal lack of respect shown to the Inca Empire by their Spanish conquerors reached a zenith in the Peruvian city of Cusco. In the 16th century, when the Spanish arrived, Cusco’s central plaza was dominated by Kiswarkancha, reputedly one of the most impressive Inca palaces and a testament to the might and ingenuity of...
Houses of the holy

Houses of the holy

We cycled to the village of Lampa chiefly to avoid lingering too long in Juliaca, a shambolic city that had the previous day been liberated from eight days of violent road blockades caused by striking miners. (‘Incomparable,’ sighed the owner of our hostal in nearby Puno, shaking his head. ‘A chaotic, windswept shithole,’ reckons a...
In Lima

In Lima

Although it was first proposed by a linguist, a certain George Kingsley Zipf, the statistical model known as Zipf’s Law is now often used to gauge the expected size of urban populations. In brief, the law holds that the second largest city in a country should be roughly half the size of the largest city;...
Once bitten

Once bitten

Stop riding. Get off the bike. Stand tall. Look confident. Stare. Shout. Throw rocks. Cycle tourists in South America have various ways of dealing with the ever-present peril posed by dogs. Some try to outrun them. Others trust a dog dazer. (When we successfully daze a dog with ours, we’ll let you know. Don’t hold...
Tango and cash

Tango and cash

As we counted the piles of 100-peso bills on the desk in front of us, keeping half an eye on the door to our left, we couldn’t resist passing comment. ‘To Europeans like us,’ we said, softly, ‘this is quite an unusual transaction.’ Peering over half-specs, the man across the counter looked us in the...
In the Atacama Desert

In the Atacama Desert

Of course, we’d seen a map before setting out, and we understood that the superlative springs from the area’s lack of rain rather than its natural setting. Still, we were unexpectedly startled to find that for a few hundred kilometres of our ride north through the world’s driest desert, we were overlooking the world’s largest...