Posts Tagged With: Technophobe

Day 18: Munich to Dillingen an der Donau

We had 120 km to ride, with 577 meters up and 690 meters down

We have one new rider who joined us in Munich – Catrina – who has come to ride the last section with her husband Peter M, who has done the whole ride. Peter has done one other and Catrina did a section. They are from Seattle and have two children. Peter is an ED doc (he examined my wrist) and Catrina is a pathologist. Catrina is riding a bike she bought here and has not ridden it before.

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Peter and Catrina

To start off today was the dreaded convoy, for 14 km. We did not leave the hotel until 8:20am and it was after 9:30am before we were free to ride off by ourselves.

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Convoy out of Munich

Lots of bikers commuting to work, lots of them parents with babies and toddlers in carriages, front and back seats.

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Frustrating I had a message from the the blog editor just as I was leaving, to say she had never received the blog for 12 June, but she did get my short version of the notes I jot down in the iPad at the end of each day.  No record in my sent box, very annoying as I remember doing it, it had quite a lot of detail. Never mind I will have to do again. Nowhere near as frustrating as in Bolivia where I lost 10 days worth, that were sent and disappeared into the ether, also with no trace in my sent mail.

About 30 km out of Munich, we came to Dachau concentration camp memorial garden. This was the first of the concentration camps and the model for later camps. Overall 200,000 people (Jews, political prisoners, and other so called ‘undesirables’)  were detained here from as early as 1933, and 40,000 died.

Today we are mainly on bike paths. I was looking forward to getting onto bike paths and away from the traffic, however they were frustrating as within the space of 10 k you can change paths 5 times, and it was starting to feel like a navigating challenge rather than a bike challenge.

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Bike path Altomunster

During the day we rode through many fields of crops, through farmland, and through shady forest areas. We also crossed the Danube River (which I did not notice at the time as it was only a stream).

25 km from the end of the ride we had a thunderstorm, huge drops of rain pelleted down, but it was so hot it was a relief.

The traffic here is such that they are happy to stop and give you the right of way, even when it isn’t yours, they even stop on the highway when they can see you are struggling to cross. No tooting or monstering you from behind (sitting right on your back tyre almost).

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BMW headquarters

When we got to the hotel we were a bit underwhelmed by the exterior, not helped by the scaffolding as it was being painted. It was a tired old place, but the staff were friendly and it was clean.

Dinner was delayed as one of the riders was not in. It turned out it had taken Peter and his wife until 4pm to get to lunch (65 k) and then Catrina got the lunch truck, and Peter continued from there. It was just after 7pm when he got in – a long day!

Dinner was potato and ham soup, crumbed Pork with croquettes and sauce, and dessert was Ice cream Sundaes. We had dinner with John, and mine was washed down with copious glasses of cold sparkling  water.

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Aichach

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Aichach

We had a balcony, but it looked out to a yard and was too hot to go out into. No aircon again, and once again very hot trying to get to sleep. Plus there was quite a lot of noise – it sounded like people jumping on the floor or banging on the walls. Once I fell asleep, I slept quite well.

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Hotel Dillinger Hof balcony

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Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day 12: Cortina d’amezzo to Brixen

68 km – 680 meters climbed up and 1,290 meters coasted down

We had the most amazing views of the Dolomites most of the day today. For the first 30 km we were on a rail trail, so pretty easy gradient. The trail is used in summer for cycling and in the winter it is used for skiing.

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On the bike paths

There were what I thought were old railway stations approx every 6 km, but it turned out they are actually houses. There were families living in them, and it was the job of the father to check the section of line he was responsible for every morning, and confirm it was free of avalanche etc and safe for the trains. This would be done over the phone. Also, he was in charge of maintaining that section of the line.

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On the rail trail today

There were a number of tunnels to go through, it reminded me of the Rimutaka Incline in NZ (but the tunnels were lit). There were quite a number of other cyclists today, heading both ways.

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Tunnels on the bike path

We stopped at a monument showing the different climbs on three of the peaks. The climb grade is an 11, which is pretty serious. It has the name and dates of people who have done the climbs.

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3 Peaks Category 11 climb in Parco Naturale Tre Cime

You can go hiking up in the middle mountains, and walk between mountain lodges without having to come down. There are no roads up to these lodges, and they pull the food up on things that look to me like ski lifts, they have big balls instead of chairs that the supplies go in. The lodges have big dormitories that can sleep up to 200. The thought of that is like waking up in a nightmare!

The bike trails are a mixture of rail trails and bike paths, rather than one large trail. A number appear to go through people’s properties – at one place between a barn and a house.

There were lots of cows wandering around with bells on so they can be found.

We are still in in Italy but the buildings and the furniture are very Austrian.

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On the way from Cortina d’Ampezzo to Brixen

We have had the largest groups of cyclists out on the paths I have ever seen. We were playing leap frog with a group of about 25, as we would each be on different trails and then keep intersecting. I was surprised at how well some of the cyclists were doing, until I noticed they were on E bikes (electric bikes).

One of the riders got an instant fine of €17.5 for riding through a tunnel with a sign saying “cars only” – there was an alternative route for bikes and walkers next to it.

We stopped at a Cafe with seating outside, attached to restaurant. We had the most amazing apple strudel I have ever tasted. It was nothing like anything called apple strudel I have ever had before.

This place also has the award for the most beautiful cafe or restaurant bathroom, with a great big marble basin so big you could almost have had a bath in it, and a range of soaps and hand lotions, and real hand towels.

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An old fort as we approached Brixen

I had dinner with John, Walker, Tom, Graham, and Brett. Dinner was salad from a salad bar, pasta with tomato sauce, shoulder of beef with apple and horse radish sauce, tiramisu, washed down with sparkling water.

The Internet is not my sending emails again! Frustrating as I can get emails and use Facebook. I wanted to send email to two friends who are having surgery before they had it. I tried being in the room, and the bar, and the restaurant, and just can’t get anything to send.

Introducing

Jeff and Dianne from Colorado, USA. Retired, they had a business setting up video links etc. They have 2 children and have done 7 TDA rides, they are not currently planning any more. (Editors note: but do they have any pets?! I’m pretty sure this is the first time you haven’t told us about a rider’s pet status!). 

The name of the hotel we are staying at is the Temhof Hotel.

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View from the room balcony in Brixen

Categories: The Odyssey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 7: Sunday 20 Nov, Ohakune to Kurpipapango

132km to ride today, climbing 2,300 meters with 2,350 down.

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Today’s instructions

I had tired legs already from yesterday so took a while to warm up. The first 24 km was not too bad, bit of up but not steep and not windy.

We are doing part of the ride today called the Gentle Annie. This ride can be found in the Classic NZ cycle trails and goes from Taihape to Napier. The person who called it the Gentle Annie has a very sick sense of humour. The book notes it as challenging and it’s not wrong. However before we got onto this challenging ride TDA threw in a 8km stretch of gravel with some fairly steep ups.

I was determined today to take more photos. However when I stopped to take a photo from the top off the hill my camera decided to go into weird mode and kept saving something so I played around with it and ended up getting a continuous shot of my face looking increasing annoyed. I tried turning it off and on but I couldn’t stop it so I put away in disgust. I rode cautiously down the gravel.

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Start of the gravel road

Next we went out onto SH1 for 11km of lovely downwards gradient then turned at 58.7km into the Gentle Annie ride. The first 13 km was great, all downhill but it was running through my mind this is all going to have to be climbed back up!

Lunch at 71k was not so enjoyable with the knowledge that at 73km is a 18 km uphill climb. Some riders called it a day at lunch, while some rode the lunch truck to the lunch stop and then rode from there. The more foolhardy like myself decided to do the whole day.

There was amazing scenery so I checked what my camera was up to, it was still busily saving the grumpy photo of me, but battery was nearly flat so I turned off.

Well they call a bike a push bike because you can push it. I had a mixture of pushing and riding for the first 3 km of the climb, but then was able to stay on my bike to the peak. My garmin, which I know was fully charged, went flat at 80 km which was a real pain as I like to see how far I have come, and check the turns in the notes against the distance ridden.

At the top of the hill I had a sandwich and a drink. The lunch truck stopped on the way past and filled up my drink bottles. There are no shops today or tomorrow until we are nearly in Napier.

Less than two km downhill, then another 10k climb. The first bit was steep and my legs were not interested in riding so I pushed the bike the first 2km until the gradient eased and I climbed the rest.

Whilst walking I kept getting bomb dived by a magpie, who as soon as I turned my back to start walking would dive at me. At about one km there was another magpie in the ditch so maybe he was mad his friend had been killed, or maybe his friend had dive bombed a truck. In the end I saw a rock and biffed that at him and he left me alone (maybe his friend was killed by a rock). Later I found out he had followed some of the other riders for 5km.

I had a number of curious cows and sheep watch me make my way slowly up the hill. One cow was so interested she kept pace with me (not hard, she ambled) the length of the field.

At the top of the hill was a turn to keep following the Napier -Taihape Rd. The way I took was not flagged but I was pretty sure it was right, however after a very long downhill I was starting to worry that I may have gone the wrong way and may have to climb back up!

I was halfway up another hill when the lunch truck came back past checking on riders and seeing if anyone wanted to be picked up. Without the garmin I was thinking I had maybe 10km to go, so it was very daunting to hear I still had 23km with another big climb!!! I filled up my water bottles again, resisted looking at the comfortable seats in the truck, and set off again.

By this stage I was stuffed, my legs were becoming really heavy and each incline was like a steep climb. The next step climb I got to, once again I was off my bike and pushing. The last two riders behind me – Ray and Ursula (from Canada) passed me. Ursula also got off her bike but managed to walk up the hill without stopping.

By this stage I was walking, counting to 40 then stopping, then walking for another 40 count, then stopping, then walking for another 40 count, then stopping – all the way up 2km. I felt the hill was never going to end. I was thinking I wonder if my legs will simply stop working.

Then the inevitable happened – I was “swept”! The sweep is the TDA staff rider who rides at the back of the bunch to deal with any issues with riders. And if they catch up with you you’re ‘swept’ . I had hoped not to get swept on this ride.

Finally the top was reached and at last a downhill. It was fairly steep so I had to stop half way down as I have rim brakes and needed to stop to let them cool, as if they get too hot the heat of the rubbers squeezing the tyres can pop a tyre. The last thing I need at this stage is a flat, I think I would have buffed my bike onto the side of the road and walked to camp. Or as I saw once on the Round the Lake Taupo ride – someone rode into a tree.

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View of a gorge not far out of camp

At the bottom of the downhill was a bridge with a sign “2km to camp”. However anytime you see a bridge at the bottom of a downhill it generally means a climb back up. Well, the 2k was uphill but not much of a gradient, but at the speed and effort I was going you would have thought it was almost vertical. With the sweep behind me however there was no way I was going to get off my bike. Finally the turn to camp: 900 meters of shingle, thankfully with soft downward gradient to camp.

10 hours on the bike and I arrived at camp totally stuffed but wrapped to have made it. Brett waved me over where he had a chair waiting for me, took my bike and shoved a beer into my hand. Plus he had put my tent up for me 😀

Later Michelle told me that Brett had told them ‘When she arrives there will be no point talking to her, she will be like a mongrel dog until she has a cold beer’.

There were no shower facilities as it is a bush camp so I had a wet wipe wash. It is a nicer bush camp than I had been expecting. I was thinking wind blown, remote, covered in tussocks and no shelter, but it was actually sheltered with lots of trees.

We had been told there were three long drops so I was imagining smelly holes in the ground, but this is a army training site and there were three toilets in small buildings like port-a-loos but with a ventilation thing on top which meant they did not smell and because they did not smell there were no flies either.

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The long drop at bushcamp

Dinner was some lovely strips of tender lamb, couscous, green salad, and ratotue (tomato and vegetables mixed together, no idea how you spell it, it sounds like rat a tui). (Editor’s note: I think she means ratatouille 🙂 )

We had it with some Hawkes bay Merlot bought in Ohakune and travelled safety to camp tucked into Tony’s size 15 sneakers, which are just the right size for a bottle of wine.

Sadly then it was not off to bed as it was my night to get chosen for wash up duty. Each rider washes their own dishes, wash up duty is where you wash all the cooking stuff. Two lucky riders are chosen each night. It did not take long, and then off into my sleeping bag.

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Somewhere on the ride today

Categories: Trans-Oceania | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 93/164: Rest Day in Uyuni

It’s 3 months since the tour started today. In some ways the time in Colombia feels like a different tour and seems such a long time ago. We are over halfway gone of this ride, but still a lot to go.

Riding on the salt flats

Riding on the salt flats

I had breakfast in the restaurant with Dan and Shirley, and then headed up to the town to look for a few things. There are a lot of tourists here as this is where most of the tours to the salt flats start. As usual a lot dogs roaming around. One thing that is different in Bolivia is the dogs mostly have ribbons around their necks. I wonder whether this is a sign that this dog belongs to someone.

Not a lot to do in this town and I am about 10 days behind with the blog and have a few emails to do so I head back to the hotel. The Wifi only works down stairs in the hotel reception/ lobby . A number of riders have commented that the Wifi is super slow so I decide to write the updates and emails and send to my out box for later. The afternoon is spent blogging, emails, and dozing.

I had dinner in town and one of the numerous pub type places and a drink with one of the younger riders John. 2 for 1 cocktails so had a couple of Tom Collins, which made a nice change from wine or beer.

Back at the hotel and packing for tomorrow, always take longer than expected given how frequently it is done. Then downstairs to send emails and photos etc.

I log on and the emails and updates go from my outbox saying ‘sending’ just like they always do. Then I spent a while sending photos. Then I noticed I had an email from Kelly and as it was getting late I decided to try skyping rather than emailing back and managed to get through.

Had a good chat, with catching up on family news until Kelly mentioned she had got all the photos but no blog updates for 10 days. Look again I said, they must be amongst the photos, no luck.

I am not sure what has happened but all 10 updates and emails to friends and family have just disappeared! No longer in my outbox and not showing in sent or trash or all email, and no idea why. Not good as we are about to go on another 6 day riding stretch where I won’t have Wifi, so will be seriously behind. Not to mention having re write ten day’s worth. I just hope they are in internet cyber space and turn up.

Me on the salt flats on the way to Uyuni

Me on the salt flats on the way to Uyuni

The work nevers stops for the TDA Staff (Photo credit: Sue's blog)

The work nevers stops for the TDA Staff (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Bolivia, South American Epic | Tags: | 4 Comments

Day 59/164: Rest day in Lima

Was nice not to have to get up at 5 am. I enjoyed resting in bed for a while. The hotel is breakfast included, and the restaurant opens at 7 am :D.  Finally some black tea without all sorts of spice added, I have noted the brand and will try to buy some at the supermarket.

I have a list of things to do and buy:

First wash the tent. After living in it for two months and after the dust camp it stinks. In our room we have a bath. Sue has already gone out shopping so tent bath time! The tent is so dirty I have to rinse it about 8 times after washing it. Then hang it all round the bathroom to dry.

Then off to the bike shop for the usual stock up, plus I want to get some new pedals. I was thinking that my pedals had only done 6,000 kilometres from when I did the trans Europa in 2012, as I have not used the trip bike since. However I have just realized I could not find the pedals and transferred the pedals from my road bike, which has had very regular use for over 4 years! However despite being a Shimano specialist bike shop they have no Shimano pedals or chamois cream.

Next off to the supermarket. I need some face moisturizer and to stock up on snacks and water for the room. Not as simple as it seems when everything is in Spanish! And no brands I recognize, with the exception of Ponds. So I think I have bought the correct product, but when I go to use it the next day it’s like Vaseline on my face. It’s not till the next day I realise that it’s face cleanser (may have noticed sooner if it had started raining), so top on my list for the next rest day is buy moisturizer!

Then whilst looking at the snacks, instant joy: blue cheese, camembert, crusty bread and a nice red wine:  picnic lunch again!

Whilst tempted to doze away the afternoon, the blog is calling. I am about 5 days behind and Kelly will soon be catching up to me. Spent a couple of hours there, and then packing gear again as back to riding tomorrow. No time for being a tourist in Lima sadly.

I managed to Skype with Dan for the first time since I have been away, so was really good to catch up with him. I also skyped with Kelly and had a short chat with Lucy. Unfortunately Skype has changed its setting and either I could see me or Kelly and Dan, but they could not see me. Will have to figure it out before next time.

On the way over the road to the pizza restaurant I bumped into Bob, who is one of the riders who was doing the whole trip. Bob has had bike problems and has not really being enjoying the trip – too hard, too cold etc, and has decided to leave from here. Bob has done other trips before with TDA.

Part of the problem is he has a really bad hearing loss, and does not have hearing aids, so often he does not hear people talking to him or misunderstands what people say, which makes it hard to integrate into the group. It’s sudden news for us but I suspect Bob has been considering it for a while.

Packing was a bit strange, I could not find my bike sunglasses and looked through all my stuff, then I realized I was missing other stuff as well. Turned out for some bizarre reason the housemaid had gone through my packing cells, moving some of the stuff into the drawers and the wardrobe. Also turned out Sue had not actually stacked her stuff up like a pyramid! I had wondered about that.

Dinner was anchovy pizza and a cold beer, then an early-ish night.

We have 6 new riders joining us tomorrow, plus a new TDA staff member, and 5 are leaving tomorrow (including Bob).

Categories: Peru, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 36/164: Rest Day in Puyo

We had to be at Hosteria reception by 8am for the jungle tour Sue and I had booked. Then Mike from Scotland and Chris from Vancouver decided to come as well. Mike’s wife Katrina had fallen off her bike a couple of days ago and needed to stay behind to get her bike fixed. Chris’s partner Jackie was stuck in her room with gastro!  While we were waiting we found out a number of the other riders now also had gastro and suspected the meal the night before. Hopefully as I still taking medication I won’t get it again, and hopefully theirs will be shorter lived than mine was.

The tour driver turned up, for $50 USA we were doing a full day tour, including:

  • Walk through the jungle looking at plants, flowers and birds
  • Going to a fish growing farm
  • Lunch
  • A canoe trip
  • Walking to a viewing point where you can see the jungle stretching out for as far as the eye can see, plus the opportunity to go on a rope swing from a clift
  • Hand crafts and customs at a local village
  • Pretty good value, especially in the context of having paid $45 USA for the not very good red wine in the restaurant (about 70 NZ).
The tour driver and Chris from Vancover

The tour driver and Chris from Vancover

The first step was to the tour base in town, to get coats and gumboots. Mike bought socks for everyone from a shop across the road as gumboots with no socks is a really good way to get blisters! While we were waiting for him to come back we were watching a procession go past. The tour guide said it’s an annual pilgrimage of an indigenous tribe from the Amazon who celebrate their coming out of the forest in time of drought to Puyo. They walk 16 kilometres during the procession.

Procession in Puyo

Procession in Puyo

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People in the procession

Off we set in the tour van, the first stop was a fish farm. The fish were imported from Africa, they are called Confiscadas de Crianza de Tilapias. They imported 50 fish from Africa, but only 6 of the original 50 remain, the others have died over the years for a number of reasons.

Name of the fish

Name of the fish

There are a number of fish ponds. One where the small fish to feed the bigger fish are produced. The 6 original fish are 6 years old and have only just started laying eggs. They grow to 4 meters and about 80kg, and when fully grown they sell for about $1,500 USA.  The fish are huge, and remind me a big of eels – only wider. They track your reflection on the water and move across the pond following you.

The fish - they grow up to 4 meters long, 89 kilos, and are approx 6 years old here

The fish – they grow up to 4 meters long, 89 kilos, and are approx 6 years old here

Another photo of the fish

Another photo of the fish

Owner of the fish farm

Owner of the fish farm

Back into the van to the next stop: the jungle walk. It was amazing! We got shown various medicinal trees and plants.

About to go on the jungle walk with Sue

About to go on the jungle walk with Sue

Off we go for our rain forest walk (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Off we go for our rain forest walk (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

First was the vines that are used to make poisonous darts. They are boiled and then pounded to get the poison – the indigenous people have an antidote.

The vine that is used to make poisonous arrows

The vine that is used to make poisonous arrows

We were also shown a tree that had sap that is used as an ointment for wounds for infection, a tree that the sap is used for bee stings, a plant that the leaves are used to make a tea for upset stomachs, and a tree that the bark is menthol and is used for chest and sinus infections.

The tree that is cut to get sap that is used for the salve/ ointment for cuts

The tree that is cut to get sap that is used for the salve/ ointment for cuts

The salve from the tree for cuts / infections

The salve from the tree for cuts / infections

Sap from this tree is used for bee and other insect stings

Sap from this tree is used for bee and other insect stings

Leaves to crush up and make a tea infusion for upset stomachs

Leaves to crush up and make a tea infusion for upset stomachs

Tree that bark smells like menthol, used for sinus and cyst infections

Tree that bark smells like menthol, used for sinus and cyst infections

Smells very menthol like (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Smells very menthol like (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

As well as this we saw a tree that the sap is used for painting faces for ceremonies that last up to three days.

Tree with orange pigment used by natives to paint on skin, lasts 2 to 3 days

Tree with orange pigment used by natives to paint on skin, lasts 2 to 3 days

We saw some pretty orchids and got to have face masks from river clay.

Orchid on the jungle tour

Orchid on the jungle tour

Sue and I with river clay masks

Sue and I with river clay masks

Chris, Sue, Mike and Kaye (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Chris, Sue, Mike and Kaye (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

We also went to a waterfall where Chris and Mike had a swim, and saw some recent stone carvings.

Cleaning the mud off (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Cleaning the mud off (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Going for a paddle (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Going for a paddle (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Sue, the guide, Chris (from Vancover) and Mike (from Scotland) at the waterfall

Sue, the guide, Chris (from Vancover) and Mike (from Scotland) at the waterfall

Another view of the waterfall

Another view of the waterfall

Carving in soft rock by waterfall done recently

Carving in soft rock by waterfall done recently

Communing with the spirits (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Communing with the spirits (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Fording streams (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Fording streams (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Lunch was included as part of the tour. It was steamed fish, salad, rice and plantain.

Amazonian Forest Lunch (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Amazonian Forest Lunch (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Fish for lunch (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Fish for lunch (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

We then went to a village of local indigenous people and learnt about some of their customs and saw some of their crafts.

My camera battery had gone flat by this stage so any photos for the rest of the day will need to come from Sue’s blog. (Editor’s note: Just as well I looked at Sue’s blog, as you’ll see below, there are photos of Kaye holding monkeys and parrots, getting her face painted, being near people holding snakes, and having a bunch of other adventures she’s completely failed to even mention here!).

We cross the river to a small community (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

We cross the river to a small community (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Sue, Mike, Chris, and Kaye (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Sue, Mike, Chris, and Kaye (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Kaye with face paint and hat (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Face paint and hat (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Kaye and the tamarin monkey (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

With a tamarin monkey (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Kaye and the parrot (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

And with a parrot (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

Outside the large communal building (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Outside the large communal building (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Sue with the latest neck wear (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Sue with the latest neck wear (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Then we went off on the canoe trip. The canoe was a shelled out tree and fitted four people, plus the person steering. It was a bit scary at first as the river was fast moving but it was great fun. The guide said that the wet / rainy season is usually January / February but this year the rain has not stopped. This explains the numerous landslides and fast full rivers.

All aboard (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

All aboard (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

And off we go (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

And off we go (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Look at that surf (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Look at that surf (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

After this we went to a place that you could climb up and get a great view of the forest and rivers, whilst relaxing looking at the view from hammocks. There was a rope swing to go on which was over a huge drop. I started wondering how secure the branch was that the rope was tied to, and after I had thought that I was not able to go on swing.

Climbing up to get the view (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Climbing up to get the view (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

A wonderful hammock interlude to the day (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

A wonderful hammock interlude to the day (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

View from the top (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

View from the top (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

View from the top of the rainforest (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

View from the top of the rainforest (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Sue on the tree swing with a huge drop off (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Sue on the tree swing with a huge drop off (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

A last look out at the view (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

A last look out at the view (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

After that it was time to head back to the place where we were staying. On the way back we could hear the clutch on the tour truck was slipping. It got so bad that we had to get out twice to push the tour truck up the hills. We were still 16 kilometres from where we needed to go but after pushing it twice we had got back to the main road. We left the tour guy there as there was nothing we could do and caught a taxi.

The clutch starts slipping (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

The clutch starts slipping (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

The dinner at the place where we staying on the first night was pretty meagre so a number of people, including me, went elsewhere for dinner.

Six more days riding till the next rest day.

Known as a phone tree, when you are lost you hit the tree and it makes a sound that reverberates and help will come

Known as a phone tree, when you are lost you hit the tree and it makes a sound that reverberates and help will come

Beautiful butterfly on jungle tour, when it was flying the inside of the rings are brilliant blue.

Beautiful butterfly on jungle tour, when it was flying the inside of the rings are brilliant blue.

Place we are staying at - you have to go over a suspension bridge to get to it

Place we are staying at – you have to go over a suspension bridge to get to it

The suspension bridge at place we are staying at

The suspension bridge at place we are staying at

Kaye finds a dog to talk to very quickly (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Kaye finds a dog to talk to very quickly (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

Categories: Ecuador, South American Epic, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Day 20/164: Anapoima to Prado – 146km

1,502 km down: 12,139 to go (1,200 metres up, 1,600 metres down today)

When I was putting my tent down I did not realise that but not only were there a couple of large ant mounds near the tent (which I had seen and kept away from) but there was also some netting above the tent and there were ants all over it. I must have brushed up against it, as I got ants all inside my riding shirt. The biting sort! Ouch! I quickly changed my shirt.

I set off feeling reasonably good, and aiming to ride the whole day. There were some rolling hills to begin. I stopped at 16 kilometres for a freshly squeezed orange juice. They squeeze it while you wait – 2000 pesos (approximately a dollar) for a glass.

Orange juice

Juice stop (Photo credit: Sue’s blog)

At 16.9 kilometres I missed a turn – I’m not sure if there was a truck parked across the road or whether I just wasn’t paying attention. After 7 kilometres I realised I had gone the wrong way and back tracked, adding 14 kilometres.  I learned from my last trip not to try and work out (aka guess) how you could meet up with the right road again, as this led to the time I got really lost on my last trip but thankfully was saved by Bobby and her bright red sports car, who delivered me safely to camp.

The next bit was rolling hills on a back road through a village and farmland. Quite a lot of the road was gravel and bumpy and rocky.  Due to having made the wrong turn, I had the sweep behind me as I was now the last rider (two other riders also missed this turn but they are faster than me). We then came out to a main highway, after about 5 kilometres I had to go over an abandoned bridge, and then connect with another highway. It was really hot, with a headwind, and was hard going. By this stage I had done about 90 kilometres – but only 76 of the planned ride.

Luckily lunch was at 78 kilometres, a very welcome sight. Two of the other riders were stopping at lunch and taking the lunch truck back to camp. I considered stopping also as it was so hot! But I decided that I really wanted to ride the whole ride so I had something thing to eat and carried on. I had 67 kilometres to go – not including the 14 extra due to getting lost.

It was so hot it, was beating down and not a lot of shade. I saw the first couple of flags ok but then, would you believe it, I missed a turn again!!!! I have discovered my speedo is slightly out, as it is set it for the size of tyres I have but not the width/ thickness, so this is throwing the measurements out just enough to cause an issue – especially for with someone already challenged with directions.

I asked a couple of locals and they assured me I was going the correct way to Neiva – they were right, just not the way I should have been going. The road went on and on, and the heat just kept glaring down on me. It dawned on me that I was probably lost again especially as there was meant to be more downhill than uphill and I was mostly going up.

Over one of the many rivers (Photo and caption credit: Sue's blog)

Over one of the many rivers (Photo and caption credit: Sue’s blog)

I went to a service station to buy water, and it is the first petrol station I have come across that only sells petrol. I decided to ring Christaino to see which direction I should go, as I was not sure where I had gone wrong .I could not believe it but my phone was nearly flat! It had been showing full charge that morning.

I rang Christiano but he could not hear me but said to text him., which I did but got no response . I was sitting there thinking “What next?” and thinking how I would love to see Bobby and her little red sports car, when I remembered that my son Daniel had kindly downloaded all the maps where I was going onto my phone and my iPad.

I had enough phone battery to get the map app up and it showed me where I was (thanks Dan xx). It also showed me that I was on my way to Saidane, which I was pretty sure from my notes was a town I needed to go through, but as my writing is not very legible even to me I was not 100% sure. Note to self: have better handwriting! Off I went and yay it was the right town and joy such joy there were flags!   🙂 🙂 🙂

I stopped, had some more water, and set off again. At this stage I had done 148 kilometres and still had 30 kilometres to go but at least I was on the right road.

And then there were road works! Thick, wet, dirt roads, hard to ride on, especially with tired legs. There was a water truck laying down more water. I was behind it so I was getting covered in mud as well. The water truck driver jumped off his truck, gave me water without any prompting from me, smiled, and drove off again. They have water here in plastic packets as well as in bottles, this was a plastic packet.

The road was going on and on and I was starting to worry that it would get dark before I got to camp. I decided I would make the call at the next town, and if I needed to I would catch a taxi to camp. 152 kilometres on the clock at this stage and then suddenly in front of me I see Christano and his partner Anna driving towards me in the ute 🙂 🙂 🙂

Christiano had decided to come and find me and see if I was ok. The text I sent had not got through to his phone either. Turns out from where I had missed the flag I had done a bigger loop to Saidane than the way that was planned. I was very very pleased to see Christiano and Anna.

Back at camp I noticed there were a few mosquitos so plied bug spray liberally after my very cold shower. It did not help, I am covered in bites – most people are even those who don’t usually get bitten. It didn’t help that I had one in my tent for part of the night who waited until I went to sleep before feasting. I heard it at 2am and located it.  Now I am trying really hard not to itch, and taking antihistamine.

The view from Sue's tent at the campsite (Photo credit: SUe's blog)

The view from Sue’s tent at the camp site (Photo credit: SUe’s blog)

I plugged my phone into the charge bank when I got to camp, and then discovered a couple of hours later that the charge bank was totally flat. Either it is dead or more likely I forgot to check it was plugged in properly when I charged it in Bogota.

I got the phone charged just enough to text my daughter Kelly like I do every day when I get to camp. I must have accidentally pressed a button to ring her, as a few minutes later my phone told me I had a missed call. I tried to ring back (thinking she had rung me, and worried that there was something wrong) but the phone decided there was no service. I went up into the camp ground into the main building and charged the phone for 45 min. I text Kelly that I had service and she could ring me back, and then realised that it was me accidentally pressing ring to her, so she didn’t need to ring. I made sure I had enough battery to last the next day.

Dinner was pork stew, beans and plantain. Plantain is in the banana family, and depending on how you cook it, it is either all right or horrid. Boiled and mashed is nasty, but these were partly baked and ok.
I am not going to be a convert though.

One of the riders missed the turn for the camp and clocked up 200 kilometres today!

Categories: Columbia, South American Epic | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Technophobe Tourist

I met a few of the other riders at breakfast this morning. So far, apart from two of the riders, everyone has done at least one ride before. It was great catching up on other rides, and swapping tales of tours.  One rider and I got on really well – Sue from England, we are similar ages. Sue has had issues with her flights because of one flight being late, missing the connection, then having a 12 hour delay, then getting here with no bags or bike. At this stage Sue had been here since Monday and it was now Wednesday. Sue was understandably starting to worry how she was to replace a bike and her gear by Saturday morning.

Sue on the left and Annegrete on the right, Sue is doing the whole trip, Annegrete is doing till the end of October (Editors note: The photo of Annegrete was stolen from Sue's blog, as the photo Kaye took was terrible)

Sue on the left and Annegrete on the right, Sue is doing the whole trip, Annegrete is doing till the end of October
(Editors note: The photo of Annegrete was stolen from Sue’s blog, as the photo Kaye took was terrible)

Next I headed off by taxi to an inner city mall where according to Google there was an Apple Store. Took about 20 minutes by taxi and I thought this will cost a bit! It actually cost 10 peso, which is approximately 6 NZ dollars. Once I got there I got directions and made my way to the store. It turned out it was not an apple shop at all, it was more like a Noel Leemings! It did sell iPads and iPhones but had no specialist staff. I did buy a new charging cord in case that helped the charging issue.

I thought I may as well get a charger for the phone while I was there but no luck at this store. After a lot of miming and showing of the camera charger, I got directed to a shop called Panamericana which they wrote down on paper for me. No luck there but one of the shop workers took me to a shop called Audio Color, once again no luck but they directed me to a shop called Home Centre. Each time I had to find my way around a 4 story super mall. I got to Home Centre, it was huge, like a Bunnings but bigger! It sold everything from paint to doors, tools and tyres. However there was a bit of a language barrier and they were showing me a lot of stuff that was not a wall connector. Luckily I got out the iPad connector to show as an example, confusion overcome and a minute later I had one.

Back to the hotel, sorted out some photos and emails, then made my way to the lobby bar at 6pm.  Met up with a few more riders, had a few cold beers and we made our way up the road to eat. We went to an Argentine grill place to eat. The food was very average but the company was good. Thankfully when we got back to the hotel there was Sue’s bike and bags!

Cartagena version of the $2 shop

Cartagena version of the $2 shop

Don't think I will go quite this far to eat like the locals

Don’t think I will go quite this far to eat like the locals

Categories: Columbia, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Tourist in Cartagena

I arrived at the lobby to wait for the tour just before 2pm.  I waited for a while and then a man came in and spoke to a family group and turned to leave again. I went up to him and said my last name, he checked on his list, and yes there I was.

The tour was scheduled from 2pm to 6pm, the first 40 minutes was spent picking up other tour group patients from adjoining hotels. The traffic is as crazy here as it was in Santiago, and like Santiago they use a system of tooting which somehow leads to them not crashing into each other, although it seems like a pretty close call at times. Finally all the other riders collected, and off we go.

Tour bus for guided city tour

Tour bus for guided city tour

It is really warm, I feel like I could melt. On the tour, instead of having headphones and being able to choose a language, it was all in Spanish.  The view was interesting so I was not too concerned apart from worrying when we got off at the first stop to make sure I got back on the bus on time. The guide realized at the first stop when he spoke to me that I had no idea what he was saying, and after that he gave me a brief summary explanation of everything he said.

First of all we stopped just below the Castillo San Felipe De Barajas, aka “The fortress”. There was a Colombian women there in traditional costume with a platter on her head. I really wanted to take her photo but every time I was ready to click she would turn away. It took me a while to realize this was her job, and of course I could take her photo – once we had agreed on the price.

Colombian woman in front of Castillo San Felipe Barajas (the fort)

Colombian woman in front of Castillo San Felipe De Barajas (the fort)

To get to the fortress involved walking up the slope in the beating glare of the sun. The fortress is positioned on the hill of San Lázaro, where its strategic position dominates approaches from the land and the sea. The work on this fortress started in 1536 and it has had a number of additions. It is built in such a way that there is a series of walls wide at the base and narrow towards the parapet forming a formidable series of bunkers. The batteries and the parapets project each other making it practically impossible to take a battery without taking the whole defence system. There is a complex maze of tunnels and it is ventilated with grates. This is the most formidable defence complex of Spanish military architecture.

Inside the fortress

Inside Castillo San Felipe Barajas

Tunnels

Tunnels inside the fort

In the  View from Castilo San Felipe Barajas

View from Castilo San Felipe Barajas
In the photo you can see a wall that is around the walled city, then it changes at the end of the wall to the new city

Back in the tourist bus and off to the La Popa monastery, the highest point in Cartegena at 150 meters. Getting up there was a bit scary, going around sharp, steep, and windy corners, and often only enough room for one car. Not that driving around a sharp corner you couldn’t see around seemed to slow the driver down at all. However it turned out that going up was a relaxed Sunday afternoon drive compared to the nail biting ride down.

Up the top there were some great views unfortunately at this point my camera battery failed so took a couple of photos with the iPhone. I will have to consider getting a backup battery but first off I need to get a connection for the charger. There were quite a few stray dogs up the top but all seemed relaxed and once again no begging.

There are also stray dogs in Cartagena - quite a lot  They are really good at crossing busy roads. Plus the local drivers are more inclined to stop for them than tourists

There are also stray dogs in Cartagena – quite a lot
They are really good at crossing busy roads. Plus the local drivers are more inclined to stop for them than tourists.

Back through town to the old city. There were buses, bikes, people pushing carts, horses with carts, a donkey with a cart, bicycles with and without carts, pedestrians, stray dogs, yellow taxis darting in and out of street corners, other cars, street vendors performing at intersections, and roadworks all competing for the same stretch of road. All the vehicles were constantly tooting!  Loud music from a number of the vehicles, total chaos! But everyone seemed to get to where they wanted to go.

We arrived at the walled city. Construction began in 1631, the walls are up to 20 meters thick and 12 meters high, and approx 12 k in radius. There are hotels, shops, bars and residences etc in there. On the outskirts are the street hawkers and it gets more expensive the further you get into the middle. We got to go on a walking tour of some of it. It’s pretty amazing and I need to go back and take a fully charged camera. The walled city was also busy with horse and carts, heaps of people, street vendors and taxis but nowhere near as busy as the new city.

Walled city wall, 20 feet thick, 12 feet high - made from coral

Walled city wall, 20 feet thick, 12 feet high – made from coral

Most of the good restaurants are contained within the walled city, so another reason to come back. We got taken to an emerald shop supposedly to learn about how to tell if an emerald is real or not. But really it’s all about getting a captive group to sell to.  I had been thinking of getting a pair of emerald earrings as a reminder of this trip like the amber earrings from my Trans Europa trip. The price however was way more than I was willing to pay for the pair I really liked so I was not going to buy. When I said no, the price went down again and then again, and just as I was about to leave the shop it went down to half of the original price – so I bought them. By this time it was dark and the city looked very impressive all lit up with strategically placed lighting.

We got back to the hotel an hour later than expected. The security at the hotel is quite tight and until they get to know you, you can’t get in without your guest ID card. I got to the front door and could not find mine, I went through everything with me and finally found it. Once I got back to my room I realized my wallet was missing and that I had left it on the entrance table whilst looking for my guest ID, so I sprinted back to the reception area. Such a relief when I rushed through the door to see the security guard waving my wallet at me.

I then walked around a few of the locals shops to see if any of them have a connection for the camera charger to be plugged into prior to being plugged into the wall but no joy. Luckily the hotel did have one I could borrow for a couple of hours.

Back at the hotel I tried to download photos from my iPhone but although it showed as being connected to the wifi network it wasn’t. I know this because anything I tried to send I got a message informing me that it was not connected to the Internet. I tried forgetting the network, turning it off and on, checking the settings to no avail. Then I thought “I know I will download the user Manuel for a 4s!”. This downloaded perfectly, but was it was all in Spanish – what the sh**t. Then my iPad would not charge even though it had the charger lead in and was being charged in the same plug as previously! Arrgghh! I Decided tomorrow I would go to an iPhone and IPad store and get this all sorted.

Venidrs

Vendors on the way up to the fort

Vendors at the bottom of the fortress Note no grass, plus the council worker in the green suit these guys are everywhere

Vendors at the bottom of the fortress
Note no grass, plus the council worker in the green suit, these guys are everywhere.

Categories: Columbia, South American Epic | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Arrived safely in Chile

I am having some technical problems with my phone. It worked ok last time but not to worry, I have the info book out to read when I wake up.

The horrors of international travel in cattle class: first off I had a middle seat even though I had asked for an aisle seat. At least it was in the middle block of plane so I took turns annoying my neighbours on each side to get out, to go to the toilet, often! I got to the point where I did not want to drink anything. And trying to get up without disturbing someone who is asleep but with their head phones connected to the console is actually not possible. Yes I did try it!

Then there was the small baby who was not a happy traveller and the rowdy sports team. I finally feel asleep just before we landed and then woke up with a fright as the wheels hit the ground.

Santiago has 6.5 million people and is very dry and lots of smog, lots of people smoking, people riding backs and un-neutered dogs roaming around. Traffic is busy but tolerant of the dogs and other drivers mostly. My hotel is nice but the is room noisy, it’s like being out on the street. I am planning to try and have a sleep as I have been up since 3.15am on Friday morning (editors note: This was sent about 6am Saturday NZ time).

I will have to take some photos of the taxis. A number are beaten up and tied together with chains.

I have just had a shower so am going to hopefully have a nap. When I get up I can worry about having accidentally locked my documents in the room safe, when I thought I was just shutting the door . . .

Dog just chilling at the airport

Dog just chilling at the airport

Dog just chilling at the airport

Dog just chilling at the airport

Categories: Chile, South American Epic | Tags: , , | 3 Comments