Amazon Ridin’

22 11 2009

(Thanks to everybody for showing your support by joining the facebook group, following Ride for the Trees on Twitter, or making a donation to support forest conservation via FirstGiving. All the links are just there to your right, my left.)

Nov. 19th 2009 — Cuenca to Gualaceo — 36 kilometers — $ spent US$6.00

Today was my first day back on the bike in 3 months, and my body was confused. In some ways it felt like I never even took a break, and in some ways it felt like I hadn’t been on a bike in years. Packing up and riding out of Cuenca came naturally, but my legs didn’t work. My body hated me. Self-accusations kept flowing through my mind: You fat kid, why didn’t you run more when you were in Cuenca? Why did you eat so many donuts? You see what you did to yourself?!

So I have to suffer through the next week or so. It’s okay, I had a great time in Cuenca. And the donuts were delicious.

Fortunately, today’s ride was as easy as it gets. Okay so I had some headwinds, but it was mostly downhill and the weather was perfect.

The quote of the day comes from some guy who drove past me as I was taking a picture of the river: “Oye loco, te envidio, te envidio… TE ENVIDIIIOOOOO!!!” which means “Hey dude, I envy you, I envy you… I ENVY YOOOUUUUU!!!” Me too, for the past three months. But now I’m back where I belong and life feels perfect, headwinds and all.


20 November 2009 — Gualaceo to El Pan — 50k —  $ spent: US$8.00

Thought I might arrive in the Amazon today but nope, the legs are rubber.

But, even though I’m not in the Amazon I’m happy to report I saw something you might expect only to see in the Amazon: a monkey living on a dog’s back. Yup.  According to the family, the monkey never ever leaves the dog’s back unless it is physically removed. The best part? Well, just as I started to take pictures the dog got stage fright and squatted right there in front of the camera. How embarrassing. If anybody else out there has a photo of a dog pooing while a monkey is living on its back, let me know. Until then I’ll just assume this is one of a kind:

A photo of a monkey living on a dog's back.

So, I’m not in the Amazon. I’m in the green, hilly area between the cold mountain towns and the steamy jungle towns.

Sometimes people laugh when I show up on a bicycle to buy gasoline, usually they are confused, but I’ve never been refused gasoline until today. “It’s a rule. We don’t give gasoline to people on bikes.”

“Who is the owner of this gas station?” I asked.

“I am,” said the frowny bitter man. “Now get out of the way. These are hardworking people’s cars that need gas. You’re just a tourist.”

Are you kidding me? I tried being nice at first. In the end I got my stove-gas.


21 November 2009 — El Pan to abandoned house — 75k — $pent US$6.00

I woke up to rain, walked through it to the house where the family was waving me in. They had coffee, rice, hot dogs, plantains and potateos ready for me. Delish!

“You get to Ama Luza and it’s all downhill through the Amazon from there to Santiago de Mendez.”

I was knackered. Writing this in the tent, I’m still knackered. Such difficult riding. I made it to Ama Luza and everybody still insisted it’s all downhill from there.

It was getting late. By now I’m in thick jungle and the river below is huge. It’s amazing to think all the streams, waterfalls, and now this huge river down below all lead to the Amazon River.

After riding an hour and a half, locals still insisted Santiago de Mendez was an hour and a half away. Ugh. Okay.

A truck stopped in front of me and dropped off a hitch hiker. His name is Arturo, he’s Colombian, and he’s headed to a Shuar indigenous community tomorrow. For now, he’s ducking into the jungle to camp.

“What the heck are you doing all the way out here?!” I asked him. Seems a funny place to be dropped off, middle of the jungle and all. 

“Just hitch hiking my way to Sucua.”

“But that’s not a touristy place, it’s just a small dot on my route. How did you hear about it?”

His response was one word long.“Legend.”

So now I’m excited to see this place.

I’d tell a long boring story about how difficult today’s ride was, but I have too many stories like it and I’m sure they all sound the same. So I’ll just tell you I bonked so hard on a 2-kilometer uphill that I sat down in pouring rain at the edge of the gravel road to drink oil out of a tuna can. Then I ate the tuna. Then I walked up the hill.

Now I’m camping behind an abandoned house at the side of the road. I’m at the edge of a cliff above the river surrounded by thick jungle on all sides. And this isn’t even “really” the Amazon yet. Just wait for Santiago de Mendez, they tell me.     

Quote of the day: “Santiago de Mendez is an hour and a half away by car but you can probably make it in an hour since you’re on a motorcycle.”

“Haha, you think this is a motorcycle?”

“Oh, it’s not? What is that thing then?”

“A bicycle.”




3 responses

23 11 2009
Aurora Lemieux

Sam, you are amazing. I am so happy to hear you are doing well and back in the saddle. I laughed until I cried at that picture of the dog and monkey duo. Besitos y abrazones, amigo querido.

23 11 2009

How are you posting this? I don’t understand…

24 11 2009
Eulalia Alvarez

Hi, Sam, How are you?
Well, I hope that you will be very good, you are very adventurous, cause I read your journey to Mendez, it sounds like an adventurous trip, anyways I admire you for your effort. Take care a lot, God bless you. Bye.

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