I’ve had to make some more tough decisions recently. This post will summarize the next steps in South America.
This will be a lengthy “Realtime Update,” but I will forgo the bold typeface so that you don’t think I am yelling at you. This will be a pretty dry, lifeless update, without many pictures or other media. You’ve been warned. 🙂
Planning for Central and South America was really difficult for me. It is easy enough to get an approximate mileage estimation for the route, but knowing how long it would take was another story. In all honesty, I’m probably about 5 weeks behind where I thought I would be at this point.
The shipping delay, my sickness in San Cristobal and my crash in Chiapas all played a part in this. However, the biggest factor is the general slowness at which I’ve traveled. This is mostly due to the fact that there have been so many things I have wanted to see along the way. I do not have any regrets about my pace.
(Though it feels slow to me, I should maybe mention that it is very rare to meet someone who moves faster than I do. I guess it is just my style.)
Still, this means that some decisions have had to be made regarding what I have time for. The next couple of months are going to be a real mix of events. I’ll attempt to summarize.
If you’ve been following my story for any length of time, you will know that I have a really awesome family. Months ago, I suggested that we bring our awesomeness together to visit Machu Picchu in southern Peru. None of my family members have the time or the money for this type of trip, but that has never stopped us before. My parents, my sister and my brother-in-law will be flying down to meet up with me during the last week of March.
I had hoped that they would be able to wait until I was safely into South America, with my motorcycle, before ordering tickets; but our schedules conspired to make the last week of March the only time that would work for all. When I dropped Annie off at the docks to ship to South America, I still thought that I would be able to ride to our meeting in time. The week-long delay was the nail in the coffin for that plan.
But there’s no way I’m missing out on seeing them.
Fortunately, I have a family in Quito, Ecuador that is going to host me. How that came to pass is a long, awesome story which I will share later. This means that I will have a safe place to leave Annie while I fly from Quito, Ecuador to Cusco, Peru. My flight leaves on the 25th of March and will return on the 3rd of April. Essentially, the $435 ticket wipes out the money I saved from choosing the cheapest option around the Darien Gap. Lesson learned, I guess.
But that trip is not the only complication in the coming months. My good friend, Aaron Schulze, is getting married in Nebraska on April 27th. I am a groomsman in the wedding and really don’t want to miss it. I always knew it was a long shot to be finished with this chapter before the wedding, so the expense of flying back is at least partially expected.
I’ve found the flights to vary widely depending on which South American airport is chosen. A round trip ticket from Lima, Peru is around $650, while flying from Buenos Aires, Argentina is around $1,700. I will be flying out of Lima on April 20th and returning on May 1st. If nothing else, my slow pace meant that I saved some money on this ticket. Logistically, I just need to find a safe place for Annie to live in Lima while I am away.
The Death of a Dream
Though it has been on life support ever since my crash, I have had to let one of my dreams officially die: The dream of reaching Ushuaia, the very tip of South America. There is no way for me to make it there before the end of May. Weather-wise, that’s too late.
Since “Argentina” the country is a song place, a photo at “the end of the world” would have been wonderful. I’ve even dreamed about what it would look like. Alas, that will have to wait until another time. Next trip, as I always say.
Perhaps it was greedy to even consider it. The theme of this trip is not to reach the ends of the road. I didn’t ride to the Arctic Ocean in Alaska either. Even though I am disappointed, maybe it will be nice to leave a place unvisited that may inspire a similar trip in the future. Perhaps I’ll take a celebratory journey the first year that they open a road through the Darien Gap. Who’s in? 🙂
I’ve now covered over 32,000 miles on my trip. The distance around the earth at the equator is 25,000 miles. The route from the arctic circle to Usuaia is about 15,000 miles (with no detours).
I’m now over 190,000 words written. We’ve blown passed the word count of the New Testament which is (depending on translation) around 170,000. There’s a chance that I could reach 300k words on this journey. Unless, of course, I stop having noteworthy experiences. 🙂
My route through South America will look something like this. These are just the song places mapped out.
Once I reach Salvador, Brazil, I will have completed all of the song places in Latin America. Right now, I have absolutely no idea what I will do after that. I might try to ship Annie from Brazil to somewhere north of the Darien Gap. Panama, Mexico, Florida, Nova Scotia….it really doesn’t matter as long as I can ride home from there. Ground miles are cheap.
Going around the north side of South America is not feasible because of the current conditions in Venezuela. It’s just too dangerous right now.
The other option would be to basically re-trace my steps and ride all the way back to Colombia. I’m sure you would all love to read a sequel to my Darien Gap shipping document. 🙂
This decision does not need to be made for a few months, but it does weigh on me a bit. If anyone has any input or advice about getting back, I would be all ears.
That’s all for now. Once again, I would like to sincerely thank all of you who have been with me in spirit on this journey. It really means a lot to me. I hope to continue to improve in my writing and story-telling abilities. Perhaps by the end I be a good writer.