©2019 by Jelle.

Crashing, chilling & advancing

17/6/2019

I finished my last blog in the city of Cuenca, where I could recover for a couple of days after some tough days of climbing. I used that day to check my bicycle, since it has some technical issues. Two tiny missing parts are probably the cause of the issue, and these parts are only available in Europe. I immediately ordered them online and my father sent it to an address that is located 1000 kilometers ahead of Cuenca (thanks dad!). So now it’s a matter of waiting and hoping that it’ll arrive on time.

I left Cuenca on a Saturday morning, heading towards the coast. That meant that I was descending from the Andes for the second time. I passed a beautiful national park that took me the highest point of my trip so far; 4,2 kilometer. The views were stunning. The pictures that I took with my phone don’t quite give that impression, but believe me, it was stunning.

 

 

 

 

The descend didn’t go as planned. The first part went fine, although I had to brake to avoid a frontal collision with a group of chilling lamas.But the conditions gradually changed and it became really cloudy and misty, severely obstructing the visibility. I remember thinking that it would be over within in a view minutes, and that I would descend below these clouds again. In reality, however, the conditions actually got worse and I started to worry about the the lack of visibility. I thought that I was descending controllably, but I was wrong.

 

A fine layer of gravel suddenly loomed up from the dense fog. It was lying in the centre of the road and I had no time to react and a crash was unavoidable. I immediately slipped and fell to the ground. I painfully grinded over that gravel layer ground before I finally came to a standstill. The adrenaline rush made me stand up and go to the side of the road immediately, I had no time to think about my physical conditions. The people didn’t really adapt their speed to the bad weather conditions and they were still driving pretty fast, so they would never be able to react on time if they would suddenly see this orange guy lying in the middle of the road. My handlebar bag was torn and all my valuable items were spread on the road. I collected everything as quickly as possible and I noticed that I could move my body quite smoothly, so I realized that my physical damage couldn’t be that bad. I had quite some material damage, but my body just had scratches, so I have nothing to complain about.

 

In the meantime, many cars passed me by. It was pretty obvious that I had crashed, but they all continued. I can’t blame them, because it was just dangerous to stop, since the … was so bad. Eventually, a big car stopped and they could take me and the bike down. I friendly refused at first, but decided to take the offer anyway. This was a good decision, because the road conditions didn’t improve at all. In fact, we had to wait for half an hour because they were clearing the road from big rocks that had fallen due to the rain. When we were almost at sea level, a green paradise appeared from the disappearing clouds. A tiny disadvantage of this environment is the hot humidity that you just can’t escape.

 

The first couple of days after the crash, I felt like a very old man (I think that old men feel like the way I felt). I cycled to the last coastal city of Ecuador; Machalá. I met David and his family here, he is a member of warmshowers and I had the honor to be the first guest. David is about to move to a tiny village called Vilcabamba, which is known for its longetivety. He wants to work there independently on rancho’s, to apply his knowledge that he gained during this agricultural study. A friend of David runs an hotel in Vilcabamba and he recommended me to check it out.

 

Ultra high quality selfie; David, his mother, me and his brother.

 

I still felt pretty stiff from the crash, and I knew that a dry desert was waiting for me in Peru, so a couple more days of relaxing seemed like a very good idea. I left my bicycle and stuff at David’s house and took the bus to Vilcabamba. It is tiny village with many Americans that seek to live a long and healthy life. I had to walk half an hour before I reached that hotel of David’s friend, but as you can see, it was definitely worth the walk:

 

 

 

 

Vilcabamba in the background

 

The hotel’s location was just fantastic, with a beautiful view that oversees the so-called ‘valley of longevity'. I stayed for a couple of days to relax and enjoy the beautiful nature of this valley.

 

 

 

Vilcabamba from a different angle.

 

I really wanted to stay longer, but it was time to move on so I returned to Machalá. Vilcabamba is one of those places where you can easily spend a month or longer. I thanked David and his family for everything and already agreed upon receiving him in the Netherlands in the near future. I left with a full battery of energy and entered into Peru the same day.

 

Welcome to Peru!

 

I don’t have a lot to tell about the first weeks in Peru, since every day was basically the same. I crossed a flat, sandy desert and I had to defy strong headwinds every day. The big empty spaces of the desert do impress me a lot, though. It reminded me of Arizona. It’s boring for many people, but I personally don’t mind cycling all day through this environment. That fucking headwind was a pity, though. I had downloaded many podcasts and music, so I wasn’t bored at all. I met a Dutch couple cycling/hiking by the way, you can follow them via www.aveloventure.com.

 

 

Morning has broken

 

 

Entering into the coastal town of Trujillo meant that I had finished those 1000 km from Cuenca already, but my package hasn’t arrived yet. While waiting for that package, I decided to write a new story for my website.

 

 

 

I’m leaving the desert and will go back to the lush green mountains of Peru, which supposedly has some spectacular bike routes. I’m looking forwards to that!

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