The big 10 defined by André: Frequently asked questions

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Today I listened to the last episode of Sanft & Sorgfältig for this year, a german podcast with the musician Oli Schulz and the TV star Jan Böhmermann. Inspired by them and due to the first exchanges of words with interested people along my way I will tell you about 10 frequently asked questions and will respond them.
Sometimes I get a little bit tired of answering these questions over and over again, but I started to collect them to see what is of interest for the people, meeting a cyclist like me traveling on its bike. I also observed that the questions do differ depending on the country and the level of living. While in poorer countries the local people are rather interested in the money, tourists from Europe may rather beinterested about my performance. Other cyclists rather look for the equipment.

1.Where do you come from? Where are you going? When do you start your travel?
Of course the origin and the direction of traveling are always the first things people want to know. Sometimes you switch from Spanish to another language afterwards. I always have to emphasize that I’m from Germany, but that I started my travel in Costa Rica. If I’m not doing this, I sometimes got the question if I started my cycling in Germany. After they know that I’m started in Costa Rica, their eyes get big and there face express an astonishment before they want to know how long I already have traveled.

2.How many kilometers do you cycle per day?
After the origin, the starting point, direction and time, this one might be the most frequently asked question. In the meantime I have developed a routine in responding to that one: It’s totally different because it depends on so many things, like the road conditions, the temperature and humidity, the altitude, the wind conditions, my personal feeling and motivation and of course the amount of meters which I have to go up or down.

3. Where do you sleep?
My answer to this question differs sometimes, because some people don’t know what couchsurfing or warmshower is, nor Casa de Ciclistas. In my map I always note where I stayed for the night and what kind of place it was. I have not evaluated it so far but I suppose that I spent most of my nights in my tent (wild or payed camping), followed by payed accomondations (most of the time hostels, rarely cheap hotels). From time to time I stay with local people (Couchsurfing, warmshowers, Casa de Ciclistas or invitations). The decision depends on the outer occurrences, on my mood and if I want to take a shower or if I need Internet or electricity.

4. Do you cycle/travel alone?
This question I’m always asked when I cycle alone and there is obviously no other cyclist. So I confirm but always admit that I’ve already cycled with others for some time and that there will be more cyclists I will meet to travel together for a while.
Sometimes I enjoyed the companion, but I also like the bigger liberty when I travel on my own. Traveling alone feels to be much more intensive, cause I got to know more people and speak more spanish. An important point of traveling with other cyclists is, that you can share your experiences with somebody else. And if all the other aspects do fit very good, I definitely prefer to cycle with another person.

5. Are you not afraid when you travel in this manner?
„No, I’m not afraid“ was my answer and depending on the person I went deeper in to that topic. I dealt with the topic of fear during my travel several times and developed another point of view at this topic. As a result my fears diminished during my travel.
I still take care and I’m looking for camping place, which can’t be seen from the road for example. Or I drive concentrated when I enter big cities with a lot of traffic. But I feel comfortable in this situations and fear doesn’t affect my feelings.

5. Did you have any bad experiences with raids or thefts?
Until some days ago I could always answer, that I had never had any problems. But in the bus terminal of Tucuman people tried to steel stuff from me, but they didn’t succeed.
I’m a person who believe in the power of positive thinking and so I think that I can keep away these things by control my thinking and not giving space to bad experience imaginations.

6. How much weight do you carry with you?
I don’t exactly know how much weight I carry with me and the first time I got to know how much kilos my bicycle is, was when we had to pay per kilo, while we transported our bikes in the train from Oruro to Uyuni. So now I know that the weight of my bike is close to 20 kilograms. A stable frame out of steel, solid rims and the Rohloff shifting system might cause the weight. The amounts of kilos I carry in my bags do differ from time to time, depending on the provisions I carry with me. Over the months I reduced my weight more and more, so that I think that I’m below 25 kilos now, but to be honest I don’t know.

7. Do you have trained in advance for your travel?
Not really and I also tell the people that in my opinion everybody can travel with the bicycle. It is a matter of habituation and you train yourself during the travel. Like with a lot of things you can start with small distances and increase the daily kilometers step by step. I also meet people, who just cycled 30-40 kilometers per day.
Me myself was always doing sports and I also cycled quite a few kilometers the year before, but I haven’t done it to be fit for my travel.

8. How much money does your bike costs?
Here I’m careful with my answer and most of the time I didn’t state the right amount. Sometimes I downplay and name a price which is much lower than the real value. I guess that in some cases by bike is more expensive then several cars here in the streets and I also don’t like to talk about money that much.

9. Did you have problems with your bike?
Well, yes, but no damages, which could be solved. Flat tyres and worn brakes belong to a long journey. While I had a lot of flat tyres in the beginning, it now became very rare. From the first day in Peru until today I just had one flat tyre.
The most serious problem was, when the screw of my rear bicycle rack broke so awkward, that I was not able to get the rest of the screw out of the thread.
A one-sided crack of a chain link and lost screws of my Ortlieb panniers issued a challenge to me.
Besides these topics, everything went well with my bike.

10. When do you go back to Germany?
I don’t know by my own and it does feel good to not have a date which does limit my journey. I will decide it spontaneously depending on cheap flights back to Germany or Europe. Currently my return seems to be in the middle of April.

On the glacier of Huayna Potosí

After the volcano Cotopaxi in Ecuador, where David and I climbed to 5600 meters of altitude, it was time to start my second try to exceed the magic number of 6000 meters! Huayna Potosí with 6088m of altitude it just 30km away from La Paz and the ascent shouldn’t be that technical. But what I learned from the Cotopaxi experience was

After the volcano Cotopaxi (5897m) in Ecuador, where David and I climbed until a height of around 5600 meters of altitude, it was time to start my second try to exceed the magic number of 6000 meters! Huayna Potosí with 6088m of altitude it just 30km away from La Paz and the ascent shouldn’t be that technical. But what I learned from the Cotopaxi experience was that my body needs more time to get used to the altitude. Although I had no major problems on the glacier in Ecuador, I was close to the inner border of my physical fitness. Furthermore it was the first experience for Sam on that height and so we decided to climb step by step to give our bodies time. Another thing I learned was to have a close look on the equipment before booking a tour and so we spent over an hour in the tour agency and tried on pants, shoes, helmets, jackets, crampons and so on! The equipment was not brandnew and some parts were not in the best condition, but nothing what would impair our safety or comfort. And so we booked a 3 day tour and bought ahead the necessary things for the ascent.

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DAY 1:
In the Casa de Ciclistas in La Paz we were on an altitude of 3500m. The days before next to the lake Titikaka we were always between 3800m and 4350m, so the first aclimatization step was already accomplished. Because of a strike of the buses in the city, which blocked the streets in the whole city, we had to leave very early to leave the city. With the taxi the agency collected us from our accommodation and at their office we switched into a van to leave the city. On our way we heard that another group, who tried to leave later, was not able to get out of the center, so we were lucky. After leaving the city boundaries we went on a dirt road into the mountains towards the first refuge on 4750m. We were welcomed by a indigenous lady of the Amayram tribe. I was still quite tired and we still had time and so I first took a two hours nap in our shelter. Well rested we had lunch with a tasty vegetable soup and for me a vegetarian main dish with rice, egg, french fries and salad while Sam was having chicken instead of the egg. I was suprised that I was asked in the tour office about being a vegetarian – very considerate!
After the strengthening we accompanied by our host woman and her child to a nearby glacier where we met Adrian, our guide, who gave us a first briefing how to use the equipment. On our way we were walking to the clouds of a thunderstorm. The noise of the thunder was reechoing in the mountains and generated a mighty atmosphere. We arrived the glacier and got to know Adrian. The first few introductions where easy to learn and viable, the second part was new to me and more challenging. Sam and me had to learn how to overcome the steep face out of ice and subsequently a vertical ice wall. And although we will not face a vertical wall on our way to the top, we were happy to have gained that experience. After that lesson we went back to the refuge were we had an extensive meal in the afternoon and plenty of time to relax.

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DAY 2:
We got up at around 7:30 and had an extensive breakfast. Before  ascending to the second refuge on 5130m, we explored the surroundings of the first refuge cause there were still some more time left. For the water supply they constructed a canal from a upper lake, which is filled by glaciers. Furthermore the use all the glacier water to produce energy, so huge power grid transport the energy to La Paz and El Alto.

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At 10 a.m. we left, the weather was good, some sun and some clouds took turns. The equipment for the glacier in our backpack, as well as some food and the sleeping bag, we had to carry around 15 kilos up the mountain. The way was good to walk, the altitude bounded the speed but after two hours we arrived in Campo Alto! The day ended by playing the card games ‚Rikiki‘ and ‚Belotte ‚which were teached by group of belgium travellers. The atmosphere was very good under all the groups who wanted to climb to the top! At 7 o’clock everybody went to bed to gain energy for the next day.

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DAY 3:
At midnight a guide entered the bedroom by making the noise „bru bru bru“ to imitate an alarm and one by one everybody went on their feet! Somebody was playing a song on their cell phone and suddenly everybody were tapping in the rhythm of the song. It seemed as if everybody were excited to go up.
Sam and me were informed that we will have another guide for the ascent. Juan seemed to be a little tired at the beginning, cause he first forgot to get on his crampons and after he put them on, he left his gloves in the snow. Good start, I thought, but no further similar incidents happend. The way up was again taking ages – step by step we were walking up. In the dark the world of ice and snow around us as well as deep holes and slopes were not visible. Only the lights of the other groups and the alighted feet of Sam and the snow in front of me were able to be seen.

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Steep parts and nearly plane parts alternated. After around 4 hours we were going up on a steep ridge of maybe one and a half meters wide, where on both sides it was going down into the darkness. Leaving that behind it became to get lighter – the sunrise was getting closer until we could turn off our headlamps.

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The last part of the path was possible to see and with it the steepness of the last few meters to the top. Some groups were already inside that part, struggling to go up. Other groups already turned around and I also had my problems. I had to fight against a rising headache and while we had a break I was getting tired. The guide already asked if we should turn around but we were close and so Sam and me mobilized our last energy. The steepest part at the end was demanding everything of our endurance and concentration and I was again at a point to give up.
When I was finally reaching the top, I was so touched by the view and by the fact that I had really reached the top of Huayna Potosí, which is an insane 6088 meters high.

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We enjoyed the view for some minutes, but due to the rising temperatures we had to start the way back to the refuge. After 6 hours of such a hard climb we still had to stay concentrated for the descent and it appeared to become a very challenging way down cause due the sun the ice was starting to melt. This fact entailed that the crampons were full of snow and so the grip was getting less. Now we were able to see all the beautiful forms of the glacier, but also the steep slopes directly besides us. Reaching the ridge, the situation was extremely dangerous. We went down very slowly, removing the slippery snow underneath the crampons nearly every step. After another 3 hours we were happy to reach the Refugio. Here we had one hour to rest before we went down another 1 1/2 hours to the second refuge were the car to la Paz was already waiting.

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It was another amazing experience, but I guess I wouldn’t do it again. The view from the top is mind-blowing, but it does also demand everything of yourself, it’s definitely not healthy and also not without a risk!

Over the altiplano to La Paz

In and around Cusco I’ve spent heaps of time. The time in the town itself, Machu Picchu, Choquequirao and the development project in Quiquijana hold beautiful experiences. After the trek with Vincent and Camille, we went back to Cusco, where I met Sam for the first time. He wrote me several weeks before and revealed that he will cycle from Lima down south and that his way might cross mine. In the meantime we are traveling together since some days. But as well as Vincent and Camille, he still wanted to visit Machu Picchu and so I initially went on with my travel by my own! And at first I had to go back to Quiquijana, where I left my bike and some of my stuff. A last time in the Albergue Uñacha to say goodbye to the volunteers and the nuns. Due to the advanced day, I decided to stay another night in the accommodation of the volunteers.

The next day I was cycling uo next to the river towards the altiplano. The first night I was quite exhausted and the altitude made me feel tired. Only a few kilometers before the pass La Raya I needed to take a rest and finally set up my camp in a garden of some locals. The nights became colder due to the altitude of around 4000 meters but till now my equipment always provided me a warm and comfortable night. The highest point of my travel on my bike I reached in the morning, Abra La Raya with 4335 meters above the sea level.

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I’ve reached the altiplano and after some meters of descent the street was more or less plane. In Pukara I was allowed to stay in the garden of the police. When I was about to push my bike into the shade I didn’t recognize a little house with 7 little puppies inside and before I realized was was happening I felt the mouth of the mother dog around my ankle. The first time in my life I was bitten by a dog. Fortunately the dog didn’t bite that strong, so that only a small mark could be seen and I had no further pain, but I was a bit suprised by that incident. But not enough – during I my discover of the village and their ruins, the dog attacked my tent and left behind a hole in my outer tent, luckily on a spot where is not that fatal.

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On my way to Juliaca, the biggest city of the province Puno, I saw several Alpacas and Llamas as well as the Peruvian Train who connects Puno to Cusco.

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Juliaca itself was the next stop and another nest of chaotic traffic. Geovanni, a warmshower, who is having a Casa de Ciclistas hosted me and offered me a good place to save my picture in my cloud and to change my oil of my Rohloff, which needed to be changed after more than 5000 kilometers of riding. With a instruction video in the Internet it was not a big thing.

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In the evening I cooked with Geovanni while having a good conversation. A nice person, who is doing woodwork in his house and already hosted over 1000 cyclists in his house. From Juliaca it was just 40 kilometers to arrive Puno, next to the lake Titikaka. The town is not that beautiful, but it does have a nice vegan/vegetarian restaurant called the Loving Hut.
The floating island as well as the steady islands Amantani and Taquile were worth a tour from Puno and so I was in the harbour very early to catch one of the boats. The floating islands of he uros are very touristic but the history behind it is great and the construction of the islands as well. And so we stopped on one of island where president Ernesto explained us how the island is constructed. The tortora reed, which grows in huge amounts in the lake, is the basic element for the buildings, their traditional boats and the ground of the island. In the time of the incas the uros people used their islands as a refuge in case of attacks, nowadays just around 70 islands are left.

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On the boat I got to know two girls from America and one from England, with whom I was staying in a house of a local family on the island Amantani. After lunch we went up to the highest point of the Island, where the temple Pachamama was placed. Besides the nice view over the lake I got to see the most beautiful sunset of my life.

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The day I came back from the islands Sam and Camille arrived in Puno, but they were about to see the islands as well and so I was again goin on on my own. In Juli, a small village next to the lake, I found a perfect spot to camp directly next to the water. Sam, who missed the departure of the boats in the morning, decided to hitchhike to Juli too, so that we both camped next to the lake. But not enough – a guy from Uruguay showed up, traveling by walk and is already 4 years in the road. He was only having a backpack with his tent and some arts he sells in he road – crazy and amazing person. So he stayed as well next to us, so that it felt a bit like a camping spot. A hundred meter from our tent accumulation a french couple stayed in their van and invited us for breakfast.

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The next day I started my first cycling day with Sam and my last day in Peru. This day we were about to cross the border to Bolivia to reach Copacabana. And in contrast to Equador, where I had two flat tyres in the last two days, my tyres had not one flat tyre in Peru, so two months without the need to patch my bicycle tube. Most of the time we were riding next to the lake with a beautiful view. In the middle of the day we met Chase, an Australien police officer,  and Shima, a 65-years-old Japanese, whit whom we were cycling until La Paz. The border-crossing was again no problem, like it had been on all borders so far.

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Arrived in Copacabana we found a nice campsite, where they also offered beds, which were just some cents more expensive than the price for a tent, so that we weren’t that motivated to set up the tents.

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A nice concert in bar of a german and an australian musician and a trip to the Isla del sol were the highlights in and around Copacabana.

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As a multicolored bycicle group we left Copacabana through the mountains to the ferry over the lake Titikaka. The ferries were quite old, around 40 years old the captain was guessing and so it was like a little adventure to cross the water on that wobbly construction out of wood.

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Savely arrived on the other side in San Pedro de Tiquina, we met David, another cyclist from Australia. Due to the advanced time we decided to find a place to camp and set up our five tents next to each other on the rim of the lake.

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113 kilometers were left to La Paz and for Shima it was the longest distance ever, so that we started early in our last cycling together. Suddenly Sam warned me that something is wrong with my Ortlieb bag at the back and as I had a look I realized that one screw was missing and my bag was hanging down a bit. I first fixed it with a rope but later that day on a bad road inside a roadwork the bag was about to fall again. A second screw came off and got lost and so I had to fix the bag again, this time with a cable fixer, but on the last meters downhill into La Paz the plastic of the cable fixer  got broken, so that I decided to put my bag pack on my back and the Ortlieb side bag into the middle of my rack for the rest of the day. Here in La Paz, we stay in another Casa de ciclistas, where Christian, a half german welcomed us. Here we will spent some more days, time to find new screws to repair the bag, to discover the city and to talk to all the other cyclists from all around the world, who are staying as well in the Casa de Ciclistas. But as another highlight of my trip, Sam and me decided to climb Huayna Potosí, a 6088m high mountain, 30 kilometers from La Paz.

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Travel Equipment while cycling through Latin America: Sleeping

Three months on my travel trough Latin America, Costa Rica,  Panama and Colombia are already passed and currently I find myself in the middle of Ecuador.
Time to write about my experiences with my equipment. What equipment turned out to be redundant? What seems to be indispensable? What do I miss?
I will first write about my sleeping equipment. The bike itself, the clothes, the equipment for washing, cooking and elektronic devices as well as other will follow later on.

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The Tent Exped Venus II : I’m very happy to have this tent with me. The composition is very fast, it only takes 3 minutes until it is set up.  The inner tent ist connected to the outer tent, so that it is possible to   built it in the rain. For one person it’s plenty of space, so no problem to fit in all the bags. The space is not totally necessary, but for such a long travel with many nights inside I enjoy to have a little bit of higher comfort. On the other side I have to accept the higher weight. The awning I use to cover my bike sometimes, so that it is close and covered from rain. For the both entrance you can choose between a the mosquito net for warmer days or close completely to have it a little bit warmer inside. You can completely open the two side of the tent to let the air circulate. Especially on hot days, you will appreciate it. The only thing I have to admit, is, that if you close the net, the air does not really come trough in a sufficient manner. But I guess this net still has to be invented.

Hard facts:
Max. Weight: 3,1 kg
Size: 220 × 125 × 105 cm
More: Exped Venus II

Sleeping Bag Deuter Exosphere -4°C: So far I haven’t had any problem with getting cold in my sleeping back. In Germany I used it by -5 degrees (combined with the Thermarest Neoair inside a tent), and felt comfortable. The stretching material let me move and adopt different poses inside my sleeping bag. The hood can be closed to a small gap, so that little air can escape and therefor stays warm inside. The packing is very easy and you can just stuff everything inside without winning a fold competition.

Hard facts:
Temperatur Range: Comfort +2°C, Limit -4°C
Size (Large): 220×72-90× 45-56 cm
Weight: 1550g

Inflatable Mattress Thermarest Neoair X-Therm:  I bought this mattress because of the R-value in relation to the weight. The R-value indicates the resistance of the warmth. This value divided by the weight results in a number which gives you some indication about the efficiency. The two air chambers leave the cold air at the bottom of he mattress while the upper chamber is filled with the heated air of the human body. To me this seems to be a good concept. The bag can be used to inflate the mattress so that no moist air of your breathing can get inside, but this procedure is very tedious, so that I just blow it up without using it. Some people complain about the noise while moving, but this might depend on your sensitivity. So far I felt warm and comfortable with it.

Hard facts:
R-value: 5,7
Weight: 570g
R/weight: 10
Size: 63 x 196 cm
More about the R – Wert (german): Outdoortrends R-Wert
Übersicht Isomatten

Footprint/ Base layer:
In Germany I tried to get the adequate Footprint for my tent. It was just before I left, so I couldn’t buy it on the Internet. But also the attempt to purchase it in a shop didn’t work. So I found one base layer in a size, which suits more or less the size of my tent. So far I haven’t used it so often as an additional layer underneath my tent and due to plenty of space inside, I don’t need it to put my bags onto in the awning. But this peace of plastic can be used as well for other purposes: covering the bike to protect it against water (I used it on the boat between Panama and Columbia), using it as a picnic blanket or as a sun or rain shield tauted between some trees.

Hiking Cotopaxi – experience the power of height

Some weeks ago, David, the Australien cyclist, planted the idea of climbing the Cotopaxi in my mind – the second highest mountain of Ecuador and the second highest active volcano of the world with 5897 meters of altitude.

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Three days ago we finally booked a tour in Quito, cause you need special equipment and a guide to go up to the summit. We have been told to be guided by an english-speaking well trained guy around 30 years old, but finally just one aspect of the description was true.
Yesterday we left early in the morning to get a bus to Papa Guay, a landhouse, some kilometers to the south of Quito, where we had to wait for some hours until we met our 51 year old guide, who could only speak Spanish and where we got our equipment. „These shoes are a bit to big, do you have smaller one’s?“ – „No, we only have this size.“ Very suprised about this, cause its included in the tour but we took what was available. We met another couple from France and the Netherlands, who were going to do the hike as well and shared the same car up tho the Refuge. They also weren’t that happy with their hiking clothes, especially her shoes were to small, so that the dutch girl had blisters the next day. So it felt, that the garage off the equipment was more a second hand store during its clearance sell.
However, we got a nice meal in the landhouse Papa Guay before we left to the national park Cotopaxi, where we walked a first 20 minutes uphill from the parking lot to the refuge José Rivas, which is situated on an altitude of 4864 meters. It was cloudy and it rained a bit, but we were all looking forward to good weather during our hike which would start at one in the morning. The accommodation was renovated a short time ago, offered heaps of space and had 3 big bedrooms containing three floor bunks. Even flat Oled Lights were used to alight the rooms.

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The guide of the other group, who could speak english, gave us four a short introduction about the procedure and the told us the rules in the mountain: every two persons always one guide and build one group, which will stay together during the hike; whatever happens we should only be aware that we are humans and according to this treat each other like this; the weather, the mountain and the condition of the persons determine if it could be necessary to abort the hike.
After dinner, which we had at 6 p.m., we went to bed. Everybody was excited about the upcoming hike and got out of their warm clothes to jump as quick as they could into their sleeping bags. And although I had my doubts I fell asleep very quick. But during the night I woke up cause I had to pee (due to the altitude this happens to me every night since we are in the mountains). Unfortunately the toilet was in the neighbor building and it wasn’t that warm outside, so I went out of my warm sleeping back into the cold night, dressed in my long underwear, big trekking boots, my hard-shell rain jacket and a headlight to relieve my bladder.
At midnight we all went out of bed to enjoy a light breakfast and packed ourselves in at least three layers of clothes. In a good mood, David and me, as well as some othergroups stepped out to crest Cotopaxi. The wind was low, the night clear and ceiling above us was star covered, so perfect condition. After some minutes we reached the glacier and put on our crampons, connected each other with a rope and entered the eternal ice, which also here shrink from year to year. With smalk steps we walked slowly to handle the deoxygenated air. It was very steep inbetween and we had to watch out for little crevasses. In the far distance we could see the lights of the southern part of Quito, down the hill the headlights of the other groups, which were all behind us. After quite a while we made a break to drink some water and eat some chocolate to keep high the sugar level. „5100 meters“, we got answered as we asked for the altitude. We expected to already overcome more.

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We went on and I still have the picture in my mind: the rope in front of me, sometimes loose on the white ground, sometimes more tense which indicated to me to walk a bit faster. It felt like an eternity, step by step up the hill. The whole town of Quito appeared behind the mountain which had hidden it at the beginning. Only lights, snow and ice which accompanied us. Next stop, only 3:40, we shouldn’t ask again, it’s still a long way up. It became colder and David’s hands were freezing, mine as well were getting colder, but still on a bearable level. Since around 5200 meters a weak headache accompanied to my onesided world of going up. The moon appeared. David shook his hand to warm up, but while doing this he slinged away his glove. Luckily we found it, after we searched the slope with our headlights. Step by step up the hill. I still felt fine, but David showed first signs of exhaustion due to the altitude. Some minutes later he fell down on his knees, but stood up again. The wind increased on one side of the mountain and the communication became difficult. David went down on its knees a second time, dizziness and problems with his stomache bothered him and made it a very hard hiking for him. With his strong will he stood up again. It happened over and over again and as we reached the announced black rock, which indicated the last few meters we had to take the decision to finish our expedition or to abort the hike. David was not feeling fine at all, I guess he felt like inside a delirium. We already reached 5600 meters and It started to become light. all the other groups were behind aus and so we waited some more minutes to see if any person had similar  problems with the altitude. Four groups passed by, some hikers weren’t in a good state as well, but all of them still in a sufficient condition to go on and try to reach the summit.
We turned around and with the first sunrays we could se all the objects and the surroundings, we couldn’t see on our way up. We were encircled by fog and the white landscape, it started to snow a tiny bit. The way down took as well an eternity and I started to get tired as well. We reached the end of the glacier and got rid of the crampons and the rope. Free again we trudged ourselves down to the refuge, where we had a warm tea before we felt asleep.

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It was a nice experience, my first time on a glacier, my first time on 5600 meters and I totally happy to have done it. I was impressed by the iron will of David, his ambition, which let him stood up several times. The life is more important then any challenging mountain hike. It’s always important to respect the signs of its body and not overdo more then it’s getting too dangerous. And David, believe me, I’m not disappointed to not have reached the top. I learned a lot while hiking Cotopaxi and it was one of my most intensive experiences till I started my travel. And I’m sure that with more time for acclimatization, we would have reached the summit.

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About the motivations of deceive people

I guess some of you might know the situation, where you have signed in for something without actually noticing that you did or you haven’t realize that there are costs which are linked to the action. The fine print is often not noticeable or costs are hidden in the long text of terms and conditions. Sometimes just one mouse click can lead to a contract. The motivation behind this method is to gain money by taking advantage of gaps in the laws or even by doing this with full awareness of the unlawful act. Most of the time organisations, which use their intelligence to rise their income, are acting this way.

So how does this look like in a country like Colombia? Just an example what happened to me in Cartagena: I couldn’t charge my tablet anymore due to a loose electronic contact. So I gave it to a repare shop, where I had to pay half of the prize in advance. The next day I went back to the shop to get back my devise. I checked it and noticed that the SD card was clamped in the case of the tablet, so I made the man aware of that. He directly went back to his colleague, who opened the case again to fix the problem, but due to the pressure my SD card was broken and unusable. He was totally aware of what caused the broken SD card, but told me that he didn’t know if it was broken before. Concerning the repair of the loose contact we remained that I will try to recharge the tablet with my own cable, although they had the same cables in their shop. When I came back to the hostal the recharger connection didn’t work as it was before. So I went back and although my trust was lost and my expectations were gone, I gave them a second chance.
Next day the display of my tablet wasn’t working at all, cause they destroyed another internal connection.
But the important question of that story is: What was their motivation? Did they use their intelligence to rise their income? I don’t think so. Some of them just work to survive. It’s not the greed to get more money but rather the fear of not been able to feed their families. Paying me a new SD card is not a small amount of money for them an worth more then their whole tried service.

In both cases the humanity is not in the foreground. When money comes into play, egoistic thoughts determine the situation. But who would you blame more? The one whose motivation is the greed to get more money or the one who has to fight his whole life to survive?

Muchas Cosas

After I extensively enjoyed a last shower at home, I will let you know about my last days before my departure. It was full of different preparations, encounters and thoughts.

Yesterday was the first day during the last week, where I felt a little bit stressed and therefor felt tired at the end of the day. This was caused by the luggage, the entry requirements to Costa Rica and some equipment, which is not easy to find.  Its definitely good to exactly know what are the weight restrictions for the flight. At the end it will all work, but instead of 65 kg (35 bike+23 luggage+7 hand luggage) I just had 56 kg (30+20+6) and caused by the 5 bags, which will decorate my bike, I had to find a big old suitcase to fit in some of the bags. First my idea was to put most of the bags into my bike carton, but with around 23 kg weight of my bike, I couldn’t pack much more into the bike carton. Now everything  is being well locked.

In case you want to fly to Costa Rica and continue your journey by bike, your task is to approve at the airport, that you will leave the country again. There are two practicable options, how to solve this issue: you can by a ticket for a flight, which at best should be fully refundable or get a bus ticket to Panama or Nicaragua. A bus ticket can only be purchased from there, no direct online possibility. On costaricabustickets.com you can contact a service, which will take care of the bus ticket, but they charge you more then the actual price. So I choose the path of asking my kind Couchsurfer Karol, who bought the ticket for me (copy of the passport necessary). Furthermore I got to now that the ticket includes a commission for leaving Costa Rica and an entry fee for Nicaragua. Well, today she sent me a photo with the necesary ticket, really kind and so this issue is solved.

Concerning to get a ground sheet for my tent and/or a tarp is nowadays a challenge, if you want to buy it directly in a shop. Some weeks ago, I also tried to get carbon brushes to repair the washing machine- impossible in local shops. I have the feeling, that this time is up in which you could get these things in specialized shops. The online market has won its crusade – really sad. I called around 10 shops along the way to the airport and only one could offer me a something similar to what I need.

I got asked a lot of questions in the last few weeks about my journey. And due to this I will answer the Top5 now:

1. When will you start your journey? Today, at 21:50 my airplane will leave from Frankfurt.

2. Are you already excited? It keeps within limits. I tend to get really excited some hours and minutes in advance. But I’m looking forward to.

3. How did you plan your route? I haven’t planned. At least not so whole way to Patagonia, impossible and against my idea of this journey. I checked the route to my first destination trough San José and roughly the way to Paula, who will accompany on my journey.

4. Will you travel alone? No, I will travel with Paula, who I met „on the internet“. Later on Tobias will join us for a couple of months.

5. What are you taking with you and how heavy is your luggage? I will have a couple of things which I will carry with me. Some of my equipment is already listed here. I will add some more in the next days/weeks. I never cared about the weight until I had to check my luggage weight for the flight. My bike should be around 23 kg and the equipment around 27 kg. So roundabout 50 kilos should be the overall weight.

 

Well, it’s time to carry out some final stuff. In 24 hours I will sweat in the heat of Costa Ricas sun while finding my way to the center of San José! Adios Alemania!

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Die deutsche Version kommt bei Zeiten. 🙂