Thwarted to readjust (Ausgebremst um sich neu zu orientieren)

It took quite a long time until I finally have the peace and time to sum up the last two weeks. The story starts on my way to Portobelo, where I arrived at around noon. On my way I met a couple of Canadians (Shift happens), riding their bicycles as well, giving myself some advices for the trip on a boat, what I was in search of to get to Colombia. On my arrival in the hostal Captain Jack’s I bumped into a group, who where just about to visit a sailing boat to Cartagena, Colombia – perfect timing. The tourist guide, who took care of several activities took us to the pretty Calypsa, a sailing boat made of wood with two masts. The captain a Italian with some years of experience, so that I had a good impression and good freling that I will not drown in the Carribean Sea. The departure delayed by one day, so that their was plenty time to discover the small place Portobelo, which was discovered by Christoph Kolumbus in 1502 and whose name means beautiful harbour. A canoe tour to the nearby rivers with the tour guide Franscesco, and a two Swiss was a beautiful experience, especially the calmness and the presence of local birds. We saved a falcon, which was unable to fly and seemed to be very weak. So we took him to the village, where an animal doctor arrived one day later.

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The first few hours on the boat: I never had been on a sailing before, so I didn’t know what to expect. What I definitely not expected was the intense swing. And I was lucky that I choose the bed in the front of the boat, where there the moving was so intense, that had the feeling of falling down after a steep rise. Waves up to 5 meters hugh let me feel to be on a rollercoaster 24/7. Although I didn’t feel that bad, I had to feed the fishes twice. But later on I got used to it.
On our way we passed the San Blas Islands or KunaYala, which are controlled by the Kuna,  indigenous people, who were able to defend their territory against the Spanish invaders and still are an autonomous region as a part of Panama. The islands can be called Paradis because of the beautiful beaches and the clear water. We stayed there for three days and enjoyed swimming, snorkeling and just the beautiful atmosphere. The day we went snorkeling and we were just walking along the beach to find a good spot to discover the sealife, suddenly the crew, who remained on the boat screamed something. Due to tan upcoming thunderstorm, we though they wanted us to come back to the boat. But that wasn’t the message they wanted to transfer to us. They saw a shark and wanted us to stay out of the water. Fortunately we got to sea something big moving close to the beach, so that we finally got the message.
One night, after having a barbecue on the beach, I decided to stay on the island for the night while the others went back to the boat.

I was told to be picked up the next morning, but nobody appeared. I had no water, no breakfast no place to go a lavatory, but I had plenty of time. So, what to do on a lonely island which is as big as a soccer field. Throwing stones in the water, taking pictures,  observe little creatures on the beach, walk around the island, pack my stuff, think about some stuff, throw more stones in the water. After three other guys from the boat came to the island to snorkel I decided to swim back to the boat in my normal clothes. Just 4 hours alone on an island gave me a glimpse on the life of the Kuna. They maybe fish, produce some clothes or wristbands for tourists or pick coconuts but I guess there is not much more. I guess most of them don’t even read books, but still they seems to have a happy life. So what does a human need to be happy? For me it seemed to be pretty boring, but maybe just a thing of habit.
Some more hours we spent on the open sea, nearly 50 hours, surrounded by the sea, 10 people on the boat. I read a lot and could reflect some of my experience I gained over the last days. One thing,
which conquered my mind was the importance of people affecting the time I spent at certain places. People can inspire you and this gained inspiration is the basis of my motivation. Some people really have a big character, they can tell you something what really matters and which I never heard of. Some days later in Cartagena I deepen this thoughts by having several conversation with a guy from Norway. 
Time is passing fast sometimes and so now. I will leave the fancy Café Lulo in Santa Marta to meet a group of Argentinos, which invited me yesterday, while I was fixing another flat tyre. But more of this and more about my first days in Colombia with a new run of bad luck in the next entry.
More pictures on Flickr and Facebook.

From Garden Eden to the big town Panama City

Some days ago I uploaded some pictures of the Garten Eden without telling you about this place, whee we met Patrick, who lived in Leipzig and owned an organic shop before he left Germany. Finally he settled down in Uvita, a little village at the Pacific. After managing a hostel, he began to build the Garden Eden. Two German girls and one american guy stayed at this place as well and because of having a nice atmosphere at this place and inspiring conversations, we stayed there for three nights. All the guests helped him during the morning to build up a roof in the front of its house, clean up the house, water the garden and do some other tasks. Therefore we could it ate and sleep at his place. During our stay we only ate raw food, so vegan and nothing cooked. But we always conjure tasty stuff like Guacamole, hummus, smoothies and different kinds of salads. The house itself was an open house, so most of the „rooms“ had no walls around. I slept in a hammock for the first time and felt quite comfortable. On our last afternoon the visit of the nearby waterfall was beautiful as well and refreshing compared to the temperature of the warm ocean.
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The trip had to go on and we went on to pedal down south. The next two nights we slept in the backyard of locals, whose hospitality is amazing. They offered us juice as well as fruits and water. Using their bathroom seemed to be the most common thing on earth. Well, this is how it should be, right?
In between we had to cross the first border and so we were curious if all things will work. After we had to pay the exit tax, we had to get the exit stamp on the side of Costa Rica. With this we went to the border, where they wanted us to show them a proof, that we will leave the country. Neither we had a flight ticket, nor any other proof. So they wanted us to show them our credit card or 500 $. We were prepared and so we could pass to Panama without any bigger problems.
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One of the highlights in Panama, were the stay in Gualaca and the visit of the surrounding area. We stayed at a german woman, who one lived in Remscheid. She took us on a tour to her favourite places. A little canyon, a waterfall and two suspension bridges as well as a resort with rented houses and a tree house, operated by an old American guy with his young well-trained partner from Panama.

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The next day we slept in a police station right next to the Panamericana, and as a present we got a pineapple right according to the motto of the police „protect & serve“.
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One day before reaching Panama City we asked again at a police station near Coronado and again the served us. A policeman drove through the town to ask for an accommodation for us, returned and escorted us to the place. What a service.
Today we reached Panama City and it was really amazing to cross el Puente de las Américas, very impressive and one of the highlights so far.
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The next days we will spent in the city before we will go up the channel to Portobello, where we want to catch a boat to Cartagena.

Well, how is it goin with my tyres, I got asked. One day after I wrote my entry about all the breakdowns, it became better,BUT it was not the end of this episode. A thunderstorm was going to show up and so it was the perfect time to have another flat tyre. Unfortunately Paula also didn’t realized that my misfortune pounced on me again. This time nails of a stapler wanted to have a look into my outer tyre to greet the tube. I found three of them stucked in the outer tyre. And although the procedure of getting out the tube, close the leak and reset my tyre became a ritual during these days, the rain came faster then I could get back on my bike. But I was lucky, cause I found a shelter before an intense rain in combination with thunderbolt began to rage. So, I needed a new repair kit and from that day on the fortne find its way back to me. 🙂

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I updated the map with the marks of our night stops, which you can find here.

More pictures can be found on my Flickr Account.

Between storm, sun and people

Driving through hail thunderstorms andDSC02677 heavy winds, on sandy tracks and flooded cycle ways, carrying my bike over fallen trees or camping in the snow. This tour had a lot and it was a good test to get rid of useless stuff, to find out what is missing, what is possible to pedal during a day while having different weather and road conditions, to explore what my body was doing  in the meantime and to get a feeling of the remainng time for the places, which are passed along the way. Alive with the highly circulating blood, the feeling in the evening is great and driven by all the DSC02618pictures in my mind the day seems to be like a book, a story with me inside of it. But not enough, after all the impressions during the day, the evenings were full of encounters with friends, which I haven’t seen for a while and strangers, who were refreshing to get to know to. At the end of the day, the morning seemed to be far away.

At this point thank you, Daniel, Jenny, Johannes, Flow, Julia, David, Christian, Doro, Marisa, Karo, Jaqueline, Basti, Moritz and Peter for the hospitality and the exciting evenings.

sandy roads to Lüneburg

What else: The unbeatable Schwalbe tires got beaten for the first time by one of the thousands sticks along the way. 8 kilometers before reaching the destination for the second last day and while the sun went down, I had to play the mechanic and removed this sharp little devil, which found its way to the inner tube.

This day became the hardest for me on that tour due to the distance and the temporarily sandy road, which was nearly not possible to ride anymore. But a bunch of spaghetti at Lüneburg breathed new energy into myself. And when it comes to part to have a meal after first flat tiresuch a day, it feels so much better than in the evening of a day in the office. I feel much more grateful and whatever it is, which enters my stomach, it is greeted with pleasure.

I was delighted by all the companions, which pedaled with me along the way up north and with whom I could share impressions, meals and the position in the wind.

 

The GPS-tracker of my companion Tobias recorded most of my way from Stuttgart to Hamburg, which can be seen in this graphical depiction:

Hamburg-Tour_real

Streckenübersicht GPS

In less than two weeks I will beat my starting point in Costa Rica, so I will enjoy my last few days here with my friends and family and look forward to what will come. Tall mountains and 30 degrees in high humidity may be a bit different to the chilly springtime in Germany.

Fahren durch Hagelstürme, geplagt von starken Winden, unterwegs auf Sandpisten und überfluteten Fahrradwegen, Tragepassage über umgefallene Bäume oder Zelten im Schnee. Diese Tour hatte einiges zu bieten und war ein guter Test um sich über fehlendes oder überflüssiges Equipment klar zu werden. Zudem habe ich nun ein Gefühl davon wie viel Kilometer pro Tag mit einem voll bepacktem Reiserad angenehm zu fahren sind und was für eine Rolle Wind, Kälte, Regen, Fahrbelag, Schlaf und Höhenmeter dabei spielen. Nach 1000 Kilometern auf dem Rad, weiß ich nun was mein Körper davon hält und wie verwirrt er ist, wenn er dann mal ein paar Meter rennen muss oder sein Gefährt auf einmal nackt ohne Gepäck mit einer ungewohnte Leichtigkeit daherkommt. An jedem Abend hat man sich durch das gut zirkulierende Blut im Körper sehr lebendig gefühlt und durch die vielen Eindrücke entlang des Weges war es gegen Ende jeder Tagesetappe als ob der Abfahrtsort am Morgen schon vor ein paar Tagen verlassen wurde. Doch angekommen, begann dann der Austausch mit Freunden und Verwandten, die man länger nicht gesehen hat oder aber das Kennenlernen von Fremden, bei denen man Unterschlupf gefunden hatte. Vielen Dank an dieser Stelle nochmal an Daniel, Jenny, Johannes, Flow, Julia, David, Christian, Doro, Marisa, Karo, Jaqueline, Basti, Moritz und Peter für die Gastfreundlichkeit und die tolle Zeit an den verschiedenen Orten!

Die Tour über Stock und Stein, Asphalt und Sand hat die unplattbaren Schwalbe Mäntel auch das erste Mal besiegt. Acht Kilometer vor Lüneburg hat sich ein kleiner holziger Bösewicht durch den Mantelgummi zum Schlauch durchgearbeitet und diesen empfindlich die Luft entlockt, so dass ich durch den dann schwimmenden Hinterreifen die erste Reparatur vornehmen musste.

Dieser Tag war auch vom Gefühl her auch der härteste. Zum einen durch die Kilometer aber auch durch den zeitweise sandigen Untergrund durch den Lüneburger Wald, der kaum noch zu befahren möglich war. Aber nach einer ordentlichen Portion Spaghetti, die unser Gastgeber für uns bereit hielt, hat neue Energie in mir Einzug gehalten. An solch einem Tag Abends zu essen fühlt sich soviel besser an als nach einem Tag im Büro. Das Essen ist dann wie eine Wohltat, die man vielmehr schätzt und es sogar zweitrangig wird welches Mahl den Weg in den Magen findet.

Und nicht nur das tägliche Essen, auch die zahlreichen Begleiter haben die 9 Tage auf dem Rad zu einem tollen Erlebnis gemacht – der abwechslungsreiche Austausch, das Teilen der Eindrücke und der Position im Wind, das Durchqueren von Regen und Hagel. Danke fürs Begleiten, Tobias, Elaine, Oli, Papa, Stephanie, Rudi, Michael!

Das GPS-gerät von Tobi hat den Weg aufgenommen, den wir größtenteils zusammengefahren sind. Wen es interessiert, kann sich diesen hier gerne anschauen:

Streckenübersicht GPS

In weniger als zwei Wochen geht es dann nun los mit dem Start in Costa Rica. Die Nacht habe ich mir mal den Weg und das Höhenprofil der ersten Etappe angeschaut. Hohe Berge, dazu 30 Grad und hohe Luftfeuchtigkeit werden dann vermutlich nochmal ein wenig anders werden wie der dafür kühle Frühling in Deutschland. Bis es dann losgeht, werde ich nun noch die letzten Tage mit Freunden und Familie verbringen und das geniale Wetter genießen.