Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Just got word that the glasses should be here within three days. That opens the window to continue cycling by this weekend!

Monday, January 24, 2011

So, life in Flores continues. Los Amigos Hostel. Lots of travelers from all over the world come through here, but those from Australia, Germany, Finland, and the US stand out. The island is quite small and comfortable. It is surrounded by Lake Peten, which is pleasant to swim in. The docks on the West side attract swimmers each afternoon and evening. The sunset is nice to watch from lakeside each day.
As I wait for the package to come in the mail, I am studying Spanish and Portuguese, and I applied for an online tutoring position in Math, English and Elementary Science; eventually, I will add Chemistry, Physics, and Biology--I just have to take and pass the tests. The application process will include a mock tutoring session and a test about using the application interface they company uses. If I get this job, it will be a nice way to earn a bit of income on the road. I will have to make sure I arrive at a location with internet access in time for my tutoring appointments; this should not be an issue as long as I stay near civilization, sticking near at least small-sized cities.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I met some other touring cyclists here. One Anna of Melbourne, Australia who has been traveling and touring on bicycle for the last year and a half. Her blog, full of great photos and commentary, is Another couple of travelers, Vinko and Colette, are exploring eco-lodges, and their blog is:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I am in Flores, Guatemala; I am here to wait for a package to come in the mail--a new pair of sports glasses, prescription, so I can play soccer along the way during my trip without worrying about them getting smashed. I can use them while cycling, too, and they protect against sand, dust and wind. The glasses should arrive in the next few days, hopefully. In the meantime, I am staying at Los Amigos Hostel, which costs 35 quetzales, or $4.50/night.
I visited Tikal a few days ago; the ride to it is pretty hilly. Mostly uphill there, downhill back.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Belize City to Succotz

Biked more than 80 miles in a trip from Belize City to Succotz, Belize. Terrain is getting hilly. I am exhausted so I will have to make a more full post tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Slight Update

Today I rode from Orange Walk to Belize City and caught a water taxi to Caye Caulker. Last night, I slept in the firestation in Orange Walk.
I am getting used to Belize; it is definitely different. Especially in the North, it is a mix of Spanish, English and Creole. In Belize City and in Caye Caulker, it is mostly Creole and English. I am learning some of the Creole. They say it is a mix between English and the African languages originally spoken by slaves brought to the Caribbean Islands and Belize mainland. I am currently tired from my ride so I will post more tomorrow morning after I get some much needed sleep at the moment. Cheers.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I am in Orange Walk, Belize now, taking care of some business. Just met another traveling cyclist, Parys Lisiecki of Poland, blog at had lots of stories to share from the road.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Likely route today

Likely route today. Crossing into Belize after a couple dips--one in the lake at Bacalar and one in Cenote Azul, just South of Bacalar.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Ok, I just arrived in Bacalar, Mexico. I rode 120 km or 75 miles. At the beginning of the day, after I had a large breakfast and two cups of coffee, I was really hauling. By the end of the day, I was struggling/dragging/going slowly--but I made it nonetheless. I even turned down a ride offer at about 3:30pm, I am so proud of myself^^. I left at about 11:30am or 12pm, and I arrived at 6:15pm, after dark. I am expecting Bacalar to be awesome, like paradise. It is on a large, fresh-water lake, and there is swimming. I am sure there is lots of wildlife.
Perhaps I will get up early and go swimming, and then head out on bike. Or I will stay in Bacalar all day, enjoy it, and leave the next day. My hotel, or "pousada", room is only 200 pesos or $18/night. And it is fairly nice--large bed, bathroom with shower, first floor near the entrance--I can easily roll my bike in and out. That price, combined with what Bacalar has to offer, makes staying the day more attractive.
To recap today: I got up around 9:30am and packed my bags. Then I had breakfast at the Pheasant and the Deer hotel's restaurant. I ate the last of my turkey and cheese sandwiches and then I ordered lots of food to power me through the day: "lime soup" which contains chicken, tortilla chips, diced tomatoes, tasty broth, and a slice of lime; fresh fruit covered with yogurt and granola; a large orange juice; water; and two cups of coffee. After I finished breakfast, I loaded my bags onto my bike. The hotel staff joked with me that I would get to Bacalar (112km) in 1 hour. I bid them farewell and headed first to the bike shop to see if they had a bar-end cap. As it is a road-bike part, naturally they did not have it. So I hit the road towards Bacalar, snapping a shot of the hotel on the way out.
I turned on my music, including some new tracks and some "Power of Positive Thinking" tracks my Norman Peale. Again, the first part of the day, I was really high-tailing it. I stopped several times throughout the day: to refill my water bottle; to buy pineapple juice and coconut water; to eat a chicken "salbute"--a fried tortilla type thing with chicken, tomato and avocado on top--and limeade in the town of limes--"Limones"; to check out the town of Buenavista and its lake view and access (took picture); a couple other times to rest and drink water.
Going through my head throughout the day: the first part of the day I was focusing on the horizon, the furthest point on the road I could see, which basically focuses me and motivates me to reach that point. This focus, combined with being well rested and the coffee, resulted in high power output and fast progress. Later in the day, pain in my back, between my shoulder blades, and in my hands and wrists began to dominate my experience, and the fatigue in my legs and body overall. This I suppose can be expected towards the second of consecutive 100km+ days, both against the wind. Nevertheless, I would like to find a way to eliminate the pain between my shoulder blades and in my hands and wrists. I have been thinking of installing the trekking bars I have in my luggage or getting a different drop bar that is more anatomical, perhaps flares out a bit at the bottom, and perhaps is a bit wider at the top. If I go with the confort bars, I will also have to order a different set of brake levers and shifters. The comfort bars will be better for rougher terrain, with more gravel, stones, dirt and/or bumps. I can probably expect more of that further South into Central America. At this point, I am only considering changing bars; I am hoping that just rest and practice will lessen or eliminate the pain. The fatigue can be addressed with increased rest, enhanced nutrition, practice, and evening out my exertion throughout the day.
The next leg of my trip will likely put me in Belize. Chetumal, still in Mexico and a bit out of the way, is only an hour and a half down the road and may or may not be worth the time. I will have to look at the map to determine where in Belize I will stop next.
At the moment everything is going well. I am feeling good. And I will celebrate my birthday in Belize, it appears. Perhaps I will make it to one of those awesome islands off of Belize's coast.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Possible route tomorrow.
I'll start with some pictures from the last couple days, and then some narrative.
The hostel cat caught a small iguana.
Some friends I made at the Lobos Inn hostel in Tulum.
Other friends I made at Lobos Inn.
I hate to post this pic, but it is reality; and it is the closest I may ever get to one of these birds. Tropical bird road kill--on a road next to the BioReserve Sian Ka'an.
Wild flower on the side of the road.
I believe turkey vultures on the side of the road, straight out of the Jungle Book.
"Welcome to the Maya Zone"
The horizon.
My hotel room at El Faisan y El Venado (the Pheasant and the Deer) in Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Ok, I just biked from Tulum to Felipe Carrillo Puerto, or Carrillo Puerto for short. Pheasant is a local delicacy/staple; on the way, a Mayan woman was selling a prepared and cooked pheasant on the side of the road for 200 pesos, or about $17. I know she is Mayan because I had stopped at a bus stop to rest and she, two other women, and one of their daughters were all speaking Mayan to one another. They conversed with me in Spanish; I asked if the little girl spoke both Spanish and Mayan. They confirmed, and then asked if I spoke English and Spanish; I confirmed and added Portuguese.
Then a teenage boy pulled up on his mountain bike, with a slingshot hanging from the handlebars. We started talking. He admired my bicycle; I asked him what the slingshot is for and he said for hunting chachalacas, a wild bird common throughout Central America, and a common delicacy. He also hunts other animals for a living. I asked him if he speaks Maya, and he said it is his first language.
The total miles today were about 63; about 100 km. As I started out the ride at 11:30am, the wind was directly against me and I knew I was in for a workout. The first part of the day was fairly slow. I stopped at a restaurant for a melon-pineapple-banana smoothie and to refill my water bottle. Further down the road, I stopped for a nectarine and a turkey and cheese sandwich I brought. At one stop, I had a pear. At one stop, I had a pear. At the bus stop, I had another such sandwich and an apple.
After the stop during which I ate a pear, the thought of setting some sort of World Record entered my head, and I used the idea to motivate me to go faster. After the bus stop stop, as the sun got lower in the sky, the light was very pleasant. I began to focus on the horizon; my goal became to "get to the horizon". Keeping my focus at the farthest point on the road I could see, I was motivated to get to that point. Obviously, I kept arriving at the point I saw, and then would have a new goal, a new point, a new horizon to reach, motivating me forward.
I don't have an odometer or speedometer; I think this is good as I don't think about the numbers. I think about more experiential things, ways of thinking about my journey. This horizon focus was a great one for me today. The road was smooth enough that I did not have to focus on the immediate road; I could trust that there were no potholes, gravel, stones or other debris. Looking at the horizon and focusing on arriving there ("Llegale!"--"Get there!" is a Spanish expression I was saying to myself) made me go faster, provided focus and motivation, and helped me transcend my thoughts about how slow I may be going, how far I have to go, pains I may be experiencing in my body, etc. The goal was real, right in front of me. And the light at sunset was perfect for looking at the horizon--not too bright and the sun was no longer beating down on me.
I am feeling good about things now. It was a challenge to break away from the security and attractions of the tourist area, and to forgo all of the rest of the possible tourist attractions I did not get around to doing: I did not make it to many of the best cenotes for snorkeling; I did not go for the SCUBA diving certificate and do lots of diving in the cenotes and the open water. My trip is not about all of these things. Many tourist attractions will be available all along the route. Some of them I will do; some of them I won't. Just biking to a new place is an exhilarating experience that perhaps could be a tourist offering, but it is included in my trip instead of being an extra as many of these other attractions are.
I think I will continue the journey South tomorrow; I will need to get some good nutrition and sleep.