Monday, 9 May 2011

La Paz, Bolivia - And the band played on

I'm not usually one to blow my own trumpet but I am feeling quite pleased with myself. You see, I've travelled all the way from Portobello to La Paz without using an airplane, the most polluting means of transport. But my unblemished record ends here as I'll shortly be boarding a flight to leave Bolivia.

Bolivia has been a brilliant wee country with beautiful landscapes and traditional cultures that remain strong, adding colour to everyday life. It was so exciting to hunt out the trail of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in the spectacular scenery around Tupiza. And I visited two places that had become almost mythical in my mind over the years - the Salar de Uyuni and Lake Titicaca. Then there's nothing quite like carnival, as I discovered in Copacabana! But one of the fondest memories that I'll take away from Bolivia is that of the brass bands - they're such a unique and endearing facet to life here. It seemed that no matter where I was or what was going on, there was a brass band playing stirring tunes that gave me goosebumps all over. Long may the bands play on!

Not only am I leaving Bolivia, I'm also leaving South America. These last few months cycling through South America have been one of the most magical times of my life. The journey by bicycle has been wonderful and exciting, the scenery spectacular and the cultures rich and interesting. Of course, there have been challenges such as the earthquake and floods in Chile or crossing the deserts of Argentina. But there have been lighter moments as well such as being filmed for Argentine TV or trying to mime "anaemia" in a pharmacy in Salta! But I think what I'll remember most from this time are all the other cyclists that I met. Some, like Chris and Lesley, Simon, Eric and Gaelle, and Rodrigo, I spent several enjoyable days with. But most were just brief encounters as our paths crossed . . . a chat on the roadside . . . an exchange of stories in the campsite. Being part of this community of people pedalling up and down the Americas has been really, really special. Thinking about it will give me a warm glow for many years to come.

I may be leaving South Amercia but my bicycle journey through the Americas is not finished. In fact, a whole new American adventure is just about to begin. In one day I fly to the United States to meet my best friend and base camp manager, Graham. Over the next five months we're aiming to cycle from the east coast near Boston to the west coast at Seattle, a journey of over 4000 miles, across eight different states . . . we may even dip into Canada! It'll be dangerous - our lives will be threatened by bears or rednecks or . . . if we fall out . . . each other!

It's been brilliant having you along for the ride through South America so please keep following "the bicycle diaries" as the adventure unfolds across North America. Please also visit Graham's brilliant website, Sleepless ´til Seattle, for his blogs, photos and film clips. We may be on the same journey but you can bet your bottom dollar our blogging will be quite different! Click on the link on the right.

I'm absolutely beside myself with excitement at the prospect of joining my friend for this adventure across the States but I know that as my plane climbs out of La Paz and I cross the Andes for the last time, I'll be feeling a little sad to be leaving South America. Nonetheless, I'll be consoled by the knowledge that within a few hours I'll be speaking English again, pondering over a profusion of grocery options, munching McDonalds fries and sipping a Starbucks double-tall, extra-hot latte. God bless America!

1 comment:

  1. Just found your blog. Great reading - inspiring! You go, girl!