Casa de Ciclistas

Those of you that pay attention to my scarce postings on facebook have probably noticed that I managed to reach Ecuador. Not only that, I actually managed to reach the southern hemisphere. For the rest of you that did not know that – Now you do!
Colombian part of the travel continued in the same style as I was mentioning in my previous post. Seemingly endless and at times meaningless climbs that were followed by descends which, due to all the breaking they required, gave me soring knuckles on my hands. Once I actually managed to break so hard that the front brake pads heated the rim so much I got a puncture. Given the fact that this happened on a downhill going almost 30 kph, the end result was fairly predictable. First a bit of dancing on the road, trying to catch my balance, and to top it off examining the texture of the asphalt from way too close. When we eventually stopped, Lou and I were kings of the road, literally since we occupied all of it.

This however was not the only opportunity I got in Colombia to practice my skills of replacing (and repairing) the tube. All in all in Colombia I did it almost 10 times which for me is a lot.
Cannot really claim that I have learned much new stuff. Not that I have already known everything there is to know about it, it’s just that I do not really poses a talent for this kind of things. But be it as may, this is also an integral part of traveling by bicycle, same as oatmeal breakfast or the ability to eat and almost endless amount of food and after half an hour you could do with a snack. Or the daily search for a place to pitch your tent, an activity where imagination is your best companion. But when you are wandering with a bicycle through Latin America this last activity has a specific – Casas de Ciclistas.

Casas de Ciclistas are locations spread out throughout Latin America from Mexico and Guatemala all the way to Argentina and Chile. It apparently all started in 1985 in Trujillo, Peru where a local man, Lucho opened the doors of his home and invited in all the wandering cyclists that roam the roads and trails of South America. From then this kind of hospitality, so typical of the region, is spreading all over the continent and beyond. This kind of houses aren’t exactly in every town which makes them even more appealing and welcoming where they are.
My experiences with these cyclists safe heavens are currently limited to two locations, San Antonio de Prado (close to Medellin, Colombia) where Manuel and Martha make sure cyclists have a roof over their head and Tumbaco (near to Quito, Ecuador) where it has been 25 years since Santiago, Ana Lucia and their whole family started to offer to all the passing cyclists a place to rest and recuperate in the inviting environment of their home.
After my first experience in San Antonio where I came more out of curiosity to see what a Casa de Ciclistas is all about and where instead of the planned 2 days I spent 10, I have adjusted my plas so that I will also stop in Tumbaco. Just that this time around I did not set up any timeframe to my stay. So now I’m here more than 2 weeks without being able to precisely define where did all this time go.
Surely my laziness contributes a great deal to my prolonged stay, after all it doesn’t take it much to convince myself to stay one more day (several days in a row). But there is also another factor that I cannot simply overlook. And that is that while staying here a special, friendly and relaxed relationship develops with family hosting me as well as other cyclists that call this hose their current home. And it is this relaxed atmosphere that leads to the fact that we laugh a lot.
It may happen when I suggest to Santiago, who is dealing with a rat that has settled in the old house, to use one of the proven methods that have been captured in depth in the documentaries about Tom & Jerry (this is a short compilation of more powerful ones).
But there are also other temporary residents of this address that contribute to the laughter. For example, there was an elderly French cyclists that has during my stay also stopped here. Somehow the conversation lead to his one might say almost genetic proneness to accidents and comic situations. One evening he was telling a story how he, several years ago, almost destroyed peace talks between some armed groups in Chad. His method included him trying to be helpful and change a gas cartridge on a camping stove. This on its own is not really funny, but let me shed some more light on to it. This was happening in an old house in the centre of a village where, just the night before, they managed to come to an agreement about the cease fire with both negotiating groups being still in the village while he was replacing the cartridge in the kitchen. While doing that he manage to perforate the cartridge next to an open flame. What followed was a small detonation, he survived. But when he showed himself at the kitchen door (this is how I have pictured teh scene), a little burnt and all black, he was greeted by a group of armed men that thought there was a bomb attack.
Once you hear this and similar stories, laughter is guaranteed.
And this is also why I’m being “held” on these locations.

But truth be told, I should not try to diminish my laziness. One proof of it is that this post took me 3 days to write (not counting the days just thinking of writing it) and the end result is not really a masterpiece, isn’t it!
The only effective recipe for laziness I know is to kick myself in the ass and move. So tomorrow I’ll be back on the road – Or will I?!

With a Smile on my face, until next time!



    1. Hi Val! Yes, lot’s of things have happened since I left Poughkeepsie. And (judging by the photos on your page), not only to me.
      All the Best from Ecuador (and to Eric as well)


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