Biking from Vancouver to Ushuaia
Toward a sustainable agriculture
October 15th were our first pedal steps that will take us from Vancouver to Ushuaia to meet local actors on the subject of respectful and sustainable agriculture. The access to land and its exploration are totally interdependent with human live. By crossing America on our bikes, our main goal is to meet those humans that act in agricultural field, to learn and to understand the local issues of each country. Travelling by bike is a peaceful and sustainable way to discover our world. It is a pleasure to share our jouney and experience with the anglophone speakers with that following section.
We are really pleased and excited to present that English version of our journey, with the precious help of our two translators, great friend Marie-Michelle Lafontaine, and Jans' mom , Nadine Bocchietti.
November 10th - Shawinigan, QC
Back in Canadian lands recently re acclimatization is needed.
Emotions and satisfaction we felt in reaching the Argentine border, that was our country finally destination. The land of fire, place the extreme south of the continent, it will be for another epic.
Mild back or rather a modern landing in our western world. A whole year of life, great intensity, to reach Argentina. A go where the time was dictated by the rhythm of our pedals.
The return we seemed so unreal, futuristic. 12 hours of flight and we're back to the same starting point. The offset is not that of time zones but rather that of another reality.
Our reality this past year consisted of our bikes as a means of propulsion, and human discovery, as fuel. Back to basics, where everyday matters were to feed, shelter. While moving reasonably, depending on what our energy allowed us.
Find a sedentary world where hot water, electricity, food stocks and automotive are the norm. Where time crowd, because life is such an aimless course. Where consumption, appearances, money, possession rule.
The real shock return not opposing this duality between these two realities. Rather, it is to digest, absorb, and recognize this wave of humanity that we have received in the last month.
Rub sharing, kindness, generosity, aid, all in simplicity and spontaneity overwhelming.
Here we make it soft landing following this fascinating human adventure. The balm to the heart, the love of family and close to soften it off, and return to another form of critical.
J & J
"Every man is torn between two needs. The need of the canoe, that is to say the trip to tear oneself and the need of the tree, that is to say, rootedness, identity. the men constantly roam between these two requirements sometimes yielding to one, sometimes to the other, until they understand that it is with the tree that produces the canoe "
Melanesian myth of the Island of Vanuatu
October 13-Jujuy, Argentine.
The borders of the able
Shortness of breath, panting. Beating heart into the temples. A wind so powerful that it is impossible to agree breathe. sustained effort to touch the unbearable.
Be convinced that we can do it. But doubt is pervasive, its hold heavier legs and breathtaking. tight throat, tears in the eyes. This is not the time to give up, in a place so desolate at this hour, we are unique and responsible actors of our decisions.
We are progressing laboriously it seems just as effective to push the bike. Or rather my limited capacity will allow me to pedal. Grit one's teeth. Keep moving as a single option. The road is in terrible condition: sand, rocks, crevasses. All combine to complicate our slow progress.
After more than 350 days on the road, complicated situations, difficult, difficult were more than many. We thought we had reached our limits, both physical and mental.
Well, at the end of day on the Bolivian Altiplano, we were novices, beginners. The demand exceeded obliged us again to enter unfamiliar areas.
To 2H pm, we begin the climb of about twenty kilometers to pass rising to 4990 meters. Never reached an altitude with two wheels Gusts to 70 km / h, we flog the face and upset our equilibrium. Freezing cold sets in, under 15 degrees, paired with darkness . Hands and feet become insensitive. Perched on the dirt road, petrified by the wind, cold, physical suffering and mental fatigue, what are our solutions? Beginning the descent as risky, if not impossible, to camp in such an inhospitable climate.
An overwhelming reminder of our vulnerability to the power of the elements.
Continue to be convinced that we should progress, move forward. This is no longer an option. Surpass what we seemed to be our limits. Sloppiness your body and mind into a meditative state, a trance.
The raging elements do not seem bothered us. We have 25 km to go at night to the next refuge. There is no doubt that our common strength we will get there. Around 8:30 pm, we go out in a cottage where the goalkeeper welcomes us incredulous.
After the peaceful body and mind refreshed, we question how far could be the next destination. Which to date seems unreachable but becomes reality once reached.
Argentina border appeared on our way a few days later. Strong emotions after this year of life on the bike, where borders no longer represent real limits.
The carnal envelope that constitutes us is a physical limit to the infinite potential of mental strength, imagination of creation Jansen S.
September 5 - Chacas, Peru
Browse the Andes through the gentle slow that cycling provides allows to get drunk this comprehensive culture.Traditions, knowledge and practices constitute a dazzling wealth treasured in these Andean altitudes. In the south of Ecuador, we remain fascinated by the harmonious mountain dwellers lifestyle.
Geographic boundaries with uneven and steep walls cause no obstacle. In unlikely places as they seem inaccessible, are concealed, fields of corn, quinoa, wheat. No need to specify that in the presence of such a geographic challenge only the human or animal labor is used. spontaneous meeting with a group of indigenous community Quishua at work in the fields.
On a section of steep mountains rising to 3400 meters, we see what seems like straw balls in motion. Here's how the tractors here are replaced by human power. Dry corn is hand cut and grouped in bundles.Then, big and small, depending on their age, set an impressive load on his back down to the required distance. Admiring and intrigued, it is proposed to the task. Once again on this experimental trip, we receive a new lesson in humility.
Besides these laborious prowess, our bike ride is a breeze. We continue this Andean epic arriving in northern Peru. Without delay, we opt for quiet roads where traditional life is revealed. earthen houses, lime and wood, with garden, meadow and cows or sheep are the living space of many families. Women trying to spin wool at the same time to observe the sheep grazing on a distant, daily vision showing valuable knowledge.
To grow and by thirst to deepen our real quest, we take a dirt road crossing several valleys to reach the Cordillera Negra. When I write the way, is that the term route is unsuitable. Thus, we face the rigor of the elements for 2 ½ days where our boundaries were pushed into unknown areas.
In short, we doubted our ability to reach the desired destination. Culminating in a summit of 4250 meters, where the vegetation is of type pampa, we meet in the morning of the last day a family. A woman walking with her baby on her back, and her boy of barely 4 years at his side. She runs three donkeys loaded. Her husband is on a horse, in low-cons, and guide a herd of sheep. They live just up she says and go to town to shop and sell their crops.
The village in question is situated 35 kilometers with thrilling climbs. We put 8h cycling. Their house made of natural materials is erected only for kilometers around, facing the hardness and splendor of this Andean elevation.
Sincere admiration and deep respect. We are overwhelmed. Without words with only our contemplative gaze. They are seen frolicking in this arduous journey that proves a common practice for this remarkable family. Ultimate life lesson.
J & J
July 30th - Banos, Ecuador
The world on a bike
On your bike, the world you seem accessible and hospitable, a lover. The boundaries become moments, stories, memories. The world map will become a mosaic of faces.
On your bike, smiles, looks, gestures, shouts, smells will be sent to you. You will learn to receive, without asking, without expectation or hope. Human kindness without borders will touches you, surprises you.
On your bike, you will share, constantly, at all times. You will share the intangible, the intangible, invisible. And you will remain deeply marked.
On your bike, you will become a citizen of the world, a nomad, explorer. The elements and Mother Nature will guide your way, so that your not committed, determined. Your eyes sharpen, refine your vision, your mind will grow and your soul will rise. Your preconceived ideologies and will be questioned and confronted.
On your bike, you will discover all the beauties that lie between the predictable and the unpredictable. Of your comfort zone, the limits will be continually pushed back. Resourcefulness, letting go and accepting you will learn. Knowing that people dependent on and vulnerable to the elements.
On your bike, a new dimension of time you will experience. Saddle up, space becomes our only watch. Your time markers will face the power of human propulsion. By bicycle, you'll discover yourself. You will learn to love relentlessly, without limits.
The bike trip shall bring much more than what you have you could even imagine.
On your bike, you pays tribute to the life and humanity you smiled back.
Do daring to get on his bike ...
J & J
July 17th - Popayan, Colombia
The salary of the effort
Cycling is an effective way to move. Depending on the context and location, efficiency may be somewhat diminished. Indeed, a nice asphalt road along the Danube or the Loire does not offer the same challenge that a chaotic way crossing the Andes. However, the result is similar.
Move through the human powered from point A to point B, with the satisfaction that accompanies physical investment. This is the requirement that comes differentiate effort between a flat road with no wind and a rainy pass road.
The transcendence plays a key role. But the unpredictability of a sparsely populated dirt road upsets pins a busy road with a lot of restaurants, grocery ... The bicycle food supply is essential as putting gas in his car.
Venture between Neiva valley and that of Cauca, was called into perspective the bike trip. Progress at 7 km / h in the dust, the heat and in the cold, the altitude and the rain pushes the body into unknown areas. The mind is strained.
This discomfort of not controlling the surrounding elements in a correct society, where the GPS indicates the minute near the time of arrival. The crossing of the Cordillera andaise was first a battle against oneself. A duel between the possible and the impossible, between the capable and the incapable.
This uncertainty is a challenge that will fight with each pedal stroke. The human ability to pass over an obstacle is almost limitless, only the limit of the mind comes to a barrier.
Here comes the reward, the salary of the effort. Experience in difficult times, difficult priceless.
This experience reminded me of a phrase that my father taught me:
"They are those who do not try to never make mistakes"
J & J
July 1 st , Cimitarra , Colombia
Near the ground, near the heart
Another end of the day on the bike means looking for a place to camp for the night. We have the day decide to change the route to a more quiet side road which crosses the Colombian countryside. By chance, we stop in front of a cacao nursery where the beauty of plants captures our attention.
The next moment we are squatting in this nursery to learn how to perform the transplant of this tropical tree. The owners, Patricia and Evelio, invite us to spend the night with them: we accept without hesitation! Tomorrow morning, they set out to visit a farm-cocoa plantations in the mountains. They offer us to accompany them.
Up at 4:30 am, we leave barely lifted day, morning dew dominating the decor. The dirt road on borrowed more driving 3H gives trouble to 4X4 used as the elevation changes are intense. After passing several mountain ridges and riverbeds, the road stops. A phenomenal panorama, revealing mountains and valleys with a few houses set on distant blanks.
The march begins, mangos, lemons, guava and orange punctuate our steps and our breaks during the hour. A cozy wooden house appears on a unique flat sections of the area. Surrounded by a garden of a barn, animals, flowers, fruit trees, medicinal plants, sugar cane, the place exudes paisibilité and harmony.
The whole family welcomes us and finds herself at the table. All products in the food or eggs, plantains, yuka, cream cheese, hot chocolate (fresh milk and cocoa!), Are produced even their land.
Once completed this delight, we start with Auriel, the father, discover their plantations. A steep path soars into a steep climb. The avocado and cocoa trees stand on multifaceted Mountains. Both species intersect in symbiosis, avocado offering shade necessary for the proper development of the cocoa tree.
Planting, maintenance to picking fruit, the labor entity is done manually. Cocoa beans are dried and roasted on site and then transported by donkey to the beginning of the road to be sold. There are more than 40 years, Auriel and some companions discovered these mountains pristine.
Over these decades of effort and work, trails, facilities and plantations were developed. Pioneers of a healthy lifestyle and environmentally friendly. There is no consumption or waste, or waste. Everything is reused, recycled, recovered. Without claiming self-sufficient, he simply live by collecting what he sows!
Touched, pampered and privileged to discover this noble form of existence in this exceptional place.
A wonderful family, a boundless generosity, knowing how to recognize the benefits of living interdependently with the elements. A life where the fullness of body and mind is the master.
All those who traveled know that famous question often accompanies goodbyes: when will you come back? Hard to explain, but we have the deep feeling, this time, we'll see one day these people and this land.
The climb back allows us to digest and ponder this human goodness and the natural splendor.
J & J
We will meet our true vocation, which is not to produce and consume the rest of our lives, but to love, admire and care for life in all its forms. Pierre Rabhi
20 julio- Chimitarra, Colombia.
An unexpected encounter Arrived in the Atlantic region, northwest of Colombia, we decided to go explore the mountains above the coast near Santa Marta. The Colombian climate is hot and humid, suitable for the cultivation of coffee and cocoa. We venture into the hills to meet potential producers in the corner of Minca.
We know that the area is tourism and we do not want to do the tours offered. This is great, the inn owners where we spend the night telling us there, twenty minutes walk, coffee plantations. Despite the rain that begins, we try our luck and go on a path that goes into the rainforest. We are happy to share the beauty and density of this vegetation type with my parents. We arrive at a secluded house at the end of the trail.
The path is cleared and we continue to advance at the sight of the first coffee plants. There, we hear a voice without seeing anyone, then this man, Gerardo, appears. He shows us the way to get to him. Then we offer a passionate tour of the family estate where he grew up and where he works the land in his way.
On these steep sections, grow in harmony, coffee plants, avocado, banana and mango trees, various tubers, medicinal plants, and many others that I can not name ... The place is magical.Our enthusiastic farmer explains that coffee plants need shade. The presence of trees can house coffee tropical sun and keep moisture conducive to growth.
He offers to go drink coffee from his last collection, we accept with great pleasure. We walk past the house of his two workers, then come to his house, simple and modest where firewood is ready to heat water.En drinking his elixir arabica, he explains the planting process until our Cup. All steps are carried out within 50 meters of his home.Unlike other producers who sell green coffee, Gerardo takes care of everything.
Dry the grain, using a machine fed, Wood décarcasser and roasting the beans. It therefore produces small amounts, but the quality is paramount to this ecologist who is aware of the impact of intensive agriculture on the environment.
A simple walk that turned into a discovery of unusual man, Gerardo, who took in hand the land of his ancestors into a plant paradise where not place chemicals to be.
J & J
"The land is for the man who cultivates it, the source of all virtue and freedom"
June 10th, Santa Marta, Colombia
Quartet to duo, the last 3 weeks have been particularly unusual and intoxicating for Sow saddle. We had the opportunity to share our passion for cycling trip with Jansen's parents, Alain and Nadine
Here are the thoughts of the latter, following his Colombian experience on two wheels:
Despite its tropical aspect of dream, the journey of J & J is not a great holiday or an escape from the world. Rather painstaking work, daily, repetitive, almost laborious that does not detract from the beauty of movement, the modest ambition of adventurers.
A sporting prowess and outstanding project management exercise. Every day, plan the schedule, route, reserves ... Manage closer energy, water, food, equipment, all within the limited space of a few bags that must be secure and then hang on tens of kilometers. Between thirty and fifty kilos of material to remain autonomous.
Even if the goal is the meeting with the residents, we need to ensure whatever happens. In the tropics, night falls around 18h30, 19h, must be installed before. And when we set foot on land, all set up for dinner at night, the next day. While spanking good with other possible!
Hospitality is a wonderful gift when came out of nowhere our cyclists arrive in the heart of a village or a valley. Sometimes just a piece of land to plant the tent or room and board offered heartily. In against party, indulge in curiosity, share, chat, and tell tirelessly, question, learn, all in a foreign language to master course, but with the corresponding effort.
We admire you for your unfailing availability, your invisible illumination and your smiling volubility. Receive and give without apparent effort, become memorable models for your guests for a day or a night.
Text written by Nadine Bocchietti who bravely joined our pace under a burning sun.
Thank you for the text and pedal strokes.
"Life is like a bicycle, must advance not to lose balance"
May 30th - Puerto Colombia, Colombia.
Panama does not offer many options in terms of routes for cyclists we are. The Pan American is the only route through the majority of the country from west to east.
Our first four days traveling across the new country were dotted with mountain scenery and sparsely populated villages, all punctuated by a rather quiet country life.
Then, a drastic change was effected at about 150 kilometers from Panama City. Impressive rise buildings of thirty stories appear in it, and there, on the Pacific coast.The various access roads to the coast become largely privatized. So much so that on the last 100 kilometers of coast north of the capital remain only two beaches with public access. Disastrous!
Since a few decades, wealthy Panamanian and foreign investors buying up all the land by the sea at low prices. Villagers who composed these fishing villages are seen, sometimes despite their will, forced to leave. Therefore, hotel and residential complexes are constructed and to sell a ton of money.
Panamanians are displaced and dispossessed from their homeland. Some discussions allow us to feel the frustration and despair of some, aware of having their territory into the hands of a few. While we all know that money is master, a deep sadness invades us in finding this uprooting of the Panamanian people.
Where are the limits of desire for possession and power of the human? Heritage, traditions and souls are lost and are diluted at the time of sale of land. All humanity that has a place, a land, and disappears in favor of the dollar.
"Si a terra é sua mai como você vai vender sue mai?"
"If the earth is your mother, how can you sell your mother?"
Brazilian native proverb
J and J
May 16th - San Carlos, Panama
Crossing a border by human propulsion is imbued with a deep meaning. A return to the roots of nomadism or such movements were an integral part of life.
The approach of a new frontier generates each occasion a multitude of emotions. Nostalgia leaving a popular country mixes with the excitement of new discoveries to come. Pins and knowledge gained is again turned upside down. Having created a comfort zone temporary, right from the start in a new country, the unknown becomes our routine.
Since the Mexico-Guatemala border, Central America was marked by many changes of country. Transit area, movement, passage, we learn much about a country during these times of transition. Voltage excitaion, agitation; border areas are sparkling places.
To browse over our pedal strokes these important migratory zones, we also questions the existence and origin of the borders. Sometimes located in unusual and unlikely places, borders are critical for each country. Cycling allows us to know and to observe any such delays intriguing sections that are often or quickly fly through.
With the Canadian and French passports, we hold this facility rather easily cross borders. Not surprisingly, we find that the majority of people encountered do not enjoy the same privileges. Many people can not even access the neighboring country.
However a strong migratory trend widespread in all countries traveled from Mexico: to reach the famous and much desired
US border. And regardless of the sacrifices, the danger, the costs both monetary and human. The call of the American dream drive thousands of people to leave everything behind to try to illegally reach this country.
Despite these boundaries invented by man, we realize that life in all its splendor is free all borders. And we're charmed and moved every opportunity to find a sincere human kindness in each of the places pedaled the last 7 months.
J & J
May 4 th - San Jose, Costa Rica
Valuable and desired water
Browse Central America cycling at its warmest months, dry April has made that raising our consciousness to the vital resource water. Realize how the lack of this element seriously affecting the local population. To live deficit brings a different perspective.
From the coast of El Salvador, the surrounding vegetation unfolds before yellowish color. Shades of green become rare and amazing to watch. Wells, rivers and any extended water are totally dried up. Drought is omnipresent and is perceived as soon as there is life. Since water and agriculture work in simbiose, many farmers are forced to abandon their plantations due to lack of water. The consequences of this drought we are exposed to in various conservations with local met.
Although the seriousness of this lack is felt in many, hope allows them to stay upbeat and smile. The hope of the return of the rainy season. In some parts of El Salvador and Honduras, rain is almost absent for 2 years. People see the intensification of drought phenomena and changes climate in recent years.
And here we are on our bikes modest, dependent on the water such a car is the fuel. We adapt and minimize our consumption. And with all our compassion, hope patiently with them the return of the rain.
In addition to its absence, the potability of the water proves an important issue. We had the chance to visit a Salvadoran organization named CORDES who work in various rural development programs. One of their central project is the design of water filters. These filters are manufactured sustainably and ecologically from clay and rice flakes. Each filter will provide drinking water to families with a life of 2 years. concrete, local and primordial initiative to facilitate universal access to safe drinking water.
Finally, after months of waiting and an obvious lack of water, the first rains come revitalize this dried vegetation. Riverbeds gradually found their green hues and nature breathe again. Life without water is only survival, Mother Nature finally reward the effort of waiting.
What a joy to see the return of this precious resource!
While some dancing in the rain, others remain just wet
J & J
April 15th - Uruapan, El Salvador
Seed without roots
We comb the vertiginous roads in Guatemala for almost two weeks. Another cycling day ends and we begin our search for a nocture refuge. At the edge of a village, we see a sign indicating experimental garden. Intrigued, we take a dirt road that leads to an impressive gate closing a large lot. The guards we say it is impossible to visit the place at this late hour but we can always come back tomorrow. A wooded area in peace, we used improvised camp for the night.
Determined to satisfy our curiosity, we return at 8 am the next day before the walls of the famous garden.
Security guards took us to give them our passports with which they returned after about twenty minutes.
identity verification is required. Finally, a man in charge of the visits invite us to enter the enclosure.
Soon, we learn and understand the mystery of this place. We are in the field of the company Bejo, a Dutch seed company. Conceptualized and manufactured in the Netherlands, the seeds are then shipped in all countries and there is a potential market.
This section of land in the middle of the Guatemalan countryside, so is their witness garden or products are tested. Indeed, upon arrival, seeds reached no name, only as a number. It takes 4 consecutive years
planting to finally assign a specific name.
There is no denying that the garden is flourishing with all kinds of mixed vegetables. The size of each species is impressive, or rather questionable. How a radish can be the size of a grapefruit? The oversize and perfection of these species seem far from natural. Far from what one earth can offer.
Of course, the key objective of this garden is to show the potential of their products, open days are organized. The first two weeks of March were dedicated to this purpose. More than 1500 visitors a day, mostly Guatemalan and Latino farmers, visited the garden to admire the magic of Bejo Seeds.
Source of life and eternity, of course adapted to each land preserve seed diversity and authenticity. Designed in European laboratory tested Guatemalan soil and distributed throughout America. This is what seriously neglects its seeds; deep roots, love prints and humanity. In this springtime announcing the vegetable garden, reflection is needed on the roots of each seed purchase.
As a great friend and role model, Crystal Phillips, told us lately ; sometimes, you have to :
Lean to your enemy ! Thanks for that wise advice! :)
J & J
3 April 2016- Ciudad Vieja, Guatemala.
For a coffee and a better world
Arrived in Guatemala for a week, we realize that the coffee culture is a very important economy. By the same token, our first night of camping was a finca (farm) of coffee. After a few days to climb the volcanic mountains of the country, we arrived yesterday at Lake Atitlan where we had the chance to experience an exemplary cooperative.
The coffee cooperative La Voz, located in the village of San Juan La Laguna, has been around for 37 years. At its creation in 1979, the armed conflict which afflicted countries so affected the flow of business. The creators and associates of La Voz were then victims of violence and persecution by the Guatemalan army. The course of gradually resumed operations following the threat.
The main objective of this cooperative is to improve the lives of small coffee producers. The conventional coffee trade includes several intermediate players, its culture to its export. In this case, the small producer receives a small salary.
A cooperative as La Voz aims to reduce the presence of these intermediaries for each producer member receives a salary and desent just for the work. There are many similar associations in Latin America. The interesting feature of it is its automnome management and independent of all major international NGOs, ensuring transparency admisnistrative. La Voz can thus provide jobs for 162 people in the village and its surroundings. Specializing in the production of coffee 100% organic, sustainably cultivated land can preserve the rich biodiversity of the local environment.
The association is also growing in other sectors. Tricks on even the coffee plantations are offered as well as Spanish classes or participants stay with local families. Between the charm of the volcanic mountains and the magic of Lake Atitlan, organic coffee cooperative La Voz proves sustainable initiative for creating a supportive alliance between consumers and local producers. Such cooperative allows to realize the importance of each of our purchases.
Each cup of coffee that contributes to a better world.
A huge thank you to Andres, the director of La Voz, for his availability during our visit.
March 30 - San Juan la Laguna, Guatemala
LESSONS OF CARING MEXICAN
Recent months I have often wondered why traveling by bike can be so intense. In fact, we become actors, not just passengers. Even if we only stay that way, share knot unannounced and spontaneous life of people met. And constantly, we learn, relearn and above.
The humanism of the Mexican people marked me greatly and repeatedly, deeply touched. Human exchanges are central to life. Mexico has no doubt that he is interdependent of others. Community life is particularly important. It begins with the family unit is very strong. Large families are predominant effect. It goes without saying that the multigenerational houses prove common. The family cocoon allows people to naturally develop an opening to the other.
Thus, another becomes easily accessible, interesting. The degree of curiosity Mexican fascinating. Keeping human contact as they should be: simple, true, natural. The diction Mi casa es su casa result of its people's character traits. Many families have allowed us to live and feel the depth of these words.
I return to my initial question on what makes a trip type human powered so moving. By attending a lifestyle where man is in constant connection with their peers as well as being interdependent with the earth, he has essentially being. Blessed are those who enjoy a life lived simply.
Lifestyle habits Mexican certain crossings campaigns have given me the impression to reconnect with my roots. Relive the space of times, although in a different country and a different time, the lifestyle of my ancestors.
I feel a sincere gratitude to each of the Mexican men and that allowed us to learn these. Perhaps without even realizing that their lessons were imbued with unwavering humanity.
Realistically, when there is no gas and we will walk again, who would dare say that the horse is out of date!
J & J
17 March- Chiapas, Mexico
THE PILGRIMAGE MODERN
In 2016, travel has become a flourishing business. At each spot, a new attraction, new attractiveness to take travelers on their passages. The towers share the customer and hostals backpaker, and gradually the initiative to leave the tourist trail turns into highway attraction!
From my perspective, the trip is a lack of planning of the places visited and especially the discovery of the unknown. A form of letting go of control of space and time that can be truly accessible and free of any initiative. The bike is an interesting mediator to go off the beaten track! Why ? because the bike is powered by the unique and tireless human propulsion. The bike brings you or it seems you good to go. A form of evolution of walking, mechanized.
In our ideal for all, the destination that is selected is similar to turquoise paradise, has impressive mountains, has beautiful scenery. With hindsight, the destination is of little importance, as the joy of travel is in the progress. This thought came to me finally realizing that we are pilgrims of the 21st centuries.
By deciding to fill our panniers needs to live for a year on the road, our approach is really different. People are crossed we observed, curious to know that our choice flirt with charity and voluntary simplicity. These same people, modest, mostly finally realizes they have much to share. Whether a coffee, a slice of bread, or a meal, it's people who participate in our way, are definitely the way.
We initially ignored the pilgrimage side, which seemed too religious, only to realize that the pilgrimage is spiritual. We are vulnerable and fragile in our sports and adventurous Western appearances. Despite our resourcefulness and our willingness to do as much as possible with not much, friendliness and hospitality of the people we encounter is indispensable to the realization of our journey Canada-Argentina bicycle.
Happiness is a path, not a destination
J & J
March 1 - Ciudad de Oaxaca, Oaxaca
Mauru, the sower - humanist Oaxaqueño
The mountains of the state of Oaxaca us captivated. Knowing that calves and legs were heavily used to get to the top, we started the climb that peaked at 2300 meters, all from the level of the sea.
Arrived at the charming village of San Jose del Pacifico, we were eager to meet farmers who defied this arduous and steep geography. Thus we land in Collectivo, local public transport, in the village of San Mateo Rio Honda, set on a mountain pan. A beautiful garden built with terraces, with a man working there, captures our attention when we arrived.
A young teenager shows us the way to reach the garden or grandfather is in full action. Spontaneously, as if waiting for us, it begins to show us around his plot of land. The sparkling eyes, he talks about his passion for agriculture. His passion for the act of sowing. Sembrar, he said in Spanish. For Mauru, a gesture that goes beyond the simple desire to feed. It is a social act, symbolic. Aware of the appropriation of seeds by large multinationals, the fight for the preservation of native species in the region by carefully collecting seeds.
Through effective use of its land of about 1 hectare, he managed to support his family, where three generations interact. The plot has 3 distinct sections: an orchard where the ground is covered with flowers, and several terraces with a variety of vegetables, herbs and some medicinal plants and finally a large barn with some 100 birds, including his little son is in charge . The flowers are sold for weddings and funerals as well as the surplus vegetables and hundred egg that are produced daily.
He is convinced that with a willingness to work and sow all can live peacefully and freely. Being of beings equal in the land, he believes that it must be accessible and used by all. With his amazing enthusiasm for his 78, he tells us that he has another field further into the valley. Then, all spontaneity, it offers us the opportunity to live there for a while, and to grow what we want. Surprised and touched by such a proposal, we feel all humanity and kindness that brought him his intimate relationship with his environment.
We leave, humble, impressed. With the image of this great man who rolled his seed deep in her hand, like a fragment of life, infinity. The sembrar word vibrates and resonates in us now.
"Para lo florezca you juventud you Necesitas es aprender a sembrar"
"For thy youth flourish, you must learn to sow"
J & J
February 22th, Mazunte, Oax, Mexico
The multiple facets of Mexico
During the last week we have been riding along the coast of Michoacan, a State in the South West of Mexico. This is a fascinating area, not too much developed nor exploited by the tourism industry. And for a simple reason : the parcels along the Ocean coast still belong to the indigenous communities.
And the rules do not allow an "over-development". The selling of pieces of ground or properties is prohibited. The result is an harmonious landscape where obviously the inhabitants interact with their environment.
We then spent a week in a small village and took the opportunity to discover the way of living of the inhabitants. In this area, papaya plantations are dominant, as sun and heat are here all through the year. The earth is so fertile that the papaya-tree gives its first fruit only 7 months after plantation. The works in the fields are mainly made by hand, mechanization is almost unknown here.
Every cultivator takes care of his own piece of ground. In addition to the papaya to be sold, corn, legumes, coconut trees and some animals are the basic food for each family.
We are very happy to share the simple life of the mexican country, we are also involved in all the facets of the local way of life. After another day on our bicycles, we got to a village and decide to camp for the night on a nice beach along the bay. We immediately noticed big holes spread over in the sand. We ask local people what they are. This period of the year is the period of the tortoise reproduction. Females come and hide their eggs on certain beaches, in order to protect their …There is also a back side of the medal : local people like this food and steel these precious eggs every night...
Picking the eggs and hunting the tortoise are prohibited in Mexico. How should we react, as there is a dilemma between the necessary protection of endangered species and the local ancestral habits. Although we think to be very clear with that, we try not to judge nor criticize but just try to understand the various aspects. After meeting some of the egg-steelers, we have the opportunity to discuss with other Mexican people struggling for the protection of these species.
Between preservation, modernity and ancestral traditions, this travel with our bicycles allow us to discover the various facets of this fascinating Mexico.
Hasta luego amigos :)
J & J
January 25th, La Manzanilla, Mexico
Tierralegre Gardens : An Agriculture for theYouth
We arrived in the small town of La Manzanilla after some nice cycling days dominated by a large mountain range and several agricultural areas. Thus we meet Michael, a Canadian, who lives several months each year in this village. He works with an organic farming organization whose mission is to introduce teenagers of the village to various gardening activities. Awesome !
We find a camp for the night and we find Michael again in the garden the next morning. The place is on the edge of the village, surrounded by a dense vegetation. Several permaculture techniques are implemented in the constitution of the garden. The space is divided by small plots with each one a name. Not the name of the species but rather the name of the student who is responsible for the section. Creating an intimate connection between the student and his work on earth.
About 70 students are going to this site 3 times a week to learn, understand, experiment with various aspects of gardening. Every Friday morning, a group of students harvest the vegetables available and go to the village market to sell. The funds are then divided among the families of students involved in the project. We are seeing this happy harvest the next day.
With an impressive rigour and energy, students pick, wash and prepare large quantities of bok choy, kale and basil. We support their small, but popular, market stall. Their satisfaction is palpable on every sale they make. They harvest, satisfied, the fruit of their efforts.
An organization that introduces youth to working with the land, all in a sustainable and respectful way. To see the smiles on the faces of students, hopefully the surrounding villages will be inspired to turn this exemplary initiative.
J & J
January 18th, Agua Verde, Mexico
Luxuriant mexican countryside
Our first week on the continental part of Mexico was full of colours and emotions. After crossing the Baja Peninsula, we took a cargo to cross the Cortez Sea between La Paz in the very South and Mazatlàn on the continent on the South East. Big contrasts and disorientation are a big surprise for us, as the Cortez Sea separates two opposite worlds.
Just after leaving the urban area of Mazatlàn, we are overwhelmed by an impressive vegetation. We hurry up to arrive on secondary roads, to get a quiet and authentic atmosphere. We enter in a region with predominant agriculture.We are passing across all types of culture : mangos, tomatoes, peppers, legumes, watermelons, tobacco …Lots of workers, men and women, are working hard in most of the parcels ; mechanization has not yet arrived in this area where the earth is still cultivated with horses. People look at us with intrigued eyes, whistling, shouting and smiling as we ride along the fields.
Our first ride on this continental North West part of Mexico ends up late afternoon in the village of Agua Verde. As we normally do, we start looking for a piece of ground to organize our night. As we are very hungry as all cyclists usually are, we go directly to the local bakery : la panaderia. The two girls sitting in front of the door start asking us lots of questions. Very quickly a group of 10 children surrounds our bicycles, eager to meet us and curious about our unusual visit. Marisol, a young girl, invites us to come at her home and camp : she is living right nearby and her mother, sitting on the edge of the house invites us to follow her into the backyard.
A delegation of children and women join us and accompany us at the bottom of a huge mango-tree : this will be our home for the night ! All Jansen's movements and actions are followed and analyzed by the group of children, highly curious of every new thing. Great and delicious moment ! Two women ask us to sit down and start prying for us to bless our pilgrimage.
Perhaps they are considering us as pilgrims on wheels ? Why not, with such moments of humanity, we could think that we are on a sacred path.
Nice smells of food wake us up early morning on the following day. Rosa is already cooking in the kitchen. Marisol jumps on her bike to get some food from the street food sellers. The latole - a nourishing soup made out of corn - and some gorditas - fried corn pancakes - are the heavy starters of the brunch. Fried fishes, frijoles, salsa and tortillas are the main dishes, which give us energy for the full day. Neighbours advise us to take a shortcut to continue our way to the South.
Our hosts and some neighbors come with us on an earth road up to a river. We take a pangua, little boat looking like a pirogue, to cross the river and continue our route to other villages of the Sinaloa region. While we are pushing on our pedals, the silhouettes of these great souls vanish in the air. What famous farewells !
Agua Verde, little unknown point on the map, will remind us these unforgettable memories !
J & J
January 18th, San Blas, Nayarit. Mexico
Christmas and French-Mexican New Year
We are actively pursuing our Mexican journey for the past three weeks. The country gradually reveals her beauty secrets and hidden. We get to know its people and culture, unique to this special peninsula, that of Baja California. We had the chance to spend the Christmas period with Justine's uncle, Alain Heureux, who kindly welcomed us to his home south of San Felipe, in the Campo Sahuaro. It was a perfect opportunity to take a first rest with family after two and half months on the road. Christmas Day was held with an excursion in the desert, to discover cactus forests, whose magnificent cardoons that reached twenty meters! Finding yourself in a remote and isolated desert environment like this allows us to see the richness of the place. Everything is in constant evolution: the vegetation, rocks, mountains, fauna ... You would think that the desert is monotonous, it is indeed the pure opposite. Its beauty is mystical. With so little annual rainfall, every living organism deploys an incomprehensible power.
With this much needed break, we go back on the bikes towards Puertocito, due south along the Sea of Cortez. Route virtually deserted, village sparsely populated, rocky coast and rugged mountains punctuate our days. Camp in the desert with camp fire where ultra dry wood can be found never fails. A road section of 35 kilometers of dirt road brings us another challenge, with an average of 7 km / h and dozens of rocks between what swerving, slow progress is required. We stop for the night at the famous Coco's Corner, the only possible stop in the desert. An endearing character, friendly inviting us to stay the night in a small camper, allowing us to be warm in this desert that becomes very chilly from sunset sun.
Five long days of cycling in one of the most desolate sections and sparsely populated peninsula leads us to New Year Eve in Guerrero Negro, in the middle of Baja, the door of the South section. And then a miraculous coincidence happens to us. A couple of Quebecers stops with their truck at our side asking if we know Claudia Rousseau. Of course! Here we are in the company of Karine and Pierre-Etienne. French canadian instant connexion and excitement. They invite us to sleep in their camper. We share a delicious meal of seafood and fresh fish to celebrate the new year! The next day, they invite us to follow them on an isolated campo, 80 km from the main highway, near the Pacific and on the edge of a sublime estuary known for its diversity and quantity of fish! The 2 following days are spent on their boat, to discover, to fish, to stroll through the multitude of dolphins who feel well at ease to keep pace with the boat. In short, amigos offer us an unexpected opportunity, and welcome us as their family members. Pure happiness, the big fun! They accompany us to the beginning of our ride yesterday morning, just before Pierrot has remade a mechanical beauty to our bikes and Karine has cooked delicious french toast. ! Wow, muchas Gracias!
To all our readers, we wish you a HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!
FELIZ ANO NUEVO !!!!☺
December 24 th, San Felipe
Discovering the gravel roads of Baja , Mexico
After 2 months of bicycling on the roads of the United States, we were very excited to finally enter into the Mexican country.
The first 4 days came out very nicely. Riding progressively downon the West coast of the Baja peninsula, we went out of the urban areas near the frontier and arrived on the day 2 into the countryside. The contact with the inhabitants is easy, simple, pleasant. They are together curious and surprised to meet such travelers with bicycles. We are always keen to meet people and talk with them to try to understand as much as possible the reality of the country we are crossing.
Our aim is now to arrive to the house of my uncle Alain, we just realize that he is living on the other side of the Baja, i.e. on the East cost along the Cortes Sea. No problem, we just have to find a road allowing us to cross the Sierra, the Rocky Barrier which separates into 2 parts the Baja peninsula.With a map, we find a way at about 10 miles South of the place where we spent the night, the small San Vincente city on the coast. That's it : we have just to start riding on this route !
Local people tell us that it is a gravel road, without circulation, crossing an empty zone for about 40 miles before the next village. We take our water tank and enough food with us and start bicycling early afternoon, after mistaking in choosing our road and being lost during 2 hours . A touch of adventure !!
I remember what I was told by my friend and speed-skating co-teamer, Clara Hughes, after her own experience of crossing this area on her bicycle : "as soon as you see a dirt track, take it without hesitation" : these non asphalted roads - without the usual traffic, and consequently without the ordinary shops, activities, drugstores and stuff which transform and unify the landscapes all around the countries - allow us to cross a very true and typical country-side. Here we are ! During the first 30 minutes of riding, we pass along some "ranchos". Then we are progressively immersed in the gorgeous immensity of the Baja. We can admire a beautiful scenery of big mountains with a very arid vegetation in the middle of the valley. The sunset colors underline the orange nuances of the earth. We are progressing very slowly because of the rocky and sandy way, no more than 6 miles per hour ! We are surrounded with large desert open spaces where we could easily plant our tent. But we are surprised to meet one man, alone near his very modest house. We say hello to him and ask if we could put our tent on his piece of ground. Of course, with pleasure ! Our host Pedro is in fact the guardian of a water installation !! We are just on a special area with a pumping station for underground water with three pits all around. Pedro is living alone in the middle of this huge space to watch and take care of this pumping facility. What an unexpected job in the middle of nowhere, where this resource is highly precious !
Protected by a magnificent sky full of stars and in the quietness of the desert land in the heart of the Baja, we fall asleep. What a wonderful chance to be here, the Mexican adventure really starts on this gravel road !
We receive that quote from our great adventurous friend Marie, so true,
“Think of bicycles as ridable art that can just about save the world.” Grant Petersen, bicycle designer
J and J
December 20th, 2015
The hidden treasure of Bolinas
After staying in Heartwood, thanks to the advices and suggestions of the trainers and teachers, we discovered several Californian sites dedicated to permaculture. So we decide to go to Bolinas and discover an inspiring organization. The Regenerative Design Institute (R.D.I.) is located in a valley open onto the Ocean, inside the Point Reyes National Park. After mistaking several times on our route, we arrive over there only late afternoon.The city hasn't got any panel at its entrance, as when the council decides to fix a new panel, it just disappears the next night !
That draws our attention on the very special atmosphere among this small community influenced by the "Back to the Land" movement.As soon as we get there, we are kindly welcomed by James and John,very intrigued by these two cyclists. They are quite busy because of a coming event at the end of the week. James, vice-director of the Institute, invites us to stay for the saturday workshop, where 40 participants will spend the all day on site. He presents us the yearly program , organized by themes. Each theme is developed one saturday per month all through the year. This method allows every student to quietly digest all the informations given during the weekly lectures.
The next day, we are welcomed with a gorgeous breakfast including french toasts and home-made jam . Then we work with them during a few hours, spreading between the rows of plants in the orchard the mix of crushed green waste provided for free by local landscapers. This covering method keeps the water into the earth and improves the growth of the plants. During the afternoon, we pay a visit to the Bolinas village and the land around. The sunset just in front of the ocean is wonderful and the colors are just amazing.
After a nice resourcing night, we get up when the first students do arrive.With great conviviality, the Manager of the Center, Penny, starts with a harmonious song which creates a nice communion spirit between all participants. Then the class begins inside a "yurt" with 3 teachers explaining the essential role of water management. Penny gives a powerful lecture on the ways to save, manage and recover this precious resource. She is a great speaker and succeeds in maintaining everybody's attention with a good sense of humor. The midday break takes place with a pot luck, where everyone has prepared a specific dish for the group. The meal is diversified and colorful, proving the great interest for ingredients and healthy food.
Afterwards, we go back to work to put into practice the theory developed during the morning classes. The 40 students are split in 10 teams to implement 3 tasks : digging and organizing a trench to recover the water running down from the hill, building a small fountain to oxygenate a small pond, learning how to cleverly save rainwater. What an intensive day, plenty of theoretical and practical informations and of opportunities to meet interesting people !
But it is time to leave, as we still have a lot of miles to ride. We take back our bicycles, sorry to leave this friendly place where we have been so warmly welcomed. Thanks a lot James, John, Penny and Perry for such a beautiful week-end spent together. Your passion, energy and devotion are inspiring us for our project.
Be the change you want to see in the world !
December 6 th - El Segundo, LA, California
An unexpected generosity
Last week was one of the most intense since the beginning of our trip. Intense by human standards! We have been participating among a chain of solidarity and outstanding generosity.
This wave of kindness started on a park bench, in front of a closed library just 60 kilometres North of San Francisco. There, in the small village of Point Reyes, a lady asked us where our destination was for the end of the day. We told her that we wanted to get to a permaculture centre in Bolinas, and she spontaneously took responsibility to find a place for us to stay for the night. Skyler, all sparkling and bubbly despite her advancing age, confirms a few calls later that her son James will welcome us for the night. Unbelievable. So that evening we arrived at James place in Stinson, with whom we spend an enjoyable time chatting and sharing.
The next day, we are heading to Bolinas to discover an inspiring organization, the Regenerative Design Institute (RDI). It is located in a valley within the National Park of Point Reyes. We shared 3 intense days of learning, meetings and exchanging among this unique community (Read in the next article on the Permaculture Center of Bolinas - RDI). We are leaving this charming village of Bolinas to head towards the State Park located just before the Golden Gate Bridge. At the end of the day, fate leads us to Giuseppe and Gray returning from a mountain bike ride on a path of Sausolito. Located on a bay shore, there is a small neighbourhood of floating houses in Sausolito, where Giuseppe invites us over for a glass of wine. And there it is, a glass transforms into a full bottle, and a delicious supper! His boat house is full of so much charm and creativity. We were glad to sleep in a cozy bed situated in the front of the boat hull, rocking like a baby otter's rhythm by the waves.
We leave this magical and timeless universe to attack the Golden Bridge crossing and ride the city from North to South to get to Palo Alto, where an old friend welcomes us. How delighting it was to see Shannon again after 4 years, thriving in her new Californian environment. The three of us leave early in the morning for the big city, Shannon to work, and we as tourists. After a few hours of walking, we meet a franco-american, Chris, in the charming neighbourhood of North Beach, above the famous Alcatraz Prison. Without any hesitations, he invites us right away to his place. Who thought that the human connection was more difficult in cities? Our last experiences proved the exact opposite. After a rich dinner, we continue our tour with Chris who improvises himself as a guide to show the highlights of his neighbourhood. Our day ends with Shannon, savouring tacos! Can it get any better?
We leave Palo Alto to head directly South, hypnotized by this wave of kindness, back on Highway 1. We are ending the day in Capitola State Park. As we are just dropping our bags, a friendly couple press us to get ready for an already prepared Thanksgiving supper. What? We will not wait longer! And there we have it, sharing an American Thanksgiving turkey meal with the Ringer-Grewe family and friends.
We take to the road again, energized by this incredible hospitality. The daily riding appeared to be slightly monotonous. Most of the road is punctuated with massive monoculture fields, operated by the massive fruit company, Dole. We end our day at Marina, where we find a quiet spot to set the camp. Because there are many hotels in the area, we take the chance to ask if there is a special rate for showers only. The receptionist says no, but asks for us to wait a little. She simply hands out a room card where we are invited to spend the night. "And don't forget", the charming receptionist Theresa mentions, "breakfast will be served until 10 tomorrow morning". We are now writing this directly from our cozy room.
We are blessed and overwhelmed by this endless generosity. It is what gives hope in humanity.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
J & J
Magic Heartwood, gorgeous Heartwood
It was a magical chance that let us discover Heartwood.
Staying overnight with a "Warmshowers" host ("warmshowers.com" is a website specifically dedicated to cyclists on the road whose function is to find them places to be welcomed for a warm shower, a meal or even a place to stay for a night), we met Robert at his home in Fortuna (CA) and explained our project: to meet local players in the field of sustainable agriculture. Robert told us about the Heartwood Institute specializing in permaculture.
Two days later, we are on the very steep 20 miles long road climbing on the mountains of the Humbolt County, in the North of California. A very quiet and relaxing atmosphere surrounds us as soon as we get inside the Heartwood property. Its exceptional geography is the keystone of the magnetism of the place. You feel immediately cool: the center is set on the top of a headland surrounded 360 degrees with large mountains and overlooking a deep valley. Dears, wild pigs and wild turkeys run free in complete harmony with their surroundings.
We arrive on a Sunday when the center is at its least busy and are happy and surprised to be welcomed by the Manager, Jim King, with whom we had previous contacts. Jim takes us for an intensive visit of the site explaining to us that at its origin, during the 80's, the place was a well-being and massage Institute. Several buildings are made out of ecological materials and through sustainable construction methods. The cook offers a vegan menu made exclusively out of organic food. Throughout the last decade Heartwood has been converted into a center with 3 ranges of activity: permaculture, cooking and arts. The next day, we join the 4 trainees and the 2 teachers.
Eden and Lauren, the 2 teachers specializing in permaculture, welcome us warmly. The far reaching potential of this property allow each of the trainees to work on an exciting project: John works on a mushroom production project, while Dylan concentrates on the restructuring of the orchard. In co-operation together they are working on the common sections: the impressive garden, the henhouse, the compost and the creation of the botanical sanctuary. Everyone shares their aims, feelings and wishes. One can easily feel the common passion of these people who are committed to the ecological fight: they invest themselves here completely to create a symbiotic relationship with the earth. It is inspirational and good to be part of.
The energy of the group is transcendent when everyone is connected to this unique piece of ground. The clearing of new plots, the shaping of fruit trees, the building of a new fence even the picking up of green tomatoes just before dawn. It is impossible to get bored with this permaculture group of Heartwood who are so full of energy.
Eden gives us seeds of 3 varieties from the garden: they will be the basis of our personal bank of seeds. We leave them with pumpkins, kale and peppers seeds. We also leave with great admiration for the passion, experience, knowledge and dreams of these beautiful people who are giving this piece of ground a real vocation.
The magic of Heartwood had a big impact on us: the warm welcome, their smiling faces, our talks and all we have been sharing together: every single person we met opened their heart and soul and we are most grateful to all of them for that.
Deeply impressed by this concentration of beauty and happiness, we are given a lift by the friendly Jimmy down to the bottom of the mountain …
To all the Heartwood community a huge thank you for having shared with us so much of yourselves and your time and for showing us such splendid generosity during our visit with you.
You have given to us the seeds of your passion!
For more information, check out their web site : www.heartwoodinstitute.com
November 4th Life on two wheels
Living on a bike seems like a strange concept. However, that is the project that we started just 10 days ago. An adaptation is mandatory. The baseline of our comfort zone is constantly changing. Your tent becomes your house, your sleeping bag transforms into your bedroom, and the piece of land chosen at the end of each day becomes your temporary living space. This is simply fantastic. At times it is baffling, surprising, tiring, but surely it is fascinating.
We started our first pedal revolutions on the 15th of October from Vancouver. After crossing the Canadian border, we entered Washington State, also called the Evergreen state. This aptly named state embodies a vast rain forest, fringed by the Pacific Ocean. The Northern region constitutes an infinite network of bays, channels, and islands. This region, with its proximity to the coast brings conditions highly suitable for rich and diversified wildlife and flora, thereby attracting an impressive aquatic life. The Pacific salmon, the sea lions, you name it, are an integral part of our scenery.
One week absorbing this environment leaves us with a suiting impression. Seen from our frames, these winding roads are more than inspiring for road bikers. Day after day, our nomad condition has led us to adapt our daily routine differently. Constantly outdoors, we grow to be independent with the elements. Every morning is kick-started by an efficient but energetic breakfast, followed by map and route finding, packing the camp, and mechanical inspections. Meal organization is crucial, as to make sure the amount of stock is sufficient. Every decision is methodical, each motion is fine, precise, and detailed.
Of course, riding with our set-up stirs reaction. People get curious about our objective. On a bike, the most frequent question we get asked is the one of our destination. To those from the North West of the United States, Argentina arouses a reaction that is proportional to our goal. We stay focused on the path ahead rather than the final destination. Each moment we share is an invitation to discovery and contemplation. Indeed, each pedal stroke brings you to the present. Live for today and not for tomorrow.