May 13th, 2015
Loudspeakers announce arriving and departing aircraft, first in Spanish then in English. Electronic boards convey the same information in an easier to understand form. I am in the El Salvador (5th and final country of the trip!) International airport returning from the bathroom. I’m still a little sick.
A chubby latino boy, returning home with his family from a visit with relatives, waddles up to me with a curios twinkle in his eye. “Gee mister,” he says with a hint of southern drawl. “You sure have a lot of stuff.”
“I do?” I say scrunching my face perplexed.
“You sure do! Stuff’s hanging all over you.” I think back to the reflection in the bathroom mirror. Two yellow bags, each nearly the size of my torso, hang on each side and are stuffed to overflowing. Another yellow bag from my handle-bar hangs around my neck. A small black backpack clings to my back.
“I’m a bag with legs!” I realized. And here I thought I was carrying so little.
“I do have a lot of stuff,” I answered. “I rode a bicycle here from Canada. I’m flying home now.”
The chubby little ten year old thinks for a moment. “Was it hard?”
What a difficult question to answer in a phrase. Even given multiple chapters of a book, I doubt I could fully explore that question. I carefully compose a simple reply, “Yes, it was. And also very fun.”
“I would never want to do that!” he says shaking his head as he walks away amazed and confounded. I return to a row of seats touched by the honesty only a child can convey.
At this point, my bike should be entering the belly of the plane. It turned out way easier than expected packing it for the flight. At home, the process is simple: get bike box from bike shop; take bike apart; stuff bike in box. Here in El Salvador, there are no bike boxes. Luckily, things worked out just like they always seem to do. We wrapped my bike in cellophane like a turkey leftover from Thanksgiving dinner.
While not technically up to the airlines standards, a nice english-speaking gentleman who works for the airline, Spirit, kindly ok’ed the packaging. “Yes, it should do,” he said after I knocked on the door. A policeman gave me permission.
“Yeah, but what if it doesn’t?
“Well, I’m the one who makes that decision. I say it is fine.”
“Perfect! Thank you so much!”
It is hard to believe that my trip over. In two more hours I’ll board an airplane for the first time. In half-a-day, I’ll be home. I feel conflicted. I’m happy to return to ease and convince. I am excited to see friends and family after ten months away. I cannot wait to eat the foods I’ve missed so much; the comfort foods I’m used to eating.
But, I don’t want it to end. Not now. Not yet. I should be out there riding with Rio. The sun should be full in my face with an ocean on both sides getting closer and closer the further south I ride. I haven’t even seen a jungle! Oh, the duality of life. Can’t I have my lasagna and eat it too??!
I’m ok though. I ready for the next adventure to begin. This one in my hometown. It is easy to forget when consumed in the day-to-day struggles of life. Everyday is an adventure. New opportunities abound if we only remember to look. I look forward to this summer at home. See you all soon.
Rio and I left our little island taking the slightly more adventurous route along the water. The alternative was riding north to the main highway.
The road came to an end at this river but that wasn’t stopping anyone. We lugged our bikes aboard and continued on.
Vehicles were ferried as well, two to a boat.
Notice the boat in the background, a constant stream.
We had a plan: camp at a lake we saw on the map. Our plan turned out better than expected. At the lake we saw signs for a church camp. Perfect. We found the gate locked and waited. A car pulled up and we went through the normal spiel, “We’re traveling on bicycles. Can we please camp here? We have tents.” The man opened the gate and told us of a covered dock we could sleep on. “Muchas gracious!!!”
The church camp had a really nice lap pool as well as a bathroom complete with showers. Thank god for the bathroom…
The dock juts way into a really dirt, murky lake. The water level is low since the dry season just ended. We’re into the wet season now as evidenced by the nightly deluge. It poured during the night. I mean, one of the strongest rains I’ve experienced.
I’ve been blessed with the most amazing experiences and campsites on this adventure. This was one of the better ones. Rio is practicing yoga in the rising sun.
Riding off the dock headed for El Salvador!
“We followed a dirt road 100m or more up a slight incline. A fancy row house sits atop the hill. Sprinklers spray water over a perfect green grass yard. We head downhill to the lake passed other small houses and cabanas even a swimming pool. A really fancy lap pool that we later swim in.” -Quote from my journal
A car hanging from a tree. Your guess is as good as mine.
We stop for lunch at this little restaurant over the water. Since it’s my last days, I’m on a mission to eat as much seafood as I can. Normally, we don’t eat out. Only the rare occasion.
Rio ordered seafood soup. It came with whole crabs, shrimp, entire fish, and who knows what else. Loved it. I ordered fish. It was served whole and was the size of my forearm. HUGE.
We ride past the line of trucks queued for the border crossing. Cutting lines is a big advantage of traveling via bike.
Country number five! I should look happier but this is all I could muster. It was really hot and I had little energy as I was still fighting the parasite.
Our goodbye photograph. Good luck Rio! It was a pleasure meeting you!
My bike and some gear held together by packing tape awaiting its cellophane wrapping.
Two employees of the packaging company wrap the front of my bike in cardboard for a little protection.
They put the bike on their machine and wrap away!
Only 40 cents for a bottle of water here. El Salvador uses the dollar, convenient for me as I only have to change currency once. Oddly, the dollar bill is rare. Much more common are dollar coins like the ones you get from the Post Office in the States.