Ride The Flavour (en)

In Guatemala, say hello to the Mayans !

Feb. 27th | 0 comments

Friday, February 7. We arrive at Hachadura, last city of El Salvador before the border. Our passport did not get stamped when we left El Salvador, we crossed a small bridge and then, within less than 30 seconds, we got the immigration stamp of Guatemala…. Never before had we crossed a border so quickly: in less than 5 minutes, we had officially changed country!

We put away our passports and immediately get back in the saddle. We actually do not feel like riding, our motivation does not go higher than the chainset. But we still manage to put 85km behind us, and eventually the reward happens to be worth the effort: we discover the Rancho Linda Maria, a beautiful open property, which stretches along a powerful stream of clear water. We wash our clothes in the current, close to the bank, then go further in and clean our body in the stormy water. It is a renaissance, as it is each time a bath ends a long period of dubious hygiene 😉

Back on dry land, we meet a group of Guatemalans already free from their working week. They invite us to their table and then follows an effervescent hour, maintained by the fire of an unbroken discussion. At some point we ask them what they exactly mean when they say “Gringo”. Since we entered El Salvador, this word has been daily shot at us on (children in particular would not miss a single opportunity!), it was high time to understand the message…

“Gringos are Americans”, explains Mario, “So you’re actually no Gringos, but you’re blond-haired and have blue eyes… for the people here, you can only be American.
– But it is quite derogatory, isn’t it?
-Oh yes, it is… We do not like the Americans here. Only children say it innocently.”

After these revelations, we were rather relieved to be Europeans, we could now say serenely: ‘no somos Gringos’. But all the same, the barbs have not stopped, our hair remained blond and our eyes blue…

The next day, our mental batteries are 100% recharged. We pass by Escuintla and reach Antigua. We had only heard good things about Antigua, and it is indeed a pretty colonial town. But in truth there were so many tourists and so many shops dedicated to tourists that we found it difficult to appreciate its authenticity. Eventually, the sight of the small booths of tostadas in front of the beautiful La Merced church will probably be our strongest memory.

Fortunately, the authentic quickly caught up with us! Let’s travel in time and space, we are now in the ruins of Iximche, next to Tecpan. The ruins themselves are not of the most explicit but the visit suddenly turned into an extraordinary experience. We have been invited into the circle of a ritual inherited from the purest Maya tradition: an “agradecimento”, aimed to thank the ancestors…


Read more…

El Salvador, country of pupusas !

Feb. 23rd | 0 comments

Friday January 31. The Unión, El Salvador. Barely have we dismounted that we find ourselves back on the saddle. It is 4 p.m., but the day is not over yet, we still have 40 km to ride before we can set our bikes in standby mode. Why this rush? A few days earlier, we had contacted José via the cycling community warmshowers.org and his answer was really pleasant to read: “Mi casa es vuestra casa!” My house is your house! Such an invitation justifies easily a little extra kilometric. You’ve guessed it, José lives 40 km far from La Unión!

We arrive at our destination under the stars and discover with both surprise and pleasure José’s Quebecois accent. “While the civil war was shaking El Salvador (1979-1992), I emigrated to Montréal. There, the law was on my side”, he explains. “Canada gives asylum to any seeker whose country is so proven in war. I therefore grew up there, I even acquired Canadian nationality, and it was only 20 years later that I decided to reconnect with my roots.”

We stayed 3 days José and his wife, Mary. Our program? Cleaning, loading and unloading bags of corn (corn trade is the “hobby” of our host, a real workaholic 😉 ), climbing the volcano San Miguel, a brief interview for a french radio broadcast, Allô la Panète (online here), and learning how to cook the typical Salvadoran meal, las Pupusas ! We couldn’t dream about better way to start our discovery of El Salvador.

Léo, José and Emerson on the crest of the still smoking crater… A month ago, the volcano exploded and shot out a colossal ash cloud. And actually the crater did not escape unhurt, José (who surely holds the record for the number of ascents of the volcano) is formal: “Before, this stone wasn’t here… and this one either! And…”


Read more…

In Nicaragua… days are still beautiful !

Feb. 4th | 0 comments

Saturday, January 18. We entered Nicaragua with Ulf, a German cycling tourist who we had met about 20 km before the border. Our passport gets stamped, we withdraw a few Colones (the local currency) and grab a map of the country in a car rental agency… (clever!) We do not need anything more; we are ready to hit the roads of Nicaragua!

As we catch sight of the Lake Nicaragua (3rd largest lake in the world!), Ulf tells us about the Omotepe island and its two volcanoes, Concepción and Maderas.

“There, in the middle of the lake, there is this island made of two volcanoes. I’ll surely go there to climb the volcano Concepción, either now or on my way back”

As usual, we have entered the country without any preconceived plan. Saying that we had a vague idea of the shape of the country would have been already a little pretentious 🙂 Then why not starting by a hike ? We had our plan!

“You know, your volcano drew our attention. If you want, we could climb it tomorrow?
– Sounds good! So, tonight we can set up the tent on the beach opposite the island, my guide says it’s easy to camp out there.”

Ulf even has a guide… Some are really more far-sighted than others! So once arrived in Rivas, we leave the panamericana and head towards San Jorge and its beach.


Read more…

Costa Rica, the return of beautiful days !

Jan. 24th | 1 comments

Our first day riding on Costa Rican roads is like a first day on vacation. After having crossed the both stratospheric and arid lands of Southern Bolivia, the tropical atmosphere and vegetation of Costa Rica is an infusion of beatitude. Every mile is one more drop added to our drunkenness, our heart beats to the rhythm of joy… And believe us, the pace is fast, our internal music is allegro : the center of Costa Rica is nothing but a huge roller-coaster! The flat does not exist, the slopes call the shots. The peaks and the troughs. Downhills are only short breaks before the slope reverses and brings us to allegrissimo!

We left San Jose, pedaled West for a few km, went past Alajuela… to finally head North, towards our target: the centre of the country. It is then that we entered into the theme park. A sunny road going up and down. A lush flora and fauna. Our eyes no longer know where to look. The wonder is constant. We forget our sweat, dripping in ambient humidity. Our spirit is lost in the surrounding nature. After an absence of several months, fruits are now everywhere. And tasty ones! The first pineapple explodes on our taste buds and avocados melt under our teeth. We breathe life. It is the return of beautiful days!

Our first bivouac, between banana trees and coffee fields!


Read more…