Plans often arise due to unrelated promptings, and this one actually came from four disparate quarters:
- Michael, a favourite relative of ours, suggested we might join him at a resort on Cozumel, Mexico.
- A friend told us of a Tasmanian couple, who needed accommodation in Vancouver for an extended period.
- A young couple in Vancouver showed us photos of themselves cycling the back roads of the High Andes, and we got itchy feet.
- The aches and pains of getting older warned us that major cycle trips might not be possible in coming years, as Margo hinted at in the last post.
Thus an idea to fly to Cancun on December 12th, and travel south. Margo started Spanish classes, we went to the travel clinic and got jabbed, we ordered the permethrin to treat our mosquito nets, and we started drawing up a Plan A. As always, Plan A grew.
It has now come to include 4 sections:
- Central America
- Colombia and Ecuador
- The High Andes
- Paraguay, Iguaçu Falls, São Paulo
A couple of planning maps have been drawn up:
Key planning dates (not to be taken too seriously):
- December 19, 2016 Cozumel, Mexico
- Mar 14, 2017 Cartagena, Colombia
- Apr 29, 2017 Quito, Ecuador
- Sep 17, 2017 Salta, Argentina (probably too optimistic)
- Oct 29, 2017 São Paulo, Brazil
As a planner, I ask myself: where are the obvious stopping points? Well the route through Central America is very interesting until we are forced onto the Pan-American Highway at the Panama Border. So we might stop in Costa Rica. Cartagena to Quito has considerable interest, including dropping in on an old University friend of Margo’s in Cali, and potentially having friends join us for a leg. But the High Andes section we will start in Quito is a daunting challenge of major climbs at high altitude, and we might not feel up to this. So we might fly home from Quito. Once we have finished the High Andes, with the finale of cycling across the Bolivian Salt Flats, we might just drop down to Salta, Argentina and fly home. But the Iguazu Falls are an easy ride away, and visiting Chris’s cousin’s family in São Paulo, seems a pleasant way to end the trip, reminiscent of similarly dropping in on another cousin in Austria somewhat unannounced, on the Bangkok to Paris trip. Actually we really have no idea where and when this trip will end; maybe we will get the bug to carry onto Ushuaia, or fly to Australia and continue cycling. That is the beauty of being retired; we can choose for ourselves, and we will take it a day at a time. One of the beauties of this route is that buses are available, in many locations, so bailing out is relatively easy.
For those kind friends who worry about our safety on such a trip, may I assure you we have studied the government travel warning sites. The trip is designed to stay away from areas that these advisories warn us against visiting. Most of these warnings are quite detailed, for instance in Colombia the UK government provides a map. But the major warning is for Honduras, where the Pan American highway through Honduras is off limits, as is a large area around it. You will see we avoid this completely by taking a boat from La Union, El Salvador to Potosi, Nicaragua. We will monitor these government travel warning sites, along with health warning sites, as we travel and adjust our plans accordingly.