Here’s the deal. I have way too many photos from the section of this journey I want to tell you about in this post. Or at least begin to tell you about. So instead of writing too much about it, I’ll let a few of them do most of the talking instead.
If I did write, this would only ever become another one of those chunks of text where I try and find yet a few more synonyms to the not-even-graspable beauty that this planet keeps revealing a little more of for each new country passing under my wheels. A few new attempts at defining the magic that makes me want to keep chasing new horizons in all eternity.
I would try and explain the feeling being so endlessly small. While at the same time fully feeling part of the greatest thing of all.
I would yet again try to put that absolutely deafening mountain silence to words.
How – after days of climbing it – rolling down the other side of a massive mountain pass beats any and every roller coaster in the world.
Or how thin enough air somehow makes me feel like I’m breathing with purpose.
And I would fail miserably with all of the above.
The one thing I do want to say though, is that if you – even for a second – think that something like this could possibly be for you. And that somehow, sometime, you might be able to create an opportunity to make it reality. To give the middle finger to all those ‘impossibles’ that – as if only to make our lives miserable – consistently stand in between us and our dreams. (The secret few people know, is that they’re really only there to make sure we want them bad enough.)
I realise that peddling an old pushbike up and down a bunch of mountains isn’t for everyone. And that the majority of you reading these lines probably have way more sophisticated and purposeful dreams than me. I don’t care though. The same goes for you:
– If you want, you can. And if you can – you must.
Go for it. Whatever that ‘it’ might happen to be for you. Like, really make an attempt. The least you can do for yourself is try. It’s not supposed to be easy. But it’s supposed to be done.
Trust me. Try.
You will thank yourself forever.
Alright. We agreed on letting the photos do the talking in this one, right?
Here it is. Some of what the biggest smack in the face nature has ever given me looked like.
One early morning I left the small but oh so cute township of Villa Union behind, headed up. I had 2 weeks worth of food crammed down my panniers, and – at last – my big Andean two wheeled adventures were about to begin.
The first few days of climbing were, like always seems to be the case for me when I’m charging up high mountains, breezy and filled with absolutely childlike anticipation. Nature changes fast. Everything is new. The dropping temperatures still doesn’t require much more than an extra pair of socks at night. And still there are far too much oxygen in the air for your mind to even give it any thought.
Surprisingly soon though – also this just like in any other high mountains I’ve been – you find yourself up high for real. And though mind and soul is still souring from pure inspiration, your far from acclimatised body is hating you a little more for each pedal stroke and climbed meter. Heart is beating like a drum no matter if you’re cycling, pushing, or simply sitting on a rock eating peanuts.
And it’s awesome.
How can this even be real?!
Eventually, I reached the first pass – Portazelo de Laguna Brava. 4350 masl.
The mandatory I’m UP!-selfie
And I was officially up on the arid, rugged altiplano offering to be my home for as long as I… could handle it.
Some of the host inhospitable landscapes I’ve ever seen
Vicuñas having dinner by Laguna Brava
This is probably what I love the most. Not the climbing part, headed up mountains. Nor the speedy descent down from them. That little something in between – being in them. Your body is well adjusted to the lack of oxygen. Your eyes have accepted that those ridiculous views and your ever-changing wallpapers are actually real. And making sure to keep batteries and water bottles from freezing at night becomes just as a natural part of your day as zipping up the tent in the morning.
We’re all different. But to me – this is the definition of life. And nowhere else do I feel as strongly that I’m absolutely living it.
2nd pass coming up!
Abra Pircas Negras. 4230 masl.
Can you see my road down there?
I could go on forever.
Though I think I’ll do us all a favor and save the full photo bonanza for another time. Most likely to the couch of my grandmother, when I finally get there. If anyone in the world – she would be the one with the stamina to get through them all.
So for now, let’s just finish off with reminding ourselves.
– If we want, we can. If we can – we must.
I hope you don’t mind me asking. What is your dream?
Until next time,