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So far Fredrika Ek has created 92 entries.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Without a care in the world we were sitting there. After a few days of rest and and glaciers, me and my newfound riding pals Greg and Moritz had gladly let what started as our last tuna sandwich session in El Calafate turn into an evening of wine and campsite BBQ.

We were happy. Well rested. And absolutely clueless of what we were in for the following day.

Skip forward 12 (or was it 36?) hours.

Crazy winds can be fun..! Even when you’re on a bicycle. And even when they’re throwing themselves straight in your face. It is all about perception, really. Trust me. After having cycled Tierra del Fuego from south to north quite recently I feel like I know what I’m talking about.

However. There is a limit.

And on this particular day, we all reached it.

There are headwinds. Big headwinds. And then (apparently) there are ‘downhill-on-smooth-tarmac-and-yet-you’re-pushing-in-4 km/h’ kind of headwinds. Winds that can be described in many different ways. Though certainly not with the word fun.

With nothing (except a whole lot of nothing) around we had absolutely nowhere to hide. The force of the wind made anyone attempting to mount their bicycle look like an absolute fool and the deafening howl of it stole the sound of our shouting voices even before they’d even left our mouths.

Physically we were still together, but since making that turn straight into the wall of wind we were all on our own. Pushing. Getting onto the saddle only to get thrown straight off the road. Pushing again. Going nowhere.

Until a few hours later when we finally found our salvation.


Signs sent straight from above.

For the average person I think drainage pipes might not be the most appealing hang out spot in the world. Ask me in a different situation and I’d probably agree with you. Then and there though, this cylinder of bliss were no doubt the best thing that’d ever happened.


Mr. Bike playing hardcore as always.

For a good 12 hours we were hiding under the road. Munching chocolates, laughing at each others’ attempts on the ukulele and simply sitting around in each others company. Times like these there’s no denying that the good old Swedish proverb ‘Shared joy is twice the joy, shared grief is half the grief’ is as true as it’s always been. And evidently also highly applicable when it comes to spending the night in drainage pipes.

4.30 am our alarm set off. The familiar tune from the iPhone softly echoed through the pipe in which we were all laying cuddled up in our sleeping bags.

‘Can you hear that..?’

This was a hoarse voice of equal parts drowsiness, excitement and relief.

‘It’s quiet..!

One second. Two seconds.

The sound of three zippers simultaneously being pulled open.

‘Let’s do this.’

Minutes later Moritz was the first one on the road. This was it – our window of opportunity. A chance to beat the winds and make those last 50 odd km to El Chaltén before they’d have us in a new chokehold.

We were quick. But luckily relaxed enough to realise that this wasn’t merely early. This was one of the most beautiful morning rides any of us had ever experienced.

…followed by what was no doubt our most picturesque cycling yet in South America. And oh yes. This piece of road was just as absurd as the photos tell you. The day before we’d been smacked in the face by winds from hell. This day – by something else entirely.


Breakfast on the go

Then – before the winds – we did make it.

We were in El Chaltén! Happy. Clueless. Yet again about to make absolute fools out of ourselves.

In the next one, I promise to tell you all about it.

Until then,

Fredrika

Nothing. And Everything.

Guided by a bumpy gravel road I crossed back into Argentina. And way too much happened way too quickly to give a fair recap of it here. This thing could easily have been a write up on yet another one of those ever glowing encounters with the very essence of humanity. But it’s not.

This time the story of how the boys at that rural police station opened their door (and fridge, shower and spare bedroom) to the dusty gringa plodding down the road outside their window will remain merely a memory.

The memory of when I finally learned to fold a proper empanada.

Instead – this post starts here.

In the middle of some southern Patagonian nothingness. Perhaps on a Sunday. Tuesday. Or possibly a Thursday. With me playing around with my tripod while waiting for those too-slow lunch noodles to cook.

And with an unexpected but pleasant surprise coming closer and closer, in that slow but steady pace you ever really see from heavily loaded touring bicycles on loose gravel. Stuffing my face with noodles and a few of the leftover empanadas the police had crammed down my already full bags, I watched the two dark dots growing bigger.

Whatever day this was, it was a good one. I was in for company.


Now this is how to finish a meal!

Greg and Moritz from Germany.

Not only did we meet out there in the middle of nowhere. Not only were we going in the same direction. More importantly than anything else – we hit it off. Within a few days this newfound trio had grown into this highly dysfunctional (try cooking enough for three hungry cyclists) yet absolutely awesome family. And the most natural thing in the world.

To no one’s surprise – I loved this.

For a girl who has spent better part of the last two years peddling down those endless roads on her own, suddenly getting to share a few stretches with nut jobs like herself is… beautiful.

Days like these are obviously incredible.

A million (yes) times better though. Better than anything really, is sharing evenings. Food, tales of life and laughs from the same day. Quiet sunsets with people who’s legs are just as tired as yours. Everything.


Not least when there are ukuleles and harmonicas hidden in the panniers!

What else..?

Oh yeah, we saw condors together.


(With wingspans of insane 2-3 meters…)

And the most jaw dropping glaciers I am convinced I will ever get to see in my entire life. And hey. You have got to get to see this too. Seriously. After reading – do yourself a favor and write this down.

Patagonia. El Calafate. Perito Moreno.

Write it down.

And then make sure that whenever that window of opportunity may arise – you take it.

And GO.

Until next time,

Fredrika

The Apocalypse Safari

Sooner or later it was bound to happen, I’ve known that. Anyone prioritising enjoying oneself, ahead of setting up the ultimate bullet proof ninja system for securing the documentation of that enjoyment (…which I guess then wouldn’t have taken place) does. And now it has.

I’ve lost photos :(

Not too much, but definitely enough to be a little bummed out about it. And enough for this post to end up a cripple. The lucky few that I’ve been able to restore you’ll find below. The rest, look a little something like this:

Really not too bad, and those few days worth of photos could definitely be covered up for by a few extra moments spent on writing about them. Though that won’t happen today I’m afraid. Instead of words compensating the makeshift photos in this post, there will be words to match.

Oh, well. Here we go.

Arriving in Puerto Natales I had reached my first Patagonian jumbo tourist destination. A small fiord side town crammed to it’s breaking point by hostels and outdoor shops. With streets filled by backpack carrying trekking enthusiasts from all over the world, half of which overly excited about their upcoming adventures, and the other half overly exhausted after just having returned from them.

Anyone who knows their Patagonia know exactly what these people all had their eye on.


Torres del Paine

I spent a simple single day in the national park, headed straight up for its main attraction: the base of Paine towers. Now for anyone looking for stunning photos of this place, Google is your friend. Here you’ll only find an in field case study of the worryingly rapid rise of the ever so disoriented species of Homo Selfies.

Armed with various electronic devices, these human like creatures are to be found all over the globe and can pose a serious threat to anyone and everyone within their immediate range. Always watch out for sudden swings of arms, and remember to take extra precaution with ones carrying sticks. Many try to hide their true being, but the Homo Selfies will always reveal itself when exposed to what it experiences to be a spectacular environment or situation.

Rule of thumb:

a) Is he/she facing the point of interest, looking at it? Human.
b) Is he/she turning his/her back on the point of interest, admiring him/herself in digital mirror? Bingo.

This particular individual is not only an clear example of all of the above, but obviously also taking photos of itself, taking photos of itself. A simple puff of air could have saved the world by letting this creature meet its destiny in the ice cold water. But the mere fact that these photos are now online proves that unfortunately for all of us – it didn’t.

Ladies and gentlemen. Close your windows, hide your children. The apocalypse is coming.

Homo Selfies Selfies is here.

Now, where were I?

Oh yeah, I lost photos. Not having a lot of them from Torres del Paine actually don’t bother me too much. Thousands of photos (that are way better than mine would ever be) from there are one hashtag away. And I didn’t even have good weather.

What is sad though, is missing those from my time spent in Puerto Natales town. The time spend with Fernando and his lovely, lovely family. Though writing this it all just seems ridiculous. Photos? Of what? Memories aren’t caught on camera anyways. And sometimes memories simply have to be enough.

In fact, they always have to be enough. Because when it all comes down to it. They’re all we have.

Until next time,

Fredrika

By |December 20th, 2016|South America, Travel Logs|

Gut Feeling

Sometimes cycling is boring. This usually gets to me a little more than it from time to time being tough. The idea of pushing through rough times is part of what got me out here in the first place. Being bored though, was not.

Exciting is probably one of the last words I’d use to describe the road from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales. Smooth, yes. Still horribly windy – definitely. Interesting in any way? Nah.

Luckily though, cycling is not all I’m doing.

With the winds still playing a major roll in life on the road out there, something taking up a lot more focus than usual was finding a sheltered place to sleep. Something which generally ended up with either some fun encounters with people, or some rather amusing hangouts with myself.

I don’t have a proper explanation for it, but I so (and I’m assuming I’m not alone here) enjoy falling asleep in new places. And now I’m not talking new as in geographical locations where I haven’t slept in before. I mean new sleeping.. situations? My list of these is naturally rather extensive by now, and it doesn’t happen too often anymore that I get to make new additions to it.

With nightly wind-escaping quests though – new firsts came crashing in at a rate that almost got me feeling like I was back in Europe and the early days of this journey.


Stables – check!


Bus stop. Can’t believe it actually took me this long?


Gunilla! Compact living var det va? ;-) <3

A million times better than odd solo sleeping mission though, are obviously those priceless evenings in the company of just made friends. Some of them leaving even stronger memories than others.

Knocking on the door of the run down workers house by the no longer running gas station I still don’t really know what I was hoping for. Tired legs, an empty mind and a blank stare was everything I’d brought to the porch on which I was standing. Not until forming a fist had I realised how stiff my fingers had gone from being held prisoners in my way too wet gloves for so long. There was a raw, damp cold in the air. The world was standing completely still. I leaned in towards the door, almost pressing my ear against it.

Quickly the thought passed through my mind. When had I actually been using my voice last?

Silently I cleared my throat. Then I knocked again, a little harder this time. Water was the official story both to myself and to whoever I would find on the other side, though in reality I really didn’t need it. In reality I didn’t really need anything, apart from something to happen.

The familiar sound of chair slowly scraping against floor. Jackpot.

There is a lot to be said about the hundreds encounters of this kind one is bound to have had after soon to be 2 consecutive years one the road. About the people we’re so used to calling strangers, and about trust. About cynicism versus naivety. About gut feeling. And at those very few but still too many instances when things do get real – about pure instinct.

We’ll leave most of that for now. And just go with that I am one of those people who’ve decided to trust. My gut that is. A formerly loose canon that through the rolling experiences of the last 30 countries has moulded itself into this fine tuned instrument I trust with my life. Literally.

My gut has the 2 absolutely critical jobs of telling me when to:

1) Dive head first in the next peanut butter jar in sight.

2) Get the hell out of a situation.

Haha. I’m just trying to be all dramatic here. (…and perhaps also to make a bit of a point.)

Guns on the wall? Or more importantly: that 4th gun missing from the wall? What-your-mama-taught-you-logic says: RUUUUUUUUUUUN! Like seriously. Run. NOW.

When it’s my gut telling me those things, I listen. Always. In a weird way even more so when that mama-logic gives a green light. However – when that same gut feeling says ‘Sure! :-) ‘ – I listen too.

Total ping-pong night. Two equally short and intense friendships. BBQ. Soft bed. A few stories that will never make it to this blog. And perhaps most importantly a big reminder of that boring cycling is nothing – nothing – but people adventures in disguise.

Until next time,

Fredrika

By |December 19th, 2016|South America, Travel Logs|

Soft Landings

Coming up to my Tierra del Fuego finish line I was quite happy to do so. Though I realise now that relieved, is probably a word  closer to the truth. I was tired. And tired of being tired. This leg had been amazing on so many levels – but by this point I’d definitely had enough of it. More than enough, actually. Unfortunately Tierra del Fuego itself didn’t fully agree with that last part.

The icy snowflakes coming at me like swarms of miniature target seeking rocket launchers made the small mountain pass to Porvenir and the ferry to the mainland seem like a challenge of biblical proportions, rather than the smooth few-hundred-meter bump in the road that it actually was. Just minutes earlier the storm had arrived from absolutely nowhere, and was quickly making more than sure that no one out and about that day would be able to deny it’s presence.

Anyone who’s been stuck in a ski lift on a windy day knows the comfort level of those fierce natural needles piercing into any piece of skin you’ve failed to cover up. And how they have the potential to drain the life out of anyone in the wrong mindset before Ms. Rowling’s dementors have even had time to choose their victim.

In short – this day sucked.

Let’s fast forward a bunch of hours.

I could see land now. Mainland. My eyes were physically too tired to watch it come closer, but this particular evening was simply too pretty to miss out on. The air on deck was still, and drowsy same-day memories of cold toes and swear words drowning in roaring winds seemed to have been taking place in a different life. The few hour long ferry I was on had carried me lightyears, and I smiled to myself as I – if only symbolically – unzipped those few top centimeters of my down jacket.

‘You’ve done well, girl. ‘

The moment I got off the ferry real life came back a little bit. I had made it to Punta Arenas and mainland Chile, but this was about as far as my plan had stretched. The sun had already set, I had no clue where I was going. And quite quickly I realised that I’d probably do best in keeping that jacket zipped all the way up after all.

So. I (obviously) did the one reasonable thing here – and decided to care about all that later, and instead go on to snap a few cheesy moonlight photos of Mr. Bike. After all he is a born model that boy. Posing his racks off, regardless of how many people are watching. Haha.


Mr. Bike feeling all pretty.

And just as a few of you might already be guessing, this was it. That (…almost) never failing moment when life decides to fold out better than anything imagination could ever come close to.

Because as if from nowhere Oscar was suddenly standing behind me. The local cycle loving Punta Arenas chico who apparently’d been on that same ferry with me. Who saw zero point in me heading into town in search for a hostel and whose sweet sweet mother was at home, already waiting with dinner on the table. And one quick phone call later she was apparently doing so with an extra plate next to her.

Long story short: I was in for a treat. Four days of treats actually. Four days which left my body well rested for the first time since arriving in Patagonia, and my head absolutely spinning from trying to keep up with the more or less gringo-adapted Chilean lingo thrown around in the Seguel household that week.

I don’t think I need to tell you how much I loved every little piece of it. But yeah – I did.

Mil gracias Oscar, and thank you life.

I owe you both.

Until next time,

Fredrika

By |December 12th, 2016|South America, Travel Logs|

Cycling Tierra del Fuego

Life on the road is unpredictable. You put yourself out there for days, weeks, months, even years at the time, without ever really knowing what the roulette table of life will have in store for you this time. And that – of course – is the whole point.

Tierra del Fuego however, is (at least in some ways) as predictable as it gets. Easy? No. Boring? Definitely not. But fact stands. When going at it from south to north – you know what you’re in for.

Girl + Bicycle + Tierra del Fuego equals 2 certainties at the end of any given day:


1) Happiness


2) Exhaustion

Wind rarely does itself justice on photos. So we’ll simply need to try something else this time.

Imagine yourself in the backseat of a fast moving car. Are you there yet? Good. Roll down that imaginary window. Now, stick out your hand and feel that familiar high five from the wall of wind crashing in towards your palm. Got it? Great. For extra effect you could also just briefly stick out your head, simply to listen to that deafening noice for a second or two. There you go. Now, imagine this on your entire being. For days on end. And without any windows to roll back up.

Welcome to Tierra del Fuego.

Going south to north the wind is a challenge. Even the smallest tasks, such as putting on a jacket becomes incredibly impractical. Ending up in the ditch a few times a day is as much of a given as gravity (which by the way seem to play by different rules down here). Patience is absolute key. So is it to not ever let the 7, 8, 9 km/h digits flashing on the odometer get to you.

With that said though, I loved this little corner of the world. Like really, really loved it. Here are a bunch of photos to show you what my days looked like, down by el fin del mundo (the end of the world).


Yes. Wind can even turn selfies into small mission impossibles.


Curiosity contest with the locals (guanacos).


From time to time I passed by rural sheep and cattle farms…


…and took every opportunity I got for a little break from the winds.

Due to a worker’s strike my first border crossing into Chile ended up taking close to 18 hours. My longest one up to date. Something that sounds far from ideal, but that in reality was just the best ever.

As some sort of compensation for not stamping my passport, the lovely guys at the border simply decided to give me everything else they could come up with instead. After a long border evening consisting of a big dinner, never ending mates (google this), a game of football and possibly a few too many jokes about Chileans, I was spoiled to a warm place to sleep. Though I still hadn’t left Argentina, the day was officially a smashing success.


Walls, 3 mattresses and a heater? Oh yes please!

When I woke up it was snowing. And though I knew I still had a lot of waiting to do also on the Chilean border control, I felt like I was almost cheating past this part of the crossing.


The river I knew I needed to wade through…


…had gotten a bridge just 3 weeks earlier!


Chilean nothingness


Different country, same wind.

One sunny afternoon, I finally reached this view. A view I’d been waiting for and which I knew exactly what it meant. This was Bahía Inutíl, and I was up for some 30 kilometers of tailwind.

Going from days on end with an average speed below 10 km/h to suddenly be absolutely flying without even peddling has got to be one of the most relieving feelings in the world. Shwoooosh! Haha. Life on top, for sure. However much I loved it though, me taking a turn for some favorable winds wasn’t the main reason for the dorky smile on my face that day. That was something else entirely.

That was me knowing, that I was up for penguins.

Until next time,

Fredrika

Winds & Magic

‘Now, my girl. I must apologise. I have seven needles in my lower back, and am in quite some pain. I should probably lay down for a bit. I am sorry.

Please don’t worry though. Melaina is here. She has a heart of gold and she will take care of you. I know so, because she has been taking care of me for the last 15 years. Good night, my girl. I will see you one more time in the morning. Maybe. I do hope I will.’

I was speechless.

Looking down into the shiny eyes of the featherlight, wrinkly old lady standing in front of me, wrapped up in the maroon bathrobe that by the looks of it had been sown a few decades earlier, to someone two or three times her size.

The wooden floor was creaking though none of us where moving. The maid held her by the shoulders, keeping her steady. Before slowly being led though the long hall towards her bedroom, she reached out a skinny arm to touch my forehead, smiling vaguely while mumbling something about angels.

I watched her go. Speechless.

Less than an hour earlier I had been out on the road, hopelessly battling the winds whipping me back and fourth like an autumn leaf without a tree. Peddling, but getting nowhere. Watching the sun working it’s way towards the horizon, wondering where in the world I would be able to lay my head without having my tent ripped to shreds the very moment I pitched it.

All pampa. In every direction, and far as the eye could see.

And now I was here. Inside. In the old residence mansion at a mutton station in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. One of the very few still operating, despite the overwhelming issues with packs of wild dogs sweeping the lands, killing off sheep like there was no tomorrow.

Too many times to count, I’ve had the exact thought loop though my mind without being able to answer it. This time though, it wasn’t based on myself. This time that very same thought was about Stefanie. The 80-something-year-old lady from Munich, Germany. With her impeccable British English, massive bathrobe and 7 needles in her back. And since a few minutes, also an unknown Swedish girl standing in her hallway.

Stefanie. How in the world did you end up here..?


Another unexpected home away from home

This was my second day on the road in Argentina. And just for the heck of it, let’s quickly rewind to the very first one.

On the 7th of November I left Ushuaia, taking my first actual pedal strokes on the 4th – and 2nd to last – continent this journey will take me to. I probably don’t need to tell you that I was excited. But I was. I was pumped out of my mind.

On the pretty ride just outside of town I found company in the form of two random Ushuaia chicos out and about of their bikes. Together we let the tailwinds push us up the hills while jokingly ‘discussing’ (it’ll be a while before my Spanish actaully allows me to do that) our nations’ superheroes Messi and Ibrahimovic.

Great fun, obviously. But rather than devoting my full attention to everything they where actaully saying, I tried to do everything in my power to fully enjoy those tailwinds. Knowing that they would be my last for quite a while.

From word of mouth (and blogs), I think very few bike tourers pass this region without hearing about that magical haven in the Tolhuin township some 100 km from Ushuaia. The bakery that not only makes the best empanadas in the region, but that also opens their backdoor to host any and every cyclist travelling through town.

As the evening, and my hunger, rolled in – so did I.

Simple, and simply amazing.

Shower and a roof. A bit of company. And perhaps a power outlet. This is my usual definition of ‘everything one could wish for’. At Panadería La Union however, they have walls. Legendary walls. Walls that kept me entertained for hours on end, and walls within which I later fell asleep – for the first time in a while, truly feeling like a part of something.


Inspiration if I’ve ever seen it… :)

Morning arrived and I couldn’t wait. From Tolhiun I was about to hit the wall of wind I knew was coming, but I couldn’t have cared less. There was only one thing in the world I wanted to do that morning. To ride my bike.

I did ride my bike that day. Through the winds, for eight hours. Geographically those hours didn’t take me very far. But on every other level, I found myself in a whole new world because of them.

I watched Stefanie as the slowly moved further and further away through the hallway. Her hunched back made her look even shorter than she already was. Everything about her physical being seemed fragile. Still she radiated that endless resilience that you only ever see in women who’ve lived long lives. Women with stories to tell.

We never did meet in the morning. Watching her take those last steps into her room was the last thing I ever saw of Stefanie. And I never got to hear a single one of her stories.

I did however, get to hear a few others. In the morning Stefanie’s husband showed up, taking up exactly where his wife had left off. Showing me everything I never would’ve known to ask about what life is like, running a farm at the end of the world.


Seems like the winds get to everyone

I caught myself with only half listening to how he explained how to properly cross-breed sheep for the best combined quality of meet and wool. Once again my mind was wandering, and the butterflies in my tummy could almost have lifted me from the ground.

I was back. Truly, truly back. To every little piece of as to why I’m out here to begin with.

We got back to the house, and to no one’s surprise Melania had cooked up another absolute storm. Stuffing me with omelettes and freshly baked tortillas straight from the oven top, before insisting on helping me pack my bike. Refusing to take no for an answer as she crammed fruit and lunch sandwiches into my panniers. I finally gave up and just smiled. Stefanie had known what she was talking about.

One kiss on the cheek, at that was it. Next moment I was back on the road. With winds if possible being even stronger than the day before. But also – if possible – with my joy for cycling towering anything that could ever, ever come in my way.

Until next time,

Fredrika

By |November 29th, 2016|South America, Travel Logs|

The End Of The World

Haha. This is the one photo I have from the 2 day trip that was my journey from one end of the world to another. New Zealand to Argentina. A journey of thousands and thousands of kilometers across the biggest ocean on Earth – and this is it. One grainy half ass out-a-window snap from a shaky phone. Far from pretty, though one that to me serves as the ultimate symbol of the insanity that travelling by these flying exhaust pipes is.

Without even mentioning the fact that this is the ultimate disservice one can do to the planet, this still has got to be one of the most unnatural and absurd activity a person can engage in? Admittedly I’m damaged by a year and a half of travelling with an average speed of 15 km/h, but that doesn’t change much. However comfortable, efficient and whatever else it is – we’re obviously not supposed to move like this.

Crossing the date line and touching ground in Buenos Aires hours before taking off from New Zealand definitely added to the feeling of completely loosing touch with time and space. But hey. I guess time travelling was simply next in line of the never ending ‘firsts’ I keep ticking off throughout this whole thing.

A 12 hour layover and a quick 3 000 km (I mean..?) domestic flight later I found myself on solid ground in Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. The only reasonable starting point of the second half of this adventure. The one from which I am – and I can’t believe that I’m actually writing this – going home.

It’s a long way there. But oh yes – it’s actually happening.

The few days I spent in town was like one big deep breath. While dealing with jet lag and simultaneously trying to find my balance in my latino home to be for the upcoming year, my mind was once again getting ready to take on another brand new chapter. This time a massive one.

A couple of days wandering around town and winding down in the nearby national park of Tierra del Fuego was just what I needed. Getting familiar (and falling in love) with everything from dulce de leche to empanadas, and rapidly trying to dust off my old school Spanish by grabbing a hold of anyone patient enough to listen to yet another gringa’s not all that successful attempts of making herself understood.

All while doing my best to ignore the loud threats of those infamous Patagonian winds, sending chills down my spine way before I’d ever even hit the road.

New snow had fallen on the mountain tops when I opened my eyes that morning. I was excited. Loaded my bike. Snapped the mandatory photos with that cheesy, but still oh so enchanting ‘fin del mundo’ sign.

And then I took off.

¡Vamos!

Fredrika

By |November 23rd, 2016|South America, Travel Logs|

I Love You

It’s all about contrasts, isn’t it?

Last year I spent my birthday with my only company being the lactic acid in my legs, as I slowly headed up my very first mountain pass in rural China. After waking up to a -7C tent and a flat tyre, and before falling asleep in the only slightly warmer guesthouse bed that together with some overpriced (and under delivering) chocolates was my gift to my then 24-year-old self.

This year I spent it leaned back with a glass of wine and a t-shirt. And Mom.

Mamma.

My Mamma.

My sweet, loving mother who’d been brave enough to fly all across the globe to – if only for a little while – give the middle finger to that constantly growing geographical gap that had been keeping us apart for a good eternity or two. Touching ground at Queenstown airport, and giving me one of those near chokingly tight hugs exactly 365 days after that day of numb toes in China.

Contrasts.

Writing this I’m going to assume that you have a mom too. Perhaps even a daughter. And I’m going to assume that your imagination will do a way better job connecting to this feeling than my words could ever do.

As always everything is relative. But as far as this journey goes the 3 months I spent in New Zealand were all one long dreamy vacay. Surely one with all the elements that some thousands kilometers of cycling involves, but still. And that final week together with Mom. That was the crescendo of a lifetime.

And I think she was quite happy to see me too :-)

I’ll spare you with the details about us going full on tourist, exploring the southern parts of New Zealand’s south island together. Holding hands, bugging each other in true mother-daughter fashion, and then always ending up holding hands again. One thing that needs to be in the records though, is that after too many fruitless attempts we did manage to find this little guy!


Are people still playing Pokémon Go?

One week. One where as always, time was not enough. But oh, am I grateful for each moment of it. Because as though things inevitably come to their end, memories do last an eternity.

Tack för allt Mamma. Vi ses hemma. Jag älskar dig!

As every climb is rewarded with a descent, every high is eventually followed by a low. Having Mom disappear just as quickly as she came would no doubt have meant a big one, if it wasn’t for 2 very special people that I could never finish off this post without mentioning.

Gordie & Katrin. You mad human beings! If you only knew how glad I am to have gotten to stumble into your life, house and playground of a world. Thank you for every little (and big!) part of it.

We’re all different. And to me, these people are the ultimate form of inspiration. Two loving, playful spirits committed to making it all count. To making each day a good one. Including the ones where one’s mom heads off back to the other side of the world. Thank you is nowhere near enough for all that you’ve done for me, but I still want to say it one more time.

(And yes, yes, yes Katrin. Let’s play in Norway next time!)

Then at last – just as I started to find my balance on the SUP – came that very last sunset. And the following day I too boarded my flight. Closing a chapter of this journey that I have no intention of ever really letting go of.

It was that time of the year again.

Watch out South America. Here I come!

Until next time,

Fredrika Ek

By |November 15th, 2016|Oceania, Travel Logs|

Home Away From Home

Hi everyone! How are you? It’s been a little while since last.

Writing this I’m only days away from having spent 3 full months on the islands of New Zealand. 3 months about which I haven’t been writing too much about here on this blog. And to be honest I don’t have any intentions of doing much about that today either.

Quick summary:

New Zealand. Hands down one of the most – insert your personal superlative of choice – place I’ve ever set foot in. Words don’t cut it for a place this densely packed with epicness in every imaginable form. Pick your favorite scene from Lord of the Rings, and there you have it. Literally. Rugged stretches of wild coastlines, lush rolling hills, majestic mountains, snow-white beaches, thick native forest topped with fiords and glaciers putting Disney’s Frozen to shame.

Home of a awe-inspiring wildlife including everything from merciless killer whales, to curious penguins and the mysterious kiwi bird. Also home of the ever so delightful Kiwi people, with their big smiles and loving souls. And who knows. Perhaps this could even be the home for future me? Out of the 27 countries I’ve cycled through New Zealand is the first one where that thought has even entered my mind, and it has done so over and over again ever since I first came here. At least in my mind, that – if anything – says something about this place.

But of course. Everyone is not as easily impressed. To photos from some of the most drop dead gorgeous parts of the south island my Dad had one response:

‘Hm. Seems like an awful long journey to end up in Norway.’

Haha. (For those of you who don’t know, I have the border to Norway a couple of days cycling from my childhood home.) However much I love disagreeing with my Dad, I guess I have to admit that from time to time there is a bit of truth in some of the stuff that comes out of his mouth.

So… Yeah.

Now, where was I?

That’s right. Instead of telling my own tales from this country, I’m simply hoping to plant a seed for a few of you to come here and collect your own. Because if you come here you will. And I’ll give you my word for that you’ll love them too.

Really. If you ever (ever!) get the opportunity to take part of some of the magic of this place – TAKE IT :-)

Until next time,

Fredrika

By |October 24th, 2016|Oceania, Travel Logs|