Going from the simple meditation of pedaling our bikes all day, to standing on a stage in a massive high school auditorium in front of over 150 freshman was a rough transition to say the least. Even if Ville and I gave off an air of calm and confidence, we packed in 8 presentations in only 5 days, left with no time to rest or see anyone, we headed back to Portland to continue the journey back to our bikes and were completely exhausted! A handful of students that came to share with us after our talks, made all of it worth it. This is why we did it...
We left off in Granada, Nicaragua, still baking in the scalding Central American sun and yearning for a reprieve we felt would soon come in our trip home to Bend, Oregon. It became mandatory to wake up at 5 am to get the miles in when it would be at it's coolest part of the day (the lowest it ever dropped was 85 degrees at night) and try and quit before 11 am. Even spending a day in Granada, trying to walk around to see the city, my skin was melting, and this was standing in the shade, so I was pretty miserable. Since taking a bunch of different antibiotics, I had struggled to get my body temperature to regulate and when I would check out Ville (who was normally the hot-blooded one) and he has a healthy glow, I was a continual sweaty mess. I was very ready for the heat to be turned down.
We left Granada early, and climbed away from the lake shore and south heading towards the Costa Rican border, deciding at the very last second to bike the extra 20 miles and drop out to the coast, where we should get some cooler weather. The road out to Playa Gigante was really scenic, rolling hills with local ox-pulled carts and herds of horses passing us as we dropped to the ocean and camped in front of a hostel right on the beach. Ville woke me frantic in the middle of the night because there was a giant pig (yes, a real live pig) rooting right next to the tent. Having grown up around farm animals, I was just annoyed to have been woken up in the middle of the night and just rolled over and back off to sleep I went. I think poor Ville still has nightmares. The following morning we headed back to Rivas and took a 5 hour break at the local Burger King (it was the only place with air conditioning) to wait out the heat before continuing on. We met the nicest couple and their kids (he originally from Mexico and she from Nicaragua, but now living in the US) bought us our lunch because we told them how amazing we were treated in Mexico and loved the country and he wanted to continue the tradition. After it had cooled down a tad, we headed south and just before dark and the border, we asked a farmer to camp in his yard and were snoozing by nightfall in a barn.
Back on the road early, as we came up to the border, even at first light there was already a 3 mile line of semi trucks waiting to fill paperwork and cross the border to Costa Rica. We passed them by on the left, being that we would just be walking/biking over, but as we passed all the trucks, we smiled and said "Buenos Dias" to all the truck drivers waiting in or outside their trucks. We had so many of them smiling, waving, and wishing us well it was such a great start to our day! The border crossing was a breeze (somehow we didn't even get charged an entry free) and as we climbed into the humid tropics of Costa Rica, and the trucks started to make it over the border and pass us, they gave us room, honked, waved, and it was at these moments that the thought of real life world peace, in our lives, was becoming a reality. By simply opening our hearts to them, instead of just flying by, we had made the interaction personal. And for the rest of that day, the next and many days following, as the drivers passed, they made our day better.
Our route through Costa Rica was much more mountainous than our route through Nicaragua, but was very scenic to be back in the jungle. Sweaty and humid, but scenic. It was necessary for us to stop for multiple breaks to pound water because the threat of another bladder infection for me was ever imminent. We rolled into Liberia in the evening and were directed by a few different people to the Red Cross there in town who allowed us to camp in their yard, next to a few unused old ambulances. Early the next morning, we made our way back out to the main road and continued south on the roller coaster of a 2-way road under towering green trees and thick forests. We made it to around Canas, where a farmer directed us to the town soccer field where the neighbors confirmed it would be safe for us to camp. As the sun set, we watched a flock of Macaws screech back and forth overhead and Ville was greeted by a horse this time, next to the tent, first thing in the morning. I think they even shared a morning poo together. How romantic.
Knowing this was our last day on the bikes before our journey home, we both anxiously rode the last push to Punta Arenas, where we found our super kind Warmshowers host in the ghetto and went to the beach to watch him surf. We pitched our tent on his front patio, but were still mauled by mosquitoes and were up with the sun, packed, and to the bus station where we stowed our bikes below and bused it to San Jose (Heredia to be exact) where we would catch our plane. Our friend Edu (our fantastic Warshowers host and friend from San Cristobal De Las Casas) is from there and connected us with his family for a safe place to leave bikes when we went home. We were spoiled by Edu's sister, Silvia and her daughter and will meet his mom when we return. We had a day off walking around town and watching the Costa Rican people of WalMart (this was pretty epic), before catching our flight to Portland and getting picked up by my sister. It was quite the culture shock to be going from our bike tour straight to family and friends still living lives with jobs and kids and stuff.
We spent a couple days building a presentation, a video, filming a segment on KGW News Live at 7, visiting with family (my sister, Lisa, and brother, Jordan, both live in Portland and my mom was there already watching my nephew) and then my mom brought us back to Bend with her. We made it to Bend late after our news gig and had an early morning presentation at Mountain View High School to get to. It was a bit nerve-wracking, but the freshmen seemed to be into it and we were just hoping to get even a few kids pumped about travel, inspired, or thinking about maybe a different path out there as even an option to follow. We ended up doing 3 presentations to the MVHS freshmen (a new great program called Foundations), a Bio class, a giant group at High Desert Middle School, and a big presentation in downtown Bend at Crow's Feet Commons. And those were all in 3 days!! It was insanity.
Our Crow's Feet Commons Bend Presentation was scheduled to be outside with a giant screen for our presentation and when the weather chose not to cooperate, we were last-minute pushed indoors where there was maybe room for 60 people and we were SO bummed to have so many great friends, family and followers show up and couldn't even get in it was so packed. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for trying to come, for showing up, and for showing your support in so many ways. We love you all and will make sure next time to have a large enough venue, that no matter what the weather does, all of you can be there! We just had no idea how cool we are :)
For Mother's Day weekend, my brother Jordan came to visit and Ville and I were gifted tickets to Tedx Bend that ran all day Saturday. I was thrilled to be sitting in the audience and not up on a stage for a change! Sunday, my mom, dad, brother, and Ville all headed out to Smith Rocks and hiked over Misery Ridge together. Ville slipped on loose gravel and twisted his knee all goofy and has been icing it since so we can get back on those bikes. Our first day outside since arriving in the US, guess we were rusty. Monday we had a small presentation at Tin Pan Theater with family and a handful of close friends and tried our hand at Facebook Live (it's dark, and low quality, but you can hear our voices at least) so others near and far could catch our presentation. Tuesday we were roped into another, and final, presentation to a group of junior and seniors at Mountain View High School. I had assumed seniors would be boisterous, but they were so shy to talk and after the bell rung, we realized they were just waiting to come up and talk to us after their friends had left.
Both Ville and I want to give a giant thank you to all the students and staff at MVHS and HDMS who made it possible for us to come and speak, but more importantly, for those of you that came to tell us how much it meant to you. For sharing with us your dreams, your goals and your plans. For those that did, and those of you too shy to do so, please follow up with us either in a comment, email, or message us. We want to hear from you. No matter where your paths take you, make sure you are on the path that is true to yourself. No matter what society, family, teachers, or otherwise may steer you, be true to you.
After saying some very quick goodbyes to those we were able to see, my mom drove us back to Portland Wednesday for a day to spend with my nephew, sister, brother-in-law, brother and then we have a horrendous flight (we have 4 legs all overnight and into Saturday) before arriving back in San Jose. We plan to take a day off organizing our gear and to take a bus back to Punta Arenas where we left off not long ago, and continue plugging away south. Thanks for the memories Bend, until the end of this road, see you in a year. Until then, we will keep on keepin' on...
A HUGE thanks to Mountain View High School, High Desert Middle School, Crow's Feet Commons, Tin Pan Theater and all the Bend community for listening and coming out for our presentations here in Bend to mark our "Half Way" of our Alaska to Argentina Bike Ride! We are so grateful to all of you that came out last night to Crow's Feet Commons, sorry the weather did not cooperate and we had to pack indoors and so many of you didn't get inside. We appreciate all of you for following us and supporting us and coming to show your support! Thanks for being a part of this journey.
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K.G. & Ville
On a cruise ship, heading north up the west coast to Los Angeles.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson
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