I'm at a party, not sure where, but there is a packed room, people everywhere. I discover a Pyrex pan full of a piping hot risotto of some kind. I hunch over the pan, pick up a spoon and start shoveling it into my mouth. It's so creamy and delicious! Before I know it, I look down and I've eaten over two-thirds of the pan. Shit! Now I'm trying to hide the fact that I ate so much, stressing that someone watched me or knows I totally pigged out. And then I wake up. It's early morning, I'm in a wooden windowless host's home in Costa Rica, my tummy is growling, and I'm so disappointed the risotto was only a dream...
Portland was a dream. A dream so long ago already. We went on a beautiful hike in the Gorge with my entire family on a very rare sunny day. We ate like champs, hung with family, walked around downtown Portland and got lunch with my brother. It was so great. Our flight went well, short layover in LA, and then an overnight flight to San Jose. We bused it back to our friend Edu's mom and sister's house in Herelia, San Jose and took a nap. The wifi was down and so we just hung around the house, biked to Olman Ramirez Bike Shop and they were kind enough to squeeze us in to get our new bottom brackets installed and a tune-up that would HOPEFULLY fix my shifting issue. Now in the rainy season, it was dreary, rainy, cloudy and grey, very much a representation of our moods trying to adjust to being back on a bike journey and away from home.
To get to San Jose, we had jumped on a bus from Punta Arenas (not wanting to bike into the busy capitol on a highway off-limits to bikes) and were able to jump off at the airport near our friend's home. Unfortunately, on the way back, we had to bike into downtown San Jose to the main bus terminal to catch our bus back to the coast. We managed all right, got a bus and were back on the coast with plenty of time to move south to Matapalo where there was a truck stop and a few small open air restaurants. We pulled over to get giant bowls of vegetable soup and Ville asked the young girl at the counter if we could possibly camp in the yard. She immediately said yes, and as we expected to set up our tent, her mom came out to sweep the porch for us. When we went to chat with her, she opened this door to a small room at the back of their home, with a bathroom, she offered for us to stay. And did not want any money. It was glorious to get a shower and bed to sleep when unexpected. Itzel (the daughter) made us tea and snacks. We chatted with Ilzel (mom) and discovered that she is the cousin of Keylor Navas, the goalie of Real Madrid who just won Champions League two weeks before! Crazy, we had been in Bend and were able to watch the game at my parent's house. Small world. In the shower, we even made friends with the largest spider either of us had ever seen (the size of your palm), I am sure it was hilarious to see me streak from the bathroom naked with my eyes the size of pancakes.
In the morning, they made us a giant omelette breakfast they again would't take money for, and we headed on our way. The sun was peeking out through the clouds and the road was nice and flat. Since being straight off a horrible bought of unknown mosquito ass-kicking virus, we agreed to stick to around 50 miles a day until we were both back in shape. Next stop, was a Warmshowers host, brother and sister, that was right off the highway near Ojochal. Before arriving at their place, a kind lady and her husband (bikes in bike racks on the top of the car) pulled over and asked if we were looking for a place to camp. When we said we were looking for our Warmshowers host, they offered us a cabin they had next to their house up the road. We were very tempted, but decided to stick to our plan with our host because we had already written to them we were coming. After struggling for most of the Central American countries to get even a response back from a Warmshowers host, we were both blown away by the unbelievable kindness that was now offered from everywhere we turned. So much needed now when we both were struggling to get back in the biking zone.
Our Warmshowers hosts, Aguero and Melania, were brother and sister and offered up their home to Couchsurfers and Warmshowers cyclists. Even though there was about 5 different families living in their home, one guy insisted on sleeping on the floor and gave us his bed. Incredibly kind people, who spoke so highly of helping others and making the world a better place. When we were sleeping, we even had a cat fight in our bed, claws and all, what a thrill! The next morning Aguero took us up the hill to the hotel he is a manager of to see the stunning view where the river meets the sea. Back on bikes, heading south, we pushed onto Rio Claro where the last hour to town was pouring rain and we rolled into town soaked. We managed to find a motel for not horribly expensive and the next day was Ville's birthday and I gave him the choice to do anything he wanted on his big day. And you know what he wanted to do more than anything else in the world? Bike! Ya, I know. I couldn't believe it either. So we got up early and hit the border after a couple hours, stamped out pretty easy and were bummed to have to pay $16 (there went our food budget for the day) to leave Costa Rica, what a complete rip off. Very ready to get to South America and quit crossing borders every few days with fees.
Once we crossed into Panama, the road became wider with a large shoulder and much faster moving traffic. After a few hours of cycling we both had noticed how few motorbikes we had seen and how many big cars (more similar to the US than any other Central American country). The road was still relatively flat and much more deforested than Costa Rica to make way for cattle and ranching. As we made our way into David, the shoulder disappeared and the traffic turned horrid! The drivers are obviously not respectful of cyclists what-so-ever and I was nearly hit 3 times in an hour from cars turning in front of me or pulling out right in front of me. My stress level was through the roof and we decided to pull over in town at a grocery store. After eating lunch and resupplying our food stash, Ville chatted it up with the security guard who recommended a decent motel nearby to stay. Because it was Ville's birthday and the only special thing we could do was get a motel room for the night instead of sleep in the tent in rain, we got ice cream and got a room. After a nice shower and Netflix movie, we got a good night's sleep and headed out early towards San Felix where we had been given a number of a Peace Corp. volunteer there.
We rolled into San Felix, a mile off the main drag, and Julia, welcomed us into her home and even did our laundry! We made a feast together and a couple other volunteers, Abigail and Frank, showed up to stay the night. In the morning, we made another big breakfast feast before leaving and heading out into the pouring rain. A massive thank you to Julia for having us and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting you and your kind gift and hope to meet again! The road ahead was brutal, the entire day it rained and we were soaked with mild chaffing and the hills were treacherous for our out-of-shape butts. Luckily, Devin, our great friend we know from a soccer team in Bend was kind enough to come out to the road and pick us up so we didn't have to bike out to his place in Santiago. But boy were we glad to get to his place and see a friend from home! And take a much need couple days off the bikes to recoup and book our flight from Panama City to Cartagena, Columbia. We had originally hoped to take a boat from Panama to Columbia, but our budget dictated otherwise and a plane will be faster.
We have to fly over the Darien Gap because for those who don't know about the area, there are no roads through it and no border crossing between Panama and Columbia. It may be very unsafely possible to trek through the jungle and pop out on the other side, but since all we have talked to do not recommend it, we will opt for a safe flight. From Santiago we have a few more days bike to Panama City and a few days there to box our bikes and see the sights before flying to Cartagena and beginning our South American journey! YAY!! A new continent! WiFi is always scattered, but we love to hear from everyone, so write us, and until next time, keep on keepin' on...
My eyes were so heavy I couldn't stay awake. I felt like someone had taken a syringe of liquid exhaustion and put it straight into my veins and it coursed throughout my body and laid me up on the couch where all I could do was sleep. I had a horrible pain in my spine and kidneys. I had a strange pain behind my eyes and a rash broke out on my skin. After a trip back to the doctor, more blood work, it was confirmed I had a nasty virus likely from a mosquito somewhere in Central America. Maybe Zika? Maybe West Nile Virus?
Sorry folks for the long hiatus without an update, but times have been tough. Last I posted from Portland, Oregon with our flight back to Costa Rica in only a couple days. My mom was kind enough to drive us to Portland and on the drive I could not keep my eyes open and slept the whole way there. Even Ville was concerned when I quit talking :) When we arrived at my sister's house, I crawled to her couch and stayed there. I couldn't eat or move. Ville called my doctor in Bend and she insisted I come back in. Ville called Delta Airlines (luckily all our flights were on one airline) and they were amazing in allowing us to push out our flights 10 days and not charge us anything. Poor Mom, back in the car and straight back to Bend and the doctor we went.
After some blood work, my doc confirmed I had a virus. After a review of symptoms, she confirmed a mosquito passed virus (they have an incubation period of 3 days to 2 weeks) and gave me an IV. I was in pretty bad shape and because my immune system was compromised, and the stress of packing in so much while in Bend did not help, I got a bad cold on top of it all. Damn! So I went back to my parent's house, straight to bed or the couch and have not left it until a few days ago. I am a tough cookie, and this nasty virus was the sickest I have ever been. It sucked!
I went back to the doctor a few days later and we did blood work to try and confirm if my virus was either Zika or West Nile Virus. We have since confirmed that it is not Zika, but don't have results back about West Nile. My doc is pretty awesome (Dr. Cooper at Center for Integrative Medicine comes highly recommended by me!!) and she said this virus would take at least 2 weeks to start feeling better and up to a month to get back to normal. UGH! And said no way was I well enough to fly back to bikes yet and we would need to push our flights out further. And unfortunately, there was nothing she could give me to make me better, I just needed to rest and build up anti-bodies to this crappy virus. So back to the couch I went and in case you all are wondering why you haven't heard from me, it was doctors orders to rest!! And I literally could not get off the couch or out of bed for weeks. Until now, I have started to reemerge.
And last week, my beautiful, gifted, talented, larger-than-life cousin Amie passed away. I wanted to just share with friends and family who knew her and those that didn't, Amie was an extremely talented actress, singer and entertainer. When we were kids, she was chosen as the lead in the play Annie. With her fire red hair and pipes of an angel, she put on a private performance for all us cousin's in my Aunt's living room, that knocked our socks off! She was very passionate, dramatic, and loved her young daughter Dylann more than anything. When Ville and I were hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Amie made it up to some ski resort on the trail early one morning to have breakfast with us. Family has been so important to her and all of us, leaving us all with such great memories of Amie and making it so very hard to say goodbye.
Reaching out to all of you; friends, followers, and family, please just send some healing thoughts, prayers, and energy to my Aunt, Uncle, Amie's sisters and her daughter. My Uncle only recently has made it back to healthy from a rough battle with lung cancer (he is a Fire Chief in San Louis Obispo, CA and we were able to stay with them heading south on this ride) and this has been such a rough year for their family. Losing someone we love is so very hard, and they need lots of love and healing right now. Thanks for keeping them in your thoughts and prayers.
Ville and I are, for real this time, are on our way back to Portland this Friday. We are spending the weekend with my sister, brother-in-law, and brother and then our flight back to San Jose, Costa Rica is Tuesday night the 13th. Thanks everyone who discovered I was still here and checked in. And thank you to all who follow our journey and realized they hadn't heard from us and reached out. It's so nice to know how loved we are! Means a lot to us. And a HUGE thank you to my parents. For driving us back and forth, for housing and feeding us when we needed a place to go, and supporting our journey in so many ways!! Love you both. Will be better about our updates, thanks everyone for following. Until next time, keep on keepin' on...
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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