236 days after leaving Panama I’m back in Latin America, only this time I’m on the other side of the Darien Gap, in South America. Latin America doesn’t change but I feel something in me has. I cannot express how good it feels to be back in the Latino world, I am brimming with excitement and positivity. Hispanic mayhem and hot humid madness has totally consumed me and I’m chomping at the bit to get cycling. Shermy is ready, I am ready and tomorrow is the day, the day that’s been taunting me for three and a half years. Of late I never thought this moment would come, a new continent and a new start. More has happened in my life that I ever thought possible when imagining this moment from the arctic tundra of Alaska. Things have twisted and turned and I count myself incredibly fortunate to now have the experiences and friendships I do under my belt. But now I’m back where I started in summer 2010, alone with my bike at the top of a continent I’m determined to explore. Only now I am comfortable with what I like and what I’m doing. What I like is hard remote riding and what I’m doing is going looking for some prime South American dirt.
I knew Colombia can offer some of the finest back road cycling in South America but never really believed it until the landscapes became real. Flying into Bogota from the north and then back north up to Cartagena revealed the true cycling potential and sheer scale of Colombia. And I haven’t even seen the southern part of the country that I’ve really been looking forward to yet! I was ready to cycle out of Cartagena within a day of arriving and have forced myself to stay an extra day to look around a city that holds little of interest to me. It’s nice enough, pretty typically tatty around the edges and splendidly colonial in the parts they want you to see. But this is the Gringo Trail where too many tourists frequent too many hostels that echo to the sound of too many crazy stories from too many out there travelers. Cartagena isn’t why I travel. My motivations will once again become clear to you as I get on my bike and ride it through South America in this, the latest episode of.my search for freedom and adventure through cycling.
Although not particularly inspiring to me, Cartagena does provided a typically eclectic mix of Latin American colonial architecture and gritty reality. It’s a fun place to explore and observe for a short while. Here are a few images from my sweaty stroll around town.