Of salty old memories, quixotic spirit and the purity of bicycle travel.
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Mar 24, 2013 4:06 AM Last Post By: Lunarca
Dec 12, 2012 9:58 PM
Of salty old memories, quixotic spirit and the purity of bicycle travel.After many months wandering in the Americas an early morning in 1988 a bike traveler called Condorito set his view to the far horizon of the immense Salar de Uyuni .He slept the previous night in a cell in the police station of the by then small village of Uyuni where he spent a few hours considering to cross or not the Salar . He knew nothing about that desolate looking place being the first time for him to see ( not even on a photograph) a salt lake , that white salty immensity.
His already old and battered but trusted bicycle that has brought him from Houston to the salar shore looked like the kind of old thing not offering much warranty most of the modern “epic” cycle tourers will not dare to leave home with for a tour. For all navigational equipment a small scale school map of Bolivia. He didn’t even carry a stove , a tent or sunglasses but only some bread, bananas, powder milk ,a big plastic sheet to make a cover, a mat and sleeping bag.
The kind of person that used to think over and over every important step in his journey but he knew too that in the moment of truth is his heart that always decides.
At dawn in the shore an interior , strange, primitive and powerful force pushed him into the unknown . How a dilemma like this is faced you can tell an adventurous traveler’s soul. Being afraid about people following him to rob him he told nobody in the village about his intention and went ahead at his own risk
After his baptism of salt and more than 2 days sailing this vast emptiness guided only by the live giving sun, he landed on the Salar West Coast.
He spent the first night in the cold like ice salty surface enjoying a splendid gift of nature the most diaphanous and starry sky of his many years of vagabonding and the second in the Isla de las Marmotas then populated only by so many marmots that cheered his wake not yet colonized by tourist, flags ,4x4 ,salt palaces and even “ epic travelers”.
The limpid air, the silence and the starry sky filled his soul with joy. The blinding light allied with the pure salt were not so benign with his body and eyes.He felt as a discoverer and gradually fused and belonging to the place.
Don’t look for him in old newspapers pages or in modern day internet searches telling about his adventure and pretending to be the first to cross that salar by bicycle. He never told about it afraid of that then virginal place suffering the same fate as so many other places destroyed by the plague of tourism..
Now an old man still dreaming a day to go back to the Salar with the same free spirit and simple approach as he did before. Sure, the isla de las marmotas or whatever is called now is conquered but the salty plain is there smooth as before waiting for a wandering soul to furrow it.
I told him much had change lately making much easier traveling by bike. Now you could research your new journey adventure on the net, buy a special expensive bike ,use a GPS for navigation, a inflatable pad not to feel the cold salt surface, and many other gadgets and conveniences but he told me emphatically :"all that is not for me, I am always after dreams, following destiny, looking for essentiality, taking chances, hoping for new fraternal friends, discovering new paths that leads to amazing places ,going to places I did know nothing about before and just because that be amazed ,at dawn not knowing what the gift of a new day might bring. And all that will not help out just will only make me weak, dependent, unable to look after myself, not my own. I like to do things by myself not because I have the money to purchase gadgets , sherpas to do for me the heavy work , guides to lead me then I can say I went there or sponsors to whom to own.A human armed only with humility, modesty, strong will, adaptability, and simplicity in his struggle to fulfill a dream enrich himself , became great and limitless going much further and deeper that gadgets or money could even take him".
Sorry for the long story
Greetings to everybody.
Txentxo, Salva ,Alvaro Martin un abrazo
NB: The Isla de las Marmotas is none other than Isla Incahuasi but I could not get him to use that name for “his island". Lucky him , most of us only get to use names we get from the net or the Lonely Planet but he got to travel in the time you could still feel like discovering places and therefore giving them names. Now sadly the Salar de Uyuni as much of the world has been taken by the merchants of packaged dreams, the tourists who conceive the world as something to purchase and consume and still feel well because with their ecotouristic money they are helping the poor people of the world notwithstanding that in reality their being rich is the cause they are poor.
Edited by: paco1111
Dec 15, 2012 12:18 PM
Dec 16, 2012 6:50 PM
Dec 17, 2012 7:06 AM
Mar 4, 2013 10:43 AM
4Great story Paco I saw the Salar about 15 years ago and think to this day it is one of the most magical places on earth but you beautiful story made me dream made me long back to that place and to that golden age when one could still name places. Pedantic corrections about there being viscachas and not marmots in South America are beyond the point, this is poetry and not a geography lesson. Muchas gracias Paco, me has alegrado la tarde.
Mar 24, 2013 4:06 AM
It´s a great story. Just a few weeks ago, a person I believe is a friend of yours (Lontxo) stayed at our house and told us some stories about a bike, a backpack and a meeting somewhere in South America. I´d love to know the whole story for something I´m writting for our website about cycletouring back when Internet didn't exist. Sadly LP has disabled private messages so I can´t ask for your hand in private so... could you drop me an email? alicia (arroba) rodadas.net
Thanks so much :)
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