Let me take you back to 2007 when at 19 years old I began my first of many stints in South America. At this time I moved to Ecuador for the summer to work as an Intern for a Non-Profit-Organization. It was more like an excuse to go travel and ease the worries of my parents. I only worked four days per week. During my first month in Ecuador I had not yet discovered the key to meeting locals, which is going out to party at night. At that time I was excited to go exploring like a toned down Indiana Jones. Whether that meant the jungle, rainforest, or cloud forest (I am thinking about you Mindo) I was game.
That is why during my third week I took the bus from Quito to Banos, the adventure sports capital of Ecuador. I spent the first night solo. But while eating my wimpy breakfast on the hostel rooftop terrace I met another British solo traveler named Harry. He invited me to join him on an ATV tour up the mud soaked mountains all the way up into the clouds. We rode for hours armed with just a hand drawn map
At breakfast the next morning we decided to up the ante. We chose to rent bikes
. And I mean that lightly because these were closer to girls bikes
or even kids bikes
. But when in an exotic foreign country you don't complain.
Harry and I paid five bucks each for the rental and started the sixty kilometer ride from the mountain road to Puyo, an unattractive jungle town. The road is advertised as mostly downhill. It surely is not.
The start of the ride was exciting. The road was flat and we knew we were about to do something great.
Years later I realize this was just a bike ride. But as a nineteen year old kid it seemed much bigger than that. The road slowly became more steep. I was out of my element but because of peer pressure from Harrie I kept going.
At one point we reached a waterfall. Woo!
After out short break we kept on. At many points I walked my bike. I just could not do it. At around the seventh hour Harry was way ahead of me. While riding down one of the few hills I hit the brakes and the tire caught a rock, which in turn bent the rim like a dislocated finger. The rain poured. I was miserable.
I walked my bike a few kilometers until I found Harry waiting on the side of the road. He bent my bike back into workable condition. We rode on. And we pedaled more. A few kilometers later we reached the jungle town where we celebrated with Sprite. Hey, I was only nineteen.