Colombia: Wyalades On Holiday

P1070468Coincidentally, and mainly thanks to Rebs’ sister Beany living in Cartagena, two of our last weeks in South America were spent with our families, sharing some of the places we have loved in Colombia. Beanebsolomon(?!) met Pillian (Rebs’ parents…too far with name blending?) in Bogotá, where they tried a lot of new food they enjoyed (with plenty of ‘hmmm I’m suspicious of this not-very-appetising-looking food you’ve put in front of me’ looks), and a lot of new drinks they didn’t. A highlight was probably sharing a fishbowl of fermented sweetcorn drink, which Pillian tried hard not to spit out. Unfortunately, not even fermented corn could provide us with the Dutch courage to join the couple salsa-ing round the bar we were in. Continue reading

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Colombia’s Zona Cafetera (2): Our Farm of the Future

P1050993It was in the Zona Cafetera we undertook our third farming ‘apprenticeship’ on our long road towards being fully fledged farmers. Thanks to having spent four months working on other farms and most of our time cycling through the countryside, it was refreshing to arrive feeling like we had some knowledge and insights to offer. The farm, El Albergue Azul, came at the perfect time in our journey towards agricultural enlightenment. The farm focuses on food sovereignty: prioritising growing food to eat rather than for profit. The relaxed order that comes from farming organically in this manner has created a vibrant haven of biodiversity, tucked away among the monoculture of coffee farms that surrounds it. It is a blueprint for the RebSolomon farm of the future.

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Colombia’s Zona Cafetera (1): Smell the Coffee, Don’t Eat the Tripe

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Our friends Andrew and Nelly, sharing their cooking prowess (encouraged by the threat of a headlock from Rebs)

People embark on cycle tours for a number of different reasons. For us, cycling has been a great excuse to eat more. Until that is, we encountered boiled tripe, when we had to use all our creativity to sneak it back onto the communal serving plate. We felt lost in the world: what are we if not rampant food-consumers?

Guillermo and Miguel, our Argentinian friends of karaoke fame in Huila, popped up again to help us out with a night of gnocchi making (and eating). Guillermo has made gnocchi on the 29th of every month of his adult life in homage to its origins. Made from potatoes and wheat-flour, it is one of the cheapest and most filling meals around, traditionally made just before payday when money was tight. We were introduced to this Italian tradition in Pereira, in the centre of the Zona Cafetera, Colombia’s coffee growing heartland.

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Ecuador – Tales of a Guest Third Wheel: ‘On your motorbikes it’ll take you 10 minutes to get there’

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For this blog we’ve handed over the keyboard to our friend Celia, with whom we spent two weeks in the Ecuadorian Andes and rainforest…

Having just spent two magical weeks with South America’s most famous cycle touring couple, I’ve been given the exclusive blogging rights to our adventure – provided I keep the word count down and don’t say anything bad about them. So, here goes…

I met the pair early one morning off a sweaty and loud overnight bus (from Quito) in the picturesque colonial town of Cuenca. After dumping the bag and offloading the vast quantities of UK chocolate and cheese, we caught up on all the gossip over breakfast (boiled maiz and café con leche) in the market and wandered into town to stock up on supplies and pick up the bike. It was picking up the bike when I got ‘the fear’; it being twice as chunky and heavy as my road bike and me being sure that if I struggled up the Surrey Hills then I’d be no better in the mountains, especially with the altitude. Continue reading

Ecuador: A Holiday within a Holiday

IMG_3729By the end of our first day in Ecuador, a few things were immediately obvious:

– It’s hilly: On crossing the border, the upcoming ascent scared Sol so much that he had to run back into Colombia for a ‘nervous poo’, a sign of things to come.
– It’s professional: (Sadly) the Venezuelan flag shell suits and Colombian jeans and a t-shirt have been replaced by smart dark suits and ties.
– Viva Socialismo!: After a month of roadside consumerist propaganda in Colombia, the billboards proclaiming ‘La Revolucion’ are back.
– Cycle tourers love Ecuador: After just one sighting of another cycle tourer in 7 months, we met 3 on our first day in Ecuador…and these people are hardcore…they cycle in the afternoon (when do they find the time to get through “50 Shades”?!) and regret the days they don’t clock up 100kms. If we made 100kms a day, we’d have been back in London for Christmas. Continue reading