Pedaling South

L'expédition en vélo de l'Alaska à l'Argentine de Lucie et Torrey

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Questions Answered:
On Spanish, Roughing It and the End Goal

June 24th, 2010 · 3 Comments

Hi there, readers of us!

My father recently fired off some questions about our trip, and I thought it might interesting reading for those who have been following along. I’ve pasted this morning’s correspondence below. Enjoy!

Hey Guys,

I’ll take advantage of the fact you have access to incoming emails for a few days, as you mentioned on the phone Sunday, Torrey.

A few questions for you guys :

Hi Dad,

Here are some answers. It’s early, but I’ve got Colombian coffee on my side – let’s see how I do.

1. I remember you and Lucie were both learning Spanish and thought it wasn’t too difficult but is it a bit challenging to discuss cultural /philosophical views, etc. with some of your hosts ?

1. Spanish: If people want us to understand, we understand, and can discuss (both ways) all things cultural, philosophical and religious. The barrier we’ve encountered is that 90% of our hosts (in Colombia) are ranch hands in rural areas. They tend to use more colloquial terms, and have trouble slowing down or articulating because most have never met a non-native Spanish speaker. While we do have interesting discussions at times, they tend to be based around in what life is like in Canada (weather, agriculture, i.e. what grows there), what we think of Colombia, etc, so pretty first-level stuff. Imagine the kind of conversations we’d have on farms in rural Canada and you sort of get the picture. When we meet more educated, sophisticated people, the discussion tends to be far more profound. Generally, this other species of Colombian has ventured outside of her or his country and has a more worldly perspective. This also means they know what it’s like to struggle with a second or third language, and so they speak slowly and clearly, gently correct our mistakes and stop every so often to make sure we’re keeping up. Our already functional Spanish is improving daily.

2. As you know, I spent a bit of time roughing it in the army, but to be honest, after about 10 years I started to find it – ? – wearing, tedious, ? Do you and Lucie sometimes find it a bit like that?

2. Roughing it: I don’t find it tedious, at least not in the way you mean. I found the heat was a huge challenge (El Salvador-Bogota). I don’t think I’m built to live in constant 40+ Celsius with lots of humidity. So yeah, being soaked in sweat 24 hours a day started wearing me down (coupled with lack of sleep), with heat rashes, rotting clothes and all of it. I actually miss wild camping – our last nice camp spot was in the mountains in Costa Rica. Since then it’s been ranches and farms, where we’re generally invited for supper and offered a shower. We certainly appreciate opportunities to bathe and wash our clothes, but the physical lags far behind the mental in terms of stamina required. It’s hard not having familiar cultural reference points, living in another context and taking in new information on a daily basis. The attitudes and assumptions we share and take for granted in Canada (and Quebec) being absent, we’re constantly “feeling out” what it means to live in the countries we pass through, and of course leave with only a general impression before starting over again in a new country. We’re constantly reminded that we’re outsiders. This, I think, is what wears me down. Nothing seems to wear Lucie down, however, except long bouts of extremely cold weather, so she’s been humming along just fine since we left the North.

3. Do you and Lucie ever discuss whether achieving your original goal – Alaska to Argentina – is a big deal because it’s something you decided together and nothing else in the whole world matters just because you decided together ? ( Love or crazy? Maybe same, eh? – C’est la vie – and a beautiful ‘vie’ you two are experiencing.)

And Serious Love From Here,
Daddeo, Jessi, Lil’ Bro Matt

3. The original goal: We set out to ride from Alaska to Argentina. Back in Montreal, once we came up with the idea to do this ride and really believed it was possible (though crazy), we knew we’d always regret it if we didn’t go, which would be intolerable, and a kind of failure of faith, spontaneity and our ability to embrace challenges as a couple. Now we’re in South America. While we could go home in August from Peru, we’d probably always regret not having completed our objective, and instead of looking at a map of the three continents with a certain pride, we’d surely wince, our eyes drawn to the unfinished leg from Bolivia to Argentina. So the answer is yes? Also, we’ve heard they have great steak and fantastic wine in Argentina.

Alrighty, let me know if I’ve answered your questions! Have a great day.

Love Torrey

PS Lucie may have more to add – I’ll ask her when she wakes up.

Love to the whole family.

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Tags: Colombie · Countries

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Gary // Jun 26, 2010 at 7:07 am

    Hello Dynamic Duo!

    I noticed that you, Torrey, have switch out your internal hub for a derailer. When did that happen? Which do you prefer?

    You sound like the both of you are holding up fairly well. Glad to be in the mountains, out of the humidity. My daughter reported that Bogota was a very clean city with great people. Home office of Gaviotas, an organization of 30 years that has actually found a way to replant forests in Colombia out in the savannas where nothing grew for hundreds of years. It is the beginning of new rainforests.

    Keep safe and well!

    Gary in Anacortes

  • 2 admin // Jun 26, 2010 at 7:32 am

    Hi Gary – good to hear from you. I’ve been derailleured for the the trip so far… I’ve heard good things about internals but haven’t tried ‘em yet. It is nice to get out of the heat, though we’re about to plunge back into it – leaving Bogota tomorrow. Will try to get to Gaviota before we go!

  • 3 colin // Jul 9, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    good q&a. i hope i’m in town when you two pop in

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