After our exciting Christmas in Cafayate (read more about here), we had a low key New Years in the town of Belen with just the two of us, a box of wine, and a bunch of fireworks. At the stroke of midnight, the sky lights up with fireworks and we joined in with our bottle rockets and sparklers.
We thought about the amazing year 2014 that we had. It has been a year completely on the road from Mexico last year at this time to Argentina now. We asked each other some of our favourite parts and memories:
What was your favourite place that we travelled to in the last year and why?
Bryan: Really enjoyed our time in Cafayate. Good food, good wine and good company laying in a hammock all day eating grapes off the vine
Maggie: I really loved our time at Cotopaxi in Ecuador. We spent almost a week cycling, camping and hiking in and around the park and it was beautiful. It was our first time being around 4000m and my first time encountering that high altitude landscape. I fell in love with the stark and beautiful landscape. It was also a blast to hike up to the Refugio near the glaciers on Volcan Cotopaxi up over 4600m.
Where was the best food experience?
Bryan: Argentina + Mexico.
Maggie: Oaxaca with its mole sauces and chocolate was amazing but I think the best food experience for me was going to Minuteman Pizza in Uyuni for Bryan’s belated birthday dinner after three weeks of remote riding in Bolivia and Northern Chile. After eating our of our panniers for weeks riding across the barren Altiplano, especially in Northern Chile where the route we took had no stores and all food had to be brought in, that pizza tasted like heaven.
Where was the best party?
Bryan: Carnaval in Guatemala. We were the only foreigners in the city of Mazatenango – the only place in Guatemala that celebrates Carnaval in a big way. We got invited onto the Gallo beer party bus and was in the parades!
Maggie: Christmas in Cafayate – 5 ltr jugs of wine and great people! We started eating a delicious Argentinean barbeque at around 10:30pm at night. We ate and drank until we were stuffed and then went out dancing! Who would have thought that clubbing on Christmas is a thing?
Where was the best ride?
Bryan: the ride was incredible across the salars
Maggie: I loved the ride in Northern Peru as we rode in the river canyons in the transition areas between the Andes and the Amazon basin. There were stunning narrow canyons with gravity defying rock overhangs, tall waterfalls, old ruins and yay for pavement after our wet and slippery departure from Ecuador. The climb back into the Andes was also awesome – dropping 60km down to the river and then climbing over 2000m the next day. 50Km of pure up, up, up. It’s the most we’ve climbed in one day.
What was the toughest ride?
Bryan: Northern Chile was over 4000m with very bad roads.
Maggie: South of Loja (well actually Vilcabamba more accurately) in southern Ecuador on our way to the rarely used La Balsa border crossing. The famous good roads of Ecuador ends and it becomes steep dirt roads through the dense jungle. It rained on us for the three days we were trying to ride the section and it became a muddy mess. We were dealing with over 10% graded slopes in half a foot deep mud. We finally decided to flag down a bus and guess what, the bus got stuck in the mud a little while later and had to turn around! Yikes!
What was your best memory in the last year?
Bryan: really enjoyed how happy my parents were getting to see us @ Machu Pichu. Wild camping in places that we found fire wood and sitting around an unexpcted camp fire and watching the stars with my beautiful wife!!
Maggie: At the hotspring in Salar de Surrire in Northern Chile when we had the place all to ourselves except for trains of vicunas walking by and pink flamingos bathing near by. We relaxed in the hotspring and watched the sunset paint the whole landscape pink, purples and oranges. The Altiplano has the best sunsets and sunrises. We stayed in the deliciously hot waters until the stars came out and wished on the first star that appeared.