The second day of cycling across South America and I awake to snow and a little fox playing close to my tent. I catch myself calling on the fox as I would a wee cute puppy and give myself a shake.
When it snows in Scotland it’s absolutely ‘baltic’ but here it doesn’t seem so cold. Having spent many winters cycling in Scotland, it’s a surreal experience pedalling in the snow without my hands, feet and face wanting to fall off.
Not making much progress into the head wind I wonder what I’m doing. I could easily be back in Scotland, spending my days in comfort instead of this struggle. I pass a sign. 50 PESOS SET MENU.
That’s the equivalent of £2.44 for a 3 course meal! OMG! I’m standing at the waitresses counter making the universal sign for eating. She speaks back to me in Spanish. I understand nothing. I repeat the eating motion but again she speaks back in Spanish. I understand nothing. There is a queue forming behind me and I feel like the foreign idiot that I am. I give up and take my place at a table waiting to see what happens.
Sure enough a three course meal of soup, rice and pudding is promptly served and all together. Which is service perfection for a hungry cyclist. Eating a 3 course meal for £2.44 is similar to winning the lottery for a long distance cyclist and my world makes sense again. I am exactly where I should be in life.
Cycling on from Tolhuin I see directions for a supermarket. The idea of chocolate takes control of my handlebars and I turn direction.
I arrive to find the supermarkets closed for lunch. I have two hours to wait because leaving without chocolate is not an option. My bivy bag is brought out and I lie down on the concrete to have a siesta in between shopping trolleys and front doors. I wake up as people arrive and jump up to get my chocolate amidst many a strange look.
On my way out a young couple wave me down. They tell me they are cyclists from France and explain about a bakery here in Tolhuin which has free accommodation for cycle tourers. Wow. I’m so in!
Tolhuin Panaderia is a big busy bakery with lots of staff and customers. On arriving to the front of the queue I point to my helmet and make the universal sign for sleeping. Making a hand shape pillow close to my face. The woman understands and motions for me to wait. A tall fair haired man returns. Sebastion, a 37 year old cyclist from Germany, who after 3 years of cycling the world is ‘taking a break’ by working in the bakery. It amuses me how long distance cyclists ‘take a break’ by finding a job when everyone else in the world is taking a their break to get away from work.
Sebastion shows me to a room with bunk beds and a communal area. I have a bed, Wi-Fi, cakes and a dog. Luxury!
You never know what’s going to happen as the sun rises each day. A string of random unexpected experiences making life one big surprise. I like not knowing. It forces me to be in the moment. Maybe meditation would be an easier way than cycling around the world.
Ishbel, creator of World Bike Girl, has spent her life on bicycles, from road racing, to velodrome sprinting to cycling the world. She has pedalled across 20 countries solo and promotes commuting by bicycle. Much to the dismay of her friends, she is an avid wearer of socks and sandals.