Taken on 27th November, 2009 in San Benito, Tipitapa, Managua, Nicaragua. Nikon D90, Exposure 1/15s at f/32.0, Focal Length 58mm, ISO Speed 100. More details.

Cycling around Nicaragua helped me appreciate the act of travelling.

Backpacking is easy. Once you have the desire to hit the road, you're not going to run into too many obstacles along the way. Of course people have their troubles, practical and emotional, but the day-to-day act of backpacking through most parts of the world borders on ritualistic at this stage, and with a guidebook in your hand and a credit card in your pocket, life is a holiday.

But us “adventurous backpackers” are looking for much more than a holiday right? That's what we keep telling ourselves anyway. We're no common tourists, we're better than those rich so-and-sos in the all-inclusive resorts.

Unfortunately even with the best intentions, to immerse yourself in a culture, learn the language, volunteer for worthy causes, backpacking can all too quickly deteriorate into an effortless series of chicken busses and hostels, days spent on guided tours, nights with the same travellers you've been meeting since the start of your trip. A global to-do list of nomadic conquests. A lazy blur of beer, hammocks and pancakes.

I've seen this, I've tasted it, I've loved it, I've loathed it.

Cycling around Nicaragua refreshed my enthusiasm for travel. The physical responsibility of moving myself from place to place erased any conception that travel was easy. The daily search for food and a place to stay made exploring the country and meeting its people crucial and immediate. The hours spent alone pushing forward, battling against my will to stop invigorated me.

By now I've left this bike behind but the lessons and experiences stay with me. I will return to the saddle one day, or follow Werner Herzog's advice and make life's essential journeys on foot.

2 Comments

  • avatar
  • Aoife wrote:
  • 7th January, 2010

Found a book among Dads belongings recently that I reckon you would enjoy. Its called Journeys of a Lifetime by Mary Russell. He loved it. She's a Dublin writer who has cycled, well... everywhere, it would seem! Made me think of you. If you were in one place for long enough to send me an address, I could post it out to you!

  • avatar
  • Oisin wrote:
  • 7th January, 2010

Wow.. reminds me of Dervla Murphy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dervla+Murphy Cat gave me her book "Full Tilt" a few years back, it documents her cycle from Ireland to India in the early 60s.. fantastic read. I'd love to read this new discovery of yours: ) I'll let you know if we manage to get a postal address one day, thanks Aoife x