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By Cycle Canada

December 12, 2013

Journey across the Americas

Photo: Chantal Cournoyer

Even with torrential rain in Mexico, we just kept going.

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A WINDOW ON OUR ADVENTURE OR HOW TO GIVE THE TASTE FOR TRAVELING
 
By Chantal Cournoyer
My husband Jean L’Ecuyer and I are pas¬sionate of motorcycling for many years and we love traveling. Therefore we decided to combine those two passions and please ourselves. This is how we got to travel across Americas from Alaska to Ushuaia, at the end of ‘Tierra del Fuego’ for a total of 53,000 kilometers in 9 months.

NORTH AMERICA: FROM VAUDREUIL-DORION TO ALASKA, GOING THROUGH YUKON THEN DOWN THROUGH MEXICO ALONG THE AMERICAN WEST COAST (JULY TO SEPTEMBER)
I loved crossing Canada. For me it was the first time. We took the most north roads where we saw amaz¬ing canola flower fields as far as we could see. Once we got to Yukon, we took the Dempster Highway up to Inuvik, the farthest north city in Canada. This road is 736 Km of gravel road across amazing wildlife and nature.
Then we took the direction of Alaska. If you have never been there, it is a must. Glaciers, moun¬tains, landscapes, people, wildlife everythings to enjoy nature and appreciate so much beauty.
To go down south, we passed through Vancou¬ver and then we rode along the west coast. Gigantic trees on each side of the road makes us feel so small. Snaky roads along California cliffs are sometimes a bit scary, but so beautiful.

MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA (SEPTEMBER TO OCTOBER)
We decided to cross the Mexican border via San Diego/Tijuana. Everything went well and it was time to use our Spanish classes that we took before start¬ing the trip. This four months lesson really helped us from that point on. We took the Baja peninsula down to La Paz where we boarded a ferry to get back on the main land. People are very friendly and we were surprised to see so many mountains. We needed to be very careful on the road. People are driving a bit crazy and everything goes.
Following countries were Guatemala, El Salva¬dor, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama which were very hot and humid. We crossed these countries quite rapidly to meet our October 12th booked date for crossing from Panama to Colum¬bia by sailboat. Since there is no practicable road between the two countries, we chose to cross by sailboat.

SOUTH AMERICA (OCTOBER TO MAY)
Crossing by sailboat from Panama to Cartagena in Columbia is a four days journey. The first night is spent on an island of indigenous Kuna Yala tribe, and the other two nights the sailboat anchored in the middle of the San Blas islands. This is a real paradise.
Once in Columbia, we stayed a few days in the magnificent city of Cartagena with its older part amazingly kept. Columbia is really a country we felt in love with. Not only is it so beautiful, but people are ac¬cessible and friendly. We should not always trust what we hear at home.
In Equador, we had planned to do a cruise in the Galapagos Islands, and it was eight days of amazing nature and wildlife. We saw many species unique to the Galapagos, such as the marine and ter-restrial iguanas, giant tortoise, blue footed boobies, manta rays and many more. Everyday there was snorkling sessions to admire underwater wildlife. Once I came face to face with a sea lion and he start¬ed playing around us like a kid. I was so amazed. For the first time, we spent the Christmas holidays along the Equatorian coast in a warm climate and without snow. We loved it!
Peru. This is the land of the Incas and the splendid Andes. For Jean, it was his dream and one of the main objectives of the trip : riding up the Andes through the snaky gravel roads in those grandiose and imposing moun¬tains. We did not visit Machu Picchu, but we did a four days hiking in the mountains then we visited the Kuelap ruins, older than Mach Picchu. We spent a few days in the city of Cusco playing tourists. We ate a lot of chicken since it is so popular, but we did not try the finest meal of the area which is the guinea pig.
We rode our bikes in hot deserts and in the snow of high altitude mountains. In Peru you can have these two extreme conditions sometimes in the same day. We did the road of Canyon del Pato with its 35 tunnels that were dug into the mountain rock.
We stayed only ten days in Bolivia. We planned to visit Salar de Uyuni (a large dried up salted lake), but since it rained a lot, it was not possible to ride on it. Therefore we decided to spend some time in Sucre the capital of Bolivia. Sucre is a dynamic and young city with a large population. Our hotel was just in front of the central market where we could buy fruits, vegetables and meat (no re¬frigeration), fish, cheese, bread, pastries and many other things. Bolivia is a fairly poor country and the roads are in really bad shape with holes and cracks everywhere. It was one of the reasons we never
travelled at night. Chile and Argen¬tina are two richer coun¬tries with more cultural diversities and are really beautiful on the North side. In Chile, we rode two days in the moun¬tains, practically without seeing anyone apart troupes of lamas. In Argentina, we rode part of the famous Ruta 40, a renowned road crossing the country from the North to the South.
Once we arrived in ‘Terra del Fuego’, complete¬ly at the end of Argentina, we were only 300 Km from our goal, Ushuaia, the end of the world.
Once we got to Ushuaia, we cried like kids. After all these months our dream finally concret¬ized. The feeling of proudness and accomplishment had no words to be expressed. At this point we had to start thinking of going back north through Carratera Austral, another unavoidable road of Chile. We’ve crossed National Park Torres del Paine and Mount Fitz Roy in Argentina. Afterwards we were going back to Buenos Aires where we shipped our motorcycles to Miami by plane to go back home.
One thing is certain, after this trip we can say that everywhere people are nice and accessible. We made great encounters and we recommend you to travel out of your comfort zone.
It is not possible to resume the entire trip in a few pages. There is just too much to talk about all we saw and lived, but to find out more you can visit our blog while waiting for the book coming out this fall.