*** THE CHRONICLES *** 

End of the road…the beginning of a new trail…

June 4th, 2007 - Anchorage, Alaska

It didn't look like the weather was going to be getting any better. I had arrived in Alaska 4 days earlier and after putting a bit of order in my things and dealing with some last minute details that needed to be worked out, all that was left was wait for the rain to let up a bit so that I could get on the road with Maira.

Comenzando el camino

The Kullbergs had been my hosts during the last week, the first of many who, through their generosity and selfless hospitality, allowed me to go forward through the American continent little by little. The jitters had grabbed hold of my body, my spirit and my heart, which beat faster and faster although I hadn't even yet set a single foot on the pedals. Anxiety was gaining ground and meshed together with the fear inherent to the challenges that I was about to face.

From the comfort of the home that was sheltering me, I gazed at the sky, which was both grey and menacing. Raindrops splattered against the windows, tapping against the panes, reminding me of the cold outside. It put me in the mind of remaining sheltered inside, but I knew it was time to get going.

Rick, a lifetime traveller, read the mixed feelings that engulfed me on my face; he came up to me and said with a big smile:

“My best travels always started with rain. I have no doubt that it will be the same for you”.

Los inicios

And that's how this grand voyage started… I said goodbye to my friends, got on Maira and started off down the roads that awaited me beyond their front door of their home. It was drizzling. The raindrops merged with the tears of emotion and happiness that ran down my face. Shivers that had nothing to do with the weather ran through my body. I could feel goose bumps under the several layers of clothes that covered them. It was the big day, the grand adventure had started!

A little while later, I stopped, got my mp3 player out and fulfilled a ceremony that I been imagining for years. For a long time, a song by Jorge Drexler called “Sea”, had fed the spirit of my dream, which was about to become a reality.

“Ya estoy en la mitad de esta carretera (I'm now in the middle of this highway)

tantas encrucijadas quedan detrás… (many crossroads left behind…)

Ya está en el aire girando mi moneda…(My coin is whirling in the air…)

y que sea, lo que, sea…” (and whatever will be, will be…)

Like a personal anthem somehow symbolizing what was happening at that moment listening to that song fed the depth of my emotions even further. With a knot tight in my throat, I took out a coin, flipped it in the air and that's when the wheels started to turn.

y que sea, lo que, sea…

July 13 th , 2008 – Floridablanca, Colombia

The voyage started all over again. It was a new beginning. The schedule, which until then time had been putting a lot of pressure and demands for my progress, was being put on the back burner.

A few days before I had arrived at the Floridablanca SOS Children's Village, in Colombia, but something wasn't right. I was overwhelmed by the maelstrom that this trip had turned into. I wanted to do it all and I couldn't do it within the time line of the original plan. I was realizing that I couldn't visit all the places that I wanted to while at the same time fulfilling my obligations to visit the SOS Children's Villages. My body was also giving me some signs of fatigue and an acute pharyngitis forced me to take a break, which allowed me to think about my situation.

NubiaThe idea of extending the length of the trip came all at once. That way I could add some countries that originally were impossible to include in itinerary, travel more deeply into South America and visit more SOS Children's Villages more intensively. This was no small matter, because, among other things, it meant being away for a longer time from loved ones, from the home I left behind when I started the trip and also, a budget that would be reduced by half, forcing me to tighten up the belt even more.

While I was pondering about what to do, Nubia, a nine year old girl from the SOS Village, came up to me and gave me a present. It was a letter in which she told me beautiful things about my visit at the village and how happy she was that she had had the chance to know me, but at the same time, she was very sad that I already had to leave, that I couldn't stay another day with them. That was the little push I'd needed. Without knowing it, she had handed me the main reason why it was necessary to take this step: for the boys and girls from SOS Children's Villages.

La cartita de NubiaTouched and moved by Nubia's gesture, I knew deep inside that everything had now been decided: the voyage would get initially extended by a further year, to be able to reach all the countries in South America where SOS Children's Villages were located and to increase the number of my visits, thereby dedicating more time to each of them. The social aspect of my voyage took the helm and now decided which direction my pedals would take to complete its course.

July 13, 2008 found me back on Maira, pedalling away. We were climbing the long hill toward the Picacho mountain pass, headed for Cucuta. Fog had settled on the road and there was almost no visibility. The vegetation blended mysteriously with the surroundings, road bends appeared without warning and vehicles startled me when they were almost right on top of me. The wind and humidity were piercing my body right to the bones and it was necessary to keep pace to avoid getting cold. Music was playing in my ears, making the climb seem easier. I was listening for the first time to the new live album from Jorge Drexler, when all of a sudden, that song that had so much meaning for me came on: “Sea”. This version was acoustic. I got goose bumps all over, and my throat tightened into a knot. Filled to bursting with emotion, I stopped, took a coin and flipped it in the air… my wheels were turning again.

y que sea, lo que, sea…

February 4 th , 2011 – Ushuaia, Argentina

I spent a nearly sleepless night. I had deliberately camped in a hidden nook of Fagnano lake, in perfect communion with the imposing nature that surrounded me. I had felt the need to be alone to think about the meaning of the journey that awaited me on the following morning: February 4th, 2011, the celebration of exactly 44 months on the road, and at the same time, the day of my arrival at the southernmost point of the American Continent, in Lapataia Bay, the end of the road and of this unbelievable odyssey.

I was trying to sleep in vain. Like a movie played in fastforward mode, images of the things I had experienced along the way in these years were following one another in my mind while tears of emotion wet the clothes that I was using as a pillow. It seemed incredible that only 100 km (65 miles) separated me from the coveted destination that I had been longing to reach for so long.

Dawn welcomed me cold and grey. Black clouds in the horizon threatened rain at any moment. I had started off in this manner in Alaska, why not finish it in the same fashion?

The hours passed in slow motion. The distance, which was getting shorter little by little, seemed to lose dimension, and I felt as if I wasn't moving at all. Garibaldi Pass was left behind a little after noon, the last crossing of the Andes… the longed for moment where I would catch sight of the city of Ushuaia was close. Ushuaia, that legendary post in the southernmost corner of the continent just 25 km (16 miles) from Tierra del Fuego National Park, where the end of the road awaited.

The sun and the rain alternated their presence constantly during the day, which by the time I arrived at the National Park, was reaching its end. Almost 13 years earlier, on March 31 st , 1998, I was reaching the end of my first biking trip which had taken me from San Martín de los Andes to Ushuaia along the famous Route 40. That first trip changed who I was forever more, opening new horizons and pointing toward new courses. This February 4 th 2011, was bringing me back to the same place. For many, it's just a sign that announces the end of Route 3. For me, it is a symbol of much deeper magnitude and dimension. It was the closing of a cycle and the opening of a new one. The initial kick to explore new horizons, which after I had experienced it, had become even broader, and continued expanding. A before and an after.

Final del Camino 1998 Final del Camino 2011

The intensity of my feelings deepened in perfect synchronicity with Maira's progress. Every bend in the road, every climb, every descent was getting me closer and closer to that special place. I was covered in goose bumps, my heart was beating at a speed that had nothing to do with the demands of the road, and tears of emotion and happiness started to run down my face. I was almost there: 4 km, 3 km, 2 km…1 km!!! The sign indicating that Lapataia Bay was only 400 m away triggered a series of indescribable sensations…and finally, with my vision blurred by tears, I got there.

In my ears was playing a new beautiful version of “Sea” by Jorge Drexler and Mercedes Sosa. The coin was falling back down slowly…



The sign was there as I remembered it, made of wood, with bright yellow letters, impossible to ignore. I put Maira on her side and I hugged it and kissed it, and my legs gave up. I fell on my knees and releasing all my emotions, I cried. I cried while filled with immense happiness, but more than anything, by gratitude. Because I would have never been able to make this dream come true if it hadn't been for all the people who through one way or another helped me to move onward. With my voice broken, I repeated over and over again: Thanks! Thanks!!!

THANKS!!!!!

To all of you that welcomed me into your homes, making me feel like I was a member of your family. To all those that gave me their support through a glass of water, a meal, a roof to sleep under, a bit of money to increase the quality of my life during the trip. To my road brothers, with whom I shared unforgettable rides. To my friends, the constant ones, the old ones and the new ones. To each link in that great chain of solidarity made up of anonymous hands that day by day helped me out through their selfless support. To all those who gave of their precious time to help me broadcast my stories online so I could share them with other people. To all those who became interested in this story of life and collaborated to spread the social crusade. To all those who gave me love, affection and emotional support through all these years. To the person I love and will continue loving. To my parents, for being by my side all the time. To my brother, his family, my relatives, unconditional followers and instigators of my crazy ideas…Thank you! Thank you!!!

THANKS!!!!!

44 months were left behind on the roads, 49.356 kilometers (30.700 miles) of pure pedalling, full of unforgettable experiences. Thirty-three visits to SOS Children's Villages in 19 countries on the American Continent transformed this voyage into something deeper than a biking trip. With time, the bicycle became nothing more than the mode of transportation to carry the message of SOS Children's Village to every corner that I happened to visit. A social crusade that guided the course of my wheels and gave energy to every single kilometer travelled with the transparent love and affection of the children that I was fortunate enough to meet. This journey was undertaken for them, the true engine and inspiration of my pedals. To all of them:

THANKS!!!!!

End of the road… the beginning of a new trail…

Mission Accomplished!!

A seguir rodando la vida!!

It's time to go back home

a new coin is flipping in the air…y que sea, lo que, sea…

The images of the big day…

This homemade video was thought as a way to thank all the people that, despite the distance, were with me in the moments of the arrival at the end of the road. I hope it reflects minimally what I lived through those last kilometers and allow you to experiment the emotions that embraced me at that time…together, in spirit and soul!

Thanks for your unconditional support and company along so many kilometers!



Mercedes Sosa y Jorge Drexler - Sea

Until the next one…and GOOD TRAILS!!


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