With Ivanas jump for joy on the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, I want to wish everybody who reads this blog a wonderful 2011.
Regular readers and subscriber will have noticed that the blog ‘stopped’ in Belize and the photos in Panama. The updated South America Map shows what/where we have cycled and travelled past year, even though we have written no updates about them yet.
In this post, which will also be published on my photoblog ExposedPlanet, I will give a small update about what we have been doing past year and the plans for the next.
Though 2009 seemed destined to be the most powerful year in my personal history (even beating 2008!), the past year 2010 has yet again been even more crazy, interesting, tough, happy, sad, wonderful, strange and beautful. (“Will this never stop!”)
Looking back I realized that I have been quite active in many ways trying to avoid being a Zombie. It might be a good idea for you and me to reflect on what you have achieved past year in order to inspire for the upcoming year! Let’s stick to the easy to recall statistics on travel & photography, as that is what I do most
- I have not been posting much on the ExposedPlanet photoblog, but as you might have noticed lately, I am getting back up to speed… Only a few dozen pictures and all in the past months only, but I think the quality has improved a lot, which is more important than quantity
- We spent all the year in South America. It has been many years ago that I did not visit more than one continent in a year, but South America has proved itself much more diverse than I ever imagined.
- I shot over 7000 pictures on my Canon Eos 5D mark II and several on a new Lumix compact camera as well. Actually I probably shot much more, but these are the ones surviving the first round of critical ‘check-delete’ actions I also shot video but still need to learn more about that.
- We cycled almost more than 9700km (6000 miles) through 10 different countries including more than 55km vertical. That is more than 6 times the height of Mt Everest! We cycled from sea-level up to more than 4600m (15,000ft) and even spent 5 weeks non-stop above 3600m (12,000ft).
- One old dream came true: I travelled up the length of the Amazon and Napo rivers across the continent by way of 9 different boats, all the way from Macapa (near the Atlantic coast in Brazil) to Coca, only a few hours away by bus from Quito, Ecuador.
- The inhabitants of these countries I visited spoke in 5 different languages to me (Spanish, Portuguese, English, Dutch & French) as well as many older tongues like Quecha & Aymara and offered many different and wonderful foods
- I climbed and summited 5 mountains of over 5000m (16,400ft) and 3 mountains of over 6000m (19,700ft) including the highest Andean mountains in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador & Bolivia and a wonderful 6300+m peak in Peru.
Due to the easy access most of these climbs were only 2-4 (very long) days affairs, but wonderful nevertheless. The views from the thin air never fail to fill me with happiness.
- I minimized consuming, have become even more minimalist than I already was and am very happy about that. The great thing about travelling by bicycle is that you simply cannot take more than you need! I also did not eat any meat (just fish) and am healthier, lighter, fitter and younger than ever, even if I turned 40 past summer.
- I went on one (1) airplane flight (to the Galapagos Islands, another dream come true) as unfortunately there is no other way to get there anymore. That is one more flight than I took last year…
- We saw countless animals in the wildincluding vicunas, guanacos, llamas, capybara, alpaca, alligators, monkeys, armadillo, tuco tuco, snakes, vizcacha, marine Iguanas and turtles and their land-based cousins and hundreds of different types of sea- and land-based birds including nandu, flamingo, condor, red ibis, penguin, macaw, blue footed boobies and many, many more.
We witnessed giant leatherback turtles laying their eggs and even swam face to face with sea-turtles, dolphins, sea lions and strange and colourful fish, as close to nature as you can get.
- I started a new and very exciting company with a good friend (and built a website for it as well: http://Flexiwaysolar.com. The project is about to take off really soon now and should change the lives of thousands of people in a very positive way, while saving the planet a bit.
- I redesigned the ExposedPlanet photoblog, and switched it over to the WordPress platform for more flexibility Also I added a new blog, with photography tips, see http://blog.exposedplanet.com, the first 5 or so posts are already up.
- I started licensing some photos through Getty and already made several sales. I have sold some more through my ImageKind shop and directly to diverse clients for usage all around the world in magazines & books (Contact me if you are interested in my images).
- I still run my business 7summits.com full-time and had one of the best years ever, with an unbeatable 100% summit rate for all my Kilimanjaro clients, climbing on many dozens of different personalized expeditions. We employ local guides only which makes the trips not only 50-70% less expensive, but also ensures that even the prices are very low, most of the paid fees end up in Tanzania, Argentina, Tibet/Nepal etc. One thing that makes me proud as well are the wonderful stories the clients sometimes send back after the climb: check some of these out on the 7summits.com clients feedback page.
- BikeTravellers.com, the community for adventure cyclists has been re-built and redesigned as well, with some added functionality.
- I started preparing for a major personal event upcoming in 2011, something to do with tying knots, but not on mountains
So I am quite satisfied with the things I have done considering I also have to sleep sometimes even though I would like to change that as it is often a waste of time !
But what was much more important is that I met great people from many different countries, seeing culture and nature up close in away that can only be done while travelling (and really only by travelling by bicyle).
What did not happen?
What I regret a lot is not having time to update the WorldOnaBike.com blog. If you look there, it seems we are still in Belize (though the Map is updated to our current position). I would have liked to share more adventures, great places and nice people.
Unlike what many people feared and told/warned us that would definitely happen, we have not been robbed, assaulted, murdered or hit by cars, even when travelling ‘unprotected’ through ‘scary places’ like Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, The Guyanas, the Amazon & Brasil, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia & Argentina.
We did not ‘Zombie out’. Unlike many others we have not stayed at home in front of a TV because of fear of the unknown, in need of consuming and passive feeding of fear and commerce by the TV. Instead we have actively approached the unknown and have been enriched by our experiences beyond description.
We made great new friends. Some we travelled with like the illustrous ‘La Familia‘, ‘ The A-team‘, ‘Tim sem Fronteiras‘ and the ‘Abnormal Austrians‘ as well as many other wonderful people that changed from strangers to friends slowly or instantly and that offered us hospitality along the way, sometimes for a few hours, sometimes for weeks on end, muchas gracias!
And maybe even better is that all of this together could be done on a monthly budget less than what most people spend on car insurance or fuel alone… It’s about making choices in your life, nothing more, nothing less.
So what is there left to do in 2011?
Some of the things I had wanted to do past year had to be moved to 2011 and new ideas and projects will hopefully happen in 2011, including:
Switching 7summits.com to WordPress, climbing the highest mountain in Peru (the only one I wanted to but did not climb past year) starting my new blog on Minimalist Living, moving to Patagonia, getting married, writing new books, updating all the blogs, shooting at least 10,000 more photos, editing at least 5000 of them, choosing and buying parts and ordering and building my first self-built PC in order to be able to do so in time.
We also still have about 8000-10000km (5-600 miles) to go on our Pan-American mainland bicycle expedition, visiting the missing parts of Paraguay, North-East Argentina, Uruguay and Patagonia (Southern Chile/Argentina), which I am all really, really looking forward to. I will keep on promoting cycling and travelling by bicycle by offering free weblogs and info/help on BikeTravellers.com.
And of course I will run my climbing and photography businesses with full force in order to pay for all of this but also to let more people enjoy the joy of climbing mountains and experiencing the cultures surrounding the mountains
I will update ExposedPlanet with new images and stories, in order to share the beauty of nature and culture and to counter the fear and xenophobia that is still going strong in the world…
More than enough about me, let’s focus on the world around us again!
I started this post as I just wanted to share one of 2010′s great moments with you: Ivana jumping for joy on the beautiful Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia and will close with one of myself taken there as well, with a simple message for all of you:
May you jump for joy many times in the year to come.