There is no crying in bicycle touring
The driver came to pick up Laura and Jess at 2am so they could make their 7am flight out of Guayaquil. “Goodbyes” are always difficult, but more so on the road. Unlike our old lives, where there was a loose schedule of holiday and vacations with the family, on the road, we never know when the next time we’ll each other.
As was expected, there were tears amongst the sisters. I had to remind everyone of a rule of bicycle touring, yet again, “There is no crying in bicycle touring.”
After a few more hours of sleep we decided it was time for us to head out. Being Saturday in Puerto Lopez, the bars on the beach had already started playing obnoxiously loud music.
It was the first day on the road after about two weeks off of the bikes while in Puerto Lopez, a small beach town on the coast of Ecuador. With some trepidation, we headed out. The bikes felt awkward, no longer an extension of the body.
The body and especially the knees protested a bit throughout the day. Our bikes were in better condition than we were.
I took advantage of the time in Puerto Lopez and the suitcase full of parts and gear that Laura brought, to make some long overdue repairs and modifications (new cables and housings, a replacement bar-end shifter, new tires, new chains, new brake levers that Sarah could more comfortably reach, a new set of pedals for me and new kickstands — I’ll highlight some of this new gear in upcoming posts).
We hope to catch up to Don, a 76 year old tourer from California, in the next day or two. We met him in Puerto Lopez the day before we left. He’s toured intermittently for many years but now he’s on a permanant tour. Like us, he is enjoying Ecuador and noted that the Ecuadorian coastal towns remind him of growing up on the California coast in the 1950’s.
Late in the day we discovered a new delicious treat. A ball of roasted plantains (Bolon de verde plantain) and cheese served with more fresh cheese.
Man Makes Fire
We camped on a deserted portion of the coast within sound of the surf on a salt flat. Setting up camp took twice as long to do since we were out of practice.
We started making dinner after dark and realized that we no longer had our lighter to start the stove. We probably left it in Puerto Lopez by mistake.
No problem, I was prepared with several contingency plans. I opened our waterproof match tube and pulled out the piece of cotton (emergency kindling), trick “relighting” birthday candle (will continue to burn even in a damp drizzle), emergency matches and their associated strike surface.
The match strike surface fell apart in my hands. It had become soaked with some wax from the candle. The matches were not the “strike anywhere” type. I tried striking the matches on the file tool of my Leatherman knife along with a steel nail file that Sarah carries. I only succeeded in breaking off a few match heads. No sparks. The matches were essentially worthless.
I realized that we have a 9 volt battery in our new external microphone (part of the gear that Laura brought) for our camera. I tried the battery on the copper wool kitchen scouring pad we use for our pot. It does not work like 00-steel wool (which catches fire when both terminals of the battery are placed on the steel wool — science rocks!).
I remembered the small black flint bar on the bottom of the emergency waterproof match case. I tried our Opinel carbon steel knife and I got a beautiful spark. I lit the stove with it.
Man make fire. Man save dinner. Woman want to breed with Man.