The Faces of Bicycle Travel #4

Nov 30, 2012

People. The true treasures of bicycle travel. Cuba, 1998

It is 2:00 am in the little town of Remedios. The Las Parrandas festival has been raging since early evening. The contest pits the two main barrios in town (San Salvador and Carmen) against each other in a show of pageantry, music, lights, and fireworks. Thousands of people have crammed into the town square for the festivities, and Kat is somewhere on the other side of the square with my recorder and microphone collecting sounds.

I have just dodged a flurry of homemade bottle rockets (one glancing off my cap). This woman is standing on a float decorated in the theme of Alice in Wonderland, which is about to be towed by a diesel tractor to the cheers and shouts of the crowd. The party will rage on until the sun rises.

United States, 2001

We met this man outside a Piggly Wiggly supermarket in Georgia. He took one look at us on our loaded-down tandem and asked if we’d like to join him and his buddies at their cabin on a lake nearby. How could we refuse?

A crisp, cool morning finally gave way to the warmth of a sunny Sunday. Both Kat and I were given fishing poles and tried our luck. I didn’t catch a fish but did manage to catch this portrait of a man and his dog. We all sat around the campfire late that night, eating Slim Jims and sipping bourbon.

Turkey, 2003

It is early morning in eastern Turkey. We are camped in a rocky canyon surrounded by high cliffs, not a tree in sight. It is an old tourist area with ancient caves long abandoned due to years of conflict between the Kurds and the Turkish army. We hear sheep and goats (their baas and bleats and the tinkling of the bells around their necks). They must be up there somewhere, 1,000 feet above us. But the sound echoes confusingly off the steep rock walls. As we cook breakfast in the early morning, a Kurdish shepherd appears and sits on his haunches near our campsite.

We invite him over and fix him a cup of chai. He is so pleased with our gesture that he grabs one of his ewes and milks her right into our stainless steel camp pot. He never spoke a word, but his eyes told us we were welcome there.

Photos by Willie Weir

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SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His latest book Travels with Willie: Adventure Cyclist will inspire you to hit the road and just might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at http://yellowtentadventures.com/.

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