December 2015. Just me, standing in the vast landscapes of Argentinian Patagonia, with only my bicycle as my faithful companion.
I started my cycling trip through South America in Ushuaia, Argentina, in November 2015. With no previous experience in long-distance cycling, I had booked a flight to the Southernmost tip of the American continent, only around 1000kms from Antarctica. And suddenly there I was, vigorously pushing through the ice cold winds of Southern Patagonia, determined to gradually explore the whole continent and let its wonders and cultures slowly unwind before my eyes.
A year and a half later, here I am in Cali, Colombia, training for the biggest salsa festival in the country. But what has happened in between?
During the past 18 months, I have been through snow and rain, through heat and cold. I have seen the beautiful mountains and flatlands of Argentina, the lush coast of Uruguay, the picturesque Alpine villages of Southern Brazil, the beautiful red dirt roads and the buzzing capital of Paraguay, the impressive highlands of Bolivia, the dry and isolated desert of Peru, the mysterious cloud forests of Ecuador and the vibrant and lively cities of Colombia. What originally started out as a trip through South America, has, in the meanwhile, transformed into a journey across whole Latin America, and might just as well continue across the USA to Alaska.
But why? How has it felt like to cycle alone through a continent?
Being a female, undertaking a trip on one's own is not always an easy decision. In fact, even I tried to find company for this endeavor, yet as I did not, I decided to go nevertheless. I didn't want to let the lack of other people not having the same dream as myself stop me from realizing my own dream. Yet, it wasn't an easy decision to make.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not a newbie in solo travel. I've walked across Spain, I've hitchhiked all through Europe, I've crossed South-Eastern Africa by busses, motorcycles and whatnot – alone. I've been on zillions of crazy adventures. Yet, a year-long (that's what it was supposed to be) trip, doing something you've never done, is something else.
Deciding to go and cycle solo means dealing with all the fears inside you. What if someone rapes me? What if someone robs me? What if I get run over by a car? What if I fall sick? What if I feel lonely? All those. Yet, as soon as you take the decision to go, that's when you start overcoming them. And nowadays, after 1,5 years of cycling, there is literally little to no fear left within me. All I can think of is that if something happens is, “that's life”.
The journey has brought me so many good things I can't even count them. And bad ones? None. There have been unpleasant moments, yet nothing that couldn't be overcome in the moment. And the amount of friends made? Too many to mention. The amount of beautiful landscapes seen? Thousands and thousands. The fun had? Worth every single uphill and headwind.
For tips on solo female cycling, in Latin America or elsewhere, don't hesitate to contact me!
To read more about Sissi Korhonen's experiences, visit her blog: www.strangerless.com, or follow her on Facebook and Instragram at: @strangerless.