As we approach cycling 20,000 kms we have been reflecting on our budgeting. Leaving our jobs for 12 months with no income was fairly daunting for us. We worked out our daily budget for 12 months was around NZD109 (approx USD77 depending on the exchange rate). That was to include all our expenses after we started riding on June 16th 2018 – accommodation, food, flights and public transport; entertainment and replacing worn out bike parts. We quickly found that travelling through Alaska and northern Canada our budget wasn’t quite sufficient. Having said that we met other solo cyclists existing on only USD20 per day! In comparison to them our budget was lavish! As we travelled we started to save more money in what is termed by Americans as ‘the lower 48’ (lower 48 states) and after travelling in Mexico for just over two months we finally worked out we were living below our budget – yay 😀!
So where did the money go? Mostly it goes on food. Eating well and keeping our ‘one human powered engines’ healthy and well fed is a big priority for us. Add into that the ‘beer’ and ‘coffee’ budgets (both of which are unlimited due to their mental benefits) a fair chunk of our money happily goes into those. Accommodation is the next cost. So far we have been pretty good in this department. We soon realised that this is an area where we can make the biggest savings by camping as much as possible. When travelling in North America we only paid for five hotel stays. The rest of our accommodation was made up of camping (either free or paid for) or staying at homes opened up to us by fellow cycle tourists (or people who think we are totally mad and take pity on us). As far as flights and buses go – they don’t apply as yet as we have cycled almost every kilometre of our journey so far.
Dinner on the road – our Mexican version of Mac ‘n Cheese (with refried beans replacing the cheese).
The biggest surprise in our budget was how much replacement spares and equipment we needed. Prior to San Diego we made a list of all the gear we had replaced or brought and the cost was in excess of USD2,700! Since then we have spent a further USD1100 on spares – just over twenty percent of our budget! You may ask why I know this, but we have lots of spare time at night when camping to work this stuff out. Our bikes have taken a beating, particularly in the mud. Comfort for our bodies is also important and this has meant anything contacting the bike (ie our butts) have demanded several replacement shorts, saddles and gloves. At the end of the day our bikes and comfort are priceless (within reason) and blowing the budget a little is worth it. However, it has dawned on us that no matter how much you prepare and how good your gear is, it will start wearing out after months of daily use and it pays to be aware of this when you budget for a long bike packing trip.
Mud is one of the worst things for wearing out gear on the bike.
Since our last blog post we have travelled through sugar cane country to beautiful waterfalls and sights. We met up with Sophie and Chris, fellow bike tourers (road mostly) and hung out with them for several days. The highlight of our travels was Tumal Falls – a 100m waterfall from a beautiful green river.
A refreshing dip in the river above Tumel Falls – far enough away from the falls to not be a concern.
After that we headed for the ‘Cave of Swallows’ which is a 370m deep limestone cave where Swifts roost at night, then leave at dawn to go and find food in the forest at dawn and return to the cave at dusk. The camping for this sight was down one kilometre of steps – not ideal when you’re carrying a fully loaded bike down them. Luckily the locals let us camp in their back yard a short way down the steps saving us a lot of hard work.
Cave of Swallows – a VERY big hole in the ground.
View of dawn from our camp at Cave of Swallows.
We then went to Xilitla to visit the Edward James’ Las Pozas (gardens). Edward James was an eccentric Englishman who loved Orchids and lived in Xilitla. When one year all his orchids died from the frost he decided to re-create them in concrete. He hired 30 locals to help him in this project until he died in 1984.
So what do you do when you’re in a town and you’ve visited all the parks, shops and churches you can stomach, and it’s only 4pm?? You go to a Cervesaria and drink with the locals! Cervesaria’s are a little like the public bars at home. Over here they are male dominated, although there were a couple of other women in this bar. It was one of those places your mother tells you not to go to. When we did walk in we felt pretty out of place and everyone was looking at us. They were smoking weed out in the smoking area and no one cared. We sat and ordered a Corona ‘mega’ bottle (1.2 litres of beer for a cost of USD1.50). The beer tasted good and after four of these almost everyone in the bar was our friends and the local music on the juke box sounded pretty good. To go to the bathroom I had to get toilet paper from the bar man and the toilet had no seat on it. I was careful not to touch anything in there as there was no hand basin to wash my hands in. It turned out to be a good way to spend a few hours for us.
Notice the classy decor in the background.
Tony making friends.
Today 7th of Feb we travelled from Jalpan to Puente de Dios over some very big hills…
We arrived at Puente de Dios and camped in a lovely camping area by the river. Puente de Dios is a natural limestone arch that has the river running through it. We paid our money to enter and started walking down the trail to the arch. There was a local woman walking in front of us, who we thought was just heading in the same direction as us. After a while we realised she was guiding us. We hadn’t signed up for this and asked if we could be alone, but she told us no. She stayed with us the entire time.
Tony walking up the trail with our impromptu guide.
The arch. A good place to have a shower.
We are now heading south toward Mexico City hoping to take in some interesting sights on the way. Here is our current location.