I may have drove my campervan from Calgary to Panama but the story below a guy from Calgary rode his bicycle and still heading south to Argentina.
I told everybody of my dream and they never really took it seriously. October 1 was approaching quick and Kyle had just told me he didn’t have enough funds to make it happen. He suggested we leave in March to give ourselves more time to make money. I was stubborn in leaving on the date I set as I had sold everything I owned minus two bikes, my snowboard and skateboard. I had never gone on an overnight bike trip before leaving. When he told me this I was stumped for a couple days as to if I could actually make this happen alone. My friends thought I was insane; my family was even more worried about my intentions with such a huge journey. It almost wasn’t an option to not make it happen. I had a calling of adventure and self discovery that I needed to fulfill.
The night before I left was one of the most difficult and emotional days ever. My father who was always supportive of my endeavors was now crying and really lost as to why I would want to enter Mexico and all these countries alone. He wasn’t in a financial position to fund my journey and neither was I. I had just under $2000.00. I arranged a final coffee meeting with friends and family at my favorite coffee shop the morning I left. I loaded up my bike for the first time that morning and wondered how in the world I was going to ride this thing that weighed as much as a dirt bike up hills and across 15 countries. My friends couldn’t believe I was going through with this. I enjoyed the last moments with all these people who supported me and walked with my mom as she cried and probably wondered when I would be back for another Sunday family dinner. That’s all it ever was, no maps just south.
Holy shit, I was doing this! I rode a good 65 km fueled by excitement and what the unknown would bring. When I got to a popular beef jerky shop and bunch of friends came to meet me and camp out for the first night. This whole day I rode in shorts with no shirt. As we got comfortable for the night mother nature threw us a curve ball. It snowed a good 2 feet overnight and left me wondering if I was doing the right thing. I contemplated going home but saw the birds flying south through the blizzard and knew that was my direction.
It took me another 10 days or so of amazing hospitality from strangers and friends before I made it over some mountains and to my first border crossing. Here I was at the border and the guard asked where I was headed. I said Argentina. He looked at me like I had 6 arms and two heads and said “on your bicycle?” He was completely blown away. He gave me the go ahead and along I went. I ended up in Santa Cruz, CA in 2 months. I now had about $100.00 to my name. Luckily I had an amazing host who housed me for a month and allowed me time to figure out how I was going to make this happen. I lauched a pizza fund which was a way for people to help me out on this adventure. I was blown away with how much support I had. I also sold art on the streets and ended up leaving there with nearly $1000 dollars. I then sold a condo developer in Calgary some art when I was nearing Mexico 2 months later.
Entering Tijuana was one of the most intimidating moments of my life. Everybody I met was blown away that I was going there by myself. Several people told me I was going to die, get robbed, all of the worst things possible. I survived, made my way south and met up with a couple other guys headed to Mexico City. We rode together, shared unforgettable views and moments over the next 1500 kms together. Mexico blew my mind every single day. I knew nothing about it, so when we went through colonial cities and mountains (Mexico has mountains?!) I was like a newborn baby seeing everything for the first time. All of these thing plus learning a new language were motivating to keep me going. We made it to the Capital City and I was again so stimulated, one day in a voodoo/black magic market was the first time I had ever experienced what people would call “culture shock”. Those boys left to go back home and I was alone in this city that has more people then all of Canada.
I was again flat broke and wondering how I was going to make things work. I started some social media ideas that were well received and sold one of my bicycles at home. This was where my passion for art and creativity really started to pave the way. People believed and supported my talent and I began painting some of the biggest projects yet. This really started the snowball of how I was going to make my way south. A couple months later I was 2 countries south In El Salvador and selling postcards to tourists and started a postcard club, another way for people to help me keep truckin’. I had unbelievable support again from not only family and friends but complete strangers. The entire way I have been gifted meals, snacks, and even cold hard cash by people who just loved what I was doing. Being alone I think really gave people sympathy towards my mission. Everybody knows what It feels like to be alone, but in a foreign country with no money is a whole other ball game. Almost a year later I was in Nicaragua, I had made it to a popular beach town called San Juan Del Sur. I had no plans of staying more then a couple days. I stayed almost 4 months and painted a dozen murals in town. The postcards were selling faster then I could make them and I met a super talented young lady who helped my make a video for a project I had been planning for the past couple months. This really changed the whole trip once again as she made a video that was fueled with passion and emotion. It really showed what this trip had turned into for me. MAGIC. In a month I raised over $8000 Canadian dollars to help fund a book about my journey. Focusing on all the talented artists/ photographers I had met along the way and their views on what paradise means.
Kyle messaged me and told me he was going to fly in and join the mission. I would believe it when I saw him on his bike a month later. In this time I had recruited a young whipper snapper named Abraham Ramirez. A photographer on a 2 week vacation before going back to school in his home state of California. He was super motivated to join me on the trip. He went and bought a $100 dollar bike that was all anodized blue. This thing was meant for a simple A-B if that. We went on a couple “training rides” and he quickly realized this unit was not going to cut it. He wasn’t taking no for an answer and once Kyle arrived they went to the capital city and got him the best they could find. This bike would last until the end of Costa Rica. It was amazing the teamwork and friendship building that happened along the way. Crossing rivers, riding up hills that cars could barely figure out and just having such a blast sharing how amazing travelling by bicycle could be with these 2 amazing humans. All of us are so different but share a passion for adventure, fun and creativity. Abe was still very determined to make this happen so he took a bus south to Panama City and got himself a bike that will make the journey. We are here now In Panama City together and ready to cross over to the unknown again which is South America. Stay tuned as we are just getting started. If you would like to contribute to this journey through the pizza fund or our respective postcard clubs you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org or through paypal.me/jaryd. Thanks to everybody who has helped out along the way! There is way too many people to list but you know who you are. Follow your dreams, and just go, the universe has got your back!
Jaryd’s riding my bike from Canada to Argentina article.
Story written by Jaryd Adair, Kyle Messier, Abe Ramirez and Pete Montgomery from TravelCheapWithPete.com