Idiot on Wheels


This blog entry about the events of Thursday, November 20, 2003 was originally posted on November 21, 2003.

DAY 33:  Rosa, the old woman that ran the Los Amigos hostel, let me use the big sink in the yard to do my laundry.  We chatted for a bit while I scrubbed my underwear, about this and that in Puerto Ayora.  She seemed happy to talk to one of the travelers; most of them just kept to themselves and lived in a bubble, never interacting with their hosts unless they needed something.

I THOUGHT IT MIGHT BE A GOOD IDEA to rent a bike and see life in the other smaller villages of Isla Santa Cruz — particularly Santa Rosa, 19km away — instead of just staying in Tourist Town the whole time.  I went to the store of the guy who thought I was Japanese, who also rented bikes.  I don’t think he recognized me — perhaps it was my new lesbianesque haircut or my lack of glasses — because he asked me where I was from again.

“New York.”


“New York.”

“Alaska? Texas?”

I didn’t know where he was going with this other than to show off his knowledge of the fifty states.  Or perhaps he thought I was Inuit- or Mexican-looking.  At any rate, he rented me a bike for $6 all day, which was really good considering the place Lonely Planet suggested was for $22/day.

I rode up the 7 km inclined road back to the small village of Bellavista (where the “Tunnel of Love” lava tubes are), thinking how great it is to see things via bicycle.  When you’re in a car or a bus, everything is behind the barrier of glass and just zooms on by.  If I weren’t on a bike, I might not have seen the turtle on the side of the road, munching on some leaves, or gotten close to the mule that was grazing, I thought.

In Bellavista, I stocked up on Gatorade and crackers and sat on the curb again.  Nearby, two kids were playing with their bicycles until I truck drove by and dropped off their father.  The little boy dropped his bike and ran across the street yelling “Papi!  Papi!  Papi!”  I never saw a kid so excited to see his dad.

I head east for the remaining 12km to Santa Rosa, through farmlands, pastures and orchards.  I rode passed stray dogs, cows and goats, which I had learned had eradicated some of the endemic species of the islands with their introduction.  But really, how else were we to get milk for our coffee and steaks for our dinners?

I thought the ride would be a breeze since I’m use to day-long bike rides at home, but the incline was tough.  I thought that biking between towns was a common thing amongst the islanders since almost everyone in Puerto Ayora got around by bike, but no one but me was on a bicycle.  Most people just drove by in the comfort of a car or a bus, or in the back of a pick-up truck, with a look in their eyes that read, “You idiot.”  I’m sure some of them were pointing and taunting “Ha ha,” the way Nelson Munz does on The Simpsons.

Lonely Planet might have been wrong about somethings, but I should have listened to them this time; they implied that biking should not be done because it’s all uphill.  I cursed myself on every turn of the pedal, scolding myself for setting yet another difficult goal instead of just fishing on the beach with the Scots and Scandinavians again.  But I grit my teeth and pressed on — a lot of times just getting off the bike and walking it uphill — with the one thought in my mind:  On the way back, it’s all downhill.

AFTER ABOUT THREE HOURS, I finally came to a guard post run by the national park bureau and spoke to the guy there.

“[Where is Bella Rosa?]” I asked.


“Sí, Bella Rosa.”

“[Bella Rosa? Oh, Santa Rosa,]” he corrected me.  “[It’s right over there.]”  He pointed down the road.

I rode down the block and sure enough, there it was, the village of Santa Rosa.  A natural endorphin rush flowed through my body in accomplishment.  I never felt so happy to see — what I later discovered — a town that had absolutely nothing to do or see.  It was just a sleepy little village without even a corner store or anyone around to talk to.

I turned around and rode the 19 km back — this time downhill — stopping for a short while back in Bellavista to watch a local junior soccer game.  Once back in Puerto Ayora, I was completely drained of fluids, and just went for food and beers with Chris who had arrived back in town after his four-day boat tour.  The cerveza flowed through my body and I got a pretty quick buzz.

IT STARTED POURING in town, so I returned my bike and went back to Limon & Cafe, Gustavo’s popular bar.  Gustavo wasn’t there, but Jorge, another bartender I had met before was tending.  He bought a round of shots for me and the two Swiss girls I met there, Esther and some name I can’t pronounce that starts with an “F.”  I thought that maybe the two Swiss girls would be cool to hang out with, but they left to get on a 8-day boat tour.

“Chicas,” Jorge said sympathetically with his surf apparel and short blue-dyed hair.

Later on that night, the bar was alive and kicking with a Friday night crowd of newly disembarked tour passengers and locals.  Andre was in town for his one day stopover on the island, where his boat would drop off some passengers and pick up some new ones, including me and Navid.  He introduced me to two girls he had met on the ship, an English brunette who had been traveling for months with a lot more months to go, and a Canadian blonde who only had four more days in her trip left. 

The MP3 DJ “spun” house, salsa and reggae and we danced amongst the locals.  Everyone came in unison when a medley of Bob Marley songs came on, singing “One Love” together.

Afterwards, Andre took a water taxi back to his room on the ship, while me and the girls went looking for an after-hours snack place.  Despite it being a weekend with bars open til the wee hours, there was nothing open.  The Canadian girl was staying at my hostel so we met up in the common room to improvise with my pack of crackers and her peanut butter and jelly.  We talked the early morning over makeshift but satisfying sandwiches.

The next morning, she left for an early flight back to the mainland, while I geared up for my six-day cruise.

I am leaving for my six-day cruise this evening, so thus begins the N.I.Z. (No Internet Zone)!  Hope you enjoyed the first 33 days; it’s been my pleasure.  I hope to return next week with lots of pictures and stories of scuba diving and land trekking around the isles of the Galapagos!  (Perhaps even, there will be a picture of my puke should I get seasick.)

You can use this week-long break to catch up on what you may have missed, including additional notes I’ve written in the comments sections.  If you’re already an avid daily reader and have no need to play catch up, I’m sure you have one or two friends you haven’t mentioned the blog to that might need the time.  So far there are over 1,300 unique readers…let’s keep it up!

The holiday shopping season starts next week (so I’m told) — make sure you put the book that I’m in on all your Holiday lists…it’s available at your local bookstore including Barnes and Noble, Indigo and Borders in the travel essay section.

To the American readers, Happy Thanksgiving!  I’ll be slicing up a nice big tuna instead of a turkey this year.  I suppose that makes it “Happy Tuna Day.”

Next entry: Ships Ahoy, But Not The Beer

Previous entry: A Day at the Beach

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Comments for “Idiot on Wheels”

  • nice undies…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/21  at  03:11 PM

  • oh…and nice ass too (mule)...

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/21  at  03:12 PM

  • PEPE:  How did you ever overcome the whole Peruvian counterfeiting thing?  How much did you lose out on?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/21  at  03:31 PM

  • I was hungover this morning from a North Face company party, eating my breakkie, and I clicked on that picture of your dirty underwear. UGH!! grin

    And hey, I don’t see your Represent T-shirt on that clothing line…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/21  at  04:25 PM

  • it’s the convergence pants!!
    have a good week away from the modern world

    Posted by dunlavey  on  11/21  at  10:02 PM

  • Erik,
    The counterfeit thing is easy, I just spend the funny money. Several times Ive had some waiter or shopowner refuse a bill because it was supposed to be falso and ask for another one.  They all look real suspicious at the bills (and the coins, though why somebody would want to produce his own 1 sol coins is beyond me). But when I try to pay with it in the shop nextdoor they usually accept it so I figure there-s not much wrong with them.
    Have fun with them cute animals.

    Posted by Pepe  on  11/21  at  10:55 PM

  • Erik, Please? no puke pics. But if you must, please give me plenty of advanced warning so I can studiously avoid them!

    Have fun in the N.I.Z!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  01:36 AM

  • i’m gonna cheat on my iguana w/ that turtle. she makes me feel all tranquilo, tranquilo inside

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/22  at  10:53 PM

  • I would have pegged you as a tighty-whitey guy—but boxer briefs? ooh la la!

    The withdrawl is starting…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  04:54 PM

  • Have fun on your vacation FROM your vacation… i think those are the best kinds smile looking forward in seeing the pictures once you return - n smile

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/23  at  05:24 PM

  • Hey, now that Erik is gone for a few days, let’s use his own blog to trash him!  Who’s with me?

    Posted by Matt  on  11/23  at  11:53 PM

  • Matt—yeah that erik character…. (in homer voice) ohh look at ME! iI’m ET, i’m traveling the world, Maybe I’ll drop you a line some day from wherever I wind up in this crazy old world!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/24  at  02:55 AM

  • Well, one thing I know about that Erik is he can’t hold his Red Devils!!

    Posted by Matt  on  11/25  at  02:46 AM

  • Hey Erik.  Happy Thanksgiving!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/26  at  01:55 PM

  • Save us from the madness of Thanksgiving!

    We will be thankful with new blogs of that sweet goodness…

    tranquilo, tranquilo…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/26  at  06:00 PM

  • happy tuna day!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/27  at  01:04 PM

  • Happy Turkey day E. But rescue us from our coporate wasteland .. BLOG!... BLOG! ...  BLOG!!!

    Posted by sim  on  11/27  at  03:44 PM

  • ahhh….grown people fighting at circuit city is funny….

    they need to read this blog for some:

    tranquilo, tranquilo….

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  11/27  at  04:23 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today,, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.

Next entry:
Ships Ahoy, But Not The Beer

Previous entry:
A Day at the Beach


Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

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