Chaffage

This one comes with a prefix: On occasion a friend or two have expressed exasperated jealousy at my adventures. Here is a post that if they read before they turn the bed side lamp off and nestle down into the depths of their own cosy bed, it will see them sleeping soundly with a slight smug smile across their face.

I find myself in Bogota, Colombia a month before originally planned. I have decided that rather than rush through Central America and potentially not be able to reach Panama anyway – owing to the fact that the Nicaraguans are having a bit of a party involving civil upheaval, militia and what not, that I would skip ahead to South America and make the push from Colombia to Patagonia in just a few short months. Central America would have mainly been a country to ticking off tour rather than really seeing it, so some other time perhaps.

A plan is afoot though, if I stick to the coast I can easily reach Patagonia before my time is up and I return to Europe, but first I’ve some exploring to do in the Andes. Although I have had the luxury of visiting this part of the world before, I still want to explore more of Paddington’s home country and get stuck into the depths of the Bolivian Andes before I really head south. If needs be I will pop on a bus, skip a few k’s down to Santiago and spend the Christmas period in Patagonia. It’s a good plan, I think.

But meanwhile I am in Colombia. Now it’s at this point that if you do not wish to hear about the hardship of cycling and my genitalia you may wish to stop…

I think it’s safe to say that up to this point I have not whinged about the discomfort of cycling too much. That is about to change.

Rain, what absolute bliss. I’ve not seen a single drop since Mongolia, and now in the outer edge of the Amazon rainforest I am getting well and truly reacquainted with it. But it is having an unexpected side affect, a discomfort in the shorts department. Like Mary I seem to have immaculately conceived, no not a child, for unlike Mary I seem to have contracted an immaculate STI. This is strange, owing to my lack of even conversation with the opposite sex, it is a mystery to me.

Ladies often make the joke that they are jealous of men’s ability to urinate standing up, life is easier with a penis. Well what you ladies are over looking is the possibility that when one is cycling in the possession of a scrotum you can be subject to extreme chaffage. It’s that or I have testicular gout. I hear gout is agony.

I suppose a recipe of salty sweat and soggy shorty shorts has been the route cause. When “showering” in the petrol station toilet I had to clutch the sink’s rim, white knuckled and watery eyed, to stop me letting out a yelp. Water makes it worse. But what to treat such an aliment? Ah sun cream, it prevents burns and sooths skin surely it will easy the discomfort…..I let out a yelp this time. Lying down is uncomfortable, sitting is tender, standing legs wide apart is the best option but for the purpose of sleeping I adopt the starfish position.

I’ve already mentioned how bad my Spanish is; I tried ordering a “Coca Cola” the other day and the lady didn’t understand me. Well going to the pharmacy to by Sudocrem or Vaseline was never going to be easy. I corner a lady, and the charades begin. I request Vaseline by pretending to apply it to my chapped lips and the penny drops. I felt like a bit of a creep when I thought about the real point of application.

Colombians can put a touch of colour into the mundane, Concrete carparks normally a necessary eye saw are converted into a stripy masterpiece. Bogota, in between its stylish bars and art galleries was a wash with graffiti, the arty kind not just pointless tags. As I leave the city making my way west I pass through unheard of villages and towns they are all the same, colourful; from the painted buildings to the vast murals adorning the walls of the play grounds. This provides some brief moments of distraction from the tender groin.

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Big day, into the hills and the edge of the Amazon rainforest I plunge when I pump into an Italian and call him a Frenchman, a poor start. He asked me what its like over the crest of the hill but I couldn’t tell him for I was in a putrid world of my own with little eye for the scenery. I’ve got the Colombia colon to boot. It’s getting relentless, what started a week ago as a bit of an iffy tummy has gotten a hole lot worse. Instead of admiring the birds and the bees and the occasional troop of monkeys I’m scoping out good secluded bushy spots with running water (natures bidet).

Maybe its the water, I’m still on a if the locals drink it its good enough for me policy. Or maybe I’ve just got a bad case of the shits to partner up with my gout like testicles. It doesn’t make for ideal cycling and at one premature stop over I glance over a wall, all looks fine just a load of stones and pebbles; so I vault the two foot wall like an Olympiad only to land knee deep in rotting potatoes, so much for pebbles. It looks like I have shat myself and covered my poor shoes which I was on the cusp of doing if I didn’t extradite myself form the mash with post haste. Talk about adding insult to injury.

I decide to take a night in a hotel and get over the afflictions but after a second day held up in the cell of a room I decide to make use of public transport and b‐line it for Quito, Ecuador, for there is no way I can sit on my plank of a bike seat in this condition. If I’m to make it to Patagonia I literally don’t have time to sit around, every day is accounted for so I decide to sit legs splayed and clutching my tummy as it gurgles away and prompting the bus driver to make regular stops, much to the annoyance of all other passengers on board. So I will be starting afresh in Ecuador with my sights firmly set on Ushuaia, Patagonia.

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