“Yep, they’ve gone completely crazy. They spent too much time at altitude or they are having a heatstroke or something!” We can hear you think it at loud from here. Well, we don’t blame you if you look at that nonsense title. But rest assured, we’re only a little bit crazy and the title is going to make sense in a minute!
Before we adopted Oli, which is already 6 months ago… OMG time really flies! We did some research on how to raise a puppy; what to do, what not to do, is there a lot of crying involved, etc. You know the region questions everyone should consider before adopting! In our research we came across NILIF. It is an acronym which spells: Nothing In Life Is Free. And it basically comes down to a strategy to raise your puppy (or older dog) where every time your dog wants something, they have to work for it. For example, your dog sits down by the door communicating that she wants to go outside. Instead of just opening the door, you make her sit, wait, go outside first and than give her the command to come outside as well. Or she brings you a toy, indicating she wants to play. Instead of gladly accepting the inviting and play fetch, you ask something of her before initiating the play session (like a “sit” or “down” or whatever). This principle should enhance the communication between you and your pet as well as establish a healthy relationship where you can work together with your trusted companion.
Yes, of course. But what, in the name of …, has this to do with riding your bike across the Americas?
Over the last couple of months, since we’ve learned about this principle. We have begun to notice that this doesn’t only apply to the relationship between you and your dog. But it also applies to you (traveling by bike) and nature. Let us explain it a little further.
Say you’re riding through Bolivia, a beautiful country with the biggest salt flats on earth. Well, to ride your bike through Bolivia, you have to pay the altitude fee, which is accompanied by the very cold temperatures at night. Or you’re getting a little tired of the boring flat roads of wherever you are riding, to get better views you first have to climb the mountains to get to the more scenic roads.
Is it starting to make sense now?
The last month we’ve been riding through Argentina. Our route has been very diverse so far. We entered at around 3000m of altitude, so pretty high. We had been paying the altitude and cold fee for a while now. So we decided we wanted some warmer temperatures. Therefore we needed to descend a considerable amount. You might think “Descending goes like nothing, easy peasy lemon squeezy”. Well, then you’re forgetting NILIF! In order to get down to Salta, at around 1100m above sea level, where the temperatures are considerably warmer. We had to descend through a very strong headwind, we had to pay the wind fee if you will.
A little further along, we got onto the “Ruta 40”. A long distance road that goes from the north of Argentina all the way to sound, to Patagonia. We joined it in Cafayate, which is located in a very beautiful valley. Because of years and years of erosion, the mountains have many grooves in all directions. When the sun is shining on the sides of the mountains, it casts a million tiny shadows into these grooves, which gives them like a 3D effect. Pretty cool!
Once we got out of the valley, the “Ruta 40” turned into patches loooooong straight pavement through an ever widening valley. So the views got less and less. Here we had to pay “the boring fee”, because every other day, the awesome views would return and it would be beautiful again!
It may sound like we’re complaining about doing hard work or getting bored along the way to get to the nice places. But it’s actually quite the opposite! What we’re trying to say is; that it’s good that nothing comes by itself, it’s good to put in the work and suffer a little once in a while. It puts all the beautiful places in perspective. If everything would be easy, everything would be boring!
The NILIF principle has been with us all along on this journey, we only didn’t realize until now. We don’t really see it as “paying an altitude fee” or “paying the boring fee”, we try to see it as “investments”. We invest in suffering a little bit now, or being a little bored in the present. So that once we get the return from our investments in the future, we will be richer in experiences and the memories will have more value.
We implemented the NILIF principle into raising Oli. So far it has been working fine, and feel like we have a good relationship. She loves us and we love her very much! It also made our relationship with the road very memorable and satisfying. We love the road and it loves us back. Most of the time.