Underpants (Machareti, Bolivia)

“Hey Dad!” Daryl shouted as he brandished a stick with some brightly colored something dangling off the end of it. “Want some underpants?”

I wonder about these people who drive down the road throwing underpants out their windows. It seems to be a common practice in this part of the world though. At least it appears that way from the sheer number of them we find scattered along the side of the road.

“Why don’t you burn them?” John responded. “Let’s do our part to clean up the environment a little bit.”

Daryl’s eyes widened in surprise. “Burn them?” he asked. “Can we?”

“Might as well – we’ll be here for a while.”

John sat on the side of the road surrounded by various bits and pieces from my bicycle – the trailer had been disconnected and sat by the side of the road. My wheel was taken apart and John was busy fixing a flat tire caused by one of the nasty thorns we’ve recently encountered.

“Cool!” the kids shouted as they pulled out the lighter.

A few seconds later, Daryl proudly waved the burning underpants on a stick around as one would a sparkler on the Fourth of July.

“Let’s make a big bonfire!” Davy urged. “Quick – we can use the underpants as kindling!”

The boys scampered around collecting bits of dry grasses and cow dung to feed their fire while John and I got my bike put back together.

Eventually, late afternoon rolled around and we pulled off into the woods to camp. I love it here – so peaceful and tranquil. The tents are set up beneath the trees, D & D are reading quietly, John is getting organized. I’m sitting on a fallen log writing. Times like this are what I love about bike touring.

Today is exactly what I think of when I think “bike touring”. Easy riding through gently rolling hills. Long, relaxing lunch in a nice restaurant. Breaks by the side of the road with no bugs. And now, camping in the forest as the sun slowly makes its way toward the horizon.

I looked at a map last night and noticed that we are approaching the Tropic of Capricorn – nearly out of the tropics! The spring equinox is right around the corner so days will be getting longer and longer as we make our way south.

I have a feeling our lives are about to make a dramatic change – more camping in the forest, less hotels, longer riding days… I’m looking forward to it.

Kilometers today: 85
Kilometers to date: 22146

The chaco is the area sandwiched between the Andes Mountains to the west and the Amazon basin to the east. It’s a dry forest area with lots of thorny trees and bushes.The Bolivian chaco
We’ve just encountered cactus for the first time in a long time!

cactus in Bolivia

Camping in the forest – this reminds me so much of camping in Idaho!

Camping in Bolivia


books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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One Response to Underpants (Machareti, Bolivia)

  1. linda cox September 20, 2010 at 4:44 pm #

    i am reading your email laughing at the thought of you on the side of the road burning underpants. i love it, cleaning up the side of the road by burning underpants and the kids marching around with the underpants on their sticks. fun travel stories.

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