An adventure that was supposed to last a small two weeks in Nicaragua became a lifelong adventure for Abe Ramirez, a driven Californian of 22-years-old biking across countries to reach his final goal: Argentina. While biking is part of the journey, it isn’t the whole thing - there’s more to discover than simply biking around.The challenges. The culture. The landscapes. The people. The unknown beauty of rugged coastal roads in Central America.
Don’t fill yourself with too many illusions just yet, you will be surprised how normal this trip was until Abe decided to let his guts decide and follow his own path.
Abe is currently creating a beautiful short film about his adventure, The Rugged Road, allowing us to understand his journey, but also the people and places he got to discover. Raising money through GoFundMe to get new cameras gears, it isn’t too late to support him. The official deadline ended, but the campaign is still going! What will it be like? A 45-minute film taking place in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina will make you meet the people he met and highlight the global warming issues affecting the Greater Patagonia Trail.
The world is waiting for you to be explored by, impatiently waiting for your eyes to see the beauty of the world and fall in love with the kindness of strangers.
This film is about being inspired and creative, living in the moment.
This film is everything for him.
Get an avant-gout of his adventures with our interview!
Where are you at the moment?
I am now in Peru, I’ve been waiting for my friend to come from the States and join me on my bike ride for the last three weeks. He’s one of my best friends, actually.
That’s awesome, so you aren’t by yourself all the time, which may help to kill the loneliness of the road isn’t?
I’ve never really been alone during this trip - I actually was travelling with two Canadians at the beginning and they’ve been biking their whole life, so luckily for me, they thought me everything they knew from fixing bikes, riding or whatever I needed to know. Before this trip, I never really owned a bicycle up to a year in my life! [Laugh]
You didn’t? What pushed you to start this trip at the first place then?
I was on a two week vacation in Nicaragua with two of my friends. I don’t really know how it happened, I just felt like I didn't want to go back home. I met this guy named Jaryd, a Canadian that was travelling all the way from Canada to Argentina. It was the first time I heard something like that and I was amazed! The first few days, the idea was constantly in my mind and I thought that maybe I should do something like that. I will always remember that night when I decided: I was in bed and I told myself that if I decide to do it, I can’t just buy a bike and quite. No matter what happens, I will fully do it.
I ended up buying a bike in a small town in Nicaragua for 60$, it was the best one I could find. Nicaragua doesn’t have many resources you know, so I bought this bike and it lasted me two days! [Laugh]
I sold it to a friend because she wanted to ride it locally, and ended up gathering more money to buy a second hand track road bike, which only lasted me half of Costa Rica. The bike broke in half! Costa Rica has terrible roads, especially on the coastal side of the Pacific, it is all dirt roads and of course, I didn’t have the proper equipment so that’s what happened. At that point, I told myself that no matter what I will have to do, I am going to do it and I am not going to take no as an answer!
I didn’t have enough money to buy a new bike, so I started a GoFundMe. I was able to raise 1500$ to buy a proper bike!
Wow, 1500$ raised online is quite good!
I know, that’s crazy. I was really amazed by the support I got from my friends and family, even people I didn’t personally know or people I just met for like five minutes while being on the road. My friend ended up delivering me a bike in Panama and he’s also going to come with me towards Argentina! As soon as I received the bike, me and my friends (the Canadians) went all the way to Panama city. We were considering riding our bikes through Darién Gap, which is probably one of the most dangerous jungle in the world.
Why would you want to do something like that if it’s dangerous?
We wanted to know if it was possible and we were with a group of people, so it was safer, but the thing is we wouldn’t even be able to ride our bike, we would have to walk next to it. We ended up working in the jungle, working with a guy for a tour company. We were there for about a month, which allowed us to buy a boat ride, so we ended up sailing for six days. It was a cool experience! We made it to Columbia and another friend came to visit - they all wanted to stick around, work or hang out, but I still had a bit of money to keep going and my goal was to go to Ecuador to surf. I told the guys that I had to pursue my trip and ride by myself, which I didn’t do much yet. I finished Columbia by about a month.
Was it challenging for you at that point to ride your bike or you got used to it by then?
Well, the most challenging part of this whole trip was probably at the beginning as I didn’t have any experiences. The first two or three months were really hard, especially in Costa Rica, but over time you get use to it and you learn to enjoy it.
Eventually, your body just adapts to the movement for sure! So, after Columbia, you were able to go surfing in Ecuador?
Not really. In the middle of Columbia, I heard that there was this terrible earthquake that happened to Ecuador, a 7.6. My goal was to go to the first beach town and surf, but when I heard about the earthquake, I learned that the whole coast was completely destroyed. That’s crazy you know, I could have been there. I decided that it would not change my plans so I went through all these beach towns and saw everything destroyed. I would just volunteer, help people to reconstruct their homes and help as much as I could.
Our Skype connection suddenly got extremely bad and we had to finish our conversation by messages, unfortunately. We missed a part of Abe’s trip from Ecuador to Peru, but his adventures are still well alive and you should be well awaken for what’s coming next - it’s even more interesting!
What’s next from Peru for you and your friends? Where are you riding towards to?
My three friends and I are riding to Santiago, Chile, where we will begin The Greater Patagonia Trek. It’s 800 miles of hiking with 100 miles of white water rafting. It is a trek that has never been completed before, so it will be an exciting challenge for all of us. Once we finish the trek we will drive back to Santiago and pick up our bikes, then drive back where we ended the trek. Then we will ride our bike to Ushuaia, Argentina, South America's southern tip. There my adventure will end and I will be riding in a sailboat back home to California. Give or take a month to sail back to Cali.
That’s going to be the end of an era - the road. When was the last time you were back home?
I’ve been on the road since July 14th of last year. Once I go back home, the production of the film will continue since I will be working on organizing content on the road. I then plan on screening the film across California and parts of Canada.
Were you the only one filming or your friends also helped?
My friends are helping with filming since they have cameras too.
I am still raising money for camera equipment and a drone, this will allow us to get those shots we need.
One of your goals is to highlight global warming issues that effect the Patagonia Trail. Do you think your film as a chance to change what is happening in Patagonia before it’s too late? Is it the purpose of the film?
The purpose of the film is to inspire people to be all they can be. I have people telling me all the time that they wish they could be doing what I am doing, and the truth is that they can. The film is more of a way to raise awareness.
Which is a beautiful motivation! One of the most challenging things people can stress about when it comes to travel is the lack of money - did you have a lot of saving before starting this long adventure? Were you sometimes scared of missing money?
I didn’t save any money, like I said, I didn’t plan this trip at all. I did have a little under $2000 before the trip and I have been broke a few times within this adventure, but it hasn’t stopped me from continuing. Luckily, I have had support from some brands I have been sponsored by, sometimes financially, but other times I have been with photography to get by.
It is quite impressive that you can get money from your photography already when I’ve read that two years ago, you never touched a camera before! One day you decided that you wanted to become a travel photographer and that’s what you became. It is interesting to see that if you really want something, you can develop the skills.
Yeah, I mean you said it best, if you want something go and grab it. I decided sometime during college that I wanted to be a photographer and did what I could to make that happen. I bought a used DSLR from a friend two years ago on a weekend trip to Yosemite National Park and just started shooting. I asked anyone I could for advice and tips. I emailed a lot of people and most often never received a response, but by the people that did respond to me I learned a lot.
Have you developed your skills by classes as well?
I took a couple of photography courses in college, then switched my major after I realized that I only really wanted to learn the technical side of photography and focused on developing my own creative aspect. The whole original focus of this adventure was to develop my photography skills and be a professional photographer. Now it’s turned into film making, but I still enjoy every aspect behind the camera
Only two years - we wouldn’t expect that at all! Do you have a specific purpose while shooting?
My purpose of capturing photos is to spread awareness and, inspire, and to just create!
What will happens once you go back home?
I have some plans for when I go back home, but it’s hard to say what will actually happen. I know I will always be creating something, whether it is photography, film making, or whatever else comes along.
Are you looking at other photographers’ work to stay inspired? Which photographers are part of your inspiration?
I have a huge list of inspirational people and photographers I follow. I have to say with photographers I enjoy seeing Drew Martin's work. He was one of those kind individuals who always returned my emails! Mike Quinones from OurCaste is a good friend and I appreciate seeing what he comes up with. Others like Dylan Gordan, Woody Gooch, Aaron Ball. The list goes on.
Want to help him bring to life this beautiful film?