Two U.S. volunteers ride home on bikes
They served for several years as volunteers in Dangriga ... but when the time came to take leave of Belize the two young women just couldn't go cold turkey. They figured out a way to ease their way slowly back to the United States ... and that's why News Five's Janelle Chanona found them wheeling through Belize City traffic this morning.
Janelle Chanona, Reporting
As a tribute to their experiences in southern Belize, former Peace Corps volunteer Bridget Igoe and former Jesuit volunteer Abby Hunt have decided to bike home. But “home” is Portland Oregon, located some four thousand three hundred miles away in the United States.
Abby Hunt, Biking to the U.S.
“Literally we are going to cover every single mile between Dangriga Belize through there and in covering that ground. We will see and observe and our senses will take note of what connects and separates Portland Oregon to Belize.”
Bridget Igoe, Biking to the U.S.
“We’ve really made an effort to keep in shape and really push in these last few months, so that we’re ready for the ride. And again, just the support within Belize community itself, people here love to ride and not only that, they love to see other people really take to the sport. Thank you to them really.”
The twenty-five year olds say they’ve always had a love for cycling and when they met two years ago, they started riding together. The women are hoping that their Mexican adventure will make it easier to say goodbye to Belize.
“It just seemed the right way to return home. Leaving Belize we are so sad, it’s too much of an adjustment as it is. So we are kind of postponing that return home. We’ll be on the road for about four or five months, and hopefully after that time we’ll be ready to re-enter the U.S.”
“It was oyi! Get on an airplane, six hours, boom! No! I don’t think so. That just seemed too sudden, and the process of that transition seemed somewhat unnatural.”
Their planned route will take Hunt and Igoe from Chetumal to Chiapas, Mexico City and onto Baja California before they roll into Portland.
“A lot of what went into that was talking with people, word of mouth. We’ve found to be one of the best tools when researching trips. We’re not really taking the most direct route, we’re going to be hopping the mountains sort of. Part of it we took in the factors of safety what areas were safe for us to ride through, which eliminated a good portion. Part of it was where is our end destination, and what along the way do we want to see.”
The cyclists admit that reactions were mixed when they shared their plans with family and friends.
“Dangriga I think is used to seeing us “pan bike” all the time, but I don’t know. The people who really cycle here a lot were just sort of like well, take your time, are you prepared, how can we help?”
That help has included technical and mechanical support from Bruce Sanchez and the Ordonez Bike Shop in Belize City. But out on the road, the women will not only be doing their own bike maintenance, they’ll be living on the edge.
“We are carrying a tent so we’ll be camping a lot of places. So tents, sleeping bags, we made little stoves so we’ll be cooking, so kitchen supplies basically, camera.”
”So for the most part you guys will be roughing it?”
“Yeah, very much so. And sunscreen, plenty of sunscreen, can’t bring enough sunscreen.”
Having already cut more than a hundred miles from their total distance. They rode from Dangriga to Belize City. Igoe and Hunt will set off on their journey north later this week.
While in Belize, Bridget Igoe volunteered at the Holy Ghost primary school and the Dangriga AIDS society. Abby Hunt was a volunteer at the Delille Academy for two years and worked for an additional year at the Stann Creek District Education Office.