In February 2009, Wagner Calderón and Laura Ávila loaded their bicycles for the trip of a lifetime. In 20 months, the pair pedaled more than 36,000 kilometers through 13 countries in South America.
While bikes were how Calderón and Ávila experienced South America, photography is how they have allowed others to witness the journey. They not only photographed their experience, but also the heartwarming story of Pedalinho, a kitten they rescued from the streets in Brazil and carried in a crate to his new home in Costa Rica.
The best photos from the journey are now being featured in an exhibit titled “Un Lente Sobre Ruedas” (“A Lens on Wheels”) at the José Figueres Ferrer Popular Culture House in east San José.
“We want to share what we saw and learned with people here,” Calderón said. “We hope people will see how beautiful our world is and see that we all have to change how we live in order to protect it.”
Calderón and Ávila originally planned to make the journey via motorcycle but instead used bicycles because they emit no pollution. According to the pair’s blog at www.suramericaencleta.com, bicycles would be “the most sincere form of exploring the earth” and would allow them to better experience “the affection of Latin American society through its simplicity and hospitality.”
They trekked through every country in South America except Guyana, French Guyana and Suriname. Calderón said their arrival in Ushuaia, Argentina, the world’s southernmost city and the trip’s halfway point, was an unforgettable day.
“It was such a milestone, but we were also sad because we really missed our families. It was hard on us because we are both Costa Rican, so it was difficult to adapt to the Patagonian climate. Our bodies were not used to the excruciating cold. The trip was a challenge physically and emotionally,” Calderón said.
“Un Lente Sobre Ruedas” is on display until Oct. 25 at the José Figueres Ferrer Popular Culture House, 300 meters north and 300 meters east of Santa Teresita Church in Barrio Escalante. Admission is free.