A New Perspective


Erin Azouz


Over a year ago, my love and I left behind our jobs and the comforts of our home to travel by bicycle through Latin America.

We started in Central Mexico and after more than a year recently ended our journey in Northern Peru.

The idea of traveling by bicycle was so foreign to me before we started, but it’s like anything you haven’t done before: Eventually it becomes routine. The entire journey was one long period of transformation — of my mind, body, and soul.

What’s great about being on a bike is you don’t have to think much about the physicality of it; you just let your legs do the work, so your mind is really free to daydream. For me, the act of being on the bicycle was one that I found most inspiring. It was the constant motion, seeing something different and new every day, even every minute. Colors were more vivid, smells more pungent, sounds of birds or crickets or giant lorries whizzing by.

You get the full sensory experience traveling by bicycle, and that can open a lot of other possibilities when you return to your other artistic expressions. I’d play guitar, sing, read, write, practice yoga, swim in the ocean, things I was able to "come home to" after pedaling all day. I’d unwind for the evening, just to wake up the next day and do the same thing all over again — only, completely different, because the scenery is constantly changing, and you’re changing too.

The greatest obstacle I faced was myself. I realized a lot about myself during all that riding time. I saw myself from a new perspective: I loved standing in my own way, making excuses for myself. I told myself I "couldn’t" a lot.I finally hit a wall with that.

It just became too exhausting, too great a weight to bear on such a long journey.

In my life I have lucked out being surrounded by a ton of strong, smart, and beautiful women. From my grandmothers to my mother, stepmother, sisters, aunts, cousins, and my wonderful friends, mentors, bosses, and colleagues who are like family — they’ve loved me and supported my crazy dreams over the years and encouraged me to live a life of my own choosing. They’ve offered their shoulder to cry on, table to eat at, or couch to crash on. They also aren’t afraid to get sarcastic with me or tell me when I need to check myself. They’ve all had a unique impact on my life, and I wouldn’t be who I am today without them. And who I am is a 34-year-old batch of curry, with a little dash of all the places I’ve been, people I’ve met, and experiences I’ve had along the way. Spicy!

When I think of words of inspiration for other women or girls traveling on their own journeys, I think it's important to always try new things and be open to change. What seems impossible now could very well become second nature to you one day — it just takes some hard work and determination. Also, keep a journal.

You ask what are big moments that have changed your path to where you are now?

 Photography: Mehedi van Hattum   Lately I've been thinking (yes more  #deepthoughtsfromthebike ) that the most revolutionary thing a woman can do these days is to love herself. To forgive herself for her wrongdoings. To make peace and let go. I may have some folds from carrying an extra 40 lbs of weight when I was a teenager. I sometimes go a week without looking in the mirror. I now have gray hairs in my eyebrows. I stopped traveling with deodorant in March. I have scars from surgeries and broken hearts. I have made mistakes, hurt people, hurt myself, and at times lost my light and my hope. And I forgive myself for all of it. I love that all those things are a part of my journey. I carry them with me everywhere I go until the day I die.

Photography: Mehedi van Hattum

Lately I've been thinking (yes more #deepthoughtsfromthebike) that the most revolutionary thing a woman can do these days is to love herself. To forgive herself for her wrongdoings. To make peace and let go. I may have some folds from carrying an extra 40 lbs of weight when I was a teenager. I sometimes go a week without looking in the mirror. I now have gray hairs in my eyebrows. I stopped traveling with deodorant in March. I have scars from surgeries and broken hearts. I have made mistakes, hurt people, hurt myself, and at times lost my light and my hope. And I forgive myself for all of it. I love that all those things are a part of my journey. I carry them with me everywhere I go until the day I die.

See photographs from four of the countries she traveled through here.

Erin grew up in Los Angeles, California and in high school first unearthed her love for photography. After graduating from the California Institute for the Arts in 2009, she moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to pursue her eye and love for nature. In 2016, she took her passion for exploration to new lengths: setting out to ride her bicycle from Mexico to as far south as she could go. With her partner, Mehedi van Hattum, her camera, and her guitar, Erin and Mehedi cycled for 14 months from Mexico to Peru, a 6,500-mile trek. In June of 2018, Erin and Mehedi are heading back out to cylce from Peru to Patagonia. You can follow Erin and Mehedi's journey on their website, Let's Go Carino. Follow her @erinazouz


Words: Erin Azouz