November 20th, 2011
We got up early so we can get a ride in before the rain. It rains every afternoon now. The bicycle ride today was up a mountain to a small town.
I wish I had a helmet cam on to video all the streets, people, graffiti of Che Guevara, riding past the Colombian Military Army base which looked very dilipadated but still filled with lots of activity there. I did not bring my camera so these the photos taken while cycling were taken by Ciro.
The ride was very challenging to me in this thinner air and feeling a lack of energy most of the time. The road was steep going up and I thought it would never end. I know it is just a matter of time and the breathing will get easier.
We reached the small mountain town with cows wandering across the road, people everywhere. Upon reaching the other end of town a group of about 8 young women took an interest in this gringo and wanted a pic taken after Ciro was done taking some photos. They had a bottle of a very common corn alcohol and were headed to the river to have a drink.
Before leaving the town we stopped and had juice and something to eat from one of the many little street carts.
As we rode back the road was steep going down and at one point Ciro wanted to go see the river, my first thought was "oh shit, we will have to ride back up this steep road from seeing that river". I am already sore and wanted to be done with steep climbs. It was good to go see the river and a park area which was a beautiful spot.
Riding back out it was very steep and I was really aching. When we got back on the road it was quite a rush to ride downhill fast back into town. The traffic is really crazy cars everywhere and the really do own the road. Cars do not car about people or bicycles, when on foot you have to run as fast as you can to get across the road because cars will not stop or slow down.
I needed to be very focused and constantly looking around as cars are darting everywhere. Driving from side streets onto the main road quickly, changing lanes constantly, stopping fast and cars are always inches from others. There were constantly inches from me. The buses are in a constant line, hundreds of them always stopping to let people off and pick people up, I have never seen so many buses before. When a bus stops which is usually a very quick stop, we would dart around to the left side of the bus along with the many cars behind us darting around too. Lots of black diesel smoke coming from the buses that at times filled my already weak lungs. We just kept riding fast and going through the traffic and that was quite an adrenaline rush to ride through. We rode on the right side, in the middle and sometimes on the left side with oncoming traffic just to our left. This whole place is constantly bustling and appears to be total chaos to an outsider but somehow they manage and it is what they are used to.
The afternoon was relaxing with a walk to the market for food, it is a daily ritual to go buy fresh food. Lots of markets and street carts with fresh food, this is a great way to live and to have such good food cheap and easily accessible. All of these places are within 1 block from here.
I seem to draw attention when I speak, someone looked at me in the market today and said "ah gringo!" She tried to talk to me but all I could say was "no hablo espanol".
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