December 15, 2011
When I reached a restaurant I ordered coffee and breakfast. I have gotten spoiled by really good coffee and this tasted like some instant stuff. But the eggs were very good.
Sitting at the table I started thinking about my route and thought I might try to head to the coast soon. I need long stretches of flat road and I would very much like to see the ocean. It is difficult not to feel a little discouraged, my distances in cycling are extremely short. The effort I expended yesterday was far greater than my longest cycling day of 135 miles in Canada and I had only gone 38.25 miles yesterday. This is starting to feel like an impossible task for me so I need to make more changes, I will find a way over to the coast, and I will look for routes with shorter distances between towns too.
After breakfast I walked up and down the street exploring what was around. I found a little shop along the sidewalk that had chocolate candybars, nothing like chocolate to perk my brain up.
It was very difficult for me to even like this town. I have had so many good experiences in Colombia but this town is a large city and the people seem a bit disconnected. When I try to communicate they seem a bit frustrated with me that I do not speak Spanish. Everywhere else the people had been patient and even would look up stuff in my phrase book really wanting to talk to me. Maybe this is a different culture here or maybe it is because I had gotten a bit negative after yesterday.
There has been no internet access since leaving Pitalito so it is good in a way to be away from facebook and communicating with others right now. I needed to spend this day alone in my hotel room, relax and be alone in my own thoughts.
During the afternoon I did wander off for a late lunch and decided to try to find a map of this city. It is a very large city and I need to make my way to the other side and find the road to Ecuador. I had no luck finding "el mapa" so went into an internet cafe' to get a map printed. The first internet cafe' I stopped at there was a woman helping someone at the counter where she sold candy bars. I stood and waited and as soon as she finished she turned around and sat at one of the computers. I asked her "internet" she looked at the man beside her and he shook his head no and she looked at me and said "no" as if I was not welcome there.
I walked one block to another internet cafe' and the girl was of very little help, she seemed frustrated that I did not understand Spanish, I felt like she was wanting me to just go away. I was able to get a map up of Pasto on google maps and I asked about printing it. She said "no" and went to google images to look for Pasto on there. All that came up were photos, I then reached over and typed "map" at the end of Pasto Colombia in the search box and was able to get an image of a map. Then she took over copying and pasting it to a word document to print. It printed and it looked fine to me. She had no clue how to read a map and had no idea where this business was on the map. So she tried to print it larger thinking that if it were larger somehow she would miraculously learn how to read a map. So I obliged, she printed it and it was supposed to print on 3 pages but only page 1 came out and the other 2 were blank. I asked about the other 2 pages and she just said "no" and then went back to her facebook page. I went back to the computer and by hit and miss able to figure out the Spanish on microsoft word to make some changes and got it to print on several pages. Now I have a large version and she still has no clue, her boyfriend is there now, he is flirting with her and looking over her shoulder with one arm resting on her shoulder and the other hand dangling and jingling his keys. I remembered a phrase that was told to me by the high school students in Bogota, "she likes gasoline". That was a phrase used to describe one of the girls who only likes boys with cars or motorcycles.
I spent 30 minutes on something that should have taken 5 minutes and wasted printed pages. She did not know which way Ecuador was and she did not know which way Mocoa was on the map. I paid for 30 minutes and the copies, which I then left some that were not good copies. I walked out thinking I cannot wait to get back on the road alone in my thoughts. Maybe there is more good in Pasto but I had not found much of yet. I had a couple of encounters were people were rude and appeared prejudiced toward me because I'm not one of them. I am sorry to say but for the first time on this trip I had some really negative thoughts about another person and I was frustrated.
I walked back to the hotel to go back into my isolation for the rest of the day. When I went inside I asked the young man where the hotel was on the map. He looked at the map and took it very seriously. We had a difficult time communicating but he was very kind and really tried to help me. He pointed exactly where the hotel is and showed me how to find the road out of town and to Ecuador. He then said that he can ride with me in the morning if I wait until 9am to leave. Finally I have a positive experience in Pasto! I am not expecting people to go out of their way like this, I only expect to be treated kindly. The young man was very kind and really wanted to help me which is what I have found throughout Colombia so far, I just happened to run into a few of the 10%. Ninety percent of people here are very good people but I think as in most large cities in the world, people do tend to be disconnected. His kindess outweighed the negativity I had just experienced.
For the most part I felt today was a challenge for me to maintain my positive outlook. What is this about, I needed to dig deeper in my own self and ask what these things represent in me?
When I get beyond all those initial emotions that come up and get past the story lines, what I felt was a sense of isolation and rejection. That was a childhood theme for me, interesting I should have that come up for me now.
My past experience has taught me that I need to view these as gifts, and those are my teachers who present themselves when I need it. They are showing me things inside me that exist.
I spent part of the evening cleaning the drivetrain on my bicycle, it was filled with sandy, grimy, gritty mud and gunk. It is very important to maintain a clean working drivetrain or I will experience a failure somewhere down the road. It was an evening of Zen and the art of bicycle maintenance.
Late evening thoughts:
There was a point in time when I made this decision. A time while sitting in a cozy comfortable home I decided to answer the call of the doorknob beckoning me. I made that leap up out of my seat and opened that door. While in those comforts I long for a journey, and at times while out on a journey I long to be back in that soft cozy life. The previous two days I had that longing but I know that this is where my growth will occur. I still have much work for my own soul growth, what is more important in this life we have to live?
I am caught in this story now as I stumble forward in the unknown, a traveler without a destination. I try to hold on to my own truth as I see others who may never understand the destiny of their souls. Their soul cries out to be heard and the cry falls on deaf ears. I try to carry a truth, a message from the Earth but those who do not know their own soul will never understand the Earth.
Life is easier in that state of ignorant bliss, we do not need to care about that plastic bottle discarded from the car window or the careless words spoken. Once we know, once we really know what it means to respect and honor the Earth as well as those around us, we will be on that path. Once on that path and we really know, I mean really get that glimmer, we are no longer ignorant. We become in a state of becoming even though the path does not take us all the way to truth. There is no period at the end of that sentence until we breathe that final breath.
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