December 16, 2011
I had a lot of strange dreams last night, one having to do with a hurricane that I was standing on the edge of, I could go into it or walk out of it, the choice was mine. The other dream had to do with a very large bill from the IRS, more than I have. I remember feeling very disappointed in the fact I have to fly home right now and start working again to raise funds for this bill. There were other dreams too but those are the most prominent in my memory right now.
It was another Colombian shower for me this morning. Only cold water and it was really cold. I had to stand beside the shower, quickly stick an arm under to get it wet, then soap it and then quickly rinse it off. The worst part is trying to stick my head under that cold water. It feels so cold to me that it makes me catch my breath. I have not had a really nice warm shower since I left home, that is one thing I really miss.
It was a very long 4 hour hour climb up to 10,724 feet, followed by a long downhill to 6000 feet.
After the long uphill, I was treated to a very long downhill ride, my video camera had a very low battery that was flashing and it shut off once and I immediately turned it back on so there was about a 10 second lapse in the two videos posted of the ride down.
I did not get the tripod mounted as securely this time so there is some additional movement. The bike is really steady on the road, the bike is not making those side to side movements and swaying, it is the camera making those movments especially with all that downhill wind.
I am glad to have the tires I got, I had contemplated using one of those hybrid tires that has smooth tread in the middle for flat roads and aggressive tread on the edges that grip better on dirt roads. If I had the more aggessive tread on the sides the bicycle would not handle in turns as well due to the amount I have to lean the bicycle to the side while cornering.
There was a military person at a spot I wanted to take a photo of the valley. He was not like the other ones I encountered so far, he gripped his AK-47 as I approached and was a bit standoffish. I told him that I wanted to take a photo of the valley and he said "no photo". I tried to make sure he knew I was wanting a photo of the river and the valley and he finally said something like "cinco mil" with his hand out. He was wanting me to pay him 5,000 pesos to take a photo from his viewpoint. I just said "no hablo espanol" to make him think I had no idea what he was saying even though I knew what he wanted.
I cycled further up the road and found a better viewpoint to take a photo. As I stood on the other side of the road parking my bicycle, two of the big trucks I passed drove by honking horns with thumbs up at me.
I took the photo and then the climb goes on and on. Another long stretch of cycling up the mountain.
It started raining and even though I was cold and wet the beauty was breathtaking. There were lots of waterfalls and tall mountains. Some of the best scenery I've seen yet and because of the rain I was unable to capture much of it with my camera. I did manage a few photos when it became a very light rain.
At one point a car pulled over and a man and woman got out to talk to me. Michael and Loreno were from Pasto and were headed to Ipiales for one night. Michael has limited English but we were able to carry on a conversation on the side of the road. He gave me his number and told me to call when I got to Ipiales so he could tell me which hotel he was staying at. The plan was for me to stay at the same hotel too.
They went on their way and the climb continued, it has go to be the longest one yet, it goes on and on. I was beginning to wonder if I can make it there, I was getting very tired and it started getting dark.
After awhile it gets pitch dark and I keep hoping for more cars to keep driving by so I can see the road. My body was so tired, I had to keep forcing myself forward and start counting each revolution, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc... I did see a lot of fireflies in the night, I used to love seeing fireflies when I was a kid in North Carolina. By this time my eyes were losing focus like when you stare into one of those 3D pictures. My body and brain was tired, it was dark and I even contemplated pulling off the side of the road, getting out my sleeping bag and sleeping. If it was not for the meeting up ahead I definitely would have done that.
I finally made it to Ipiales and stopped at the first restaurant/hotel and asked for a telephone, the woman looked at me strangely and said something in Spanish that I did understand "no" as she walked away looking at me like I'm some sort of freak or criminal I do not know. I continued on and pushed my weary legs after that 20 + mile climb up the mountain. I have definitely decided to take a break from these mountains, 20 and 30 miles up for many thousands of feet in elevation non stop is taking its toll on me. I am going to head to the coast as soon as I can. The amount of energy and effort I expended today was like a 200 mile ride in the US. My longest ride was 135 miles and I was not anywhere near this sore and tired. At times my legs just gave out and I have to stop and take a break for the muscles to recover.
I do like the long days alone in my thoughts surrounded by the beautiful scenery, but I need to take care of this body first.
I pulled over when I saw two young guys talking on a cell phone, I told them "no hablo espanol" and handed them one of my cards so they understood who I was. I pulled out the piece of paper with Michael's telephone number on it to show them and asked "telefono". They were very happy to call the number for me and handed me their cell phone.
In talking to Michael I had a difficult time understanding what he was saying due to the traffic noise, his not good English and my extreme lack of understanding Spanish. He gave me a name of a hotel which was the one he and Loreno were staying at. I could not understand and said I will just find a hotel somewhere, I was very tired and just wanted to get off the bicycle.
I found Noches Bella hotel being the nicest one so far, I passed several dives and thought this might be a decent one.
I was able to get checked in and paid my 17,000 pesos(about $8.50), and after I unloaded my bicycle, I was just picking it up to bring it in when I here "Anderson" (most people here prefer to call me Anderson because it is easier for them to say and Anderson is also a known first name here). Michael pulled up in his car, he apparently went out looking for me and found me just in time otherwise I would have been inside a minute later. He wanted to go for a beer, I said yes but needed to shower first then food and beer. I was very hungry, I had breakfast, a fruit thing and gatorade at the top of the first pass and then an apple and a gatorade copy called Solorade from a stand along the road.
We agreed to meet back at the hotel lobby in 20 minutes, I went upstairs for my first hot shower since being in Colombia! I could've stayed in there for hours. Although my legs ached and knees were sore, I felt mentally rejuvenated enough for company and as I said I was very hungry.
We went for dinner and carried on a conversation to the best of our abilities and using my phrase book. We discussed the concept of being ego-centered versus soul-centered, and the need for a shift if we are to sustain the planet and ourselves. Michael really understood the concept and agreed. I find that the majority of Colombians have a concern for each other and the environment but a small percentage is getting influenced by the Americanization of the world which is becoming prevalent in Colombia too.
I have seen Che Quevera everywhere in Colombia and I asked Michael what he thought of him and his opinion is that Che was for the people. He wanted equality and fought for the injustices. I did not know much about him except what I saw in The Motorcycle Diaries and I thought he seemed to be a very compassionate person fighting for the rights of the oppressed.
We talked until I just could not muster up more strength, I was very sleepy and he drove me back to the hotel. Michael gave me a hug and invited me to come visit and stay at his place next time I visit Pasto. I was very grateful to meet them and have that positive experience at the end of such a long hard day. I barely had the strength for it and I really wanted to crawl into bed but this was a very good encounter.
I find that there is a synchronicity at work, wherever I end up it is as though I was meant to be in a certain place at a certain time. If I would not have had that chance encounter on the road today with Michael, I never would have gone to Ipiales and would have slept somewhere along the road.
It will take me sometime to process what I think of Colombia, the most curious thing is how so many people place their women in such high regard. Is there some sort of machismo underlying and perpetuating this, or is it that the people here admire they beauty of their land and their women? I did discover that it was not appropriate for me to mention that Colombia has beautiful "people" because that includes men and they would think I was gay. In my circle of friends in the US that would be fine without it even crossing their minds.
I've been neglecting writing down the stats from the bicycle computer lately:
miles today: 51.41
total cycling distance so far: 419 miles
actual time cycling: 8 hours in the saddle(it measures the time while the wheels are spinning, total time on road was from 9am to 7:45pm 10.75 hours)
average mph: 5.9 mph (this is only that fast because that one long down hill brought up my average)
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