November 19th 2011
The day began with breakfast that Pilar cooked and then off to Monserrate, elevation, 3152 m (10,341 ft). I thought "oh yeah that will be cool to go see some really old church on top of a mountain". I did not realize we would hike up the mountain for 1500 feet seemingly almost straight up. Really steep switch backs and my breathing was already difficult. Pilar took off and ran to the top, I was not about to attempt anything beyond a slow crawl! Ciro kept saying, "okay this is the worst part here" and once I conquered the "worst part" he would say "okay here is the worst part". This happened like 4 times! When it leveled out a bit I thought oh good were about there, Ciro said "we are half way now". I thought "oh shit can I do this". But in my defense it did make me feel good that I was passing a few locals and I barely even stopped to rest. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and pushed on. That was the toughest thing I have done in a long time. That was worse than the time I carried a 50lb pack for 4 miles up a 2000 foot gain on a vision quest early in the year.
Somewhere about half way up, Ciro pointed to a large building below in the city. He said that he was at this point going up when a large building exploded and the shockwaves caused him to stumble. This happened 15 years ago and was the work of the mafia at that time. It was hard for me to imagine an explosion so powerful that it would cause shockwaves this far away. He went on to say that when he turned around it looked like a big mushroom cloud.
On the bus returning home, there were people who would get on to sell something. The normal routine is the person would get on the bus, pass out a small item or candy to everyone who would take one, then return to the front of the bus where in a loud voice we would begin to hear their story and why they need the money. After a few minutes the story is finished and the storyteller tells the price for the item and then walks down to collect the money. Some people give money and some people return the item. Their is an honor in this because they will not accept money without selling something and do not take more than asked for. One man was selling flutes, so I bought one from him.
Toward the end of the ride there was a young man who just finished telling his story and when he got off the bus he looked straight into my eyes and yelled out "este pais es bueno para ti", (this country good for you), the bus doors shut and he was gone.
We had fun in the evening unpacking my bicycle and putting it all together, Pilar and Ciro were very interested in my gear. Ciro buys a lot of stuff from the states through ebay and immediately began looking up stuff on ebay to buy.
HTML Comment Box is loading comments...