November 30, 2011
95 deg at 11am and as the day went on, I felt the sun beating down on my sunburn as if someone threw me in a frying pan. I had sunscreen on and kept reapplying it but the heat from the sun intensified my sunburn.
While cycling toward Neiva a car was stopped ahead and it was the man who owns the hotel, he had pulled off the road and waited for me to catch up. As I approached he got out of his car with a big smile, I stopped and we chatted in a word or two. The words mostly lost but the meaning was full and we both understood each other without needing the words. He shook my hand and went on his way.
As I got closer to Neiva there was a small pickup pulled of the road with a man standing there waving me down. There was another pickup pulled off the road facing the other direction on the opposite side. The man knew a little English and we were able to carry on a conversation. He asked me about my trip and told me that he and his friend in the other truck ride mountain bikes in the mountains. After asking me a question he would occasionally yell across the road to his friend sitting in the other truck. Both were very enthusiastic and smiled frequently.
While approaching the outskirts of town there was a motorcycle with two people on it pulled off the road, I passed by and said "hola". Then the motocycle comes up beside me and I hear someoen trying to talk to me in Spanish. I look over to see the crazy old man from Aipe on the back of the motorcyle and then he just yells out "Neiva" as they speed away. I took that as confirmation that I made the right decision to continue on to Neiva today.
Natagaima was at 1083 ft and I cycle as high as 2000 ft going through the hills with some quite steep. I really started to feel it after Aipe, by the time I reached Neiva the elevation was 1,450 ft.
While in Bogota, I was able to connect with someone in Neiva and upon reaching town I stopped at the first "minutos" signs I saw. A lot of people have made a business of selling time on their cell phone. There are no pay phones so it is very convenient to have this service and seem to have at least 2 per block.
I was able to reach Sandra and she drove over to meet me, I unloaded the panniers off my bicycle into her car and followed her through town. There was a bit of traffic and several roundabouts, on one of them I hit a big pothole and lost a waterbottle. I heard something and looked back to see it but I was not going to attempt turning around in this traffic and I still needed to keep up with the car. I made the decision to let it go and will get another one later.
When we got to her house I was introduced to her two sons and was invited to a recital for Nicholas. He was playing the organ and we had 20 minutes to get ready to go. I was way to exhausted from that hot sun; the hot sun searing my sunburn was like being fried in a skillet. So I stayed behind with the older boy Francisco who wanted to stay home. Both of the children are artists, Nicholas plays music and Francisco paints.
I did my best to stay awake and play video games with Francisco, I was very tired and it took all I had to focus on the Futbol game. Of course I was slaughtered 10 to 1!
When Sandra returned we talked a bit about this country, she said it is changing but men come here from Europe to seek a wife because of the strong family connections. The people here traditionally put family at the forefront even over trying to be successful. Family and conversation seem to be very important, also the sense of openness, they talk about everything with a passion and there do not appear to be many secrets. Discussions can seem brutally honest at times but everything is up front and out in the open then people move on and continue getting along. No need to act or try to be a certain way because I get the feeling that everyone is accepted for who they are as long as they're open and honest.
miles today = 58.90
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