January 29, 2020
The road is an amazing place. It goes never goes where it points. Three days ago, I woke up thinking I was going to be riding for about 4 or 5 days. I was looking forward to it. When it began with a hard climb, I welcomed the challenge. It was what I wanted to do. There nothing like cycling into the unknown. Such a good feeling.
As I went up a hill I had climbed 2 days before, I noted this curve, that piece of rope imbedded in the pavement. The place where I stopped to recover as I faced an extreme angle, passed, where a dapper man rode past on his wonderful horse, appeared. The long hot houses where tomatoes grow all over this valley, where their angle indicated the steepness of this climb, went by. Many places that reminded me of truing around to return to Villa de Leyva for the solution to a problem.
The road is so full of surprises that, after all these years of trying to follow it I no longer see difficulty in its demands. Returning to a place used to bring stress. What, I have to do this again. I very much dislike U turns. In fact I do not allow my gps to ask for one.
As I rolled back into Leyva I went to a bike shop I had stopped when I first entered the town. They did not have what I needed and sent me to another. There I met Henry. Ok, those who read my stories know where this is going. We engaged each other at once. He is an ex professional racer, a shop owner and a good guy. We talked about the problem. He had all I needed and would get right to work. Well, after we had a cup of tinto. No, not red wine, but black coffee. Colombia has so many expressions that do not exist in other Spanish speaking countries.
After talking for some time, a very attractive female employee came forward and joined the conversation. At least I thought she was just an employee. Ok, time for Henry to get to work and me to go for lunch. The bike would be ready tomorrow morning.
Lunch was good. Near where I am staying, the tourist area, lunch costs between 25,000 to 30,000. Where I ate cost 6,000, for a bowl of soup, a main plate of meat, salad, potato, yucca, rice and a lemonade. At about 3,300 per dollar, that is a big difference for the same meal. After, I walked around, this now familiar town. I ventured further into the neighboring hills and residential areas, learning more as I went.
I have noticed that there is a lot of property for sale in Colombia. That can a few things, people with financial problems, a seller’s market, a booming economy or a failing one. Here I think it is the fast-expanding expat market. More and more expats from the US, Canada Europe and other parts of the world are discovering that Colombia is a safe country with a great climate, good economy, yet very inexpensive.
As darkness fell, I found my way home and settled in to think about this journey and enjoy the bicycle race on tv. A small note. Days are 12 hours long as are the nights, year round. In fact, ex pats tell me it sometimes bothers them that sunset comes at the same time every day.
After breakfast I walked over the Henry’s store to pick up my bike. As before, it was not that simple. First a cup of tinto, a conversation with Henry, then the female employee and then an older woman. Now we were standing around the shop discussing the world and our lives. After an hour or maybe 2 Henry and I settled on the cost. He wanted the parts. OK, how much are they worth to you, I asked. We talked and came to an agreement of a discount if I let him keep the parts. I was not going to take them anyway. I did not want to carry the extra weight.
It came time for me to leave, it was lunch time again. I suggested that Henry and I could meet for a beer after he closed. Yes, that is a great idea, he responded as the female employee nodded her head vigorously. Wait, I did not invite her, but I got no choice.
At 7 I went to the plaza, the time and place for
us to meet. At 7’30 I sent Henry a text saying I was sorry we
had missed each other. Just as I finished the female employee
came up and hugged me. OK, what is going on? She said her
father was parking the car. Then I noticed the older woman
from the shop. This is my mother Andrea said. OK, another
surprise. Soon, I saw Henry round the corner. Here comes my
father, Andrea says. Now, I get it! They are a family. Boy
am I slow.
We got a beer each and sat on church steps at the head of the plaza, talking, meeting various friends, enjoying the warm evening. Henry and l walked around the classic cars parked for a small show and generally did what they do on a Saturday night. Very pleasant evening and a great reward for not getting excited about a problem. So many times, what seems to be a disaster becomes one of the best experiences of a journey.
As I said in the beginning. The road has its own ideas of what a day will be. I just to make sure I listen.