My Longest Dance with Salsa

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by SalsaRider, Oct 20, 2018.

  1. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    115
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, Coolorado
    MY LONGEST DANCE WITH SALSA


    Colorado Springs, CO
    Mile: ZERO
    20 October, 2018

    On 1 November 2018 Salsa and I will start dancing, from Colorado Springs, Colorado to Ushuaia, Argentina.

    Who is Salsa? She’s my 1995 R100RT BMW airhead, with 110K miles on her odometer.

    Why have I named her Salsa? Because she wears a red skirt (tank) and loves to dance down the roads.

    Who am I?

    A man pursuing dreams. To name but a few: to stand on the Equator in Ecuador, with one foot in the Northern Hemisphere, and one in the South; to explore Machu Picchu in Peru, and to fly over the Nasca Lines; to sleep on a floating island on Lake Titicaca, and visit the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia; to stand in awe at the foot of the Moreno Glacier in Patagonia, Argentina, and to ride some of the infamous Ruta 40; to ride the Carretera Austral in Chile; and of course ultimately to reach Tierra del Fuego and Ushuaia, at the tip of South America.

    What is my route?

    Sadly, due to the unrest in Central America, I won’t be exploring those countries . . . this time. Instead I’l be shipping Salsa on the Wallenius Willhelmsen RORO out of Galveston, Texas to Cartagena, Colombia. Beyond that, I’ll be taking it day-by-day, aiming south.

    Have Salsa and I made other long dances together? Yes!

    We’ve been dancing partners for over two decades now. We’ve danced all over North America, including Canada’s Maritime Provinces, the lower 48 states, Mexico and Baja California, and Alaska. We’ve danced to the top of Pikes Peak, on the Tail of the Dragon, down the Blue Ridge Parkway, on the Bear-tooth Highway, along the Pacific Coast Highway, on the Natches Trace, over the Going to the Sun road and the Million Dollar Highway, and across the Top of the World road in Canada.

    We’ve danced through cities and towns, deserts, forests, open plains, rolling hills, up mountains and down into canyons. We’ve danced on beautiful days, and through rain squalls so thick I lost visibility of the road; through deserts in full bloom; through wind storms so strong they cracked Salsa’s windshield; through freezing and sweltering temperatures, snow and hail; and so on.

    Have we had any accidents? Yes!

    In Mexico we took a spill when blocked by a herd of burros around a tight bend. When riding the Tail of the Dragon I felt over-confident, and twisted too much on the throttle. We ended up in a ditch. In both cases we managed to get up, dust ourselves off, and continue dancing.

    Lessons learned? Yes!

    Don’t get over-confident! Be extra careful around blind curves! Ride with a good amount of “reserves” in mind: for stopping safely; for cornering in full control; and so on.

    Who will I be leaving behind?

    My daughter, son-in-law, and son, my two grandsons; but most importantly Bonnie, my beautiful Navy bride of 34 years.

    Thank you, Bonnie, for allowing me to pursue my dreams! I owe you Italy next!
    #1
  2. Westbay

    Westbay Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2012
    Oddometer:
    30
    Location:
    Galveston, Tx
    SalsaRider, definitely looking forward to following along. I image its hard to leave loved ones behind for a while, but im sure they will be traveling with you in heart and mind. If you need anything in Galveston, contact me.
    westbay
    #2
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  3. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    115
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, Coolorado
    Thanks,Westbay!
    #3
  4. highcountrymoto

    highcountrymoto Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2016
    Oddometer:
    338
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Following! South America is on my bucket list. Looking forward to your insights!
    #4
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  5. semi_driver

    semi_driver Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    Oddometer:
    55
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale Florida
    Following, looks like you’re going to have a blast! In my opinion South America is a better ride if I had to choose.
    Did Central and South America around 2011-2012 I’d love to do it again.
    Safe riding!
    #5
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  6. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    115
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, Coolorado
    9D996451-FF8C-443F-B09B-A53861E914B3.jpeg Colorado Springs, Colorado
    24 October 2018
    Mileage: ZERO

    LEARNING CURVES:

    My departure date is just days away. No doubt, like most long-distance riders, I’ve put a lot of thought into the trip ahead, faced many steep learning curves, and have posed many questions to myself and others.

    Some examples:

    Maintaining Salsa, my motorcycle: Do I have the skills necessary to give her a good tune-up? Change the oils and filters, adjust the valves, and keep her running for 10-14K miles? Am I carrying the right spares and tools? Matt Parkhouse, an airhead mechanic, has been assisting me with these matters; and also Jim Basset, at Pikes Peak Motorsport.

    Riding Salsa: Will I be confident and skilled enough to ride her over washboard, dirt roads, avoid potholes and animals and other objects on the roads? Will I be able to ride her slowly through heavy traffic, make tight turns, and quick stops? Lynn Strickland has helped me learn how to ride on dirt roads on my street bike. The Motorcycle Training Academy, here in the Springs, has given me instructions on “riding like a cop”.

    My Packing List: No details today, but just know that I’ve done my best to pare things down to the bare minimum.

    Spanish: Have I learned enough Spanish to get by in South America? To ask directions, seek help, carry on a friendly conversation? Duolingo, and the weekly Spanish MeetUps at the local library, organized by Kay Strickland, have been very helpful at giving me a base; as well as the invaluable “native speakers” in the group: Angie, Roberto, Sagrario, and Marilou.

    IPhone photography: This is a neglected subject, despite having enrolled in such a course given by Emil Pakarkis. Will I have time to pursue it during my ride? I hope so!

    SPOT GEN3: A satellite tracking device, which will allow me to send an “I’m OK” message to Bonnie, allow her to track my progress, and let me send an SOS signal, which includes my location, should the need arise. Thanks, Marcelo, for this gift!

    Various apps: Take your pick, from maps to lodging to travel advice to iPhone photography to many others. The list of useful apps goes on and on, each one requiring a learning curve.

    Places to see, things to do: I’ve received many great suggestions from friends who have “been there, done that”. These include suggestions and recommendations from Roberto Runyard, Louise Coleen Powers, Efrain Ardini, Reinaldo Pinto, Lynn Strickland, David Riant, Don Cairns, Marcelo Bollini, Lucas Pendino, Valerie Dumond, and others. Thanks for all your great suggestions!

    Points of Contacts (POCs) along my ride: Friends, and friends of friends, have given me contacts along the way. And the list keeps growing! I now have at least one POC in each country I’ll be riding through; and promises of more are on the way.

    Places to stay: Two of the above POCs, already, have offered me places to stay, which I find incredible! Octavio Castellano, in Cartagena, Colombia, told me, “Mi casa es tu casa”, or My home is your home. Fay Binning, in Ecuador, has also extended a helping hand. Thank you, John Cochrane, for introducing us. And friends I’ve hosted in my home — Lucas Pendino and Marcelo Bollini — have also extended warm welcomes to me, should I reach their home towns in Argentina.

    Blood Relatives: Ron and his wife Susan, cousins of mine, have opened their door to me. They live in Port O’Connor, Texas, a mere 100+ miles from Galveston; and I haven’t seen them for nearly two decades. This ride offers a perfect opportunity to reacquaint myself with them, and vice versa.

    Shipping Salsa: Since mid-April, certain countries in Central America have become unstable, and dangerous. I’ve decided to avoid risking any confrontations, and so have decided to ship Salsa from Galveston, Texas to Cartagena, Colombia.

    Lori, of NAVIS Pack and Ship here in Colorado Springs, and Sean and Emily, of Veritas Global Transportation Inc. have been most helpful in helping me make such arrangements. Also Alton, of LC Express, who will provide both Customs clearance and TWIC (escort into the holding yard) services.

    It has been a steep learning curve for all of us, but at this point I believe the “T’s” have been crossed, and the “I’s” dotted.

    The ADVrider group: I’ve been reading some of the Inmate’s Epic Ride reports for several months, and have commented on a few. Still, it took me quite by surprise to get a message from “Westbay” the other day, about my plan to ship my bike out of Galveston, TX, and his offer to help, if needed. Also another innate, “holckster”, offered recommendations and offers of POCs along the way. Unexpected, and much appreciated!

    Until then, I really hadn’t been planning on posting to this group; but connecting with them has changed my mind. I hope my posts will inspire others to make their own rides to Tierra del Fuego, help them learn from my mistakes and grow excited from my experiences, and reach out to other riders when possible.

    My wife, Bonnie: I wouldn’t be making this ride without her full blessings and support. That said, she suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), and during my absence of perhaps 4 months, will have to manage by herself. During these days leading up to my departure, she’s making lists and I’m checking them off, of things I can do, while still at home, to make her life a little bit easier when I’m gone.

    And finally, myself: Am I ready — both physically and mentally — to make such a long ride? I hope so!

    Ask me in a month or two!
    #6
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  7. powderzone

    powderzone Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    453
    Location:
    Calgary
    This is going to be great! South America is a gem and best done when feeling fresh. I’ve followed a few inmates staged rides through SA and met a few people in my travels on extended fly-and-rides that bypassed Central America. They seemed to really enjoy the ride, cultures, people etc and we’re generally in a positive head-space.

    I’ve also met my share of people who were “cooked” by the time they hit Ruta 40 and admitted that they mentally checked out after riding Central America.

    Enjoy and bien viaje!
    #7
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  8. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    115
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, Coolorado
    T
    Thanks, powderzone!

    I hope your predictions are correct!

    Starting tomorrow: 6 days and a wake-up!

    Salsa Rider
    #8
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  9. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    115
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, Coolorado
    5F3566EA-98B6-4037-AD1C-85B873C55838.jpeg 03F303EC-D6A7-44B7-A5A5-1F1C80E845D5.jpeg 65693366-345C-4519-93A5-0FE73EFDB99C.jpeg 5F3566EA-98B6-4037-AD1C-85B873C55838.jpeg 03F303EC-D6A7-44B7-A5A5-1F1C80E845D5.jpeg 65693366-345C-4519-93A5-0FE73EFDB99C.jpeg
    Colorado Springs, Colorado
    25 October 2018
    Mileage: ZERO

    SAYING ADIOS

    Over the years that we’ve lived here in the Springs, we’ve made many good friends and have pursued many hobbies. Several have expressed interest in my trip, and will be following me on Facebook, ADVrider.com, or as part of my email group. It’s nice to have them along for the ride, even if just vicariously.

    Now, just days before my departure, Salsa and I are making the rounds, saying ADIOS, and taking some group photos.

    Missing are shots of our Yorkshire Estates neighbors, the Pikes Peak BMW Riders Club members, and the artists in the Pikes Peak Watercolor Society. Missing are the many friends and neighbors who have offered their help to Bonnie during my absence, which is much appreciated.
    #9
  10. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    115
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, Coolorado
    View attachment 1411155 View attachment 1411155 Colorado Springs
    31 October 2018
    Mile: ZERO

    LET’S DANCE

    Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to Rock ‘n Roll!!!

    Tomorrow Salsa and I will begin our longest dance: from Colorado Springs to Ushuaia, at the tip of South America. I’m anticipating it will be a 4-month, 10-14K mile ride.

    She has new tires, new lubricants everywhere possible, new filters, and adjusted valves and carbs. Matt Parkhouse, an airhead mechanic, has inspected her from top to bottom, and has pronounced her ready for the long trip.

    I feel ready, and so does Bonnie, my wife.

    My Spanish has come a long way since I first started preparing for this ride, thanks to Duolingo, but mostly thanks to the Spanish MeetUp Group, and the “native” speakers who shared their skills and knowledge with the “non-native” members. These included Sagrario, from Venezuela, and Angie, Marilou, and Roberto from Mexico. Thank you, for all your help!!!

    I feel more confident about maintaining Salsa. While Matt and his wife Susannah were galavanting about Europe on their older motorcycles, I finally broke out my tools and did some work on Salsa. I replaced her deep oil pan with one more shallow, which has skid plates. I adjusted her valves, lubed the cables, changed all the filters, and replaced all but the drive shaft fluids with new oils. Upon his return Matt replaced the drive shaft oil, and also the front fork seals and oil, and brake fluid, while I watched and peppered him with questions. He has WhatsApp, and so can guide me through any problems I might encounter along the way.

    My cousin in ready to receive me in Seadrift, Texas; and I’m looking forward to seeing them again, after nearly two decades.

    Once in Galveston, Alton (LC Express) will meet me at Pier 10, provide escort services into the staging area, and assist me with getting Salsa approved by U.S.Customs to be shipped to Colombia. In Cartagena, too, a shipping agent named Natalie will be helping me get through customs at that end.

    Oh, and Mother Nature, too, has left me a little parting gift: 6 inches of snow and freezing temps. Tonight the roads will turn to ice; so my first challenge will be to safely get out of my own neighborhood!

    Let the journey begin!
    #10
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  11. semi_driver

    semi_driver Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    Oddometer:
    55
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale Florida
    Good luck in your journey. Question, you’ll have a lot of gravel going down to Ushuaia, you will change tires when paved roads ends?
    #11
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  12. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    115
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, Coolorado
    Tierra del Fuego — THE RHYTHM OF THE ROAD

    Abilene, Texas
    2 November 2018
    MILES: 700

    It’s Day 2 of my longest dance with Salsa, and we’re both having to re-learn the rhythm of the road. At this point we’ve been through three states — Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma; and are getting deep into our last one — Texas.

    Some observations:
    • Tumbleweeds hugging barbed wire fences, in a thorny embrace, or bouncing across the road right in front of Salsa’s tires;
    • Salsa getting pushed and shoved by the winds, making her lean;
    • Hayfields cut short and flat, like a crew cut;
    • Flocks of swallows, dipping and swirling, like a dark rain cloud come alive;
    • An empty road, running straight as a ruler for 40 miles, without another vehicle on it;
    • Wind generators lining the fields clear to the horizon, their giant blades making the rounds every 4 seconds;
    • See-saw horse pumps, rhythmically sipping oil from the ground;
    • Scrub brush and grasses lining the roads, often peppered with free-ranging black Angus cows;
    • Yards filled with rusting trucks and cars, abandoned houses;
    • Horses, cattle, sheep, goats, and alpacas grazing in the fields;
    • Lonely farm houses, sitting alone, out on the prairie;
    • Cattle pens, and their smells;
    • “Walking” sprinkler systems, sometimes hundreds of yards long, watering immense fields of cotton in a giant circle.
    Once, a large hawk dove for prey across the road, without considering the approaching motorcycle. At the last moment it made a sharp turn, barely avoiding getting hit. It was so close that I ducked!

    And here in Texas, clearly we’re slow-pokes. Even at 75 mph everyone passes us!

    So far, Salsa and I are slowly re-learning how to dance together. A few more days and we’ll have the rhythm down pat!

    Attached Files:

    #12
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  13. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    115
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, Coolorado
    San Antonio, Texas
    3 November, 2018
    MILES: 964

    Tierra del Fuego —YOU CANT JUDGE ...

    ... others by their appearance.

    This evening, after a long day, I stopped by a local grocery store for dinner, parking next to four Harley bikes. Standing next to them were the bikers, all tough-looking. Club jackets covered their chests. Tattoos covered their arms. One had a long knife strapped to his waist. All were Latinos.

    They didn’t even acknowledge me!

    Upon returning with my dinner, I smiled and asked the man who had “President” stenciled on his jacket, “What kind of club are you President of?”

    He immediately walked over and introduced himself, then explained the club’s purpose.

    “We’re a Christian Club,” he said. “We help military veterans, and those who need a little extra help. We take the veterans out for two days, to a campsite, and let them wind-down and relax. We raise funds for the poor, getting them fans to hep with the heat here in San Antonio.” And so on.

    When he learned of my plan to ride in South America, he asked if he could pray for me, and I let him do so. It was a heartfelt prayer, too!

    And while standing there, in the parking lot, the other club members all came over and shook my hand, wishing me a safe journey.

    Nice!

    Wish I had taken a photo, but I didn’t. You’ll just have to imagine their hard looks and appearances, which I’m sure you can.

    And on this ride I hope others don’t pre-judge me, either, as being an old Caucasian “American”, riding on an ancient bike, who probably thinks of himself as superior to others.

    As I learned (again) today: You can’t judge others simply by their appearance. A smile, a handshake, and some friendly words can soon dispel all preconceptions.
    #13
  14. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    115
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, Coolorado
    Semi_driver,

    Possibly! Hard to know at this point; but safety is always first on my list.
    #14
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  15. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    115
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, Coolorado
    View attachment 1418282 Seadrift, Texas
    5 November 2018
    MILES: 1,171

    Tierra del Fuego — THE PROFESSIONALS

    Right now Salsa is sitting in a staging area, ready to be driven onto the Wallenius
    Wilhelmsen RORO, and carried to Cartagena, Colombia.

    Today I rode her from Seadrift, Texas to Galveston, for a rendezvous with Alton — LC
    Express — to hand him the keys and unstamped copies of the Docking Receipt. Ron, my cousin, led the way in his truck.

    Alton needed three copies of the Docking Receipt, and Lori — Navis Pack and Ship — had given them to me days ago.

    Off Alton rode, on Salsa, to park her in the staging area.

    Then it was over to the Customs Office, where he entered the building with the Title and stamped Docking Receipt documents. In half an hour he returned, with the Title and Docking Receipt approved and stamped. Salsa was ready to be shipped!

    My cousin Ron and I headed back to Seadrift, when I got a call. It was from Sean — Veritas Global Transportation, Inc. — with urgent news. “The shipping schedule has changed,” he said. “Today is the last day for you to drop-off your bike for the trip!”

    Until then, all of us thought that I was early. Sean was greatly relieved to learn that Salsa was already in the staging area.

    Sean has also arranged for a shipping agent in Colombia to assist me with getting Salsa cleared at that end: Natalia.

    “Contact her 5 days before the ship arrives,” he said, “Which will be he 20th, not the 23rd.”

    So despite believing that I was days early in delivering Salsa to the staging area, turns out I just barely made it!

    It’s good to have a team of PROFESSIONALS watching your back!
    #15
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  16. lifetravelled

    lifetravelled Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2016
    Oddometer:
    523
    Location:
    Melbourne
    Great writing, looking forward to following along, maybe we will see you in South America.

    Stay safe and ensure you slow down and enjoy it.
    #16
  17. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    115
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, Coolorado
    View attachment 1420526 View attachment 1420526 View attachment 1420524 Seadrift, Texas
    7 November 2018
    MILES: 1,171

    Tierra del Fuego —PSYCHIC MEDIUM

    Susan, my cousin-by-marriage, is a psychic medium. She has had such “powers” since she was a little girl, when she used to see dead people standing in her bedroom, frightening her. Then, she would cover her eyes to avoid looking at them.

    Over the years she has used her abilities to help families and police locate missing children, has helped fatal accident victims “cross-over” into the world of the dead, has written articles, taught classes, and has appeared on radio programs.

    And over the years the voices and visions slowly overwhelmed her. Shopping in a grocery store flooded her mind with visions and stories, she said.

    Once, when called for jury duty, she knew immediately that the accused was guilty, and said so. She was excused.

    Bonnie, my wife, asked if she could communicate with her deceased father, to let him know that our son had purchased a house. “Oh,” she said, “he already knows that.”

    “Is it a curse or a blessing?” I wondered.

    “Oh, it’s a blessing,” she said, with conviction. “I’ve helped many people over the years, and feel good about that.”

    During my stay she shared many fascinating stories with me, some of which can be found on her website: susanaustintaylor.com, if interested.

    Who knows? Maybe down in South America I’ll be receptive to letting a shaman introduce me to Pachamama, or Mother Earth? Could be there’s a whole new dimension to discover and explore?

    Attached Files:

    #17
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  18. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    115
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, Coolorado
    F50B7A1F-F9B0-467F-9D5A-DD58F54855C9.jpeg Seadrift, Texas
    9 November 2018
    MILES: 1,171

    Tierra del Fuego — IN THE CARDS

    The men and women who live in Seadrift, Texas have close connections to the sea. My cousin Rod ran a fishing boat for years, until his back forced him to quit. And my cousin Ron worked as a hard hat deep sea diver, on the oil rigs deep under the Gulf of Mexico, until his retirement a few years ago.

    I lifted his 28 pound helmet, and couldn’t imagine wearing it for hours at a time, as he did.

    The other day Ron took me out to visit Leslie, a diver who once worked for him. 71 years old, Leslie spouted a long white beard, and spoke slowly, his head and lips shaking from a genetic condition.

    My first impression? He wasn’t playing with a full deck of cards. As I got to know him better? He had a Royal Flush!

    He lived at the end of a long road, on 5 acres of land. Tall trees, that he had planted decades ago, shaded much of the property: cypress, sweet gum, and slash pines. A pond, covered with flowering water Lillie’s, reflected their shadows like a large mirror. Spanish moss hung from some of the trees, lending an idyllic effect to the scene.

    As we walked around he pointed out the various plants he had nurtured from their infancy: orange and tangerine trees, filled with ripening fruits, a bay leaf tree, lemon grass, a Passion flower vine, and others.

    Plucking a Passion flower, he held it up to me. “You have to smell this flower,” he said. “It has the sweetest scent!” And it did!

    He tore off leaves of lemon grass and bay, so we could crush and smell them, too; and they were pungent!

    Although he spent much of his life underneath the Gulf’s waves, today his focus is upon creating his own small piece of Paradise on land.

    But prominent in the corner of his living room was his old hard hat diving helmet. A reminder, I suppose, of his long connection to the sea.

    Leslie was playing with a full deck, and Ron led me right to him! It was in the cards.

    Attached Files:

    #18
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  19. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    115
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, Coolorado
    Cartagena, Colombia
    11 November, 2018
    MILES: 1,176

    Tierra del Fuego — WELCOME TO COLOMBIA

    Yesterday, after a sleepless night spent at the empty International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, I arrived exhausted in Cartagena, Colombia. There, ready to greet me, was Octavio — a friend-of-a-friend.

    Soon enough I was settled into his spare bedroom, my “home” until Salsa arrives by RoRo from Galveston, Texas, and I can clear Customs.

    A National Colombian holiday was just around the corner, and the Colombians were in a party mode. That night Octavio gathered a few friends — Elba, Coni, and “Tia” — and off we went to join the fiesta, by taxi.

    I’ve never been on a more harrowing ride! The driver, and everyone else, squeezed through the streets like cascading cars, inches from one-another, falling into the city as fast as the congestion allowed. Pedestrians crossed in front as if they were matador capes pulled over a charging bull’s horns, barely escaping with their lives.

    By the time we arrived at the city center, vendors had outside grills going, touts plied the crowded walkways, and bands blasted loud music that made it hard to talk.

    We worked our way through the heavy crowds, heading straight for “Fidel’, a well-known bar. Revelers sprayed foam on us, touts hit us up, and we passed by stone-still actors, dressed as historical figures such as INDIA CATALINA [ https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/India_Catalina] or fictional ones such as characters from Predator.

    “Fidel” was crowded, and we waited outside for a chance to enter. Then, once inside, everyone danced non-stop for the next three hours to the rhythm of loud Caribbean music.

    Finally, at 1:00 a.m., we left; but spent the next hour milling about with the crowds, and eating from the open-air grills.’’

    Then back home we went, once again hoping the odds of surviving were in our favor. I felt over-exhausted from lack of sleep; but missing such an experience would have been out of the question. Finally, after so many months spent planning and preparing, I was in South America, ready to start riding south.

    Welcome to Colombia!!!

    PS: Now to catch-up on some much needed sleep!!!
    #19
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  20. SalsaRider

    SalsaRider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2017
    Oddometer:
    115
    Location:
    Colorado Springs, Coolorado
    • Tierra del Fuego — TOTAL IMMERSION

    Cartegana, Colombia
    13 November 2018
    Miles: 1,176

    Since I first set foot onto Colombian soil:
    • Saw my first iguana, chomping grass at the airport, oblivious to the passing people;
    • Heard a parrot’s loud squawks from the apartment above;
    • Transitioned from near freezing weather to one with a heat index of 105 degrees;
    • Passed old fortress walls armed with rusting cannons, from the days of yore;
    • Danced Salsa — or did my best — with my host Octavio and his friends, until the wee hours of the morning;
    • Heard music so loud it made my eardrums numb, and my head spin;
    • Ate tasty kabobs from street vendors, and a wide variety of delicious dishes prepared both by Octavio and his friends, Coni and Elba;
    • And have spoken Spanish non-stop, with just a sprinkling of “Spanglish” thrown-in.
    Visiting historical sites will be nice, once I get around to it; but it’s the people that have impressed me the most.

    Octavio and his friends have welcomed me with open arms, inviting me into their lives. “Mi casa es tu casa,” he reminds me often. My house is your house. It’s most genuine and heartfelt, too.!

    Yesterday we left to explore some historical sites, but dropped-by Coni’s place to bid Elba and Tia good-bye. We never left!

    There we met Coni’s three daughters, one of her daughter’s boyfriend, her mother, brother, and another friend who just dropped by as we did, unannounced. We drank together, they fed us, they sang songs and danced with her mother, and of course, salsa music played throughout it all. What I thought would would be a 10-minute meeting turned into another late nighter.

    All of them encouraged me to return with Bonnie, someday, and promised that she, too, would get a warm reception. Who knows? Perhaps we will one day, too?

    What’s certain is that it’s the people I’ve met, and ones I hope to meet, who are going to add much richness to this ride. My new friends in Colombia have certainly thrown down the Welcome Mat!

    PS: So far my Spanish has held up well; but there will come a time when this total immersion is going to overwhelm me. I’ve “Been there, done that” when learning French, years ago.

    PPS: And you?
    #20
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