A Little Story
Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Riding in Colombia has been interesting and having to readjust to the distances of a large country versus those of Central America has led to a few 8+ hour days on the bike in a row. Mind you, it’s not like riding the interstates in the US. The drivers, roads, endless speed bumps and checkpoints make for a long day of intense focus and concentration. No matter how you try or what you think, there are crazy moments and random delays on the roads. And then there’s rain, typically a couple of times or more in the day but ALWAYS the last hour of the the ride when you’re just beaten down.
Some of the larger towns with decent accommodations are far apart and I seem to arrive about 5:30 just as it gets dark, then have to seek a place to stay since it’s difficult to book ahead when you don’t know where you’ll end up.
At the end of a third 8 hour day with a lot of rain, I rolled into a town utterly exhausted and mentally down at the prospect of having to find a place. I whispered “God, I’d sure appreciate some help finding a place because I’m dead beat” and coasted into a semi-hidden area next to a gas station so I could try to find a hotel on my phone. It was sprinkling and dark and as I started up my phone, the thought came of how nice it would be if someone on one of the thousands of scooters and motorcycles swarming the roads would just pull up and take me to a hotel. As I finished my thought and looked down at the water drops on the screen, a guy on a scooter wearing a baseball cap rolled up next to me. He began speaking to me but I couldn’t hear him and I prepared for the open hand asking me for money. Instead, he was handing me a card for a hotel and motioned for me to follow him. I burst out laughing at the smile God had given me.
We wove through the town to an older and vacant area, to a hotel where I was the only guest, but it had secure motorcycle parking and was clean. The manager and the rider who’d led me there, both carried all my gear to the room and were very friendly though it seemed odd for such a big place to be empty. That brief paranoid thought of how it could be a setup swam through my mind but I was so tired and wet I didn’t care if they did rob and beat me. I got out of my gear, stood my shirt in the corner and flopped on the bed, absolutely starving and regretting not grabbing a snack at the gas station. I’d had a cup of coffee and 2 tortillas that morning and nothing since, having shared all the other tortillas in the pack with some policemen who’d gathered around the bike that morning.
The last three riding days had been long and intense and I'd not had a real meal in those three days, typically grabbing a bag of chips or similar at my gas stops to make time since travel was much slower. For the last day, I'd been craving roasted chicken with potatoes that I'd seen being cooked along the roadsides and had really hoped to have time to find some that evening. Unfortunately, I was so whipped when I arrived I just couldn't face wandering the streets looking for a good meal in the rain and decided I'd just try to find a good breakfast the next day, despite my grumbling stomach.
As I sat there on the bed, staring at nothing, there was a knock at my door and the rider who’d brought me to the hotel was standing there with a menu for a pizza place. Again, I laughed at the answered prayer, though the small pizza I ordered didn’t sound that great, however I wasn't going to complain!
I laid on the bed scrolling channels on the tiny tv, all in Spanish and finally found a movie that was just starting. The first scene was Jean Claude Van Damme waking up in alone in a hotel in a bathtub of ice, discovering that one of his kidneys had been removed while asleep, the bed covered in blood. Perfect. Just what I needed to see.
Moments after, there was a knock at the door, far too soon for a pizza to have been made, I thought. I cautiously opened the door to the guy who’d gone for the pizza, who was holding three plastic grocery sacks. He handed them to me then disappeared. I thought it odd for a pizza to be delivered in three Walmart type bags. I peered into the first and spotted an ice cold 1 liter bottle of Coca Cola. I was elated. I explored the second bag and found a pile of steaming hot potatoes, fried plantains and a bunch of some sort of white rice-like patties wrapped in banana leaves. Wow! I looked in the third sack to find, you guessed it, a roasted half chicken!
I literally burst out laughing at the miracle. What a surprise and an absolute feast! I watched the rest of the idiotic movie and stuffed my face with the best food I’ve had in a long time, smiling deeply inside at my Father’s gift.