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 couple of 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 second 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 place 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 moto 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 told me to follow him. I burst out laughing at the smile God had given me.
We wove through the town 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 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. I got out of my gear 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.
As I sat there, there was a knock at my door and the rider who’d brought me to the hotel showed me a menu for a pizza place. Again I laughed at the answered prayer, though the small pizza I ordered didn’t sound that great as I’d not had a good meal in a while. No complaints as it was food at least!
I laid on the bed scrolling channels on the 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 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, way too soon for a pizza to have been made, I thought. I opened the door to the guy who’d gone for the pizza, holding three plastic grocery sacks. One contained half a chicken broiled to perfection, the other sack filled with steaming cooked potatoes, fried plantains and some sort of white rice-like patties wrapped in banana leaves. The final sack contained a liter of ice cold Coke and some plastic cups.
I burst out laughing again as it was a feast and waaay better than pizza. He smiled and closed the door with no explanation. 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 inside at my father’s gift.