Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lost in translation

When we were getting ready to eat breakfast this morning, a woman was trying to explain something to some English speaking tourists and they couldn't understand her. She came over to me and asked if I could do her a favor and translate for her! I guess my Spanish is getting better. It really gave me some confidence to keep trying. Today was full of Spanish speaking confidence. When we were looking for an ATM we stopped at a gas station to get directions and I was able to drive right to it after talking with the attendant for a while! Who knows maybe I will even get better at talking soon. We started the mornings ride by following the gps for about 20 miles to a dead end where the road was closed for construction, so we had to back track and find a new route. The dead end was worth it though because of the views and the small, out of the way town we got to see. The small town was full of old jeep willys. There was even a shiny red one in the town square with a story on a plaque under it. After the detour we hit the main highway. Wow! It was the first real two lane highway we have been on in what seems like forever. We hauled ass at 80+ for most of the morning. We rolled into Cali and had to do the usual gridlock shuffle, which slowed us down quite a bit. We ended up seeing two motorcycle accidents on the road today. Everybody appeared to have walked away unscathed though. We think that it was a simple case of an avoided head on collision, due to semi trucks taking switchback corners too wide. We saw one that had happened a while ago and one that was so fresh the guy was still pulling his leg out from under the bike. The motorcycles out number the cars here 3 to 1, but I am not sure who wins the crappiest driver award. People pass whenever they feel like it, whether they can see or not! Once we had gotten south of Popayan the nice highway morphed into tight twisties that rolled up and down green grass blanketed foothills. The color green has really become richer after seeing it cover the otherworldly landscape here. When the sun hits it just right it looks like the hills are so soft and fuzzy and so full of life and water that you could wring it out of them like a sponge. Winding through small mountain towns brought our speed down but it was worth it for the view and the people. Kids in every little town were throwing water balloons and buckets of water at passing cars for the holidays. My dad took a bucket to the chest! We laughed and put our visors down in every little town. There was also a seemingly endless number of military checkpoints today, and all of them gave us a big smile and a thumbs up as we went by! I loved it! So many cars and trucks and motorcycles have overheated in the climbing roads. It seems like the buses burn straight coal because there is so much black smoke rolling out of them as they climb. 300+ miles into the day we rolled into a fine campsite for only 5 bucks. We cooked up some dinner and set up the tent next to a babbling brook and watched the stars come out. I saw my third shooting star of the trip and I made the same wish each time. I'll let you all know when it comes true! Camping is so much better than nasty hotels, I sure wish it had been easier to find up until now, but hopefully that has changed. The border is 4 hours away to Ecuador! We hope to make our first South American crossing tomorrow. Getting excited for the equator!

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