Sunday, May 29, 2011

Eternal Springtime

Medellin, Colombia

Pasar el Niagara en bicicleta

When we pulled around the corner on bikes, I held back as a truck came lurching around.  When I caught up, Kelvin tells me "It's a good thing you look where you're going, instead of just following behind."  Never mind getting hit by the car, if I were the following kind, I don't think I'd be here in the first place.

Where to begin.

Amu seems to be the mastermind behind the naming of the WaffleHauß.  6 or 7 times a month the house is transformed into a german waffle making machine, to be sold the next day.  There are about 100 always waiting for delicious consumption in the freezer.  They are super good cold.  And warm too, who am I kidding.

In this hauß, there is homemade bread baked 3 times a week, latin beats playing always.  Everyone speaks spanish & are patient with those who are learning.  Mona, our dog, is super lovable.  Everyone takes care of her, & in that way that dogs become like their owners, she sleeps most of the day (like Amu).  I do what little I can to contibute & try not to step on any toes while I'm here.  When Anna asked me to feed Mona, & offered some spare keys for when I go out riding, an olive branch, I feel Welcome.

Sometimes I beat the day so wonderfully, there's nothing to do but crash at night.  I finally found the flow of the city.  No matter the weather.  There is always something.

Critical Mass bike ride with 40odd locals.  The most beautiful way to see the city is on the wings of a bike.  Through streets we didn't know existed, through areas we wouldn't have been in otherwise.  To the airport plaza, the modern arts museum, and round&round roundabouts.  Whooping on every downhill & letting the brakes loose.  Soaked from the rain.  I broke a rule & panicked on the inside when I got split up, but I get lost on my own all the time & know well enough I can find my way.  So tired I was thinking in French, which never happens.

I love the rhythmic swaying over the mountains on a tram ride.  Everytime is a bit different, seeing the world from above.  Hiking through the forest always means washed out trails & a system of planks to cross.  Thick sticky mud, heavy moss, brilliant flowers.  Panoramas of the city below.  Waking up early to hike through a ravine mistaken for a jungle in the cleavage of the hills.  Dirt paths relocated from landslides, more mud, steep hillsides, bouldering along riverbanks with roots as footing, through the river to the waterfall at the end.

Kelvin is an expert hiker.  I can see how his importance in strategy can map out a different invisible route, or it can be changed to suit you.  I've learned alot from him in the short times we've spent together, probably alot more I haven't realized yet.  Simple things, life skills.  How to chop wood & hitchhiking come to mind.  Accountability on the road.  Going slowly & enjoying it.  Focus.  The finer points of travelling, whatever that means.  Taking things in stride with a sly sense of humour.  He is the difference between a global citizen & a world traveller. 

Finally a mission: to locate a Tejo court.  Tejo is a Colombian game not unlike horseshoes.  (Thus the saying, "Close only counts in horseshoes, handgrenades & Tejo.")  Two teams throw metal pucks towards a box filled with clay & a metal ring in the middle with two pink triangles on it.  Each triangle is filled with gunpowder that sets off a very satisfying explosion.  You are awarded points accordingly, with whoever gets it in the middle of the ring quietly, getting the most points.  And you pay to play the game in beer.
The area I found the court in is 8 blocks from where we live & kind of disreputable.  In such a way that nobody from the house had been there before.
Narrator:  "We were told not to go uphill, but with our new Canadian friend, we soldier on."
We played until someone got at least one mancha/explosion.  Safe enough.  At dusk, there was a group of 5 or 6 soldiers standing just outside watching us play.  My team won 3 times, until the ultimate Canada vs Germany vs Colombia vs Europe match, where Germany marked the pitch with a crater celebrating their win.  As for the area, it's the fine edge between Ignorance is bliss and the Illusion of Safety.

The taxi driver is playing Pink on the stereo.  I ask if he can play some Colombian music, he says his favourite bands are Streetheart & Aerosmith.  We're on our way to PalMahia to see Eliades Ochoa, a guitarist for Buena Vista Social Club.  We'd been told it might start early because of his age, but it's also a Cuban band playing on a Friday.  After ordering we find out drinks are 15x more than they should be.  11$ for a Smirnoff Ice & 33$ for a half bottle of rum.  Alarm bells should've gone off when we found out they didn't serve beer.  The table food for the evening is popcorn & mangoes with salt.  Sneaky buggers.  A learning experience.
The performance is phenomenal.  Danced all night, to every song.  Wearing down the others & going with whatever was thrown at me.  Triumphant trumpets.  Sweating & shaking.  Livid.  This is Living.

It's a funny feeling I have.  It's not excitement or anticipation, but more of a curiosity.  Curious of the road ahead.  What's gonna happen next?

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