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  • I never did anything adventurous growing up. I came from a sheltered life, where traveling to the large town an hour north of us was considered a huge outing that took a couple of days to plan. I had never been separated from my twin sister until I went to college and left home for the first time. And then it was to a rustic, small, private college in the middle of the Canadian sticks, with no plumbing. My biggest adventure in my first 22 years of life was to skinny dip under a bridge in broad daylight. Once. Yeah, I was a wild one.

    I had been married and living in Colombia for over a year when my husband and I decided to make a trip to Bogota, to connect with the rest of the world. This usually involved lugging suitcases a mile through town to the bus station, and loading up for a four hour, over-heated, twisting trip that nauseated even the strongest of stomachs. It was to be loathed. And I did.

    "The guerrillas have been stopping vehicles on the pass," Cesar said as we sipped our tinto in the corridor outside our house. "Last week, Chaddy went to Bogota, and got through twenty minutes before they stopped a bus."

    "I thought you said Macarena was paid off by the guerrillas so they wouldn't do that." I sipped at my coffee I had become so accustomed to. Insanely strong and sweeter than syrup, it resembled more of a molasses than a coffee.

    "They won't burn them. That's the deal. But they still stop them and steal from the people and kidnap. I don't think they kill though."

    "Oh well THAT'S relieving," I said sarcastically.

    "It's safer to go by motorcycle."

    "Are you crazy? Out in the open like that? How is that safer?"

    "Because they don't think you have any money. They won't stop you because they think you can't afford anything else."


    "So you want to?"

    "What?" Gulp. "What go by motorcycle? Are you serious?"

    "Well, only if you wan to."

    I rocked back in forth in the lawn chair and listened to the crickets chirp. The heat moved off enough in the evenings to let us breathe easier and we often spent our evenings in the fresher outside air. The quiet life suited me. The leisurely motorcycle rides down town, the stay at home evenings rocking and visiting about the days work. I was not an adventurous type. That may come to a shock to those who did not know me well, but it was the truth. I was not a world traveler, or prestigious missionary. I was just a young woman following the man she loved to his country and home. It just happened to be far away.

    "Yeah, let's do it." I heard myself answer as though I had another answering from my mouth without consulting me.

    We left early. Our motorcycle rides to Loma Linda were to the East. We always left before dawn and followed the sun rising across the platano and rice fields, while the darkness behind us faded into glorious light. Now we left after light and traveled up. Up and up and up. We traveled through the heat of Villavicencio. We began our ascent that took us nearly seven hours. We had not counted on the fact that a small motor was hauling us up almost nine thousand feet above sea level.

    I did not enjoy the trip up. It was grueling. I lamented my decision after two hours of leaning forward to ease the burden of the 120 cc motor. We could not stop for fear that someone would take advantage of two lone travelers on the side of the road, and rob us. We continued on and on with no end in site for hours. Then came the city. We had made it up the Andes mountain and now had to face the concrete jungle of Bogota. Bogota has it's own set of traffic rules. There are none. After seven at night the red lights are a suggestion. There are posts on the sidewalks to keep people from not driving on them. You will know a Colombian driver anywhere when spotted in a city because they would sooner hit a pedestrian than drive over a man hole cover. We swerved in and out of traffic, and meandered through the herds of cars until we came to our final destination and collapsed.

    We were filthy. Each pore on our faces was highlighted by dirt particles. Our hair was matted to our heads, our clothes covered with a fine dust. We were the envy of our crowd of friends. I smiled throughout the conversations I was too tired to take in, took a shower and fell into bed exhausted. I never wanted to do that again.

    Our trip was filled with catching up between friends, buying lucky charms at the nearest Exito, and watching movies that were not hot off the black market, and were crisp enough to make out figures. But it was short lived, and before we knew it, we were headed off for home. On the motorcycle we piled, and headed out. But this was much different.

    Going down is much easier than going up, I think probably in every sense of the concept, especially this one. We glided. We coasted. We flew. The mountains were brilliant blue and green and the clouds hovered over them like fluffy blankets. We swerved in and out of traffic, and around long lines, as if we didn't have a care, and we didn't. It took us three and a half hours from start to finish. We breathed in the fresh mountain air and took in the scenery like a good glass of wine. Slow and lasting. The warm wind greeted us at the bottom of the mountain like an old friend saying hello and we welcomed it. What had started out as torture had ended as a beautiful adventure.
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