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Kat Marriner : February 18th, 2008


Our hearts are in the mountains, and no wonder when just around every corner lies the possibility of a surprise.a href=””img id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5168483880643351858″ style=”margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px; float: left;” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ //a Every once of grit and pound of grind is rewarded with vistas of green valleys or soaring peaks. The roads are lined with hibiscus blooms in every color from pale peach to flaming red, only to be out-done by the birds, stunning in their florescent orange and red plummage. Willie and I pick our way slowly from village to village, and in these far-off reaches, we are continuely greeted with great interest and respect. These mountain people know the roads we travel, and each encounter garners a “muy guapa(o)” and nod of /divdivdivdivdivdivdivbr /divThe weather ventures from chilly mist to stunning heat and can change with each bend in the road. Somewhere in the middle, it’s just right. We know that once we leave these beautiful mountains, we are sure to hit heat and humidity beyond any stretch of comfort. So we linger./divbr /div/divdivMost days begin with a steep downhill to a river drainage and then back up another side of a mountain. It’s during these climbs, particurly the rough ones with broken rocks for a road, that my thoughts turn towards our dear friend Susie. She had a great spirit of adventure, and I don’t think she ever met a climb she didn’t like. So when the going gets tough, I first think of Susie and her motto … “If you don’t like where you are, pedal.” That was Susie. She had energy to match Mr. Extreme and she pedaled fast and furious in her short //divdivBut I’m Miss Moderate and had to wonder what my motto would be. I’m such a creature of comfort. When the rains start, I’m more inclined to stop for another cup of coffee. After lunch, a nap sounds pretty good. So as we aim our bicycles towards the next metropolis of Medellin, these exquisite mountain pueblos, with town squares in front of churches built 200-400 years ago, I am captured by the charm and quiet life of the village. I want to stay, and quite often we do find a beautifully restored hotel with rich wood floors, a soft bed, wooden windows that open to balconies overlooking main street. a href=””img id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5168482781131724034″ style=”margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px; float: left;” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ //aWe’re living a life of luxery beyond expectations. Over the last week of pleasant surprises, I found my motto for the moment: “If you like where you are, linger”. /divbr /divWe lingered extra long one morning in Salamina, hoping to get another yummy egg dish whipped and steamed to perfection by the espresso machine. We had it the day before and declared it the most inventive and tasty breakfast so far. But alas, for reasons we’ll never know, the shop wouldn’t open and we opted for an egg on a tasteless arapa, or corn cake with all the flavor sucked out of it. The day ride began with blue skies and another lovely downhill to the river. We turned upwards and pedaled in the late morning heat. By our roadside lunch, clouds we were moving fast with dark clouds threatening. Ah, the downside of the linger! A few more kilometers and the heavens opened just as we ducked under a tin-roofed bus shelter with a comfy bamboo bench. Not a bad place to wait out the rain. Willie and I snooze a little, I loose a few too many hands of gin, and the rain still shows no sign of stopping. Our road is a muddy river amongst the jutting rocks, and the chill has set in. Even Mr. Extreme is reluctant to press on, he’s caught my hesitation to get soaked to the //divbr /divFortunately, we had come upon a panela “factory”a href=””img id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5168483197743551762″ style=”margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px; float: left;” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ //a earlier in the day when the sun was out and watched with intense fascination as sugar cane was pressed, the juice boiled in a huge vat, then reduced in smaller and smaller vats, until it was eventually scooped onto wide, flat bins for cooling. Young men with strong backs swish and swoosh the thickening lava just until the point it will hold a shape. With deft and leathered hands, they scoop just enough of the still hot sugar to fill a mold. Young boys then imprint the cooling sugar with the stamp of the factory. Nothing’s wasted. All movements are choreographed to perfection. Amused by our interest in their art, a “stamp” boy offers us a large round of this rich, aromatic treat of unrefined sugar. a href=””img id=”BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5168488325934503250″ style=”margin: 0px 10px 10px 0px; float: left;” alt=”” src=”” border=”0″ //a/divbr /divSo as we linger awhile in our roadside shelter surrounded by cane, we decide it’s a fine time to pull out the stove and cook up some hot chocolate — Colombian-style. This is a true treat in this country, and available in nearly every cafe so far. We had purchased our own bar of chocolate for some campsite to come, but still needed the sugar. The bar itself is intense like a baker’s chocolate, but when melted into water and combined with our gift of the distinctively aromatic panela, it’s a bit of heaven on earth, and certainly hearty enough to warm us through and give us //divdivAs we clean up, the rain becomes mist and we set out, hoping against hope to make it to Pacora and a hotel for the night. Mud-splattered and wet we reach beyond our strength and press on as darkness approaches. A sharp rock penetrates Willie’s rear tire, but we’re fighting against time now, so he opts to pump and go … pump and go. Passing up an offer to stay at a roadside rum shack, our hearts are set on reaching the comfort of town and hopes of a dry, clean bed. Darkness descends just as we burst into town passed a tree filled with a hundred white egrets. Main street blasts music from every snack shop, bar and cell phone tienda. We made it! It’s Saturday night and the town feels like the Wild West with Honky Tonks //divdivCold, dirty and victorious, we rinsed in the hot shower and tumbled into bed once again. I’ll linger in the warm fleece blankets just a little bit longer…/div/div/div/div/div/div/div/div

2 comments to Linger

  • Bruce Lellman

    Kat,BR/BR/Beautiful writing. I’m lingering on your every sentence. I’m so glad you are having such a nice trip. I know nothing about the part of world you are in so your writing is informative besides being incredibly enjoyable.BR/BR/Thank you. BR/Take care.BR/Lovebruce

  • Heidi

    Hi Kat Willie,BR/We are SO much enjoying reading your blog posts, and in reading about the roads and scenery, it reminded us of the movie “Romancing the Stone”, so we watched it last night — and seeing the STEEP, rutted dirt roads, and the small villages in the moive (Hollywood though it was!) made us appreciate your adventure all the more! We’re glad that Una Machine is taking the time to Linger!! BR/love and big hugs,BR/xoxoBR/-Heidi Kirk

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