Posted by: standing_baba | July 16, 2009

Bucaramanga: The City of Joy

Near Parque Santander, Bucaramanga

Near Parque Santander, Bucaramanga

Foreword: Recently a good friend wrote with several questions about my trip. After I answered her questions, it occurred to me that many of my readers may being wondering the same things. Below, in interview format, is a cut-and-pasted update of my life on the road.

When will you post more poetry? I have many old poems saved, fewer new ones, and a bunch of chicken scratches in my notebook. The comments people leave on my blog are motivating. It makes the whole writing and sharing process seem like a conversation, instead of a weird public diary. Since no one has left comments on the poetry section I thought it was of little interest. Now that I know at the very least you’re reading my quirky word plays, I’ll continue to add more when the time is right.

Where am I? I’m in Bucaramanga, Colombia. Tomorrow morning I head south towards Bogota. I’ve been trying to use my Twitter account as a way to let people know where I am and where I plan to go. Those types of details make for boring blog posts, so I’m using that avenue instead.

Most amazing thing seen? Since I began traveling by bike it’s hard to separate experiences into categories: everything flows together and time, almost literally, doesn’t matter besides waking early to beat the afternoon heat and finding a safe place to sleep before nightfall. More than once I’ve forgotten what day it was. To answer more directly, Tayrona National Park in Colombia, beach camping in Venezuela and Trinidad, and my experiences just hanging with friends in Caracas have been highlights so far.

Least amazing thing seen? Everything has been so varied that I’m just enjoying the differences. I’m past the being amazed at everything stage, but I learn something new everyday. That’s pretty amazing to me. Most of my trip would be pretty anti-climatic if I were just living for, say, the Machu Pichus and Torres del Paines. I’ve tried to seek out the interesting wherever I am. Example: Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s home in Aracataca, Colombia was truly anti-climatic and boring—but the pedicab boy who toured the town with me made the side-trip worthwhile. Recently I blogged about a little village called Puente Canoa which fascinated me. I plan to write another post about it soon.

Am I lonely? The first time I’ve been lonely, strangely enough, was here in Bucaramanga—which made your message all the more timely. Arriving to the largest city yet, after two of the most difficult biking days to date, made loneliness hit hard. Also, I’m staying for two nights in a sex hotel that does little to lift my spirits. Porn on channel two, welcome condoms on the bed, mirrors on the ceiling, the whole bit. I had to negotiate a nightly instead of hourly rate. It’s clean, safe, and even nicer than other places I’ve stayed, but it’s a sad ambienance overall. Since this city receives, apparently, no tourists there are few other economical options in the city center. Tonight I’m going out to dinner with a Colombian friend’s sister and friend. I met my friend when she was an exchange student ten years ago in Nebraska. The loneliness comes and goes, last night I wanted company, tonight I dine with friends.

Have I made friends? I’ve made friends everywhere and everyone is extremely hospitable and interested in my trip. I’m staying in touch with most through Facebook. More than any other place I’ve visited though, the people I met in Caracas have the most potential to be life-long friends. Since I plan to return Venezuela to visit Angel Falls, then later Suriname and the Guianas they’re also the ones I’m most likely to see again.

When will I arrive to Chile? I’ll be Santiago by December 13th. My father arrives on the 14th, then we fly to Torres del Paine to hike the ten day circuit. My mother arrives later to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s in Valparaiso.


  1. Weird..I am going to be in Santiago Dec 19th-26th…looks like you are going to be in Valparaiso, maybe I will head there? I am headed to Peru on the 26th-Jan 2nd. That would be sweet to meet you in South America…I know you are super busy but maybe as it comes closer we could make a plan…

  2. In your last post, a date was incorrect. I arrive in Santiago in the morning of Dec. 13. Be sure to check our calendar so we meet at the airport according to schedule.

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