Our_leap_to_Colombia used a famous foreign destination as its stepping-stone, a strange land where we were cultural and lingual outsiders: Miami. Though it was only a matter of months since we last had touched US soil, our brief layover in the States had a surreal character about it. We were all casually speaking English again with complete strangers in that gregarious American way that is so dear to my heart. The cleanliness beside well-lit streets, the bright colors of the buildings, the gleam of infrastructure, the simplicity of clean water from a sink, and the cheeky consumerism of the city all swept over me. “Your wife is hot,” pronounced the emboldened interstate billboard advertisement, continuing in the fine print, “Buy her a new A/C.”
We enjoyed the blessings of a brief home stay, a warm bed, and a home-cooked meal. We even sang for our supper which you should be able to find on our Facebook page. And as quickly as we had become strangely reacquainted with a familiar world, we boarded a plane bound for the cool, stormy, high mountains of Colombia. After assembling our bicycles in the lobby of a very patient hotel, we moved south and are now bound for a region known as Trampolin de los Muertos, literally the Trampoline of Death, a reputation earned by its spectacularly steep, twisty, and remote mountain roads. These are the roads that keep us up at night and that we wake up for in the morning. This reminds me that we could improve our record with regards to waking up early in the morning and climbing mountains. We obviously have much left to learn between here and Argentina.
An education isn’t merely about the acquisition of knowledge, nor is it necessarily just about critical thinking. William Deresiewicz wrote an essay once about leadership and intellectualism that I found very compelling, in part because it pointed to the profound orientation that results from a liberal education. It is certainly important to know things and to hone your abilities to deploy one’s intelligence and acumen. Yet it is also important to think about the right things. And so with every kilometer of solitude, and the privileges of time to read good book and speak with local people that we meet, we see the world and ourselves a little differently with every day of riding. Buried in the debris of our scattered thoughts comes a realization: that with every passing day as travelers, the unknown mountain roads of these strange lands have become home to roaming souls and minds.