On Driving


Driving and cycling tend to occupy separate spheres of the time/space continuum in my mind, but in Caldas, they’re starting to meld. I was invited to a party at a finca (a country house) on Christmas Eve by some ever-hospitable Colombianos, who proceeded to treat the two lonely gringos like their own familia. I came away from the experience with two thoughts unaffected by the aguardiente and copious volumes of deep-fried deliciousness.

One, Utah Mormons (my upbringing, though no longer) and Colombian Catholics are not terribly different, save I might wager those that swing towards the Vatican vs. Salt Lake City know how to have a touch more fun. Remarkably strong family ties transcend culture, ethnicity, theology, and income. People are people, and tradition is tradition. It’s a comforting fact.

Two, and back to my original thoughts on driving; it’s impossible to get anywhere quickly in a vehicle in Caldas. As we rolled down the La Cabana climb to the finca in the two-door Landcruiser packed with seven adults, Christian and I were both cognizant that we could reach our destination twice as fast on a bicycle. In the US, distances become skewed by the vast interstate highway system, covering hundreds of kilometers in the space of a few short hours. It makes “huge” rides seem far less expeditionary and a bit more pedestrian. In Caldas, riding a mere 70km from home is considered a very long distance, even to those who own automobiles – many people I’ve met don’t know the pueblitas I ride to inside their own department. The social changes as one crosses from one cell of habitation to another 15km away are considerably vast, far more so than in the interconnected sprawl I call my home. It’s astonishing.

And on a total non-sequitur: Rare moments when the ubiquitous green box mode is the best mode – or maybe the algorithms that make the little Canon estimate sunny-16 solo are getting that good. In any case, I’d kill for a rest week with a motorcycle and my old Pentax 6×7 right about now. Or even a 5D with a 50mm, if I’m not being picky.


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