I’d long since parted ways with my impromptu Colombian friend. That was the way it went there. By now I’d become accustomed to these on-the-road friendships and acquaintances. An oddity in my homeland, in South America a regular occurrence. Fellow riders. Soldiers. Bakers. Truck drivers. Tienda owners. What’s increasingly a function of the internet – giving something a like, a follow, was a much more tangible interpersonal experience in the Cafetero. The genuine interest strangers had in my everyday life was nothing short of a humanizing, grounding experience.
Edivan worked for the coffee federation. Had a sip of Folgers? Chances are Edivan’s hand was in it. We chatted in broken Spanglish. He lived in Chinchina, a poor city at the base of the monstrous 3,000ft climbs to Manizales, my temporary home. He is crazy – about cycling. Dirt, mountain, and everything in between. He’s also, like so many other native Colombianos I met, strong. Really strong. Genetic? Maybe. Maybe it’s being accustomed to suffering to go anywhere on two wheels. My awe at having to work – to suffer – to drop farmers on Huffys from the 80s passed after my first two weeks in-country.
We wandered the backroads around Chinchina, lacing their way through the coffee farms with little regard for topography or gradients most civil engineers shy away from. Huge grins were exchanged, even as we dipped deep into our own wells of pain to crush the incredible, short grades. My Peter Pan lifestyle in South America, unfortunately, wasn’t compatible with the schedule of my companion. Something about work. Edivan and I said good-bye, but not before he (ironically) hunted me down on Facebook. When I come back, the first six shots of guaro are on me.