|Having a bit of fun outside of town.
|Glad the terrain is green again.
|These mountains make for some impressive sites!
|A Tamarillo and Dragon fruit a day keep the doctor away.
|My new friend Mandieta
|Not the Amazon, but still an impressive forest.
|Jessica, Tomas, and Tomas' wife Angelica, came to save the day.
|Much appreciated lunch on the road.
|More farms and mountains.
I couldn't believe this was happening. The three of them rode around me on their motorcycles and created a shield for the entire ride. About halfway there, another motorcyclist rode in front of us then pulled off. Tomas stopped to speak with him. The two seemed very happy to see each other. The new rider looked back, gave a half cocked smile, and shook my hand. I told him my name. He gave me a look of sheer confusion after I introduced myself. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone. He pulled up a picture and turned it my way. Now I was the one with a look of confusion. This mystery rider had a selfie of the two of us together! It was Mandieta! The man I had met earlier as I took a break for lunch. I soon found out from Tomas, which could barely contain his happiness, that Mandieta set up the whole thing. He called Tomas and arranged for him to bring me food and water as I neared their city. They were part of the same biker gang, "Afro Racing". What a real dude! This guy pulled some serious strings to make sure that I was taken care of.
The five of us rode the rest of the way to the river. For this last leg I had an extra motorcycle chaperone. When we arrived at the river it was stunning. Kids diving off rock walls, palm thatched huts, a bbq, the whole shebang. We parked our bikes and jumped in. It was beyond refreshing. It couldn't have been any better after a long day scorching in the sun. I tried some freshly made pastries and enjoyed the soothing flow of the river until the sun went down. On out way out we ate some authentic Colombian soup that was leftover from the restaurant. It was great! The lights were out so I couldn't tell what I was eating, but it didn't matter. It tasted good.
|This river makes for an awesome swimming hole!
|Mandieta, Jessica, Tomas, and Angelica chilling in the river.
|The place to be.
After the swim, Tomas invited me to stay at his house in Valledupar. I was very happy to accept. He lived about 15 miles from the river though and it was pitch black already. Normally that would be a problem, but being the cool people that they are the three motorcycles rode around me. They used their blue flashing lights and I pedaled like mad all the way to his house. I was officially part of their biker gang now! We eventually pulled up to Tomas' house. We sat on the sidewalk outside his home underneath the stars for hours chilling enjoying the end of the serendipitous day we just had.
|Teacher for a day!
|A few of my students.
In the afternoon, Tomas and Nelson took me to the park to practice with their volleyball club. I had been suffering from volleyball withdrawal and this helped to sooth it. This was my first time playing on concrete. In the first game I got a good set and smashed the ball. The girls turned away in fear and screamed. One girl looked at me and said "Da-ny-el calm down! We are we-men" with her Colombian accent. I guess I was a bit overly excited to be playing volleyball. The practice was great fun and I loved getting a bit of play time in.
|Colombian Street Volleyball.
When we went back to Tomas' house I got a lot more practice speaking Spanish. This visit with Tomas has really been the first time I have gotten to practice Spanish in depth. Usually it is just me saying "I want two of those." As I point at some random overly greasy fried food to one of the many street vendors. Here in Valledupar, I have been able to have in-depth talks in Spanish with friends that would like to help me improve my Spanish. I was really blessed to be put in contact with such warm and generous people. Tomas and Angelica have invited me to stay in their house for a few more days, while I continue seeing learning about Colombian culture, and trying all the different foods they throw at me.
|Two of Tomas' friends.
Feeling very lucky and welcomed in a new land!