Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Time for a reflection...

Barra Sallada is a perfect place to do a bit of reflecting. Its a small little beach community miles away from any town. The beach is probably 10 miles long and not a person is in sight. I took a long walk down the beach and listened to a bit of music. David Grey, Hed Kandi, Santana and my fav Miles Davis. It made the walk all that more prefect. As I'm writing this I'm chilling under a palm in the shade just watching the waves roll in. The beach time is exactly what I needed.

I left Panama City with my buddy Mike just over a month ago. So much has happened, so much has been done and so much is still to do.

It seems like yesterday when Mike and I were left off on the side of the road near the Bridge of the Americas outside of Panama City. The shoulder of the road looked all messed up, big rigs were flying bye and that was the first time Mike and I had ridden with cargo bags on a bike, holy crap...that was scary! hahaah! Ill never forget the wide eyed look on Mike´s face when he saw the traffic whizzing by. I'm sure he could say the same about me. It was such a wild time really. So many nightmarish thoughts crossed my mind. Crazy drivers, bad road conditions, Panamanian gangsters if there is such a thing, flat tires, bad weather. I was trying to play every scenario out in my mind. I wanted to be prepared.

Then Mike and I hit the road. We got into a great groove. The people were overly friendly, the drivers respectful for the most part and the weather perfect. We ate great food, found hidden beach spots, explored unpaved roads and met people from all over the world.

We learned a lot about ourselves and the trip. Take it one day at a time, be positive, listen to your body, ¨small chunks¨ we would say but most importantly have fun. We also hit certain milestones with fundraising. We reached $1,000 in donations in what seemed to be no time. Even though fundraising was going well I was and still am overwhelmed with how much we still had to do. Its another huge mountain to climb...and well get there. I want to succeed because the village near Jalapa, Guatemala is in need of building a school fit for the kids. I want to hit the goal for them.

Mike...Hes a freakin champ. He was so pumped up about this trip. At first this trip was about a wild adventure. He came, we rode and hell ya it was an adventure. One cool thing happened to Mike along the way. He started to see and understand that this trip was also about charity work and giving back. Now, back home, Mike is working on a fundraiser party when I get back. He´s working on corporate sponsors but most importantly he´s making sure that I'm still fit physically, mentally and spiritually to get this done!

Costa Rice was about the mountains. It was a turning point for me. The mountains through San Ramon and La Fortuna were insanely big. They were the biggest challenge of the trip so far. It was one of those things where I knew, as I was riding through the steep mountains, that if I could do that I could do anything.

Nicaragua was about getting to know Plan better. Plan, an organization dedicated to helping children, is a grassroots organization that truly cares about the kids. I got to meet with Horacio Torres the inspirational Director of Nicaragua. I also got to meet the people at the local office in Somoto, Nicaragua. Most importantly I got to meet the communities of people and kids in the nearby areas. I heard their stories of challenges and accomplishments. I heard their stories of hopes and dreams of a better future. It was all a first for me. It was moving but overall it was so overwhelming to learn that there are thousands of people living in these conditions. Thousands of kids living on $1 a day. They have dreams just like we do back home. It was an eye opening experience because there is so much work to do.

Honduras and El Salvador has been all of the above. Hours of cycling per day, visiting villages in remote areas and taking some time to visit some beautiful villages in some cool little hidden spots. I´ve had the chance to meet the people that Plan helps in these small villages and also meet people and tourists from all over the world. I love having the chance to tell people about these experiences. It´s so much fun, for example, to have an opportunity to tell a surfer from Australia what life is like on the bike or what life is like in a small community in Somoto. But Honduras and El Salvador has also been a bit of a drag. At times I get a bit lonely and bored, I guess its beginning to catch up to me. Sometimes I would go for days without anyone to talk to.

Looking forward there is so much to do. The donations have slowed down a bit but that was to be expected. Soon it will be time to turn the energy there. Raising $15,000 is not going to be easy. The money is going to a school construction project in a small community near Jalapa, Guatemala. The village has a literacy rate of just 50%. They have something like 400 children and only enough space in the school for around 130. The conditions are unsafe. They desperately need help. I hope to be successful...for them. In a few days I´ll also be able to visit this exact community and the child, Medardo, that I sponsor through Plan.

I'm not worried as much about getting run off the road or of bandits or whatever. Instead I'm concerned about hitting the goal I set. So many people have started to help with this fundraiser. Mike of course, Eric who helps with the marketing of the blog, Cyn who is going to contact Radio and TV stations, Cindu who helps with feedback on the direction of the blog, Chuck at Plan who coordinates everything to help me meet with the Plan people in Central America and Rob who is constantly on the look out with new ideas about biking and routing. Most recently my buddy Evan said he is going to help out with a fundraising party in LA. People really seem to care about this. They see that the cause is a good one. I'm sure it will all come together but I guess I'm just a bit nervous about it coming together. On top of that theres of course the people that have donated so far. When I first had this idea about the fundraiser I wanted people to get involved not because they had to but because they find it fun and rewarding. Its working! This has been such an amazing experience.

So...off to Guatemala and then Mexico. I can´t believe I'm already thinking of Mexico. I cant wait for some good tacos and a bit of tequila tasting!

Peace, Power and Pedal


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