Friday, April 3, 2009

Mario and Martina

While Gene and I are a friendly crew, I think it is safe to say that the tandem opens up lots of additional doors to friendships, however brief.

Insert Mario, a friendly man that runs a bike shop in Huehuetenango. On a hunt for de-greaser and a new chain ring, we entered his shop. When we mentioned we were on a bike tour on a tandem, he said, "Is it green? With a trailer? I saw you biking through the central square yesterday. Come in!"

We returned to his shop later that day, and he told us he ran a bar down the street (K-lua, for anyone going to Huehue). That night we stopped by for a drink. Expressing interest in the surrounding communities, he said, "Come to my shop at 1:30pm and I'll show you the hills." Sure enough, the next day he drove us all the way up to the lookout above Huehuetenango -- it felt like we were on top of the planet. Then, we went further down the road to Cuchumantanes, a land of windswept plains, and shared an incredible meal of ram, multi-colored beans, fresh cheese and (of course) tortillas.

Mario is such a kind, generous man. He felt like a father-figure and friend, immediately bringing us into his circle of warmth, largely because he is just one of those people, but also because of our shared interest in cycling.

Another friendship, much more brief, was with a woman named Martina. We had just packed up our tent and camp things when she came over on the field (it was a public space in San Cristobal Totonicapan, outside of Xela). She said, "I saw that you were going to sleep here last night and thought, nooo. Were you warm enough?" We assured her, we were. "Well next time," she continued, "you come over and knock on my door. It's right over there." [my interpretation of the dialogue]

She said lots more -- mostly friendly chit-chat. It warmed my heart. It made me think, in my hometown, if I see strangers camping in the local park, I will walk over and make sure they are doing okay.

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