July 27, 2012
If you are looking for a place to stay on your bicycle travels, amenities are always listed for hotels and resorts. They often include -- air-conditioning, king-size bed, balcony with a view, in-room refrigerator, continental breakfast, cable TV, pool with jacuzzi, golf course, etc.
Even camp grounds often include free wi-fi, miniature golf course, coin-operated laundry, ice machine, and the ever popular, game room with pool table.
What I've discovered in my travels, is the more amenities listed above that are available in my/our lodging experience, the less likely I'll write or speak about it. Great hotels and campgrounds are lovely, but they make for boring stories. Gee that jacuzzi sure was swell, blah, blah, blah.
The above photo was taken in a small town in Colombia. We arrived late in the evening and were told that there wasn't a hotel in town. Nowhere for us to stay. We'd have to move on. It was getting dark, and the next town was thirty plus kilometers away.
A man overheard our conversation and said, "There is a women here in town. She is very kind. She will take in anyone."
Turns out this man was right. Although her house was full, there was room on her property to camp, and she welcomed us with open arms and a hug. We set up our tent underneath the laundry line. It was a stiflingly hot night, and the family hooked up their tiny TV with an extension chord and brought it outside and sat down to watch their favorite telenovela.
We were made to feel part of the family. Her daughter gave us a tour of the bathroom and showed us where we could get drinking water. We didn't have wi-fi, or a surround-sound stereo, but we were surrounded by love. We fell asleep to the night sounds of a small Colombian town -- laughter from nearby homes, parrots squawking high above the trees, radios playing the latest hits, and dogs barking in the distance.
Perhaps the most memorable part of our overnight stay was our neighbor, Victor. Victor slept outdoors just outside our tent. He snored and occasionally grunted. He greeted us in the morning with squeals of delight. Victor weighed in at 300 pounds ... oh, and he was a pig.
Photos by Willie Weir and Kat Marriner
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His books, Travels with Willie and Spokesongs, will inspire you to hit the road, and might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at http://yellowtentadventures.com.