Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What a day!!

The sights from this morning was what I imagined a bike trip to Spain to be. We took small, windy backroads without much traffic that stretched across vast expanses of green fields, linking small Spanish village to small Spanish village, each one marked by an ancient church steeple.

We cycled 30 kilometers and stopped in a little town to eat lunch and wash our hair and clothes in the bathroom sink. Kim drew plants while I played on a nearby swingset.

Then we tried to get back on our bikes .... that´s when the afternoon took its first of many turns. Kim´s tire -- the same one she patched yesterday -- went flat. We tried to repair the tube, but it wasn´t salvageable. She put in her spare tube. That too went flat, and all attempts to patch it went in vain.

We sat on the sidewalk all afternoon, wondering what to do. We were surrounded by crops; there was nowhere but a small ditch to sleep in. We thought we might sleep there, and tomorrow Kim would stay with the bikes while I backtrack 30 km to the nearest cycle shop we know of.

Then a local family walked by and asked if we needed help. They were the first people we´ve randomly encountered who speak English!! We explained our situation and they drove us to a mechanic shop at a nearby town, where Kim bought a tire tube and extra patch kit; then they invited us in for dinner, showers, and a bed to sleep in. I´m writing this blog from their computer.

The couple, Francisco and Isabel, are SO wonderful; both are high school teachers who specialize in tourism and hospitality. They gave us a detailed road map to take with us, cooked an incredible dinner, and welcomed us into their warm, comfortable home.

I love sleeping outdoors -- watching the moon wax, hearing the crickets -- but when you´re cold and stranded and eating stale bread and contemplating sleeping in a ditch, you really, really appreciate a nice home! That´s partly why I love to travel on a shoestring .... it makes you really appreciate the daily comforts you take for granted.