The greatest thing I’ve ever done is buy a bicycle.
In my twenty-six years of life I’ve had the capability to buy the things I’ve wanted for just about ten years. But out of all the desires, needs, and superfluous material things, only one has stood the test of time. In fact, it’s exceeded all expectations. Though whatever my initial predictions for what pleasure it could bring, I have long since ceased to remember. My new expectations are driven forward by this beautiful realization: I AM FREE.
How recently ago it was 2014, and with fear and excitement I moved to a country called Colombia. Two years later the same bike remains, but now it’s a different color, it carries another name, but within, it’s the still the same; and, the saddle doesn’t hurt my butt anymore, and my legs are definitely stronger. And me? I am feliz, and as you’ve heard before, FREE. I am also alone.
As I embark on a new adventure- on two wheels from the city of Queretaro to Tampico- this thought is my greatest inspiration: I AM FREE. At times, I laugh without restraint, or scream, not from pain, but with ambition. It’s an attempt to voice my feelings, but words aren’t always adequate, and so…I scream! And laugh and cry. I bite my lips and stick my tongue out. I narrow my eyes and open them wide…and all the while, I bike. My legs push me forward at RPMs I never bother to count. My heart and breath are calm, except for the moments in which they are not, but I do not panic. I continue biking. Goals are made and then passed; Destinations are set, and when I don’t reach them, I learn to accept it. First Colombia, then U.S., and now Mexico. I intend to travel all over the world. I AM FREE.
One finds excitement greatly overshadows nostalgia, because to look back you must turn around, but to see forward you need just open your eyes; so, open them, and I’ll share with you a little of what I see from where I sit, when I’m biking.
I see mountains! I see the faces of my family on them; my eyes get blurry and that makes me happy, so I smile, and I tell the mountain I love it. And I do. It’s the most majestic thing I’ve ever seen.
But don’t ask me to rank a bike trip, or a mountain! Gauging beauty is a fallacy; it doesn’t make any sense to me; a road on a mountaintop doesn’t compete with one in a valley; a sunset on the Gulf doesn’t compete with one in Queretaro; it’s no contest. Like us, routes that take us through pueblos magicos y fantasticos have their own idiosyncrasies. Here, a curve on the road, unique in nature; terrifyingly spectacular as you lean down at speeds unimaginable, and there! Secret paths to hidden homes; llenos de Soledad, pero no solos. Across valleys and up mountains; I sweat and then shiver; my spirit never wavers, but my arms do get burnt. It could be worse. I am STRONG. My legs ache but they don’t stop, except when I eat, or to take a photograph. But remember, the true essence of a moment can’t be captured, only remembered by those present; it’s precisely their presence that makes it worth not forgetting. Me and my bike and the road are wonderful; it’s Soledad I’m looking for, and the comfort of platicando with strangers. Kytzia, Rodrigo, Dano, and Shvasti. Just to name a few no-longer-strangers. I sleep on beds, or in a tent. The sky is all lit up, and from here the stars are all mine. The world is sad and full of misery, but that’s not what I see, from here, on my bike seat. I see various realities; discoveries I’d rather experience than read about. I’ll make no New Year’s resolutions this year – I know what I want and what I don’t; I’ll finish some things and others I won’t, and nothing will stop me from what I want most. I want to learn – I want to say names I’ve never heard before; eat food I couldn’t dream of; see things I couldn’t make up, however unbelievable they may seem, even to me. That’s how I know just how incredible life can truly be –a mosaic of real and fantasy.
I camp out on the beach at the end of my trip; it is only me and waves, and all the stars that fill the night sky. My bike’s name is Soledad, because it’s the most beautiful thing that I know, and it will always be my side.
“Soledad era independencia, yo me la había deseado y la había conseguido al cabo de largos años. Era fría, es cierto, pero también era tranquila, maravillosamente tranquila y grande, como el tranquilo espacio frío en que se mueven las estrellas.”