Saturday, November 27, 2010
We all leave things behind when we come to Ecuador. Some of those 'things' are harder to leave behind than others. Rachel's turbo charged Miata 'Mazda Speed' (remember 'Zoom Zoom') was her most difficult possession to leave behind. She dubbed her car 'Scarlet' for the red color it so appropriately wore and also for her heroine in 'Gone With the Wind'.
Rachel's new heroine 'Scarlet' rides on two wheels with disc brakes, 24 gears and has a suspension that evens the cobblestones and 'locks out' for the really rugged outings. I don't think we're ready for rock climbs on our bikes yet, but we'll be ready when our bodies and spirits say so. Juan at PaPikes made special accomodations for us to buy this bike. That's the way Juan is. He is a good friend, a very fair, honest, and generous business man. When you are ready to buy a bike, come and see Juan.
Our first ride with our bikes 'Scarlet' and 'Mongo' was to visit some friends who just moved to a lovely home just off Doce De Abril. Rachel quickly learned the technique of timing to get in the one lane tunnel under Avendidas de Americas keeping an out-of-the-shadows profile and a merging speed that allowed for safe dispatch to the other side. Rachel and Scarlet are unscathed and happy. Rachel's confidence is growing quickly and I have no doubt she will soon be going everywhere in town with or without me. She still misses her Scarlet Miata but the memory is fading.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
First a note to Rachel's mother and dad: Rachel is alive and well. In fact she rather embraced the ride down Doce De Abril!
There's no bounds to what Rachel can and will accomplish here in Ecuador. I'm so proud of her. In this city of 500,000 there are probably only 5 women cyclists riding the streets here. Actually, I think that count is very generous, but count Rachel among that elite handful. A while ago I shared on this blog site my first harrowing day on two wheels in Cuenca. Gathering my wits after some close brushes with the Blue Angels of Death (buses) that day I was determined that I would one day ride comfortably and confidently in traffic here. I am proud to say that I am doing just that but it took a lot of fortitude and single mindedness to get where I am. Only in the wishful recesses in the back of my mind did I believe that one day Rachel would join me as well.
We had a great time! Our friend Juan from PaBikes was kind enough to let Rachel try out another Mongoose for a couple hours. The 'goose' that Rachel is pictured in here is not what we've chosen however. Rachel had the opportunity to ride my Mongoose as well and this one simply didn't measure up. Juan was more than happy to upgrade our choice. We ended up special ordering a smaller framed twin to my Mongo, so it is on its way from Quito. Rachel's Mongoose will be appropriately christened Monga. The fact that we will both have independent two wheeled mobility in this city will greatly expand our footprint and keep our bodies firm. You can only begin to imagine how this expands our life here. While other people are jumping on the Blue Angel buses (they are Blue Angels of Death when they are rasping and belching their diesel fumes beside me on my bicycle) we are like free birds swooping in and out of traffic diverting only when the spirit moves us to occasionally ride the sidewalks. It is magical to surge ahead of the Blue Angels of Death and the Yellow Hornets (taxis) in traffic and laugh out loud as we eschew their fares, retain our muscle tone and feel the warmth of the breeze. It was great to share learned strategies with Rachel about which streets, which sidewalks, which tunnels and the myriad of self imposed safety rules I’ve learned to keep yourself in one piece in this town. I love Rachel and her safety is numero uno. Her freedom is numero dos. The bicycle is freedom. Thank you Juan.
Today Rachel is with Dr. Edgar Rodas, one of the most highly esteemed doctors in all of Ecuador. He is a former Minister of Health in the Ecuadorian cabinet. He is the founder and leader of a nonprofit health organization that brings surgical procedures and wellness programs to the poorest of the poor and the remotest of the remote in all of Ecuador. He is the Dean of Surgery at the University of Azuay. He is a modest, warm, talented, unselfish and kind man.
Dr. Rodas’ staff of medical volunteers shares his vision of sustained health and wellness for all of Ecuador. For Rachel to be invited to participate in this philanthropic medical adventure is nothing short of a God Thing. How she came to be connected with Dr. Rodas is another story best left for another time. Suffice it to say I am enormously proud of my Rachel for her courage, grit and determination. Keep her in your prayers.