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  • Writer's pictureLisa

Off To The Desert

As always I am off to an early start, leaving the city of Neiva, towards Tatacoa desert. It's an easy 44km ride on quite empty roads towards Villavieja, where the desert starts to build up, at the same time as my "Wow!". It feels like I just landed on mars. I cycle along orange-red rock formations, huge cacti and cotton trees next to the road, towards the hostel, which I have picked, because it has a pool. The idea of jumping into cold water sounds so good, while I am cycling through 40° of non stop sunshine. I reach the hostel after two hours, quickly set up camp and I am off to hike the amazing desert.

After an amazing, but hot hike, I jump into the pool and have a nice talk with other travelers. After dinner I head to one of the many observatories. The Tatacoa-desert-nights are famous for it's night skies. Through several telescopes I get to see the moon, saturn and a few stars. Afterwards I am laying on the desert floor, surrounded by colombians and tourists, listening to a lecture about the stars and outer space.

The next day I am leaving the desert. In two day trips I am cycling towards Pitalito. Two days, of no hunger, but so much thirst. It is so hot, that I am constantly thinking about one thing: ice cold sparkling water. I am camping at a gas station, the first night. It is a huge gas station with a restaurant, a hotel and a lot of gras and one nice spot to set up camp. The nice thing about the gas stations is, that they have free showers as well and a bathroom that's open 24 hours, so even during odd hours, when your body realizes, that it wants get rid of fluids in different ways, than just to sweat...

The next day I am leaving the gas station at six and start a tough day of headwinds, heavy rain and never ending climbing and descending. All of the sudden traffic jams and once I cycle along all the stopped cars, trucks and busses, I see the reason why. Yet another construction sight has stopped the right side of the road. We wait until the oncoming traffic has passed. Once the red "Pare" sign gets turned around to green "Siga", I am already so scared of all the trucks, busses and cars that are about to pass me.Suddenly a cop slows down beside me. "Hey, that's so dangerous! You are going to get into oncoming traffic, on a really narrow, shitty road! Let me give you a lift to the end of the construction site!"

He pulls over and we lift my bike on the back of his truck. Juan-Federic, probably the most handsome police man of this world, drives more than 10KM to Timan, from where It's only 25 KM to Pitalito. But after 10 KM my energy levels tell me to pull over. I stop next to a church. "God, Jesus, mercy and brotherly love... I bet they will let me camp in the garden."

A very excited and very cute golden Retriever puppy greets me. He drops an empty laundry detergent bottle on my feet and runs up and down, waiting for me to throw it. As I am just about to throw it, an old couple walks towards me. I ask them, if I could camp in the garden, they say no, but tell me about a soccer field next door, where I could camp safely.

On the side of the field I am setting up camp, while being watched closely by six year old Gilbert and four year old Maria. They come closer and closer, until the ask me all their questions."Where are you from?", "What is Germany?", "Why are you sleeping on the soccer field?", "How do you get into your tent?"

"I am living over there", says Gilbert and points at the house right next to the field. "And I live in a yellow house, with a brown door!", says Maria.

When do we loose the way children look at strangers? No matter where my travels have brought me, it have always been the kids, that came towards me, without fear, without prejudice and without any kind of intentions. I guess it is true, even the wises person can learn oh so much from children!

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