Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Best "Regalito" (little gift)

The making of sugar cane juice.

We headed to Chachi's home first thing on Saturday morning to get to work on the bikes.

We've left the bikes for 4 months before (while returning to Australia for work), but never for this long. And of course, they were a little angry about it.

Neither of them would start.

Roel got his workouts in for the next month by trying to push start both bikes multiple times.

So instead of actually repairing Roel's bike, we spent the entire first day trying to get the bikes started. Raul was at the border, because there was supposed to be some sort of cargo passage between borders. He was kind, and asked to see some paperwork Roel had left on his bike.
Chachi was lovely and welcoming to us. As was her entire family. Her brother was a little annoying and refused to speak to me, but really enjoyed asking Roel if he wanted a drink, only to coerce Roel into buying it for him.

On Sunday morning, we bought jumper cables and returned to the bikes. Funny enough, Raul was there again... as were the other higher-ranking officials. They were all VERY nice to us. Raul asked me to come to his office with him to link his laptop to his phone's wifi. I did, and he was overjoyed when I showed him how to do it himself.

No big deal.

As I went to leave his office and return to Roel, he said

"I have a regalito for you... 90 days..."

And just like "that" it was all good. I nearly wept.

Raul asked about the bikes and offered to bring his truck over to jump start them.

After a long summers nap, both bikes reluctantly roared back to life and there were high-5s and sighs of relief all around.

Amazing to hear these bikes come back to life :clap

Roel immediately went to work installing his new windscreen, Rigid Industries lights and Zarges top case.

Sweet new windscreen (thanks Clock Watcher!) and Rigid Industries lights... The Twin is coming back to life!

His bike happily re-started an hour later, but the Transalp wasn't having any of it. Roel determined that it was likely my battery was dry after being stored in the desert for 6 months. The next morning, although it was a holiday, we found a motorcycle shop open for business and they charged my battery for me. But within a few hours, it was flat, again. We needed to return to Chachi's for more work on Roel's bike, so we asked the maid at our hotel about finding demineralized water for us... she promised it would be no problem, and off we went.

Just a note on the border closing situation, because to the outside world, this is a political situation. But the real-life implications for the people living in this region are devastating.

What a closed border looks like.

Before we left for the US, Chachi had asked me to bring her back a variety of things (sunscreen, makeup, etc. - yes, I thought it was a little odd) and when I had called to confirm she wanted me to spend about $150 in makeup for her, she cancelled her "order" saying that since the border had closed there was no work and hence they had no money. This was echoed by everyone we encountered in the International Zone. While the border closing was proving to be to a challenge for us, it was wreaking havoc on the lives of people whose livelihoods depend on border traffic and the exchange of goods between these countries. In the Guajira, there was no water and very little food. Chachi not being able to buy makeup is, of course, trivial. What's not trivial, is children starving to death. Chachi's newly hired maid had come to Chachi for work because her son had recently starved to death in the Guajira.
While at our hotel, we also met a group of Venezuelan business men who had crossed the border to buy electronics in Colombia to bring back to Venezuela. They described how dire the situation in Venezuela was, also... finding basic products like baby formula, toilet paper and tampons was nearly impossible. Business were folding left and right.

I was able to interview Chachi and her maid for the project I'm doing... Their stories made it hard to keep it together.

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