Nov 19, 2007 Spain:

You don't experience this from a tour bus.....Part 2

Note: Jacky asked me to post this for them because they couldnt cut and paste at
the computer they were on. :^) read on.....K

Amakuru! (hello in Rwandian) Jambo! (hello in Swahali)

Spain welcomed us to a week's festivities in honor of "All Saints' Day".
As we road into Gerona village at 8:30 pm on Halloween we noticed bicyclists
starting to congregate in the center square. We, of course, approached them and asked, "Que
pasa?" (What's up?) They were interested in what WE were doing on bikes and invited us
on a bike ride around the village...stopping at establishments along the way to rehydrate
(also known as a bar crawl). As we rode through the narrow roads of the village with
100+ Catalunya bikers ringing their bells and chanting, we instantly noticed their
strong expression and pride of being Catalunyain. They explained they feel they are
different from the other Spanish people and want to be their own country. (We now know
what they were chanting...not good things about the king.) The Catalunyas express how
they feel in a nonviolent manner, unlike the Basque in northern Spain who use blood shed to
get their point across.

All Saint's Day was the following day. The streets were lined with markets and
art vendors. People came from all around and the village was ants on an ant
hill. That night we walked down to the Carnival and bandstand area where we were going to
experience more Catalunya culture. At 11:15 pm we asked, "isn't there suppose to be live
music?" "Yes", they answered. "It starts at 11:30 pm." What country starts their music
at 11:30 pm and quits at 4:00 am?...the Spanish. They are true rockstars. As we enjoyed
the variety of Spanish music from afar, Ward decided we needed a closer look. As we worked our
way towards the front of the stage we got caught up in a jumping/pushing type of
movement (?dance?). Ward and I were knocked to the ground and the crowd enveloped us.
As we worked our way back to a vertical position we decided we weren't meant to be in
a moshpit and needed to earn more Rockstar CEUs to be as good as them. As their
celebration was going to continue for 3 more days, we decided we needed to move

From Gerona we went to Barcelona, to Madrid, to Merida and then to Montestario.
Montestario is a small village that had a campground 3 miles outside of town.
We were so happy to find a campground because #1) we were having a very hard time finding
campgrounds and, #2) if we were so lucky...many of them were closed. We decided
to stay a couple of days since our budget liked the price of a campground and the
town offered free internet use...yes, we needed to catch up on our website. We were
frequently warned about the petty theft in Spain. Well, while we were in the library the
first night, we returned to our bikes to find Ward's helmet and my water bottle stolen (we
didn't have any of our paniers, etc with us). So, the second day we removed EVERYTHING that we
thought they could remove from our bikes and headed back to the library. When we came
out, our bikes were as we left them...we thought. We got on our bikes and rode 2-3
blocks to the grocery store. As we were leaving I noticed that my bike didn't feel right.
After closer examination I discovered they removed my front and rear wheel skewers (skewers
are what hold your wheels to your frame). I was shocked that they would do such an act
because if I would have continued to ride on our route, that included a 3 mile descent to
our campsite, I certainly would have crashed as my wheels and frame would have gone
their own ways. It would not have been pretty! However, this has not created a sour
taste towards the Spanish people as I know there are always a few bad apples in the
bunch but it has taught us that when we leave our bikes unattended we need to fully
examine them before we mount them.

Next to Seville where we met up with Frank Pollari and Lacey (also Rwanda
volunteers and friends). We had a relaxing few days touring Seville, picnicing along the canal
and watching Flamenco dance. This is another area in which we need to earn CEUs.
One night we met up with Emily Garrett. She is a friend from Waukon, Iowa and she is
doing a semester of study abroad. Because none of us can afford to go to a restaurant
or bar we went to a local grocery store and bought snacks and headed to the river. At the
base of the Tower of Gold we shared stories, picniced and had the good fortune of being
in the company of a jam session. Yes, our little Fankie on the harmonica and a German
guy on his guitar. Again, you don't experience this on a tour bus.

We are now in Rwanda and have been here for about 40 hours. Our experience so
far has been spectacular. Yesterday was Kigali's Centenial. There was a huge
celebration and concert at the stadium which was only about 1 1/2 miles away from where we were
staying. We started to watch it on TV but decided the next best thing would be
to actually be there so we headed to the concert. It was serial. The crowd was alive and
very accepting of us being there. jWe joined in on the clapping, singing and
dancing. Frankie even played his harmonica to Bob Marley's song "No Woman No Cry". Okay, he
wasn't on stage but the people around us sure enjoyed it. We have also found that these
people are not to be feared. They are extremely friendly and really respect Americans.
Many people have thanked us for coming. We are really looking forward to the next 3 weeks.
There is no doubt that it is going to be a very rewarding experience. That is all I will
write about it for now. We will give a full report when we return to Spain in December.

Take care everyone and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Jacky and Ward