Nearly a week has gone by since I saw the trauma specialist, so howís it gone? I obeyed his masterís voice, actually rested for a full four days, took my medication as prescribed; oh, I forgot the hot and cold compresses, and went for a short walk each day. But that couldnít be helped as stated before, I had to eat! My knee is much better, there is still a bit of swelling but mobility is so good in comparison. Iíve been exercising it regularly, bending it to the point of pain, then a bit beyond. Remember, pain is good, if you can feel it, you know youíre alive.
The fifth day after the doc, I could be found frantically stripping off the damaged items from the bike, at least trying to. Polo, he would be out every half an hour, chastising me for doing too much too soon. Now, Iím sure itís better to do too much too soon, than too little too late; but I wonít start a philosophical debate on that point. He was right in this case! The next morning I woke up stiff, in the knee joint, and decided to take it easy again. It allowed me time to do gradual stretching exercises, by the evening I felt fine for a walk around town.
The sunsets here are amazing; riding through mountains hasnít done a lot for seeing many such sights. Even the desert regions Iíve been in have tended to have the horizons obscured by mountains, great at the time; but boy, have I missed those sunsets. Not that it felt so at the time, I was grateful for the immediate darkness and the complete lack of any reflection into the sky. I guess itís all about being grateful for what youíve got, when youíve got it. How well do we generally manage that one?
I like La Paz, a typical small Mexican city, with a hint of tourism. Different form the towns along the peninsula, there is more than one tar macadam road, and no sign of those dry dusty tracks, the only thoroughfares once off the main road. Tonight I walked far and wide, couldnít find a single unpaved road; shame the pavements arenít in as good condition. Theyíre a nightmare for the casual cripples like myself, not that I could see a lot in the areas I was walking. Luckily Iím not limping too much; a cripple with a camera hanging off the shoulder could be a bit of a liability. But I love these type of walks, go one way, talk a few turns into ever darker sections of the city, and after an hour or so start following your nose and find the way back. Itís a guaranteed way of discovering unseen areas of the city, confidence and a dash of stupidity go a long way to keeping safe.
I didnít take out my camera in the dark dismal places, Iím not that stupid, but tried to capture a bit of night time La Paz. Iím not sure what the business, ďUrreaĒ was; but I think they were taking the piss. I did appreciate the Cathedral, it makes a lovely setting for the city square; itís bland, even ugly, at daytime. The promenade is the cityís nicest feature, though only in a modern western type of way, the wonky pavements and pot holed roads are the real character of this place. If youíre really unfortunate you even find the odd restaurant on these darkened streets, I did and it charged $40 a meal; rather than the 40 pesos I have been paying. At 10 pesos to $1 thatís some difference!
With my knee seizing up it was imperative to exercise it, to keep mobility. And exercise it I did. At least once an hour, despite it's reluctance to cooperate, I put it through it's paces; bending it backwards and forwards. Pain is relative, more pain, more gain; actually not necessarily! Fate sent a German paramedic to the hotel, he expressed his concern over my knee, bastard! The swelling was coming back, seems to indicate the muscle not healed, maybe re-torn; what, more rest, ice, jeezus christ. Just when I was thinking I'd be out of here in a few days!
If I'd have taken the full advice given by the doctor, my knee may have seen ice in the first place, it may have healed enough to initiate a regime of exercise. Never mind, my bike bits haven't arrived from Mexican customs yet, so I need something to occupy my mind. I've run out of English books, can't get any more, so boredom is kicking in. Being able to concentrate on healing gracefully will keep me busy. As well as random photo's caught on the street outside the hotel.
One thing that's taken a considerable amount of time is looking back at Cai's life, and death. The memories, both good and bad; allowing the grief free reign, giving time to release some pain. One night I went through the entire photobucket selection of his photo's. Boy did it ever make me cry! I can't get Internet in my room, so it happened in the courtyard shelter of the hotel. There were only a few people around, I wouldn't have given a shit anyway; why should I?
For about an hour I cried like a baby teething, nothing could have stopped it; or so I thought. I didn't think I could look at a photo of Cai without breaking down; but then it started happening! Seeing that gorgeous smile, that happy face; who couldn't smile when faced with that miracle. And the tears went, to be replaced with a smile, to bring a happy feeling into my heart. Much as it breaks my heart to have lost such an amazing son, it makes me feel so privileged to have had such an amazing son.
Even though writing this see's me in tears, its no longer purely grief, I've a smile on my face as I cry. If eighteen years was the longest I was to enjoy life with Cai, then I'm eternally grateful to have had that time. To have shared what we had was the most phenomenal experience I could ever have wished for. It brought more joy into my life than I could have imagined. It may well have left a void, beyond my ability to see past; but those precious years mean more than any loss ever could.
And so I leave you with the smile that could have conquered the world, one in millions! He may barely have reached manhood, but what a man. Bright, sensitive, sensible, caring, adventurous, fun, loving; the list is infinite. Its a poor world indeed, that won't get to see this person reach his peak. Yet I have a feeling, actually more than just a feeling, that his memory will bring forward many a good deed. The world will still benefit, it's the legacy left behind, the goodness he filled people with. In his memory, from his family and friends, I hope many will follow suite and help those in need, all over the world. Let Christmas be a time of giving, to those who most need it.
Nothing is permanent, not life, not incarceration, and not my injury! I do feel as though Iíve been shut up here, against my will, forced to relax and take life slow. Maybe I needed to, I sure as hell didnít want to, but bide my time I did; with grace and patience. But that is about to come to an end, I now have a reconstructed rack for my bike and the new parts from the states. Phew, about bloody time! Is it Murphyís Law that dictates when you arrange an alternative to compensate for one screw up, they will both come good together? A bit like three buses turning up after thereís been none for hours! And so, I now have a new rack and an old repaired version. Can you guess which Iíll use?
And so my departure is imminent, my bike ready for completion and myself raring to go. I took the bike out yesterday, for my first ride since my accident. The trial ride went well enough, maybe the engine felt somewhat lumpy, maybe that was just me. More than likely it was getting used to the new gearing Iíve fitted. Iíve geared it up to give more efficient fuel economy, about 500rpm less at cruising speed, hopefully it will give 10% better economy. I ended up stripping many parts to ensure there were no further problems, I suspected bent forks or handlebars so took them off to check, they seemed fine! Still, when riding, something doesnít line up straight, tough, itíll have to do; it doesnít seem to affect the handling.
Thereís been concern about the fitness of my knee, is it ready for travel? Getting on and off the bike is a bit uncomfortable, it doesnít bend quite how Iíd like. Using due caution and it shouldnít be a problem; as long as I donít need to dismount quickly Iíll be fine. Applying the rear brake gave a twinge of pain, it was only for the initial few attempts; afterwards it seemed to ease off. Iím content this will rapidly improve, stiffness can be worked out every hour or so whilst riding. When lurching over a large lump in the road there was no pain at all, thatís a relief! Hey, Iíll not tackle any off road sections until fully fit, easy!
With me and the bike sorted, its full steam ahead; Honduras next stop. An estimated 3,000 miles before Christmas; it only sounds a lot. I rode about 800 miles, in little more than ten hours, from the Grand Canyon back to Ojai. I have about 18 days to get to Utila, off the Honduran coast; so in my uniquely blasť manner, no sweat! Iíll most likely bypass the flooded area of Tabasco, to save time and a mud bath. And Iím not going to spend any time in Guatemala, a swift ride through, only stopping at the border, to view the Mayan ruins at Copan.
Re-reading emails brought me to this poem, I donít know who wrote it, it was sent by a friend when Cai died. It struck a chord, it sums up so succinctly how my mind and emotions have been through my ordeal. I realise physically Iíve ostracised myself from you all, but in my heart youíve all been with me, through the written word. Donít ever let anyone kid you otherwise, facing such loss is unbearably confusing. Please donít forget though, life goes on! It may take a long time for those closest to Caiís heart. Support and understanding shouldnít be a flash in the pan, and I donít state that on my own behalf! Consider how close to their hearts some keep their grief, not wanting to seem unable to cope, keeping a brave face, a facade!
Hold me close and go away
Please visit me and please don't stay
Talk to me but please don't speak
I need you now - come back next week.
Emotions muddled, needs unknown
To be with others, or on my own?
To scream out loud? To rant and shout?
Or hideaway and push you out?
I smile at you - "he's not that bad"
I shout at you "he's going mad"
I speak to you - "What do I say"
I show my tears - "quick walk away"
Itís not catching, the grief I feel
I can't pretend that itís not real
I carry on as best I know
But this pain inside just won't go.
So, true friends, please accept the lot
I shout, I cry, I lose the plot
I don't know what I need today
So hold me close and go away.
Iíd like to share photos of the natty dread kid with you this time, it was so nice to see Cai rise to the bait and grow dreads. A delight to see him put to shame those around him, who so desperately wanted to grow them naturally. I personally thought theyíd be frowned upon by the idiots at American immigration, and bless him, he combed them out before we left home. How I wish I could still be disgusted by picking his mankey hair out the bath plug hole. And ainít I ever glad I never bothered him about it! Such is life, and such are the memories we can smile at.
Back on the road at last, it was a fifteen hour ferry journey but the time passed fast enough, itīs amazing how a belly of beer can help you settle down and sleep on such a boring journey. There was doubt about getting a ticket, I didnīt worry; very few ships are too short on room to fit in a motorcycle. I only had to wait for six hours at the ferry port, a good lesson in patience! Why is it that whenever I leave my camera packed I see something great to photo. As we pulled out of port I missed a superb chance! An Osprey swooped down, grabbed a fish and shook itself free of water in midair, a bit like your friendly Labrador. It then flew within two metres of where I stood on deck! How lovely was that?
The ride from Mazatlan was tremendous, incredible gain in altitude, and phenomenal numbers of bends. OK, so the road is called the road of 1000 bends, that really is an understatement. I fail to believe there is only an average of three bends per kilometre, it was a wonderful ride. The bike is as good as ever, my enjoyment riding has not diminished in the slightest, not that I expected it to! I meet up with another rider, on a 1200cc BMW, shame his big heavy beast meant the ride was a touch slower than I would have liked. I felt sorry for Mike having to heave the beast around, I definitely feel Iīve got the perfect bike for me. I couldn't pick up anything heavier, and couldn't afford anything else new!
After Baja the mainland feels massively different, no hot desert so far for a start. High, lush hills with deep verdant valleys abound. The amount of domestic agriculture is considerably more than I ever witnessed riding through Baja. The only domestic planting I saw there was plantations of Cacti, I believe these were for consumption, they looked like prickly pear. But the people here are as friendly as ever, forever smiling, wishing us well. whenever parked up the passing drivers would be waving out their windows, big smiles and lovely attitudes. It made us feel like celebrities! I have to admit though, the city of Durango is a nightmare riding around at least compared to La Paz. It took ages to find a hotel, the first few were auto hotels. But with names like Viagra we thought they were not your run of the mill hotels, really did look more like knocking shops too. Oh well, it worked out fine eventually! We got a nice hotel, secure parking and twin beds; phew!
So far all the roads have been in good condition, well tarmaced and not overcrowded, except the city, of course. In fact we ended riding off road round some squalid part of the city, trying to find our way back onto the road weīd arrived on. I know I wasnīt going to ride off road yet, but felt obliged to follow the other guy, he had GPS and was leading the way. They do tend to make you lazy though, push a button and rely on that. It got us lost in Mazatlan, not badly though, and I also got us lost; or did I just find our way back to the dock? So in the end common sense prevailed and we followed the coast until finding the correct road sign. It was only a short spell trying to orientate ourselves, and it was all done in good humour. I felt glad to be riding again, it would have been difficult to feel otherwise.
I quickly found myself in a relaxed mood, content, relieved even; I was surprised not to be overly excited! The feeling pervaded almost straight away, which is why I didnīt mind getting lost in the city. Each time I stopped, I felt relieved, peaceful; the only time I felt really buzzing was reaching the Tropic of Cancer. This brought out a bubbling enthusiasm, a photo session at the sign ensued, a sense of achievement flooded through me. And when we pulled away, I was awash with grief! Cai should have been here to share this, that would have made it right. I donīt think there was any guilt at feeling full of excitement, it was purely how deeply I would have liked to share this with him. I cried for miles, couldnīt stop myself, didnīt want to! It feels the depth of grief will never go away, not that I want such deep feelings for Cai to diminish, in fact I donīt know what I want. It means so much to feel the depth of grief I have, isn't it purely a mark of the love I hold for Cai!
But my mood has taken a nose dive, I lost the power supply for my laptop, so this is using the last 20% of available power. I'm going to be lost without it, I've grown so used to it in my weeks on confinement. It's been a lifeline to everyone, and now I feel so distant, so isolated. I keep reminding myself that I'd planned the trip without a computer, that I'd intended to use Internet cafes. Another lesson in how much you take things for granted, only when you lose it do you really appreciate what you had. So take heed, cherish those things that bring you joy, don't take them for granted. And I course it's obvious, I don't really mean material possessions; it was the contact with all those who mean so much to me.
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