By WorldTeach Colombia volunteer, Andrea Taylor, 2014-2015
Thanks to my time in Barranquilla, Colombia with WorldTeach in 2014, I learned life lessons that I never could have otherwise. Here is one of those lessons that I will never forget.
Meet Pedro aka the definition of happiness and quite the tour guide. He is 10 years old and lives in a small impoverished town called Palomino.
On a weekend trip to Palomino (a small town near Santa Marta), my friend and fellow volunteer Becky and I decided to rent bicycles for the day. Our first destination was a nearby river. As we made our way up the mostly unpaved roads, we encountered several people walking. A little boy asked me where I was going, I told him I was going up to the river. He enthusiastically responded, “Great, I’ll go with you.” Next thing I know, my bike slightly shakes and gets a lot heavier. The little boy jumped on the back of my bike!!!!
I looked back and while simultaneously shouting and laughing said, “What are you doing? I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.” The little boy responded, “Yes you can! Yes you can! Let’s go, Let’s go!” Most of the people on the street were laughing and I look up to see Becky up ahead, laughing as well.
At this point, what other choice do I have?
I’m not a good bike rider by any means. I’m…..let’s say “intimidated” easily by small rocks, bumps or anything that my wheel runs over.
I ask him about a healing scar on his face, he responds, “Oh it’s from a bicycle accident” (……No pressure Andrea…..No pressure!) As I approached my first hill, I’m overwhelmed by this new found responsibility on the back of my bike. Pedro was talking up a storm the whole time. He fearlessly jumps off the back of the bike as we approach the hill and says “Don’t worry, I’ll help you” he starts pushing my bike up the hill while yelling, “Pedal faster, pedal faster!”
I made it to the top! Victory was mine!
Pedro jumped back on the bike and started talking about the fun part. (I’m thinking….what does he mean by fun part?!?) We started down the steep hill, I cautiously hit my brakes every 3 seconds to avoid ending my life, Pedro started saying, “What are you doing? Don’t hit the brakes! Ride without fear, ride without fear!”
After what seemed like hours later (20 minutes), we made it to the river. Pedro scrambled to get his shirt off, which was too small for him and ran for the water. We enjoyed the lake for hours and were joined by other Colombians that made a popular soup called Sancocho that so graciously shared their tradition and delicious food.
When Becky and I went to leave, we only saw one bike. We looked at each other and said, “Where is Pedro?” Suddenly we hear an excited scream from afar and look up the road and see Pedro flying down the hill on one of our bikes with a smile like it is Christmas morning.
We finished out our day after 5 hours and Pedro was still our laughter, entertainment and tour guide. This little boy not only made my day, but he changed my perspective on life. It’s not what we have in life that matters, it’s who we have and what we make of our life that matters. Enjoy the things in life that money can’t buy, conversation, laughter, smiles, wisdom, nature, beauty, walking, swimming, friends and fearless bike rides in my case.