Gonzalo de la Pena Andreu contacted me through Warmshowers.com, a site set up to help bicyclists find a safe place to stay or a tent site (depending on the weather) while trekking across our country. I cannot fully express the enjoyment our family has realized through this organization. Gonzalo is our most recent visitor, and just like all the others who have spent time in our home, he was a wonderful person with many good stories to tell about his adventures on the road. His life is reflects well a whole new culture that is developing in our world. With new technology, a person is no longer tethered to any one state or, for that matter, any country. As a graphic designer and webpage creator, Gonzoalo is able to bike around the country, stay as long as he likes at any one place and carry his job in his backpacks. All he needs is a wi-fi or a cell phone connection and so he can be at work anywhere he wants. He just spent some time in Pittsburgh then decided to travel to Washington, DC. His first idea was to leave Pittsburgh at 6am and arrive at our home at 6pm. When he told me this, I suggested nicely that he was delusional. After several emails he decided that I might be right and therefore left from Uniontown instead of Pittsburgh which cut 60 miles off the 150 mile trip. Still, this is a very mountainous journey so and I was a little concerned for his safety since he would be arriving in the dark. To make matters worse, it started to rain when he reached the Romney mountain. At 6:30, in the dark and rain, I put the bike rack on the car and headed into Romney to see if I could find him. I did, only 4 miles from our home, wet and tired and anxious to get off his bike.
When we arrived at my home I suggested he take a warm shower, no play on words intended; and then we sat down for some enchiladas that Sue had made for our Mexican guest. It was a great evening, and the road stories flowed like water in a stream. Eventually the night began to have its effect on us so we retired for the evening. Gonzalo asked if he could spend an additional night if the rains continued; of course, we enthusiastically said yes! The next day Gonzalo sat down at the kitchen table to spent several hours working on computer stuff and fixing my old laptop which he graciously did. It was a laid-back day, I worked in my shop, he worked on the computers and quickly the sun was gone. We all sat down for another great dinner and wonderful conversation.
The next morning I made some oatmeal while we discussed Gonzalo,s route. Soon after, he proceeded to load up his gear and strap it onto the bike; goodbyes were exchanged, pictures taken, promises were made to return someday and the time for departure was upon us. He mounted his bike, said one last goodbye and headed down the driveway. In a moment he was gone, ready to tackle treacherous West Virginia roads.
Memorable moments and interesting people pass through our lives every day but most of the time we never even know they exist. Gonzalo was one of these persons. I have said this so often that it now feels like preaching, life is about people! It is not about cars, houses or any other thing one may buy. People are often disappointing, rude and uninteresting but there are so many great people out there waiting to exchange ideas with us. There are so many wonderful and meaningful experiences to be had with unlimited numbers of people in the world. The more different they are, the more potential for learning. Over the last three years we have had three pre-Christmas guests who have been fantastic: one from Japan, one from China and one from Mexico. What could be a better time of year to open our house up and make new friends!?