Bridge Building

Journal #5: Journey to the Indigenous Village of Nabusimake and Reflections on Last Man Power and Biking in General

Bridge Building – the Journey to Nabusimake

After what must have been 10 days in Valledupar, I was determined to get back on my bicycle.  This period in Valledupar, wonderful as it was in hindsight, was something of a struggle for me.   I hadn’t anticipated needing so much time off my bike to manage my ventures, for what must have been 8 days, I found myself announcing, “tomorrow I will be leaving,” only to stay on, one more day...  Finally I packed up my gear, and set off into the Sierra Nevada’s in search of Nabusimake.

Nabusimake is a remote, spiritual village for the Aruacu Indians of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and I was curious to see what surrounded this culture.  The road wooped me six ways til Sunday.  Pueblo Bello, the gateway town to the indigenous village, was only about 60km from Valledupar, but it included a 25 km uphill along a road that was way too narrow for comfort, immensely steep, and mostly unpaved.  It took me nearly 15 hours of riding to reach my destination, the vast majority of which was spent on this 25km uphill where I climbed from approximately 1200 ft to 5500ft.  When I finally reached Pueblo Bello, I took a hotel for the night, before setting out early the next morning in an 4x4 vehicle for the 3 hr ride to Nabusimake.

Describing my experience once I arrived is still challenging.  I was taken off-guard by the extent to which I was not looked at, not smiled upon, and certainly not spoken to by the indigenous people living here.  Perceiving their attitude towards outsiders immediately, I hiked around the outskirts of the agrarian village which was absolutely out of another time, and pondered my life, my journey, and our newly formed power company.  I finally settled on a location alongside a beautiful river which ran alongside the town and sat in awe of the raw power and energy which existed within it.

Nabusimake, like many of the areas indigenous villages I suspect, is without electricity.  For hours I pondered the river’s potential.  I wonder how many before have sat beside such rivers and longed to be able to harness that capacity.  One light bulb in each house could provide families with a few extra hours each evening to sit together and get to know one another.  The ability to charge a cell phone could provide each house with the ability to contact emergency services should the need arise.  God, Internet.

One reason (and I cannot claim it as the primary one) I chose to do this trip by bicycle is to demonstrate to each person that each of us is strong enough to make difficult changes to radically reduce our fossil fuel consumption.  Yet sitting here by this river solidified in my heart the desire to want to do more than just set an example for the world.  I want to help provide the products which enable these changes.  This is the goal behind Last Man Power.

Seeing the people of Nabusimake--a village which had rejected “development” and all that comes alongside it--was a chance to see the other side of what natural energy solutions are working towards.  A clean, pure community, without so-called “needs” which our civilization is built upon.  Of course, I myself have these needs.  After a few hours, I had to return to Pueblo Bello and ultimately Valledupar, for without internet, I cannot work.  The need for a minimum level of power is an inalienable right to me at this point.  I cannot desire a world without quality health services, culture, and basic comforts for the young and the elderly...internet.

nabusimake indigenous village near valledupar renewable power solutions

But this basic level of power...Is it not within our grasp?  I want to return here and scream Eureka as I demonstrate that with a handful of devices that I carried in in my backpack, we can provide a sufficient level of energy for a household.  I wonder what they will say when this comes to pass.

Finding a bridge between this world and ours is the critical task the next generation will face.  This world, which does not look you in the eye or smile and has nothing to say.

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