I'm writing this at 11am on 1st March. I am all packed and ready to go. My bike is in its transport bag and my suitcase just about closes. I bought so many clothes here that I have stuffed one or two items in my back-pack and I will check that in with my suitcase and bike.
I have a short flight from Pereira to Bogotá at 5.15pm, then a leisurely wait in the exec lounge at Bogotá Airport for my flight in a B787 Dreamliner to Barcelona, both with Avianca business class. The flight time is about 11 hours depending on how strong is the jet stream, it can make quite a difference. From West to East, it is a tail-wind!
I made up with Nini and I have gained a new friend in Mayerlin who I will miss. The trek on Sunday is embedded in my memory - a wonderful experience but very tough at the time! I have so many other happy memories, most of which I have written about here.
My Meetup group here was a total failure! I gained over 40 members but did I see any of them? Nooo (with one or two exceptions who I met separately). No one came to the meetups. No matter, it was an experiment, so I stepped down as Organiser. And I have just quit as Organiser of my Meetup group in Girona which is a big step for me, but maybe not such a big deal for the members.
Last autumn, I saw the writing on the wall, it wasn't fun for me any more. But I stayed on. A week ago, the group had to leave Lapsus, our regular bar because the tables had been reserved for football from 8pm. If I had been there, I would simply have moved to another bar and returned to the regular location the following week. It is not a big deal. Football tends to rule in bars these days, the same happens in my local bar in Celrà. But the group then decided that they liked the bar they moved to and nominated it as the regular venue..... without even a whisper to me. The first I heard was when one of the members asked me to modify the website because they had decided that the regular venue would now be the new bar. I refused to do it, I said that I decide the location after consulting with all the members. I asked the member who wrote to me to give me a week to sort it out because I was coming back very soon. But, no, they met again in the new bar on Tuesday but some people naturally went to the venue which is announced on the website (I don't think they were thrown out). Chaos. Could they not just have given me one week to sort it out? I am a long way from Girona but almost always online and I have a very good relationship with Lapsus.
I decided with sadness that I was effectively redundant, so I wrote a polite message to all members last night and clicked on "Stand down as Organiser". At first, I was a little upset that I hadn't been consulted (I would have said, "Stay with Lapsus for 1 week till I get back") but now I am glad to be out of it. I am not even sure I want to go along as a regular member because I will probably get involved with arguments. Meetup simply doesn't operate like this, members owe a debt of loyalty to their Organiser. It is only an opinion, I don't wish to criticise the members who returned to the other bar, I am sure they felt that it was a great idea and that I would like it too. Anyway I can't even find the location which was sent to me!
Change of subject back to Colombia! I promised Mayerlin that I would come back in October so I will look forward to that, I will miss her. But we can stay in touch with Skype meantime - not quite the same thing, I know. I wanted to buy or rent a house here long-term but I decided that I would wait until the autumn and to see how I felt then. I have a long-term commitment with Nomel and his family in Manila but, unlike Colombia, I don't think I could ever make the Philippines my home. But with much pleasure, I pay the rent for their home and their internet - a family of mum and 5 children, of which the oldest is Nomel. He is a "she", a ladyboy. Or what would be described in the UK as transgender. I chatted with him on Skype this morning for a long time, we love chatting about trans things because I am also having fun being trans these days!
Alex had asked if he could take some of the items that I had bought while I was here but he was on his motor bike in the centre of Pereira and I realised that what I had for them was too much for his bike. So I took a whole load of things to their house around mid-day. It was a very happy scene and they really appreciated a selection of food, two small swing-bins, a baking dish, my blanket, more I think! Nini made me a sandwich with some ham which I had brought and I stayed till about 1.30 when I thought it was time for me to go back to my apartment. But all my bags were packed. We made very warm farewells and, really chevere, I took the Mega-bus as opposed to a taxi back home, first to the centre of Cuba and then back out to Idalia where I have been living.
At 2.30, I settled a small bill for food-used and the transport to the airport with Adrian the owner of my apartment and we packed all my luggage into his car with the bike in its bag on the roof rack. I arrived at the airport at around 3pm, checked in my bags and the bike and here I am in a small lounge next to the departure gate. Unfortunately I didn't get away with free transport for my bike this time and I had to pay the €100 fee. That was expected, it is the normal fee regardless of the class of travel. I think that was a very good deal, €50 each way effectively! They have to take the bike separately from the normal baggage, it goes in a separate hold and next time I see it, it will be in the special baggage delivery at Barcelona Airport.