I’m in South America!​ 

Barranquilla, Colombia
Blog #9 Cycling Pilgrimage

I’m in South America!​
Well, after spending about 10 weeks in the US I spontaneously booked a flight to Colombia so, here I am earlier than planned. I got in yesterday which was a Friday but I should have arrived Thursday if it weren’t for Spirit messing up my flight. But because of the mess-up, I now have a story to tell. So here goes nothing…

Meeting Karim​
“You’re the first person to help me,” said Karim outside the airport, “the 5 other people I asked shook their heads, leaned their bodies away from me, and said no but finally someone let me use thier phone”. This is how I met Karim, a 28-year-old from Switzerland who’s spent the last 18 months in Cuba and Mexico. Allegedly, staying in Cuba for 12 of those 18 months.

After he used my phone he helped me find a bus then spontaneously got on too as we continued our conversations about religions and the good and evil in our world. We alighted and I asked if he’d like to walk with me to my hotel and maybe stay with me. I was betting on a room of surplus. Sure enough, we arrived at a pretty decked-out room courtesy of Spirt Airlines. Later, we got dinner, worked out together, and the conversations continued. We enjoyed each other’s company and in the morning we hugged and parted ways.

I know, I know. Be careful of strangers. Don’t let them use your phones and god forbid don’t bring a stranger to your hotel room for the night. And never dare leave open all your valuables with a stranger while you take a shower. But contrary to what you may expect, the more people I meet from all over the world opens me up further. No, not in a careless way, I’m still cautious and I try to prepare for potential threats. But the more and more interactions I have with strangers the more open I get, I think, in a realistic way.  

You see, it’s like I’ve been building up an anecdotal library of evidence which, if nothing else, supports how I, Adam Keen, should realistically interact with strangers and the unknown. It may not apply to you because we are different, maybe we have a different gender, height, skin color, build, stature, gait, or disabilities. But whatever it is about me or what I do is working. I mean, I’d love to tell you how I’ve made it work but it’s so complicated that I don’t know the answer; there are many reasons and even more that I am probably unaware of. So, no I didn’t share that story because I think all people should be more open but I shared that story partly because I hope to expose a world contrary to the fear-mongering that happens daily in our conversations, social media, and news media. Also, I think a common ethos in many of the things I am motivated to write about is about calling us to question common things we are sure about. It’s true that my writing and personality are respectfully-antagonistic.

An Email to Karim
The following is a personal email to the guy I met above. 
Two worlds collided yesterday at the airport. To very different worlds but at the same time all so similar. I’ll never be able to experience the things you have, the way you have. Yet, we have been to some of the same countries, read similar things, and have or had similar interests. Like, Mathew, Mark, and Luke they talk about many of the same stories but have different perspectives. We learn from each one but without one we don’t get as complete of a story. Each story is important, mine, yours, everyones. Differences aside, we can learn from them all if we want to. The tricky thing is that it’s far too easy to dismiss someone else’s reality because it’s different, too foreign, and clashes with values we already hold. But just because it’s foreign or different doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Just different. I’m sure you’d agree that if there is anything that traveling, the way we do, has taught us it’s that there are many different ways to achieve similar results. Moreover, traveling and meeting many different people builds our ability to be empathetic towards others. 

Anyways, the 5 rejections you got before me were necessary to meet me; we wouldn’t have met if someone before me said “yes”. In this way, the seemingly bad in those moments ended up leading to a good and for me, a blessing. Also, without “no” there is no “yes”. They are codependent. Like good and evil, god and devil. To denounce evil or the devil is to simultaneously denounce its unconditional role in birthing good. For it’s from bad that births good (and from good that births bad). If you are in doubt then ask yourself, if there was never darkness could there ever be light? For it was when light was birthed, darkness also. Or up and down. Left and right. On/off. Therefore, I should not desire the riddance of evil because that is silly for it would also rid the good resulting in neither the existence of good or bad. Instead, I should desire an ability to navigate through evil. For this ability also enhances my ability to do good. 

So, I have a question for you Karim. If a yin is dependent on a yang, and vice versa then how can there be a place of perfection and bliss, called heaven, where evil, by definition, does not exist? As mentioned above, they’re codependent. I look forward to your response man. Stay in touch

What about Colombia?
​So far, Colombia has been great. Very similar to the other Latin American countries, loud, chaotic, carefree, and with a touch of anarchy. But what keeps society civilized and flowing, in my opinion, is commerce. Free-enterprise, at that. People, in general, find it in their interest to do good because in a free-market economy you’re rewarded for it and typically and ideally, organically punished if you do bad. 

I’ve got to mention some of the prices of things here to put the purchasing power of the dollar in perspective. A respectable days wage is less than $10. My hotel room with a/c is $7.06 a night. My mobile phone service for 30 days which includes 10gb of data, unlimited social media, talk, and text is $9.13. A 12oz cup of fresh-squeezed orange juice cost me $0.52.

Thanks for reading

By Adam W. Keen

Hey, my name is Adam. I’m a small guy surrounded by big people and a quiet observer in a complicated world, and I am trying to figure things out. I have limited time, resources, health, and capabilities, like us all, but I’m trying to do my best to maximize what I have. Born into a loving middle-class Christian family in Derby, Kansas, USA, I’ve had what people across the world can only dream about, loving and financially well-off parents and over 18 years of exceptional education. I do not earn these things based on my own merits (i.e. birth-parents, birthplace, nationality, race, etc.) and for that I am lucky. Now, it is my responsibility to make something of myself, to take all that I’ve been given and excel.