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Dhaka Tribune

Across USA by Tandem - Part 2


Update : 30 Jun 2019, 05:32 PM

We were stopping sometimes, having food and then again started paddling from plane surface. But the highway started rising upwards and was becoming more painstaking and laborious for us to climb with the increasing height. We were feeling thirsty and having breathing problems. The only good thing was the comfortable weather. There was no reason for sweating but the trouble in GPS service made us sweat. Often we were not getting any network in the mobile. Above it, that place was such an area where we did not get to see anyone. So there was no option to ask anybody.

In order to ask someone or to get the direction, we entered into some business institutions with trembling feet because in USA without permission no one is supposed to enter into any premises. Moreover there were “beware of dogs” and “no trespassing” signs.

It took till evening to find out the address of first campground. It was a private campground. People of that place got acquainted with us, treated us with cold water and also provided us with the location of the next campground. The next campground was a state park. It took a lot of toil to find that out.

The in-charge of the campground said that we could stay anywhere we liked. The rate was very cheap. There was a display where anyone can fill up the form and can submit the money on a drop box. We raised the camp there. Noodles and shemai (a sweet dish) were being made after setting up the burner. We ate full stomach. We had paddled cycle for more than ten hours, so we were very tired but were very hopeful too.

Besides cycling we also had another purpose which was to keep the date of any non-disposable litter on the way. The non-disposable waste products contained products like water bottle, food package, can, glass, bottle and any product which does not get disposed in soil for a long time. Imran’s friends from Massachusetts Institute of Technology made a special platform for us. Whenever we saw a plastic product we used to give entry of that and instantly that would go to our website through Google Map. We had to get up very early in the morning. We used to get up at 5am and started our journey after folding the tent and having some light breakfast. We kept light foods like dates, energy bar and drink along with us. For tea and coffee, we stopped at grocery shops or gas stations on the way. During these stoppages we received some rest too. The journey of the second day was through the trail of unmetalled road which was very painstaking. On one side there was the heavy weight of the cycle and on the other, we had to paddle very slowly. After reaching a safe place, we took shower and went to sleep early.

In the morning we again started our journey. There is a bridge on Columbia river in front of the Vigent campground. This bridge is connected with Sunset Highway. Sunset Highway at present is called I 90 Highway. Many tourists came to Vigent Highway for rock climbing. We started moving through GPS signal. After paddling through 10 miles, we reached a dead end. We realized that we came to a wrong way. Turning back we came to Vigent again. Inspite of crossing a wrong way we did not feel bad at all because the road with little up and down structure had a panoramic view. The view removed our tiredness and we enjoyed cycling a lot. In this way we crossed 20 miles including the bridge and started cycling towards Matwa. On the way we noticed some Mexicans who were plucking cherry. I knew a little Spanish so started conversation by saying Buens Diash Ola Amigo. We asked them and ate a lot of cherries and also took a lot with us. The cherries helped us to remain energetic in the later part of our journey.

The road was very nice. We were enjoying cycling a lot when we reached Matwa city. We saw a number of Mexicans there. There were a lot of onions and beer cans beside the road. There were huge grain fields and fruit trees on both sides of the road. There were also many corn and apple trees. We were waiting in the cross road of three streets to go to Othello from Matwa. We had to ask somebody. Often our GPS network was not working. Even sometimes the mobile network was unavailable. In most of the places of western USA, we did not get the service of T mobile. So in order to get the path direction, we stopped and were waiting for people who can guide us. Suddenly we saw a car was coming and we asked it to stop. There were two people in the car, one was an American and the other one a foreigner. We asked them how to go to Othello. But we were totally unprepared for the man’s answer. Instead of answering our question, he asked us about our religious identity. He asked us whether we were Muslims. We found it very offensive. I told him that it was not the answer to my question. The woman in the car requested him to answer my question; it seemed to me that she was also ashamed of his behavior. However, I did not lose temper, because I knew there was nothing to get excited over and no reason to engage in hateful exchange. It is not wise for a tourist to get involved in an argument regarding religion and politics in a foreign land. As a Rotarian I also knew that getting angry means getting defeated.

That man did not answer my question. I told him: “Thank you for your time.” After waiting for some more time, some Mexicans gave us the direction of the road. We were crossing through that road. Till then we did not know that something horrible was waiting for us. It was noon so our speed was very slow. Our drinking water was almost finished, but there was no sign of human habitats or shops. We were cycling and thinking that wherever we would get a place ahead, we would stay there. But unfortunately we did not see anything like that. Finally we saw a church and with a mixed feeling of hope and fear, we moved forward to enter the church. There was an office beside the church. We were looking for somebody to ask for some accommodation or drinking water. But, there was no one. So we got nothing. As we did not get any source of water there, we gave up the plan for staying there. A little bit away beside the road we saw an RV car and rushed to that. There we came to know that before Othello city there was no place for camping and to go there still it would take more cycling for  4 to 5 hours and that also without water. We became very anxious. Gradually we reached an empty road. Sometimes we started speeding up seeing some habitats from distance but those were also like mirage. The closer the houses looked, the oppositely distant they were. Beside the road, whenever we stopped to see some habitats, we stopped for water. But all the times we had to come back without getting any water. At one point we saw canal and we stopped for taking water. Tying a rope with bottle we finally fetched water. After drinking, we also washed our faces with the water and for some time our tiredness was gone but there were more bad times to come. It started raining; we increased our speed. At last after 10 o’clock at night we reached Othello city. We stopped at a gas station but the same bad luck; the staff girl in the station declared that the shop was already closed. Moving a little further, we saw some shops and entered into a Burger King. That was more than 10 o’ clock by that time. They would also close their shops but seeing our condition, they said “no hurry, eat as you need.” We ate to the full. We took the information about a cheap motel from them. Later, they came to the motel to see whether we could reach the place properly. Most of the staffs working in Burger King were young people. More than half of them were Mexicans. Such visit made us very grateful to them. I said goodbye to them by saying “muchas gracias.” The in-charge of the motel informed us that the owner of the motel was a man of Pakistani origin. We cycled for 83 miles the next day. That was a memorable day of our traveling life.

We got up late in the morning. This time our destination was Moses’ Lake, which was 31 miles away from Othello. We started from Othello with relaxed mood. There was huge greenery all around. People were watering their green fields with modern technology. By noon we reached Moses’ Lake. We withdrew some money took the direction of going to the campground. The camp ground was situated in an overwhelmingly beautiful place beside a lake. Many people were fishing while some were riding speed boats. We camped under a tree beside the lake. There we met a Bangladeshi named Kanak Aditya who is a member of a popular band named 'Joler Gaan'. He is also the chief of Deshal boutique. He lives in USA. We talked to him and said that we listen to his songs while cycling.

Many people had come to that camp ground with their families. The children were playing, fishing, swimming in the lake water and roaming around. Oh, what fun! No traffic jam, no hue and cry and no hurry for going back home.

We dismantled the cycle part by part and cleaned it thoroughly. It was our everyday duty to take care of our cycles. We bought necessary stuffs from a shop near the camp. Imran cooked some delicious dishes and we ate full stomach and then fell asleep.

We started from Moses’ Lake. Our destination this time was Rig Vill which was 40 miles away. After paddling for a while we observed barren fields and grain fields near the road. We got water on the way. The weather was quite hot and we were sipping water every now and then but were still getting exhausted. We had to push the cycle for about two hours, because the road was very uneven. Finally we reached Rig Vill city which is quite an old city. We went to a downtown area and bought banana, cake and energy drinks from a Chinese grocery shop. We used to drink it every day in the whole journey. Monster was our most favourite drink which energized us a lot. We saw a police van and took direction for Four Season campground from them. The entering path towards that place was very difficult to cross. The road was unmetalled and rough but the huge green surrounding it mesmerized us. We reached the camp ground in the evening. There were 5 to 6 RVs. We got acquainted with a man named Erwin. He and his wife also boarded at RV. They were making dinner and offered us chicken and beans. I gave them pickles of Bangladesh. We got acquainted with another gentleman beside and charged my mobile from his RV. It was drizzling at that time, so we could not cook any more. So we finished the food given by Erwin and fell asleep.

We started from Four Season Camp ground for Chenoy. It was a path of 37 miles. Our destination was David’s place. David is the friend of our cyclist friend Rick Gun. A few miles were rough. Because of jerking, we could not sit on the gravel road properly as our hips got ached. In the afternoon we talked to David and proceeded towards his house. On the way, there was a signboard saying ‘cat crossing.’ That day it was Father’s Day. David would take us to his daughter’s place. David’s own place was around 15 acres where only he and his wife live. David was 68 years old. His beautiful house had a huge kitchen. David showed his kitchen and told us to use it ourselves. We boiled rice and fried egg and ate the meal. It was the first time we had rice during the tour. It seemed to us we had not had rice for such a long time. David put our clothes in the washing machine. In the evening we started for his daughter’s place. The road was really beautiful. After high and low patches, there was a lot of greenery. We also saw a deer on the way. We reached his daughter’s place. David took some wine bottles for his daughters and his son-in-law who was a hunter. They have got three daughters. We had dinner together and visited their whole house. Bryan decorated a room with leathers of different animals. He taught us how to shoot. To save our ear from ear bursting sound, he gave us ear plugs. Bryan used to visit Aidath, Montana for hunting. Ha also hunted a bear. He told us his story of hunting in Alaska.

At night we came home and checked e-mails. Rahat bin Jaman emailed from Bangladesh High Commission of Canada. He asked for the address of some Bangladeshis in Mexico. I gave him the addresses. Bangladesh government was trying to open up embassy in Brazil and Mexico. Besides Brazil and Mexico, an embassy would be opened in Panama too. The people who would be posted here will need to know Dutch and Spanish languages. In seven central American countries we have a lot of things to do in fields like business, education, culture. The World Cup 2014 and Olympic Games 2016 will be held in Brazil. Brazil has a strong economy. Bangladeshi people have not inhabited Latin America in that way. But the most number of Bangladeshis reside in Paraguay, Mexico and Brazil. Once I had a talk to the Minister of State of Brazil named George Heg Sobrinho. He invited me to go to Brazil. In these countries, there is ample opportunity for investment for Bangladeshi people. The opportunity in agriculture and tourism is also not bad. Medicine of many Bangladeshi pharmaceuticals is coming to Latin and Central America too.

David showed us our room. We came to our room and uploaded our photographs on our website and flicker accounts. After many days we went to sleep in bed instead of tent.

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