Don't forget to have your mom bless you before you go for a ride

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Hernan Herron is blessed by his mother before a training ride
Click on the image to see it bigger. /Photo by Horacio Gil Ochoa


One of the interesting things about being married to an American is how often my wife notices slightly unusual things that I do as a result of my Colombian upbringing. She's similarly fascinated by details regarding the way that I interact with my family. Some of these details are actually profound, while others are merely quirks that I never noticed about myself or my family. One of these small nuances is illustrated in the image above. In the picture, we see Colombian cyclist Hernan Herron being blessed by his mother before he goes out on a training ride. The words that are usually uttered as a mother gives the blessing (via a sign of the cross with an open right hand) are: "Que Dios me lo bendiga". This means "may god bless you", or more accurately "may god bless him for me". This is not to be confused with the other more desperate plea for help that most Colombian and latino mothers are known for, which translates into "May god protect and favor us". This is what your mother says after her original blessing failed to work, and you are now in trouble. This secondary plea for help is usually uttered at very serious moments, and often when your mom is near tears. If she utters these words, you know you're in trouble...and you've probably done something very bad. I know, because it was these words that were uttered by my mom when I failed the sixth grade, and when my brother wrecked my mom's car by crashing it into a dumpster. Perhaps these things happened because our mother didn't give us the holy blessing that day, who knows. By the way, I'm not sure why, but Colombian mothers and grandmothers give this blessing exclusively to men, but not women. I suppose they believe that we are bound to get into more trouble than our sisters. They're probably right.

But let me get back to how these nuances are noticed by an American like my wife. One example of this was when my wife met my Colombian grandmother. After speaking for hours, (with me translating between the two) we had to leave. As we said our goodbye's, my grandmother closed her eyes and moved her right hand in the outline of a cross in front of each of us as she uttered the magic words. My wife, who was raised in a Catholic household, had never seen such a thing. She found it endearing, and would later comment, "that was interesting, it's like we were being blessed by the Pope." "Yes", I shrugged, "That's pretty much what it's like."

So as the Tour is about to start, I wonder how many Spanish and South American riders are being given this exact blessing by their mothers as they leave for the race. Somehow, I'm pretty sure that all of them will get it. Should any of them crash, or perhaps loose a stage by mere inches, you can bet that their mother will cry out, and beg for god to "protect and favor" their son...even though it's probably too late. But whatever you do, don't tell a Spanish-speaking mother that it's too late to utter these words on behalf of their son. If you do, she'll probably hurt you so badly, that you'll be the one begging for god's protection and mery...and no, I'm not exaggerating.