OK, so we're riding Colombia 2 up on a China Bike.
My Colombian amiga headed home from Canada for the holidays and we decided to hook up and do a bit of a motorbike tour. Originally I was only supposed to stay from Jan 5-17, but I love it here so much I decided to extend by a few weeks. She wants to show me her spectacular homeland, so we bought a new 200cc China bike for the equivalent of about $2900 and we're heading out to explore the country 2-up. I have no idea how often I'll be able to update this, or even if I'll be able to get to it again before I get home to Canada, but I'll give it a valiant try. I apologize in advance to anybody that feels "left hanging", but I honestly don't think my prose will be that gripping. :bore
This was one of the options before buying the China bike:
Sounds good.. your prose doesn't matter... just take lots of pics and show us what you've been up to :thumb
Oh yes,not just the countryside we want photos of the local talent as well,just make sure the girlfriend doesn,t catch you!!!
YES MAN! DO IT! :clap
No matter your style we want to follow your trip. I will be wanting to know how the bike is holding out too.
Made it back and now ready to write!
Well, it was a trip...
But lets step back a bit to when I arrived in Bogota.
One of the first things Amiga did was take me up to La Calera, above Bogota, for a traditional Colombian meal.
This was my first introduction to what was to become a bit of an issue over the course of the trip. I'm not a huge eater and even breakfasts (which I don't normally even eat) are huge in Colombia.
So here are the protagonists in this little story:
And a demonstration of another little issue. I tend to blink when the flash goes off…
At this point, I had brought along helmets and riding jackets, but still didn’t know how the motorbiking would happen. Amiga’s father has a Yamaha DT175…maybe we’ll ride that. Or maybe we can rent? Or buy? Who knows.
But first we needed to look around Bogota a bit. This is an area called La Candelaria. A funky, artsy university district full of historic buildings and cool streets.
It was here that we met up with Amiga’s friend Cesar, a member of the Arhuaco indigenous culture from Northern Colombia.
Amiga had met him a while back at a conference in Switzerland and had arranged with him to travel to their territory. We were going there to do some work to help them get their message out to the world…but more on that when we get there.
This was another scene which seemed quite unusual to me at first. Later we were to come to appreciate these folks very much. But at this point…just a bit unnerving.
But nothing that a little Chicha wouldn’t solve.
This is a fermented corn drink. Shared by everyone and a great way to catch a cold!
After a couple days in Bogota, it was off to Villetta (in a car), where Amiga’s grandparents live. This is a getaway area for Bogota. Bogota’s climate is actually quite cool and damp because of it’s altitude, so people often head off to the lower valleys a couple hours away for some warmth and sun. One of the attractions in Villeta is a ride on the abandoned rail lines. These enterprising folks will push you up the railroad tracks on little carts for a couple kilometers. Once there, you come flying back down the hill forcing chickens, dogs, people and oncoming carts off the tracks.
Finally it was time to take the little Yamaha out for a burn. Amiga needed to see the mayor in the neighbouring town, so we decided to ride. She does consulting on community development plans and the town was considering engaging her services.
Along the way we stopped at a panela plant. Panela is a type of raw cane sugar that is very popular in Colombia. It’s delicious. This is the guy that feeds the cane into a crusher that squeezes the juice out:
Check out the beautiful old motor that powers the whole thing:
They knew something about reliability in those days…
The liquid goes through a series of vats in the bowels of hell where the water gets boiled off.
This is the guy that stokes the fires of hades to keep the vats boiling:
At the end they pour the thick paste into forms and let it harden:
And there it is, blocks of panela:
Amiga just stops and strikes up conversations with anyone… it leads to some great encounters. But it’s time to get back on the bike (“moto” in Colombia).
While Amiga had her meeting with the mayor, I hung out with the kids. My Spanish sucks. They just treat me as though I’m a big kid that’s a bit slow. It seems to suit me as I have a great time as they patiently try to explain to me what they’re trying to communicate. Having a cool helmet to play with helps too:
:clap keep it coming...
I lived in Colombia for a few years some time ago (around 1973) I was 15 and had a Honda SL350; life was good. Some really good people and very little violent crime at that time. I spent time in Bogota, but most of my time was in Baranquilla; this is on the coast
Have a good time and let me know if you see an old Honda SL350.
Nice start, lets have some more:clap
Here's the GPS track of the ride.
Open it up in Google Earth and check it out.
Here's an image off Google Earth:
The meeting ended up going late and we had to drive back in the dark and the rain. Since this was a guerilla-controlled area not so long ago, we were a bit concerned. But everyone assured us it was OK so off we went. Despite the rain and the dark, the ride back was pretty fun. It was at this point that we decided that we just had to get a motorbike and do a longer ride. Sometimes in life, things are suddenly very clear.
So the next day the search began. We looked at a couple used bikes, but ended up buying a “United Motors” DSF200. This is a little 200cc enduro that looked like it could take some abuse off-road. You can check out their website at http://umamerica.com
Choosing it was the easy part, getting it was another story. There’s a piece of advice that Grant and Susan of horizonsunlimited.com offer, “Don’t expect to get more than one thing done per day”. Well, with great effort and three of us working on it, we were able to push that envelope a bit, but it wasn’t easy. Banks, bureaucracy and mechanical problems all conspired against us. First, since there’s a limit on how much I can take out of my account per day in a foreign country, I had to pull the cash out over two days. On the first attempt, it was rejected. The fraud detectors back at my home bank went on full alert and within a couple of minutes, Amiga’s cell phone was ringing and they were hot on our tails. (I had given them her number before I left home). Amazingly efficient. Well, after about another 2 hours, I finally left with the 1st installment of cash for the motorbike shop. With this, they went ahead and did the registration of the motorbike. That was the first step. I’ll spare you all the rest of the details, but suffice to say 3 days later and with a trip to Bogota thrown in, we were the proud owners of a motorbike. The dealership bent over backwards to help out with all the bureaucratic navigation.
Here’s the 2nd wad of cash we handed over:
This was a new dealership, so they really wanted the business. Luz, the saleslady, was all smiles when the deal was done.
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