With every new city comes a new objective. Bogotá, Colombia’s capital brought two. The first of which was to regain possession of our bikes from Colombian customs. The second, remain focused and do not get trapped in Colombia’s outstanding party scene. Neither of which proved as easy as we had initially hoped. Landing in Bogotá just 10 minutes before our hostel’s party bus was due to leave for some Saturday night carnage got our Colombian experience off to a very nice start indeed. We quickly realised objective two was almost an impossibility.
6 years ago I traveled Colombia extensively when backpacking around South America and since then I’ve not stopped dreaming about returning on my own motorcycle. The time had finally arrived…
The bikes were being held by Girag, the freight company we used to fly them over the Darian Gap from Panama City and before they could release them, we had to acquire the necessary paperwork from Colombian customs to prove that everything was fine and dandy. For some reason the ‘Coffee Break Espanol’ podcasts I listened to in an attempt to learn some Spanish before arriving in Latin America didn’t cover clearing a motorcycle through customs, so this process always tends to be a little stressful for me. It took two full working days at the airport’s cargo office and so much photocopying that I could physically see the impact my visit to Colombia was having upon the Amazon before the bikes were released. Customs procedures have been the same the world over. What on earth can be done with all those sheets of paper and will they really ever be referenced again? Bizarre procedures I’ve come to realise I will never understand.
It’s important you buy insurance for your bike whilst entering a new country in Latin America. We’ll hopefully never know its actual worth but our main reason for doing so is to not give any bent coppers an opportunity to request bribes for not possessing the correct paper work. Locating the office in smog filled Bogotá on a rainy day proved a real pain in the ass but thankfully we managed to enlist the assistance of a very knowledgeable local who was happy to help. Step up to the stage Miss Andrea Herrera, otherwise known to us as ‘Senorita Leyenda
Andrea pretty much single-handedly runs the show at the hostel we stayed at as well organising all of the hostel party events. She adopted the name of La Leyenda because of her eagerness to go the extra mile to help us out whenever we needed her. Her excellent sense of humour made her great company and her willingness to speak perfectly clear and slow Spanish made her the ideal Spanish teacher. We’d landed in Bogotá in the depths of the Halloween celebrations, a festival these guys appear to take very seriously and costume parties seemed to be taking place every day for an entire week. We always knew we were at risk to losing valuable time to nursing hangovers in Bogotá but we managed to escape after 7 nights and began the 500km ride North West to Medellin.
Although her busy schedule in the hostel meant that we couldn’t spend a huge amount of time with her during our time in Bogotá, we were lucky enough to be blessed with the company of La Leyenda during our time in Medellin as we had conveniently timed our visit there with her vacation from work. It was excellent to spend time with her.
As far as I’m concerned, Medellin really can be classified as one of the greatest cities this world has to offer. It’s fusion of European style squares and restaurants with the vibrant Latin American characters of its people make it a place I would choose to live at the drop of a hat. Another outstanding party scene meant that one week later we were questioning what on earth had just happened for the previous 7 days. Words will never do as good a job as this video clip below to explain how we managed to lose that week in Medellin. This Sergio Mendes track quite literally set every single Colombian dance floor on fire every time it was dropped.