Today it was time to get the bike dropped for service and have its new Heidenau Scouts put on. I had shipped these a few weeks ago from Monteria for $11 rather than dragging them all over Colombia with me. If you're riding in a big country like Colombia, if you can ship heavy bulky things you won't need for a while ahead, go for it. Andres from Cali Triumph Dealer was great and had no problem with me shipping the tires on ahead.
When I got to the shop I was greeted by Sory Con, the owner and operator of Asturias, one of the oldest motorcycle shops in Cali. It was first started by Sory's father over fifty (50) years ago and now she and her husband Jorge run the shop. They are Andres' parents. Immediately I'm hit by how homie and inviting the atmosphere is, and mind you, this is a repair shop.
Alain, a French import and constant fixture at Asturias is immediately interested in my travels and my route. He's traveled all over South America and within minutes together with Jorge, we have maps spread out over my top box and I'm being given great pearls of wisdom as to some amazing routes, contacts of people I should meet while en route, and just an overall amazing infusion of positive energy and encouragement.
These are some real adventurers and incredibly passionate not only about motorcycles, but about the entire process of travel and the experiences you have while on two wheels - a real motorcycle family.
After dropping the bike off at Asturias, I headed off to explore Cali as the bike would not be ready until late afternoon. I would also be getting some notes and write-ups offered up from our morning chat. How 'bout 'em apples? SWEEEET!
I walked down to Casa Blanca, the “motorcycle hostel” as I had now heard from four people I needed to meet Mike, the Danish owner, who also runs Motolombia (http://www.motolombia.com/
), an adventure motorcycle rental shop right in front of the hostel. Mike turned out to be a really cool guy who is now basically a caleño, married to Diana. They started the hostel a about five years ago and from there he spun out a motorcycle rental business which is his real passion. Now he guides all kinds of adventure tours throughout Colombia. You can ride your own bike or rent one of his. He was really interested in the Tiger 800XC, as he's has a few BMW F800 which he wasn't too happy about due to performance, durability, and the support from the dealer. All I could say is that I was very happy with mine and that I had had no problems with it, and great support from the dealers I'd met. Maybe he'll add a few Tiger's to his inventory.
I then headed out to play tourist and see a bit of the city. I was interested in some of the history of the city and had been told of a new promenade where a major traffic artery used to run. This had now been converted into an express tunnel that runs about five kilometers through the center of the city, and above, right next to the Cali River, is a beautiful open modern promenade with loads of green park space on the opposite side of the river - simply beautiful.
All this ends at the Ermita Church, a great example of gothic style architecture.
After my walk through the promenade I went to grab a bite to eat, and then went to “Nuestra Señora de la Merced” where Cali was first founded in 1536. Mind you this is less than 50 years after the discovery of the new world and we are already seeing places like Calí seeing their first settlers. Though the architecture is simple early Spanish Colonial, it is remarkable how well conserved this first building of Cali is.
This complex continues to be an active catholic church quite coveted for weddings and special events, but over the centuries has served as a monastery, military garrison, and most recently in 1975 it became a national monument and now holds, among other things, an archeological museum. The complex has gone through a number of restorations, but in the museum there are still a few elements of the first or second build outs.
These magnificent mosaic tiles that take you up to the second story are from the early 1600.
In the interior courtyards you'll typically find citrus fruit trees growing, often lime, oranges or mandarin. There is a secondary courtyard of an annex that still functions as a nunnery and sure enough, in the center courtyard there are loads of fruit trees.
In the late afternoon I picked up the bike at, got all my intelligence from Alain and Sory and headed back to the hostel to pack, as I would be on my way towards Popayan. Thank you Sory, Jorge, Andres and Alain for all your help while in Cali. You really made me feel at home.