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Old 02-23-2008, 06:19 PM   #6
calrider OP
I'm Lost Too!!
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Joined: Jul 2007
Location: Calgary, Canada
Oddometer: 692
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:

calrider screwed with this post 02-23-2008 at 06:35 PM
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