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Old 12-25-2013, 07:21 AM   #1516
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Merry Christmas! Thank you for taking the time to share your adventures with us. Wishing you all the best for all the miles ahead.
Current Ride: 2009 Kawasaki Ninja 650r

Previous Ride: 2004 Kawasaki Ninja 500ex
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Old 12-25-2013, 03:21 PM   #1517
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Our heros Gene and Neda dropped by for Christmas dinner last night in Medellin. The only pic I got was of them sitting at the the end of the bar:

Neda washed pretty much all the dishes while I watched. Really nice meeting them both. They are dear people.

Tio Juanitio
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Old 12-25-2013, 06:06 PM   #1518
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I've been quietly following your rr since the beginnig, it has been great on all levels, thank you both for sharing.

Merry christmas and a happy new year

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Old 12-25-2013, 06:59 PM   #1519
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Originally Posted by nameless View Post
i've been quietly following your rr since the beginnig, it has been great on all levels, thank you both for sharing.

Merry christmas and a happy new year
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Old 12-25-2013, 08:08 PM   #1520
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Merry Christmas

Gene and Neda:
I hope your Christmas has been merry, but consorting with the other inmates and coterie at the Shamrock must have been truly epic. May you have a blessed New Year. Ride on.....
There is nothing better than to be happy, and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.
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Old 12-26-2013, 06:01 AM   #1521
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Thanks for taking the time to share your adventure's story and pictures with us! It is an adventure just reading about your travels and experiences. Have a Merry Christmas and ride safe!
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Old 12-26-2013, 08:42 AM   #1522
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We jammed 14 or so motorcycles in the tiny Ambar hostel in the Getsamani district of Cartagena. You couldn't move in the courtyard without hitting a mirror or sidecase. So we didn't. We just stayed around the hostel as the rest of the bikers who unloaded off the Stahlratte fanned throughout the city to explore. It was interesting contrasting how fatigued we were in comparison to these fresh-faced travelers.

Is Cartagena where we'd put the sidestands down for a while to recoup and regroup?

Adventure bike convention

I walked out into the lounge of the lobby to use the wifi so I could type out a blog entry. Our fellow moto traveler from Germany, Toby was on the couch surrounded by the kids staying in the hostel with us. They were enraptured by his Thor-like beard and listened to his stories that he told in fluent Spanish. I thought to myself: Wow, he's really good with kids.

Kids never seem to get tired listening to the ancient tales of Asgard, Loki and Frost Giants...

Then Toby said, "That's Gene over there. You guys should teach him some Spanish..."

That didn't turn out too well. Apparently my aptitude for learning grade-school Espanol wore their patience thin, so we ended up looking at pictures on my laptop instead. They were very curious about where we came from and were captivated with my pictures of Toronto and wanted to see more. So I brought up our wedding photos. They loved it! They said Neda looked like a movie star. Then they looked at me. Nothing. And then pictures of Neda... "So pretty!" Then me... confused silence.

Sorry kids, I don't know what to say. Sometimes the abacus breaks and the math just doesn't add up...

Huddled over my laptop looking at wedding pictures. At this point I'm thinking: "Wow, I'm really good with kids..."

I glanced over at Toby. He was happily typing away on Facebook, or his blog, or something.

Waitaminnit... Wasn't *I* supposed to be working on *OUR* blog right now...?!?

And then I realized... these kids weren't enthralled by anyone. They were just bored and wanted someone... anyone... to entertain them!

By Odin's beard! Thor totally pawned these kids off on me!!!

Streets of Getsamani were flooded with blocked sewage systems and rainy season downpour

If you've joined our blog recently and skipped the earlier bits, there are more pictures and descriptions of Cartagena the first time we sailed through - back when we were less fatigued by travel!

You can view them here:

We did make it out of the hostel a few times, venturing out on Halloween evening to grab a bite to eat at the plaza down the street. Tons of kids in costumes walking around with their loot!

Maybe she can wave her wand and make all this water go away?

Gondola rentals go through the roof this time of year

"My name is Inigo Montoya..."

"I'm Superman, bitch!"

We spent four days holed up inside the tiny hostel, bidding goodbye one by one to each of our fellow moto-travelers as they rode off towards more adventurous pastures, until we were the only ones left. The oppressively hot, humid days melted me into our surroundings, made me feel like a lump of sweaty clay. I didn't want to move.

Unfortunately, mosquitoes love Neda as much as small kids do, and during the nights, as I lay welded to our tiny hostel bed, she was eaten alive by the swarm that made it through the tiny cracks in our room's window and door.

As any married man can tell you, a happy wife equals a happy life. So Neda fetched a large enough sized spatula from the kitchen, scraped me off where I was sitting, strapped me down on my motorcycle and pointed us towards somewhere less humid and less mosquitoey...

Peaje means toll in Spanish. This is Neda no peaje...

We love the toll booths in Colombia because motorcycles go through free! What a contrast to the super-expensive Cuota (toll) roads in Mexico! There's a narrow lane to the right of all the booths just wide enough for two-wheelers, so they can bypass the gates. Everytime we see a sign that reads, "Peaje 1km" we yell at each excitedly other over the communicators, "Pee-ah-HAY!!!!"

Simple pleasures...
Gene · · R1200GS
Ride Reports: Ride The World! · Indian Himalayas · Iceland · Europe · New Zealand
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Old 12-27-2013, 01:40 AM   #1523
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Gene, I really love the way you write!!
Being somewhat of a couch potatoe (not to say a lazy ass) myself at times, have you considered a mosquito net to protect your spouse??
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Old 12-27-2013, 12:48 PM   #1524
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Originally Posted by lightcycle View Post
... Everytime we see a sign that reads, "Peaje 1km" we yell at each excitedly other over the communicators, "Pee-ah-HAY!!!!"

Simple pleasures...
Love it! We too took profound pleasure taking the swerve to the right each "pee-ah-HAY!".
Colombia gets so much better (and especially comfortably cooler) once in the mountains.
Top to the bottom with a frisbee:
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Old 12-28-2013, 10:12 AM   #1525
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Originally Posted by Schussboelie View Post
have you considered a mosquito net to protect your spouse??
That might be a good idea. We have bug-shirts and a bug-hat, and they're pretty bulky, not sure how small a mosquito net for the entire bed would pack up into though. Lots of people have accused us of carrying too much already, as it is!

Originally Posted by Wump View Post
Colombia gets so much better (and especially comfortably cooler) once in the mountains.
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Old 12-28-2013, 02:33 PM   #1526
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We're flying on the highway, northbound to the Caribbean coast of Colombia, past the port-town of Barranquilla, towards Santa Marta. Although the temperatures are still scorching, in the low 30s, I can feel the humidity wash off of us as if they were wraps of stifling plastic blown away by the windblast of our racing motorcycles.

This feels good - breaking new ground after 3 months of re-riding through Central America. Although it was nice to actually see these countries properly instead of blasting through it the first time, there is nothing like riding into the unknown, the unexplored. I don't regret our boomerang tour, but re-tracing some of the same routes felt a bit stale, like drinking microwaved water.

Stopping for a scenic break on the road between Santa Marta and Taganga

Santa Marta is a fair-sized city, but Neda has us bypassing it and heading over the sea-side mountains to the tiny beach-resort town of Taganga. It'll be less hectic than the city, but still close enough to Santa Marta to run errands if we need to. The road between the two towns is twisty and winds high along the coastline to give a terrific view of the shore below.

Taganga coming into view, nestled in the cove of the green Carribean coastal mountains

Taganga is a paradise! The temperature is hot, and it doesn't seem to rain very much on the coast. There's very little humidity and most importantly - no mosquitoes! Perfect place to drop all our bags (and panniers and topcases) and just catch our breath. Neda finds us lodging at the Tayrona Dive Center, a huge complex that caters to scuba divers. Since it's off sea-season, we get the largest room in the building!

Even though we've only booked this place for four days I have a feeling we'll be staying here for a while...

Pretty much all we do all day

Also some of this as well...

Taganga is a two-street town, and during the day we walk along the shoreline to grab a bite to eat and check things out. On the weekends, tourists and residents from Santa Marta all flock here to catch a lancha (boat) to take them to the pretty beaches near Tayrona National Park, just around the corner. However, during the week, the place is basically deserted and it feels like we have the town all to ourselves!

A typical Taganga weekend

Bye bye, tourists! We live here now.

Street performers play for the weekend crowd

I think this is one of the indigenous Colombians. He looks like a hippy!

A bit of drama at the Tayrona Dive Center

There's a bunch of shacks and small houses next to the place we're staying, and there are always kids out in the yard playing and lighting firecrackers all hours of the day and night. One afternoon, our room becomes filled with smoke and we quickly realize that it's coming from outside!

I race downstairs to see that a fire has started in the dry grass on the front yard, not 50m away from our parked bikes. I tell Neda to be ready to move the motorcycles in case the fire spreads, and I race out to help the owner of the hotel, and the owner of the attached restaurant to form a water bucket line to help put the fire out.

The firemen came long after we put out the blaze, they just wet the grass to prevent a secondary fire from starting. But behind the hotel, I could hear the unmistakeable sound of a mother putting a huge ass-whooping on her kid, presumably the one who started the fire. It's an unmistakeable sound because it's one that I'm very familiar with from my own childhood...

That evening and the next day, our front yard was silent with the sound of no kids playing, and no firecrackers being lit...


The Taganga cove opens out into the west and every evening we are treated to a spectacular sunset, each single one different from the one before!

View of Taganga beach from the rooftop restaurant attached to our hotel

Tanganga being a resort town, there is no grocery store here and the restaurants and corner-stores flourish. Since we can't be eating out at restaurants every day, Neda runs into Santa Marta every few days to go grocery shopping. Meanwhile I pretend to work on the blog. I haven't put anything out in over a week, and I get a few concerned emails asking if we are okay. It always surprises me how many people keep up with us on the blog and it's a nice feeling having people watch out for us out there!

During one of her Santa Marta runs, a peculiar passenger hitches a ride to the city

I did accompany Neda to a couple of her Santa Marta trips and we spent the afternoon walking the Malecon. It was very busy and there were a lot of police patrolling the beaches. I like our quiet Taganga beach better...

Police officers and tourists mingle on the beaches of Santa Marta

That hippy guy we saw in Taganga must be important, there's a statue of him in Santa Marta!

Uniformed police officer walks by while we take a break on the Malecon in Santa Marta

Being a big fan of sleeping, I am super-envious of this crib...

Back in our hometown of Taganga, we catch another spectacular sunset

Scuba is a popular activity in the coasts surrounding Tanganga

The owner of the Tayrona Dive Center asked us if we wanted to book a scuba trip when we first checked in, but we declined because it was too costly. After a week staying at his place, and maybe to thank us for helping put out the fire, he offered us a spot on his boat the next weekend with his next batch of scuba customers. We're only going snorkeling, but it was a nice gesture and we're really looking forward to it! Yay!

What a beautiful way to spend your days

If there isn't another blog post, you'll know the trip is over and we're staying here forever.

Love, Neda and Gene.
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Old 12-28-2013, 02:43 PM   #1527
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glad to see you two posting again! it is good to take a holiday from your holiday to stay fresh.
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Old 12-28-2013, 05:28 PM   #1528
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Looks like heaven where you are now! But, when there are bugs, I highly encourage mosquito nets for sleeping because the experience of malaria or dengue fever is not one you'll want to have.
~ Cheers form the snowy north.
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Old 01-01-2014, 09:23 AM   #1529
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"Oh, you can do Tayrona Park in a day, it's not a long hike."

The owner of the dive center gave us this sage advice, which in retrospect we should have totally double-checked, corroborated and done our own research. But more on that later...

Hiking through the mountainous region of Tayrona National Park

We rode out to the small road-side village of Calabaza, about 25 minutes outside of Taganga, where we parked our motorcycles in some guy's backyard after negotiating a small fee for the day. When the owner asked us when we were going to return, we told him later on that evening. He looked at us incredulously and asked, "Are you sure?" and followed up with an "Well, okay, if you say so...."

That should have been our first clue.

Well on our way to getting lost

The hike turned out to be fairly steep and the trail was primitive with no signage at all, often devolving into confusing underbrush. At one point we got lost and went around in a huge circle coming back to a point that looked familiar: "Weren't we just here 20 minutes ago?!"

Thankfully a guide showed up. He was leading a couple from Bogota, and he showed us where the trail continued:

This was the trail. You had to squeeze through these rocks. No signs. How were you supposed to figure that out?!

Cotton-top Tamarin Monkey

The Cotton-top Tamarin is an endangered species and is only found in the forests around Tayrona and north-western Colombia. It's the rarest primate in existence having had its natural habitat reduced to 5% of its original area. I can imagine this little guy looking down at us thinking, "Damn kids, get off my lawn!"

Kogi boy leads his horse through the mountains

We had been hiking for a couple of hours now and still no sign of the ruins of the old village, Pueblito, which was on the way to the coastline. We wanted to hit the beaches of Tayrona, which everyone told us were quite wonderful. While resting, we were passed by a boy and an older man walking their horse up the trail. They were dressed in the same way as the hippy-looking guy we saw in Taganga the other day. We found out later that they were all members of the Kogi tribe, an indigenous people native to Tayrona. They told us the village was only half an hour away.

Holy geez, this was a lot further than what it looked like on our tiny map of Tayrona Park.

Village of Pueblito

There are 20,000 Kogi living in the Santa Marta area. They were quite an advanced civilization before the Spanish came, colonizing Colombia and driving them into the mountains where they live to this day. We found out that they are very spiritual and ecologically conscious, their belief that the earth is a living being and humanity its children.

These people were the original long-haired hippies, long before the flower-children of the 60s!

These striped bags are very typical of Koni culture

Most of the men were carrying these toy-like objects that kind of look like dreidels, except that it was like a white receptacle mounted on a stick. They would rub the outside with another stick and occasionally put it in their mouths. It looked like it had religious significance, but we found out later that these were called poporo, and is given to a Kogi male upon his 18th birthday. The inside of the receptacle is a mixture of lime and coca and is actually a stimulant which helps to ward off fatigue and hunger.

I think this is my favorite part of our travels, seeing up close how people used to live. I was never interested in history and geography when I was a kid, but our trip has opened up a curiousity that I never knew existed.

Kogi village of Pueblito

We asked the guide how much further to the coast. He told us we were halfway.

This shocked us, as we were already 2.5 hours into our hike, which meant another 2.5 hours to get the shore, and then 5 hours back to our motorcycles. We had left late in the morning and by our calculations would not make it back until well after sunset if we stayed on this course.

The guide offered us another suggestion, from the beach, we could walk a bit further up and catch a bus to the entrance on the other side of the park. That would be a quicker way to get back. When I heard the word, "bus", I was all over that plan...

Yay! We finally made it!

We followed the guide and the couple from Bogota to the beach and finally arrived to the beaches of Cabo San Juan. It was like a mini resort with a restaurant, several huts and tons of tents pitched up by hikers. This should have been another clue that Tayrona was not a single day hike...

Beach at Cabo San Juan

Posing proudly with the Colombian flag

Frolicking at Cabo San Juan

More frolicking

It was getting late in the afternoon and we had no idea where to catch this bus back to the entrance, so we tore ourselves away from the beach and followed the coastline in search of a way out of this park.

Bye bye, beach!

We got about 45 minutes away from the resort and still no sign of any bus. We asked a beach-side vendor and she told us it was a couple of hours away!

A couple of hours? It was already 4PM, and it would definitely be dark by the time we reached the bus. I was very upset. No one around here has any reliable information! And no signs anywhere! Throughout this trip, we had decided that our number one rule was we would never ride or walk around after dark (even though we've broken it a few times), and now it looked like this was inevitable again.

We were now racing against the setting sun, so no pictures even though we hiked through some fantastic beaches with the sun's rays casting a magical glow on the sands. We had a bus to catch.

Once again, the trail was poorly marked and we followed some other tourists through some underbrush that turned out to be a dead-end. Going our own way, we ventured back into forest to pick up another trail, but by this time, the canopy and diminishing sunlight meant we were hiking in near darkness. Neda pulled out her iPhone and ran her flashlight application. Battery level less than 30%. Uh oh.

Meanwhile in the ever-frightening darkness, we could hear sounds of animals moving around close to the trail we were on. A bat flew past my head brushing past my hair. We saw glowing points of light that looked like the nocturnal eyes of beasts that prey on lost hikers in the northern Colombian forest. That freaked us out plenty and I came up with a plan of making as much noise as possible, clapping my hands and talking loudly.

We came upon some other hikers coming our way and they smirked at my hand-clapping. "Um, los animales...", I offered up lamely... As it turns out, the glowing eyes were actually fireflies. I was clapping my hands in the dark at fireflies. What a big city dope I am. The hikers told us it was another 45 minutes, so we stumbled ahead and finally found the bus after what turned out to be a 10-hour, 17.5 km hike through the Tayrona National Park. Day-hike my ass.

*phew* I need a bed now...
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Ride Reports: Ride The World! · Indian Himalayas · Iceland · Europe · New Zealand

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Old 01-01-2014, 10:59 AM   #1530
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Too bad you had to rush that one. Looks like it would have been a nice place to be able to relax and enjoy.
“Most things don’t work out as expected, but what happens instead often turns out to be the good stuff.”.
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