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Old 08-23-2013, 05:16 PM   #1
OK Lucinda OP
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Colombia road closures

Back on the 28th we got through the Cuacasia road closures only with a little luck. Trees down, buring tires, firebombed trucks. Now we're stuck in Cali as the only route south to the border is closed due to protests, with no way around. The roadblocks start at Popayan. The best estimate I'm getting is ten days. However I'm going to make a dash for it early Sunday morning in the hope I'll catch them at their least motivated.

(off topic a bit: there was a protest downtown Cali yesterday and I was interested to see one of the speakers was an angry British trade unionist lady probably flown in for the occasion, who spoke entirely in English without even a buenos dias, really, with her Brit cameramen filming her every move seated, speaking or pumping her fist walking around, without so much as a glance at the other speakers)

I've done some reading this afternoon and it looks like riders through Colombia in the next while can expect minor setbacks. Here is a decent background story from the US:

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/08/1...iscontent.html

Mike at Motolombia gave me the number of the Policia de Turismo who can provide updates - 6530202
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:25 PM   #2
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We are in Puerto Berrio and haven't had any issues yet, it seems to be more south of here, we are heading to Guatape tomorrow so will keep you posted, good luck at your end.
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Old 08-26-2013, 07:59 AM   #3
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The road from Cali to Pasto was fine - actually a beautiful ride.

I'm not sure how to guage the military presense yesterday. It was more intense during the Caucasia blockade. Soldiers along the roads frequently, small camps of 20 or less here and there, and two small towns pretty much occupied. The soldiers themselves varied from relaxed and chatty to focused (in the two villages). The ones I spoke to seemed to think the road would stay open, no more problems.

However the road from here, Pasto, to the Equador border is officially closed, according to the police this morning. I always like a second opinion but didn't need one in this case as two Equadorian riders (on ADV?) have flown home, leaving their 1200GS and Ducati Multistrata behind at the B&B I'm staying at. No-one has an opinion on for how long. If I was in Cali right now I might keep calling the police for updates and stay there as Pasto, although nice, is a bit quiet.

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Old 08-26-2013, 11:48 AM   #4
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There's more than one crossing into Ecuador you know, you just have to get off the PanAm and I bet that crossing is not closed

Besides the Trampolín de la Muerte road a little taste:

is a fun road and you can stop for a nice soak in Sibundoy Valley along the way.
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Old 08-26-2013, 03:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Throttlemeister View Post
There's more than one crossing into Ecuador you know, you just have to get off the PanAm and I bet that crossing is not closed

Besides the Trampolín de la Muerte road a little taste:

is a fun road and you can stop for a nice soak in Sibundoy Valley along the way.
Yup, been looking at the alternates.

The Mocoa / Puerto Colon / Nueva Loja road looks fine and has a boat ride which is always nice. It's raining here in the mountains and I'm wondering if the 100K of dirt to the river is going to be 100K of mud. Any guesses? Secondly, they're fighting to within 1K of the town today - was out there with a large pack of curious local motos. We were all over the place, one minute brave and advancing, the next minute running like rabbits, just 50 or 100 feet at a time either way. Interesting experience. Got some video to post of the brotherhood (!) if I can figure out how.

This is getting dangerously close to sounding like drama so time to stop with the commentary maybe.
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Old 08-26-2013, 03:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Throttlemeister View Post
There's more than one crossing into Ecuador you know, you just have to get off the PanAm and I bet that crossing is not closed

Besides the Trampolín de la Muerte road a little taste:
is a fun road and you can stop for a nice soak in Sibundoy Valley along the way.
Great info that is, perfect solution being a fun ride and escape the difficulties, I tried gooooooogling it but didn't come up with it, any chance of some more info on how to find it?

Today we rode from Puerto Berrio to Guatape, we checked with the feds first and all stations were go to a clean clear ride.

Due to a navigational error and me in my era we found a back road that provided difficulties, mud, water waterfall, dust and just a bloody good ride

Cheers Andi
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Old 08-26-2013, 04:48 PM   #7
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Here's a start, but Throttlemeister and others will hopefully chime in with more:

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showt...php?p=21850055
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Old 08-26-2013, 07:19 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by csustewy View Post
Here's a start, but Throttlemeister and others will hopefully chime in with more:

http://www.advrider.com/forums/showt...php?p=21850055
Thanks for that, Tradey (Geoff) is a mate of ours, I recall him and Gus going through there, that is us sorted now.
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Old 08-26-2013, 11:03 PM   #9
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Thanks Tradey for the detail.
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Old 08-27-2013, 07:42 AM   #10
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As you've maybe heard, all Pasto roads, and others in three districts, are closed. Santos will be negotiating, apparently determined to achieve some interim compromise, at 1:00 this afternoon. Some roads are expected to be open again within a few days - we'll see how that goes. The protests downtown last night were impressive and hostile.
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Old 08-28-2013, 05:52 AM   #11
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It was chaos here last night. Pasto appears to be the most serious hot spot. There's a young couple here from the US on a 800GS that came in the same day I did. It appears we were the last of the traffic of any sort to make it in to Pasto. Last night we were in the wrong place at the wrong time as things once again went very bad around us. We had to do a lot of fast moving and hiding to get the hell out, as were the locals around us, as the army and protestors did battle all around us. A big bomb went off just a block away at one point. You wouldn't belive how fast soldiers on moto's can move and fire tear gas on the fly - impressive riding. Our first experience with tear gas. Non-army/police Moto's are banned from the streets.

Needless to say the roads remain closed.

OK Lucinda screwed with this post 08-28-2013 at 08:37 AM
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Old 08-28-2013, 06:24 AM   #12
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Stay safe! My wife and I expect to be in Colombia in December on our South America trip on our 2008 GSA. I hope these protests die down or my wife will be seriously freaked out . Not to mention that the roads are closed!! Not sure it was mentioned but what are they protesting about?
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Old 08-28-2013, 06:30 AM   #13
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Just read the posted link. Tx!
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Old 08-28-2013, 07:14 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OK Lucinda View Post
It was chaos here last night. Pasto appears to be the most serious hot spot. There's a young couple here from the US on a 800GS that came in the same day I did. It appears we were the last of the traffic of any sort to make it in to Pasto. Last night we were in the wrong place at the wrong time as things once again went very bad around us. We had to do a lot of running and hiding to get the hell out, as were the locals around us, as the army and protestors did battle all around us. A big bomb went off just a block away at one point. You wouldn't belive how fast soldiers on moto's can move and fire tear gas on the fly - impressive riding. Our first experience with tear gas. Non-army/police Moto's are banned from the streets.

Needless to say the roads remain closed.
Sounds like you are putting yourselves in unnecessary danger there knowing what is going on, not to rain on your parade but if it is that bad then maybe you should reconsider standing on the front line and stay back a bit.
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Old 08-28-2013, 07:30 AM   #15
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Not sure it was mentioned but what are they protesting about?
The situation has changed since that piece.

It's now largely an agricultural issue. The other issues, although they are significant and still on the table, have taken a second place to the most visible. It appears that due to government policy for years (free trade etc) the farmers have been squeezed hard to the point that they can't make money on many crops. There seems to be consensus that they have a strong point. No-one seems to disagree that they can't compete with American imports.

The problem is that everyone else with an axe to grind, including natural agitators and FARC, have infiltrated the protests and are using them to create war-like conditions.

Not much in the local press, which amazes us, because (I read last night) that journalists are being targeted.

Another point of interest to riders: at one point as we were trying to make our way out of the worst of it, the three of us were loudly identified as gringos. If it had been five minutes earlier, before we were on the move, this would have been a much bigger problem. We're going to keep a lower profile from here on, but we'll see how it goes. We're naturally curious, but not stupidly so. Last night was a surprise to everyone.

The big issue of course is how long this is going to last. None of us have an urgent need to get moving although I'm sure if it's too much longer we're going to get a bit crazy.

This is how it all began, only five minutes before it went out of control:

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