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Old 03-25-2014, 01:24 PM   #196
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Originally Posted by vintagespeed View Post
it's hard to be romantic when she's wearing Hello Kitty slippers.
Uhhhh... Yeah, but I wasn't exactly focused on the slippers.
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Old 03-25-2014, 01:25 PM   #197
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Originally Posted by bouldergeek View Post
Wow, fellow Coloradoan, your trip is working out amazingly!

Your experiences are vastly different from mine, heading northward. I will be staying tuned to see if Peru and Bolivia present you with different options than I encountered.

Now I am bummed that I ran out of time and money before making it to Colombia.

Typed while recovering from ceviche poisoning in Peru
No money, time, and ceviche poisoning??? Damn, you've had a tough few weeks I guess.

I hope your spirits are still high, and I'd love to meet up with you back in CO to talk bikes/travel over a beer someday.
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Old 03-25-2014, 03:19 PM   #198
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For those that find themselves in Bogota in need of SOAT/insurance, I finally was able to track it down. Due to some recent changes, the mandatory minimum is one year. However, there are still some places that will sell one and three month options. But, if you are stamped into Colombia for 90 days, they have to sell you a three month policy (approx $36 - $48).

I went to Seguro SURA, which is located in the shopping center at Carrera 7 and Calle 28 (across from Museo Nacional). The shop downstairs can only sell one year policies, so they have to escort you up to the main office on the 16th floor. Half an hour later, I was out of there with SOAT in hand.

Hope it helps someone,
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Old 03-25-2014, 05:16 PM   #199
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Originally Posted by d_mob View Post
No money, time, and ceviche poisoning??? Damn, you've had a tough few weeks I guess.

I hope your spirits are still high, and I'd love to meet up with you back in CO to talk bikes/travel over a beer someday.
Well, to be fair, I have been on the road for six months. I thought I would be more thrifty, but I ended up spending about $350-400 a week. So, I have had some good times.

The language barrier (you'd think that after a year in Latin America I would speak better Spanish) makes so many things frustrating. But, i did just talk my way through finding two-part epoxy in Piura, Peru. The paint shop comped me, as well. I offered to tip them cervezas, but they just said it was cool.

I'm just burning out on the daily grind. Missing IPAs and Santiago's green chile burritos, my lovely girlfriend who might be reading this, mountain biking, more beer, being able to get what I want in ten minutes rather than three days of wandering a dirty city, getting run off the road by homicidal bus drivers, and being told "No, no such whatever exists" when I know full well a taller for tornillos y tuercas (or whatever I need) is just down the street.

My KLR is in 40 pieces in the cochera, and (after 20 hours of sleep, no food for 30 hours, and three Cipro) I am having Cristal cerveza in an air conditioned hotel room, so I guess that's OK. No smoking hot chicas, though.
Partir loin et découvrir quel air l'humanité respire... voyager... aller toujours plus loin... - Les Nubiennes, "Voyager"

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Old 03-26-2014, 11:45 AM   #200
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Any recos on places to stay in Quito close to you?[/QUOTE]

- a good biker - hostel just 3 blocks from us is the Casa Helbling -

We look forward to seeing you here.

If you get any trouble on the way - be sure to give us a call. Also if you like dirt roads, consider taking the road from Tulcan through the El Angel Biological reserve - and ride to the town of El Chical, through la Primavera (ask when you are in El Chical) and then catch the paved highway back to Ibarra and to Quito. Its an amazing road with hot springs, high altitude mineral lakes, and the beautiful and rare frailejon plant in its most natural environment. Its really worth the extra miles.

See you in Quito!
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Old 03-27-2014, 05:25 PM   #201
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Road Trips | Choachi, Ubaque, Fomeque...

Wowza, amazing rides the past few days!!! That said, this isn't really a blog update so much as a couple of short ride reports...

Yesterday I woke up early to meet Scott, Susan, and Bentley (BentleysBigAdventure) at the Catedral de Sal. The Salt Cathedral is an underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine 200 meters underground in a Halite mountain near the town of Zipaquirá, in Cundinamarca, Colombia. It was a chilly ride out of Bogota, but nice winding roads blended with exhilarating traffic woke me up fast and allowed me to enjoy the ride.

It took about an hour to reach my destination. I paid my 4k COP to park the bike and walked up to purchase a ticket (23k COP). When you enter the mine you walk down a Tron-like neon lit tunnel. From there you walk past 10'ish alcoves with different cross sculptures that have prayer alters scattered about. Further into the mine is the main cathedral area, which is really, really, incredibly impressive. It is absolutely MASSIVE and a true feat of engineering/architecture. It is beautiful and awe inspiring. I skipped out on my tour group and meandered through the tunnels alone. At one point I sat on a pew and stared at the cross in the main cathedral for almost an hour. It was mesmerizing, and I can only imagine a pretty special place to practice your worship/religion. It allowed me to think and I felt a sense of peace, so I stayed much longer than expected.

After enjoying the cathedral for some time, Susan, Scott, Bentley, and I headed to lunch in the small town below. After stuffing our faces with copious amounts of carne we set off for Bogota. We rode together essentially the entire way, but somehow got split up in the traffic madness of the big city. I rode over to their hotel area, but couldn't seem to find them. As I was waiting to see if they would show, a local guy walked up. I thought he would ask the typical questions, "how expensive? how big is the motor? how fast does it go?". However, he started speaking to me in perfect English. All he said was, "that's a nice ride. I ride motos too. I have to run to meet a friend, but you must ride out of the city to Choachi. The road is amazing!". As quick as he walked up, he was gone. Since I had nothing planned, I decided to heed his advice. I searched for Choachi in my GPS and found it easily. The road up and out of the city isn't the best, but once you get on the main road leading to Choachi, it is unreal! I rode all the way to Choachi with a HUGE smile pasted on my face. As I twisted and winded up to 11k feet, the scenery was stunning. I literally almost rode off the road several times because I couldn't take my eyes off the mesmerizing countryside.

Once you clear 11,100 feet, you start to head downhill into Choachi. Just before the town there is a turnoff for Cascada la Chorrera. I took the left and blasted the dirt road for around 4 or 5 miles. I couldn't seem to find the route to the waterfall, but could see and hear it thundering in the distance. It was getting late, so I turned back and made my way into town. Choachi is a small colonial puebla with a typical plaza surrounding a beautiful church. I had a Coke and a bag of platano crisps and watched some kids kicking a soccer ball for a bit. There were zero other gringos around, which was a nice change from other places that I've been recently. Not that it's a bad thing to be around other tourists, but I felt like I escaped the beaten path when I arrived there. After finishing my snack I needed to get back quickly as the sun was starting to settle behind the mountains. I flipped the lid on my helmet, kicked the bike into gear, wheelied out of town, and flew back to Bogota. The road is amazing and it is very easy to treat it like a race course of sorts. I really enjoyed the (very) brisk ride home.

When I got back to the hotel I met up with Nina, Scott, Susan, and Jeffrey (RideForPeace) for dinner. I told them about the ride and showed them the pictures and Scott and Jeffrey were keen to do it today. I enjoyed it so much I was happy to play tour guide for them and ride it all over again. We left out today around 11am and rode all day. We rode the same route towards Choachi, but ended up finding the waterfall. Near the waterfall we ended up meeting a nice old man who had a random tienda near the entrance. He was 75 and has lived in the area for 45 years. He insisted that we sit with him and sample all of the typical foods that he and his wife prepare and sell. We filled out bellies with queso fresco, some sort of strawberry sugary fruit treat, his wife's amazing fresh yogurt, and several other specialties. He didn't seem to want any money, and enjoyed our laughs and company. We ended up tipping him pretty heavily and he was full of smiles. After exploring the area and falls for a bit we pointed our bikes towards Choachi for a late lunch. After stuffing our faces with carne (yet again) we decided to ride towards Ubaque and Fomeque. The goal was to make our way into Parque Nacional Chingaza for a loop north and then west back into Bogota. We got pretty far, but the road turned into gnarly dirt and didn't let up. We realized that it was getting late and there was no way we would complete the loop before sundown, so we turned around and headed back the way we came. Another day, another time for Chingaza...

I just made it home a little while ago and figured I'd throw up this report before Nina gets here. We have dinner date plans tonight. However, she just arrived so I better get moving. For now, enjoy several more pics from the past few days...

First few from the Salt Cathedral...

Second bunch from the ride into/around Choachi...

Catch everyone soon...

~ D

PS... Don't have time to proof this one, so sorry for any errors.
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Old 04-01-2014, 07:18 AM   #202
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Just caught up from the beginning. Awesome RR David! Keep having fun and be safe.
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Old 04-01-2014, 02:17 PM   #203
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Originally Posted by Bg22 View Post
Just caught up from the beginning. Awesome RR David! Keep having fun and be safe.
Thanks mate... Will do!
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Old 04-01-2014, 02:21 PM   #204
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In/Around Bogota, Desierto de la Tatacoa, y San Agustin

With equal parts happiness and sadness I write this... Sad because I left great friends and experiences behind in Bogota, and of course my girl Nina. Happiness that I'm back on the road and was able to experience some amazing riding and sights the past two days.

I left the city early yesterday and pointed the bike south for the desert. Tatacoa, or "Sadness Valley", is the second largest arid zone in Colombia after the Guajira Peninsula, and provides some of the most attractive scenery in Colombia. It occupies 330 square kilometers of land in ocher and gray brushstrokes of green cactus. The route was spectacular and provided beautiful scenery, river crossings, amazing dirt roads, and warm/friendly people in small villages along the way.

After the super sketch river crossing referenced above, I ended up in Tatacoa just after lunchtime. I stopped for a bite to eat just into the park and then explored for hours on the bike. I tried to stay on the main road, but some of the offshoots and cattle trails were too tempting. I ended up riding all over the desert enjoying the isolation and ethereal scenery. I'm guessing it's the low season because there were no other tourists for miles. After wearing myself out touring the desert solo Dakar style, I settled on a small, basic, family run spot called La Tranquilidad. I was going to camp for 5k COP ($2.50 USD), but ended up paying 10k COP ($5 USD) for a hammock. The additional small amount of money was worth it to not have to set up and take down the tent for only one night. Plus, Tatacoa is known as the best place for stargazing in Colombia, so I figured an open air night would be nice... and it certainly was!

This morning a dickhead of a rooster woke me up at 5:30am. However, I felt refreshed and happy that I had time to sit on a small hill and watch the sun rise over the desert. It felt like I was inside of a painting. As the sun crested the mountains in the east, it washed the desert with a coat of reddish orange paint that was indescribable. Certainly a moment I won't forget anytime soon. After the sunrise I enjoyed a nice breakfast and then set off on my way just before 8am. Getting an early start was nice as I escaped the desert just as the heat was setting in. I got a bit turned around after exiting Tatacoa, but eventually found my way back on course after asking several locals, and then began the journey to San Agustin.

Here is the 'Lonely Planet' description of the city/area... "Centuries before Columbus dreamed of the new world, the rolling and remarkably green hills around San Agustin were home to an enigmatic civilization that congregated here to bury their dead and honor their memory with monumental stone statues. It's easy to understand why they chose to consecrate this lush, mountainous land of dramatic canyons and ethereal mists. Little is known about the people of San Agustin. They didn't have a written language and had disappeared or dispersed several centuries before the Europeans arrived on the scene. Yet they have left behind at least 500 statues that still enthrall the visitor. Many of them are anthropomorphic figures - some realistic, others resembling masked monsters. Still others depict sacred animals such as the eagle, jaguar, and frog. The largest is 7m high. Archeologists have also uncovered pottery and gold objects in the tombs of what is believed to be the tribal leaders."

The ride today was gorgeous. The roads twisted side to side, up and down, and through the lush mountainside. I rode from early this morning until around 2pm. Following a recommendation from the owner of La Tranquilidad, I ended up making my way to Casa del Japones. It is nestled on top of a hillside overlooking the town of San Agustin. They have secure bike parking along with many other amenities (i.e. laundry, restaurant, bar, etc). It is basic, but very nice. Especially considering I'm only paying 15k COP ($7 USD) for a private room. Tomorrow I'll wake up early and ride to the Archeological Park to tour the statues and the area just outside of town. After getting my fill, I'll point the bike west and make my way to Popayan. The ride to Popa is supposed to be epic, assuming there aren't any roadblocks, floods, and/or landslides (apparently an issue during rainy season, which just began). I'll spend a couple of nights there experiencing Semana Santa in the city, which is supposed to be quite the festive celebration.

It feels great to be back on the road. The time alone the past couple of days has been nice. I feel like I've really grown on this trip. Before, I would have been anxious, depressed, or felt like something was missing if I was to sit around and do nothing. Now I'm more comfortable with myself and can sit for hours simply thinking, writing, and/or resting. It's a great feeling. All anxiety has seemed to melt away and I've been left with a sense of self confidence and calm. Something I'm very, very happy about.

I guess that's all... For now here are a few more pics from Bogota, Desierto de la Tatacoa, San Agustin, and the surroundings.

I'll be sure to throw an update online during or after Popayan. Chat soon amigos,

~ D

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Old 04-01-2014, 02:23 PM   #205
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Old 04-01-2014, 04:53 PM   #206
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AWESOME!!!! Great RR! I just picked up my 990 and planning our trip south leaving November.

Be safe!

Fred from Denver...
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
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Old 04-01-2014, 06:39 PM   #207
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Great F'ing RR. You're making me fall in love with my triple black all over again. Thanks for posting and keep it up!
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Old 04-03-2014, 12:22 PM   #208
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Travel / Adventure Update From Popayán...

I've gotten a lot of questions lately about how the trip is going. So, I figured I'd put together a Q&A recap/update below... If there are other questions shoot me a note and I'm happy to answer.

Also, I get a lot of budget questions, but I haven't prepared that info quite yet. I'll work on piecing that together soon.

Here is a map showing the journey thus far...

Date: Thursday, 3 April 2014

Days on road: 137
Miles traveled: ~ 10,201

Countries: 9
United States
El Salvador
Costa Rica

Highs: Waaaay too many to list
Lows: Leaving behind new friends along the way & occasional loneliness
Current mood: Happy, excited, adventurous, changed, and thirsty for more!!!

Best food: Molé infused street chicken tamales in Oaxaca, Mexico
Worst food: Crickets/chapulinas & chicken foot soup in Huila, Colombia

Security concerns:
- Needing to pull my knife on a VERY drunk guy in a very small town in southern Mexico
- Being run off the road by a truck and elbowing/breaking his mirror in Bogota, Colombia
- Dropping the bike into a parked car in Antigua, Guatemala
- Brushing against numerous cars/trucks in city traffic throughout Central America

*** Note, everything/everyone else has been warm, inviting, and full of smiles...

Number of crashes/offs/mishaps: 6

Number of new friends: Waaaay too many to count
Number of new 'female friends': Ummm... I'll leave that alone

Number of waves surfed: Exactly 5
Favorite beach: Costeño Beach (east of Tayrona on Colombian Caribbean coast)

Most expensive country: Costly Rica, and fuel in Colombia is muy carro
Cheapest country: Guatemala and El Salvador thus far

Number of hammocks slept in: 6
Number of nights tent camping: 12
Hostel / Couchsurfing / Hotel split: 75% / 5% / 20%

Cervezas, bottles of Aguardiente consumed: Ashamed to say way too many!!!
Favorite drink: Club Colombia
Least favorite drink: Guaro!!! Only because I love it... until the next day. :(
Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Blend of fresh fresa, maracuya, and mandarin juice
Least favorite non-alcoholic drink: Agua de panela

A sampling of recent memorable songs that have kept me smiling on the bike:
Bill Withers - Lovely Day
Sigur Ros - Hoppipola
Radiohead - Separator
Jose Gonzalez - Stay Alive
Little Dragon - Crystalfilm / Scribbled Paper
BadBadNotGood - Can't Leave the Night
Alt J - Tesselate
Frank Wiedemann - Howling
Spoon - Underdog
Portugal. The Man - The Sun
The Stones - Wild Horses / Gimme Shelter
Jungle - Drops
Tom Odell - Another Love (Zwette Edit)
The War On Drugs - Red Eyes
St. Lucia - Wait For Love
Ray Charles - What I'd Say
Hot Chip - Look At Where We Are
Julian Casablancas - I'll Try Anything Once
Jimi Hendrix - Little Wing
Sebastien Tellier - Le Long De La Riviere Tendre
Van Morrison - Into the Mystic
The Heavy - Short Change Hero
The Hives - Tick Tick Boom
Underworld - To Heal
Metric - Gold Guns Girls
Keane - Spiralling
Finley Quaye - Even After All
Kings of Convenience - 24/25
Cinematic Orchestra - To Build a Home
Daft Punk - Something About Us
Tycho - Hours / Dive
Chairlift - Sidewalk Safari
Crystal Fighters - Champion Sound / Xtatic Truth
LCD Soundsystem - Home
Zero 7 - On My Own
Nils Frahm - Journey For a Traveller
Gustavo Santaolalla - Apertura / Sendero / La Partida

Favorite town/puebla: Barichara (Colombia - near San Gil)
Favorite big city: None. I've grown to dislike cities, which is surprising for me
Favorite road: Venao/Las Tablas in Panama or San Agustin/Popayán in Colombia

Run-ins w/ police: Pulled over four times, stopped at road blocks approx five
Bribes paid: Zero!

Hottest temp: 105F somewhere in southern Central America
Coldest temp: 30F in northern Mexico - San Luis Potosi state

The pics above and below are from the past few days. San Agustin was nice, and the archeological park there definitely did not disappoint.

The road from San Agustin to Popayán was rough, intense, but amazing. I left around 8am and didn't arrive until around 4pm. That's a long time for just under 100 miles. However, when 75% is rough and rocky dirt w/ several landslides and delays, I guess it's understandable. I'd highly recommend this route if anyone is doing a similar trip. There are stretches that go on for miles and miles without another soul to be seen. Several times I parked the bike, took off my helmet and just sat there listening to the rotation between, and combination of absolute silence, breeze, and birds chirping.

It is beautiful here, just like everyone says. Known as the 'white city' because of its beautiful colonial buildings and houses, Popayán was founded in 1537. It has played a major role in Colombia's history dating back to the early days of the Spanish conquest and into the twentieth century.

I'm staying at Hostel Caldas, which I found on Hostel World. It is easy to search and filter for places with parking. This popped up as the only one and I'm happy with it. They allowed me to roll the bike right inside the entrance hall. The dorms and bathrooms are clean, and they have basic services like lockers, coffee, etc. It is located directly next to the city center, so you'd be hard pressed to find a better location.

Early in the evening yesterday I went out and explored the city streets, sights, sounds, local restaurants, and everything in between. Popa is very easy to navigate and you can get from one end to the other in under 20 minutes walking. When the sun settled I randomly stumbled into a smoky dive bar called El Sotareño. I quickly started chatting with the owner, and bartender. The owner is a short, nice man who opened the lively mainstay 53 years ago. Apparently the moody bartender has been there for the entire time as well. The decor is very old school inside. The minute you walk through the saloon style swinging doors, it feels like you've stepped back in time. The two guys stand behind the bar and take turns throwing on scratchy old salsa and bolero vinyl records. They argue continuously about which songs and artists are better than others. It really is a unique and special place. We ended up talking and laughing for hours. I showed them pictures from the trip and they were fascinated. The owner brought out a bottle of Colombian ron, and kept feeding it to me, along with beer chasers. I ended up getting pretty sauced with these two and am really glad I happened upon the place. If you are a music/culture/dive bar fan, this place is a must.

Tomorrow I'll wake up early and head out. I've decided to ride south to Pasto and then northeast to Mocoa. I think it will take 7 - 8 hours without issue (i.e. heavy rain, roadblocks, landslides, etc). I'll explore Mocoa for two nights I think. Until recently, the area was a hotbed for drugs, narcos, and FARC presence. However, about 70% of the people/locals that I speak with say that it is a perfectly fine place to visit. It borders the mountains and rainforest, so there are tons of waterfalls, hikes, rivers, and wildlife to explore and see. From Mocoa, I'll take the road called the Devil's Trampoline, aka Adios mi Vida (goodbye my life) back to Pasto, and then south to Ipiales for a day/night exploring Santuario de las Lajas, and sleeping in a monastery. After all that, it's into Ecuador!

It looks like it will be a busy few days! Because of that, I have a few things to prepare (camping gear, bike prep, route planning, etc). So, I'll sign off for now and will write more when I get back online after my adventure to Mocoa and through Colombia's 'Death Road'.

Chat soon,

~ D
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:32 PM   #209
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You're killing us.. what's the latest??
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Old 04-09-2014, 01:43 PM   #210
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Hey D
Great eclectic mix of travel tunes.
Loving your RR and photos.
looking forward to the next update.
Enjoy the ride!!
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I could go east, I could go west, it was all up to me to decide- Bob Seger
All roads lead toward the same blocked intersection - John Darnielle
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