LET ME JUST SAY. I LOVE COLOMBIA! THE SCENERY, THE VIBE, THE PEOPLE, THE PEOPLE, THE PEOPLE. FOR THE FIRST TIME ON THE TRIP, CHASE AND I SLOWED THINGS DOWN A BIT AS WE WAITED FOR MAC (CHASE´S BROTHER AND ONE OF MY BEST FRIENDS) TO FLY INTO MEDELLIN AND JOIN US FOR THE REST OF THE JOURNEY.
SUNDAY JULY 7TH – DAY 32 – SOMEWHERE IN THE CARIBBEAN – CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA
After arriving at the docks, Chase and I went straight to the beautiful colonial center of Cartagena where all the hostels are located. We found a cheap one with a nice courtyard, a pool and clean sheets and called it a day. The rest of the day was devoted to relaxing in the pool and emotionally and physically cleansing ourselves from our sea voyage.
MONDAY JULY 8TH – DAY 33 – CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA
Arriving in a foreign country by sailboat, with a motorcycle, carries with it some customs procedures. Our whole day was practically consumed in getting our passports (with our immigration stamps) back from the captain and then going to the local customs office to get vehicle permits and then the obligatory vehicle insurance.
Lucky for us, somewhere along the line we found two aussies who were doing the same journey on motorcycles. We joined forces for the day and tackled all of the customs hoops together. It was pretty funny swapping stories of our travels. The aussies have found a way to throw out the F-bomb after every other word in a surprisingly charming way. I´ve decided I need to make some more aussie friends when I come home.
TUESDAY JULY 9TH – DAY 34 – CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA
More relaxing, resting, chillin. Attempted to clean our rusted chains the best we could. Hung out with some british gals for a good part of the day and enjoyed eating the different foods of Colombia.
WEDNESDAY JULY 10TH – DAY 35 – CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA – CAUCASIA, COLOMBIA
At this point it had been about a week since we had a full day´s ride and we were both STOKED to see what Colombia had in store for us. 3 days in Cartagena was enough time in one place and we thought we´d wait for Mac in Medellin where we planned on meeting up.
Medellin is famous for a couple reasons, firstly because it was where Pablo Escobar lived during the golden age of cocaine and secondly, because the women here are supposedely the most beautiful in the whole world. You´ve got my attention. The residents don´t like talking about the Pablo Escobar thing but they love to talk about the beauty of the women and their metro system.
But first, getting out of Cartagena was nuts. No other country we´ve been to has so many motorcycles zipping around. They have no respect for space and at one point a motorcyclist behind Chase started nudging his saddlebags to the side in order to move ahead 10 feet at a stop light. After leaving the city, it was a mellow ride through colombian ranches and small towns. We arrived at Caucasia, ate some carne asada and found a hotel for $5 each.
THURSDAY JULY 11TH – DAY 36 – CAUCASIA, COLOMBIA – MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA
Our day started out just like any other here in Latin America… But three seconds after starting my motorcycle, IT DIED. It had rained all night long and I suspected water had gotten somewhere it shouldn´t have. We tried bump starting it and it ran for about 4 seconds before it died again and then wouldn´t start. These are the moments you hope don´t happen while you are in the middle of nowhere. Lucky for us, while trying to push start the bike a car mechanic from a nearby shop invited us to bring the bike into his shop and out of the sun so we could make our necessary repairs. The friendliness and hospitality of the Colombian people is right there with the Mexicans.
The guys in the shop all crowded around trying to guess what the problem was. They were all genuinely interested in helping us out. After the mechanics helped me rule out bad gasoline/water in the carburetor, I had no choice other than to take the carburetor apart piece by piece. After disassembling everything and putting it back together the bike barely managed to start but wouldn´t stay running long. It could have been any number of weird electronical problems from the rain the night before but it seemed to be carb related. Again, I took the carburetor apart and found the vent hose had somehow gotten fried shut so the carburetor was trying to equalize the gas levels by sucking air from the fuel line. I clipped the fried part of the vent hose off, reassembled everything and she started up like nothing had ever happened. 5 hours of frustration and fear of being in Caucasia the rest of my life waiting for electronic pieces ended with a quick snip of the scissors. The guys in the shop were all glad to see we solved the problem and they made us promise to stop by next time we travel through Caucasia. Deal.
Leaving Caucasia around 2 pm we got on the road to Medellin, Colombia. From here the road left the countryside and traveled along a muddy river bigger than the Colorado. After an hour following the river we crossed and started heading up a windy mountain pass. It was BEAUTIFUL! We went from 500 feet above sea level in the morning to above 8000 feet in the afternoon. By nightfall we started the descent into the valley where Medellin is and around 8:30pm we arrived in the city. The lights from the tall buildings at night were incredible.
While we were in Cartagena we had arranged for a place to stay a couple nights through couchsurfing.com. A great guy and motorcycle lover from the city, named Juan, offered to host us. We met him near his home and he then guided us back to his 15 story apartment building on the mountain. Again. The view was incredible.
FRIDAY JULY 12TH – DAY 37 – MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA
We woke up the next morning, did our laundry for the first time in a long time and looked through Juan´s Colombian travel books. He was a great resource and had something to say about every motorcycle detour we could possibly make while in Colombia. The three of us ended up going on a nice loop up the southern mountains above Medellin and back down around the other side. Later, we went to our friend Hugo´s house to go swimming with him and his kids. Hugo was the only Colombian aside from the Captain on the “Island Fever.” Hugo, a hostel owner in Panama, is another perfect example of a friendly and hospitable Colombian. He offered to take us down to the Kawasaki dealership the next day to get our rusted chains all sorted out.
SATURDAY JULY 13TH – DAY 38 – MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA
We met Hugo once again at his house at 9am and then followed him around as he asked neighbors for a motorcycle and a helmet to borrow. haha an hour later we were en route to the Kawasaki dealership. It was heaven. Everything we needed and more. We got bought a chain and had another that we already had put on free of charge and bought some new motorcycle oil. We found a hostel to stay at that night and then met up with Juan again, who took us to a friend´s motorcycle shop so we´d have a place to change our oil and throw out the old stuff. After getting back to our new hostel, we showered and got ready for what Hugo promised would be an incredible night on the town. Around 10pm Hugo showed up with his cousin, Luisa and his ex-wife. Paola (argentina), Jan and Evit (slovakia) from our sailing adventure also showed up and we walked a few blocks to the party district. We ended up salsa-bar hopping til about 2am. Me and Chase were both pooped. Paisas (the nickname for people from Medellin) usually go til dawn. At 2am the streets looked like they were still getting busier. I´d never seen anything like it. It was just a normal saturday but it looked like spring break in some party town. Getting back to the hostel we went straight to bed.
SUNDAY JULY 14TH – DAY 39 – MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA
Early that morning we woke up for church. About a mile away from our hostel. We came back to our hostel and met up with Paola, our Argentine friend from the sailing adventure, for a day trip to La Piedra del Peñol. A big fatty rock that is “a must see” while in Medellin. Again, we cruised through the mountains above Medellin and then into the Colombian countryside where all the rich folks have their summer homes. The rock was big. It was black. And we climbed it. We ended up dropping Paola off in a town near the rock and headed back to Medellin.
We came back just as it was getting dark and snaked our way through heavy traffic. That night Medellin was playing Bogota in an annual soccer rivalry game. Everyone was wearing green and going nuts. We watched part of the game but it ended up being 0-0…
MONDAY JULY 15TH – DAY 40 – MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA
I just received word that Mac will arrive tomorrow night at 7:04 pm here in Medellin International Airport. At which point, our South American party tour can really get started!