Let Your Inner Peter Pan Fly - Louisville to Buenos Aires
Finally got my blog going. Here's the link.
Once I figure out how to upload it here, I'll get right on it.
Good Luck guys!! Take care, ride safe, take lots of pictures and show them to everyone here!!
Looking forward to following your adventure! Good luck, and be safe.
Have fun and be safe!
Looks like a dream trip and experience. Looking forward to reading your ride reports!
Thanks for sharing your trip with us. I'll follow along wishing I could ride along. Happy trails.
New posts on the blog
We're into Mexico. New posts on the blog.
I'm not a computer whiz
I'd always planned on posting my ride report here on ADV, but it took me 4 months to figure out how to upload photos. In my own defense, I wasn't trying that hard. At least I can share my trip through South America with fellow ADV Riders now. You can check out the account of my trip through Central America on my blog.....flypetefly.com. South America will be posted both here on ADV and on my blog.
Portobelo, Panama to Cartagena, Colombia....on a boat.
I’ve been out on a few charter fishing boats in my life. Only one time have I ever gotten sick, and it happened after I saw everyone else on board hurl their morning coffee over the side of the boat. I knew I probably should have purchased Dramamine before boarding the boat just in case, but I really wasn’t too worried about it. Besides, there were hardly any stores open at 9:00 AM in Portobelo, Panama so I wouldn’t have been able to purchase it anyway.
Me and about 20 other travelers boarded the boat that morning. Fortunately the boat was big enough that there was enough space for everyone on board. It was a five night cruise in total, the first three days touring the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama before cruising two days due east across the Caribbean to Cartagena. The San Blas Islands are inhabited by a group of indigenous people called the Kuna. They are a small population, but they have somehow fought and maintained their independence from Panama, even though they reside just off the coast.
Here’s what Wikipedia says about the Kuna people: The Kuna Indians worship a god named Erragon. They believe that this god came and died just for the Kuna people. The Kuna Indians were driven off Panama during the Spanish invasion and they fled in their boats to the surrounding 378 islands. The chief of the Kuna lives on an island called Acuadup, which means rock island. The Kuna are hunters and fishermen; they are a very clean people. On some of the islands they have opportunities to attend school. Most of the men now speak Spanish, although the women carry on older traditions.
San Blas Islands & The Kuna People
The Captain of our boat bought us lobster and fish from some Kuna fishermen
I managed to get seasick on the first day while out at sea in the late evening. Fortunately the boat wasn’t rocking much the first three days as it was anchored in calm waters around the various islands where we could get off the boat and tour. My seasickness was compounded by the fact that all the desalinized water served on board had a bit of a salty taste to it. I really felt dehydrated on the boat, but I kept drinking as much of the salty tasting water as I could stomach. I was also able to buy some Dramamine from the captain for the ride across the ocean. Fortunately the ride over open water ended up being rather calm.
Finally, Cartagena in sight
Here's where we got dropped off in Cartagena
Unlucky in Cartagena
Other travelers I’ve met along the way have told me nothing but good things about Cartagena. I was really looking forward to spending a couple days there to check the place out. Here’s how it went.
Day 1 in Cartagena:
We got off the boat in the morning, found our way to a hotel and began checking emails to find out where the container was at. To our dismay, the container broker we were dealing with informed us that they would not release the bill of lading until we paid an extra $75 per bike for adding them to the bill of lading back in Colon, Panama. After a little nap and some fresh water in the morning, we spent the rest of the day corresponding with the broker, and waiting in a Western Union office to get the money wired so that they would release the bill of lading. The residual rocking effects that the boat inflicted upon me had me stumbling around all day like a drunk man.
Day 2 in Cartagena:
We were up early, piled about 7 people into a cab the size of a Geo Metro, and headed to the port. We spent the morning waiting and waiting. Then we walked down the road in the blazing heat to the customs office, waited awhile longer, and eventually spoke to someone who got the paperwork started on the vehicles. We weren’t driving away with our vehicles today, so we then went downtown to purchase insurance. It took about two hours because their computer kept crashing. We finished after the office officially closed, but fortunately they got it all done rather than turning us away with no insurance. Made it to the hotel about 6:00 PM. I took a quick walk around town, got a bite to eat and was in bed before long, tired from another day of waiting. Still hadn’t reached equilibrium from the damn boat.
Day 3 in Cartagena
Again we were up early to take a cab to the port. This time only four of us went because we were sure we’d be driving our vehicles out before noon. We’d already had two days of red tape BS. It couldn’t take much longer, right? Long story short, we drove the vehicles out of the port at about 8:30 PM after our most impressive day of waiting yet. I had a few beers at the hotel before retreating to my 100 degree hotel room for the night. Land legs were slowly coming back.
Day 4 in Cartagena
I really needed to hit the road to Bogota, but I decided to spend one more day in Cartagena just to continue my rehydration and see if my body could remember how to stand on solid ground again. I was able to meet up with my friends Chris and Alison again who I initially met in language school in Nicaragua. Coffee in the morning and a few beers later in the evening with them were the highlight of my day. The old walled in city in Cartagena really was impressive architecturally. Unfortunately I have no pictures of Cartagena. You’re just going to have to use Google Images and crop me into the photo.
Except this blurry photo of the container crew the day we got the vehicles
Cartagena to Bogota
It’s just short of 700 miles from Cartagena to Bogota on the main highways. I should probably mention that highways in Colombia are some of the twistiest roads you’ll ever ride through mountains that will take your breath away. The trip took about 3 days with a stop somewhere in the mountains and another in Medellin.
I was hoping to make it to Medellin from Cartagena the first day. I knew mileage-wise it would be a stretch, but it was the goal for the first day. I got into some intense mountains in the late evening, along with some intense rain and fog. Driving off the side of these mountains could easily mean falling thousands of feet to the ravines below. I pressed on for a little while, but when the visibility dropped to about 20 feet in front of me, I made a U-turn back to the last town I passed that had a hotel. I’ve since lovingly referred to the place as the trucker hotel, because I was the only person staying there that wasn’t driving a semi. When the fog lifted in the morning, I found that the place was built on the side of a mountain with a spectacular view. Here’s a few pictures of the surprisingly nice and cheap trucker hotel in Valdivia, Colombia.
The view behind the trucker hotel
The next day I was off for a more relaxing ride to Medellin. The mountains continued to be spectacular. I pulled off at an overlook and was fortunate to catch a couple paragliders run off the mountain and float into the valley below. I must have stood there watching them for an hour and a half. I arrived in Medellin in the afternoon, and just kicked back at the hostel. Some of the people I met on the boat ride across the Caribbean were staying there, so we chatted over a couple beers. Medellin seemed like a really nice place. I wish I had more time to visit, but I needed to get to Bogota to meet up with my little sister, Emily who was going to visit us in Bogota. Actually her plane arrived while I was still in Medellin.
The third day was a long one from Medellin to Bogota. Again, the ride through the mountains was amazing. While taking a break from the rain under the shelter of an abandoned gas station, I also met a nice guy from Spain who was bicycling south from Alaska. Jorge, started 11 months ago in Alaska on his bicycle, and pedaled all the way here. I’ve passed a lot of people doing long distance riding on bicycles, but Jorge was the first one I’ve chatted with. That’s an Alaskan license plate on the side of his bike.
Traffic in Bogota was the worst part. Bogota is a darn big city, and driving there is nuts! I was riding in bicycle lanes and sidewalks just trying to get somewhere, and so were every other small motorcycle and scooter navigating the city streets. I arrived after dark to meet back up with Coco, Rufio, and my little sis, Emily.
Hola Emily! Emily says Hola!
My sister Emily's visit to Bogota
When you hang around my sister Emily, bombs tend to go off. Here’s a picture of me and my siblings in Times Square on May 1st, 2010, the day some nutjob stuffed a small SUV full explosives. The attempted bombing was foiled by vigilant street vendors who immediately alerted authorities that were able to diffuse the situation. We had just attended my cousin’s wedding and reception, and were completely unaware of the attempted bombing.
Emily’s visit to Bogota was no different. Rufio and I rode off to a bike shop to get the bikes in order before we took Emily out for a ride in Colombia. Sure enough, a bomb being used to assassinate a former government official of Colombia exploded not far from the shop Rufio and I were at. Here’s the scene at the bike shop. They didn’t stop working on the bikes for one minute, or for lunch. Life goes on, it always does.
Is that a big glob of grease on my thumb, or did I just vote in Iraq? Who cares, at least I'm wearing the same blue shirt I always wear for pics.
After the bikes were in order, our first little excursion was not too far outside of Bogota to a salt mine converted into a church. All I can say about it is that it had a lot of neon, the gift shop seemed to be the main feature, and it was weird overall. So weird that we weren’t even sure it was indeed a real salt mine. So I licked the wall, and can definitively confirm for you that it was indeed a salt mine. Salt mines churches taste disgusting just in case you were wondering.
We did some more riding around before getting back to Bogota at rush hour to fight city traffic, and managed to get back to the hotel alive. Here’s a couple more photos of the outskirts of Bogota.
We also took the cable car up the hill to the overlook over Bogota. There's one hell of a view from up there.
We were also lucky enough to be invited to a vacation house owned by the family of Emily’s sister-in-law who resides in Bogota (Emily’s not married, but it’s easier to explain this way). Our old buddy, Ryan from Bellingham, joined us as well for the two night we stayed there. Emily’s sister-in-law, Andrea was nice enough to take us to a nearby amusement park where her dad used to work. We got in for free which is a really great price when you’re traveling on a budget. The amusement park even had a zoo with the best monkey exhibit I’ve ever seen. I of course have no pictures.
Emily's final night in Bogota was filled with dancing and drinking at a happenin' club in North Bogota. Ryan from Bellingham got some photos, and you can click here to see them (have to scroll down a bit). http://advrider.com/forums/showthrea...770001&page=16
I think that about sums up Emily’s week in Bogota. It was great to see you Emily!
Nice!!!!, good luck from Uruguay!.
Thanks, and enjoy.
Bogota and Salento
We’re not done with visitors just yet. Our friend Niki flew into Bogota just as Emily was flying out. Among other Bogota activities, we toured the city’s Botanical Gardens before taking a little trip to the town of Salento.
Different shirt. Please take note.
As Rufio always says, guide books love to define small tourist towns as ‘Cowboy Towns.’ It was difficult to walk around town without stepping in horse shit, so I’d say Salento was truly one of them. The town had lots of charm, and lots of beauty in the mountains surrounding the city.
Roadside break on the way to Salento
Lots of Willys Jeeps in town available to haul people around
Vista on the edge of town
We took the long way back to Bogota from Salento, just crossing our fingers and hoping for some amazing new sites. Well, we found it. Route 50 from the city of Manizales over to the city of Honda proved to be one of the most beautiful roads we’d ridden on this entire trip. The pictures can’t capture just how impressive the views really are.
Admiring the view
And another whirlwind week complete. Niki returned home, and we decided to spend a few more days in Bogota to take a short break after two weeks of visitors.
Back to the Explora Hostel, our home in Bogota
Final days in Bogota
Well the fun in Bogota wasn’t over yet. We got a surprise visit from Maria Camila, a friend of Emily’s sister-in-law, who we met just over a week ago when we went to the night club in Bogota. Apparently Maria Camila’s father is involved in restoring old cars and they were having a car show right across the street from our hotel. So we walked across the street to find a parking lot full of restored vehicles, most of them old American classics. It was just like a car show back in the States, but without Beach Boys music blaring from loudspeakers.
Spent a little more time walking around the Bogota before leaving. Here's a couple more pics.
From there I began planning where to go next. Things are about to change a little bit. More on that in the next post.
As a fellow rider from the Derby City, I'm glad I've found your blog. Looks like I know what I'll be doing the next few days. Be safe!
I'm never far from home! :rofl This trip started in the Highlands, right next to Cherokee Park....about 4 months ago.
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