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Old 10-03-2012, 06:45 AM   #31
Parcero
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cisco_k View Post
Reflections on riding my motorcycle in Colombia

...In fact I have begun to wonder if the government actually sits down and devises laws and posts them with the idea that someone will follow them. The posted speed limits mean nothing. They seem to be set exceptionally low, like 30 kph (19 mph) on most city streets and 40 to 50 (25 to 31 mph) on most secondary roads. Out on the highway there are very few passing zones and the speed limits on all but divided roadways are 60 to 80 kph (38 to 50 mph). I have never observed anyone doing the speed limit, although people don’t appear to be driving at unsafe speeds. Passing is done whenever one feels like they can make it without crashing into an oncoming vehicle. At traffic signals all the motorcycles go around the stopped cars and buses so that when the light turns green, they can be the first to go. Passing is done on the left, right and anytime someone slows a bit like at one of the numerous speed bumps where the highway passes through small villages. At times the motorcycles look like ants as they swarm around vehicles in an attempt to get an inch more ahead.


But, and this is a big but, I am beginning to arrive at the conclusion that the drivers are much safer because they have a much greater situational awareness. There isn’t the attitude that is found in the states that one owns their lane and space and that no one better interfere with them as they ride along in their cocoon insulated from the world and texting or talking on their cell phones. The drivers really seem to look out for each other and know the moves to expect from the other drivers. For instance it is no problem for a motorcycle to pass another car with an oncoming motorcycle in the opposing lane. The two motorcycles treat the opposing lane as though it is two lane and they pass in opposite directions without even a flinch. When going the same direction, the slower of two motorcycles rides to the right side of the lane so they can be passed by a second motorcycle. Or, when the lane is wide enough, a car will pass a motorcycle while another car or motorcycle approaches from the opposite direction. It’s all done without a whole lot of regard to the center stripe. Because everyone does it and because everyone is aware of what’s going on there is no problem and traffic flows better with the limited road space. In heavy traffic, cars and trucks will allow someone to cut in and the only times they seem to blow the horns is to signal that they are there as a means of being seen. Trucks will signal when it is safe to pass when in hilly or curvy country and will also pull over to block and prevent a pass when they see that it would not be safe. As a final bit of evidence, very few of the cars are beat up. It would seem at first glance that there wouldn’t be a straight fender or door on the cars but one sees very little damage. Drivers do appear to do their best to avoid collisions.

However, all the above said and understood, I’ll still keep a watchful eye out for the crazy drivers that are surely lurking out there somewhere.
Once you get used to the traffic flow in Colombia, you find that it flows pretty well given the heavy traffic in the cities and on some of the inter-city roads. The drivers themselves police and regulate themselves, and do a good job of it at that, as opposed to in the USA, which is way over-regulated not just on the roads but almost in all aspects of life. In Colombia, as in much of Latin America, I feel like I have been given back more freedom in exchange for personal responsibility, which sadly, almost doesn't exist anymore in the USA. (Just look at all the ridiculous lawsuits--some idiot gets hurt doing something stupid and then sues--and prevails--against the owner of the property he or she was on when they got hurt.) Does passing a truck over double yellow lines when there is no oncoming traffic really endanger anyone? Or going faster than the speed limit when the road is empty? No. But in the USA, if I do that and a police officer sees me, I'll be stopped and treated like I am a reckless menace to society, and I'll pay a huge fine. I have passed slow-moving police vehicles in Colombia many times over double yellows and the officers don't so much as look at me when I pass. This feeling of freedom, along with the increased importance of personal responsibility, can be felt in many more aspects of life than just in driving in Latin America, and is a refreshing change.
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Old 10-04-2012, 06:41 AM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cisco_k View Post
Reflections on riding my motorcycle in Colombia




But, and this is a big but, I am beginning to arrive at the conclusion that the drivers are much safer because they have a much greater situational awareness. There isn’t the attitude that is found in the states that one owns their lane and space and that no one better interfere with them as they ride along in their cocoon insulated from the world and texting or talking on their cell phones. The drivers really seem to look out for each other and know the moves to expect from the other drivers.
Pretty interesting to see your point of view regarding this. It is exactly the same as I. a local in Latin America used to the way traffic "moves" here, see it. Besides, after a while of riding/driving in those seemingly lawless conditions, you start to develop some kind of a sixth sense about what you can and cannot do safely and you are more aware of your riding surroundings.
I've ridden all over South America and have never felt so vulnerable riding a bike that through downtown San Francisco (yeah, the one in CA ) where cagers behaved exactly as you describe with no awareness of the bike next to them... It's like a lot of drivers in America don't understand that if you hit a bike with your car, the outcome will probably be ugly.

People say that riding in Latin America is more dangerous than in the US. I'd say it is not... It is US the riders that make it more dangerous by doing stupid things because laws are not harshly enforced.... But it sure is fun

I'm really enjoying your comments and particular point of view of the new places you are riding through. Thanks for taking the time to post!
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Old 10-06-2012, 08:52 PM   #33
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I'm in Quito, Ecuador tonight and I've been on the move too much to post lately and I leave for the Galagapos Islands early tomorrow and will not be back to a computer until next Thursday when I will try and post updates.
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Old 10-07-2012, 05:37 PM   #34
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Thanks Chuck for the posts, we are enjoying it.
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Old 10-10-2012, 11:22 AM   #35
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Great report, Chuck! Glad to know you guys are still alive and doing well, and we are all enjoying reading about your adventures. Your names are mentioned at each of our Wednesday night, bike nights, and sometimes even pertaining to your trip

I'm with the other fellers that posted ahead of me: driving in third-world countries (Jamaican, originally) makes you a better driver/rider by far. You have to be much more aware of what is happening around you, and the sense of freedom tempered with responsibility is refreshing. Who knew we could actually take care of own ourselves, eh?

Keep it coming, and be safe.
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Old 10-10-2012, 02:19 PM   #36
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Today is Chuck's 66th birthday. Ihope the iguanas in the Galapagos Islands thre him a big party! Darwin never had it so good!
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Old 10-10-2012, 06:32 PM   #37
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Wooooo!

Looks awesome guys. Hope y'all make the deadline and looking forward to more pics n stories.

~Chuck The Younger
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Old 10-12-2012, 03:23 AM   #38
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chuck. I hope this post isn't too late before you leave Quito but a couple of suggestions from my buddy here that used to work in Quito. About 20 min south of Quito is Mitad de mundo which is where the equator passes thru and there is a spot where you can have 1 foot in the Northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemispher .. a unique pot for a photo. He also recommends visiting volcano cotopaxi .. and the town of Banos which is in a valley close to one of the active volcanos .. other sites are Quilotoa which is a 10,000 ft elev. volcano lake and vwry beautiful. Also a town called Otavalo(which is the leather town). There are many many hand made items here very cheap and maybe can even pick up som riding gear .. like jackets ... one other town recommended was Cuenca but I can't remember the attraction there. Happy 66th and hope I as good a shape as you when I get that old ... LOL ... see you guys in Feb ... Marc
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Old 10-12-2012, 11:08 AM   #39
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Before moving on with my ride report, I would like to add a little political commentary to go along with what some of you have said in reaction to my reflections upon riding in Colombia. You are right that the USA has turned into a nation of restrictions and lack of personal responsibility. Too many people feel as though their life can be lived shielded from harm or risk if the government is just allowed to exercise enough power and put in place enough regulations to protect everyone. Every time something bad happens, the government passes a new set of regulations which in effect take away individual liberties but do little if anything to protect the public. The feelings of many is that if they have a disaster, it is not their fault or even natures fault but is the result of the government not sheltering the individual. Too many of our youth have grown up so sheltered that they are willing to give up most of their liberties so long as they think the government has the answers to protect them from harm or hardship. They are naive but then they have never had to live in a world where they must produce for themselves and live off of what they produce as individuals and accept and overcome difficulties through their own individual efforts. Ok, now back to riding so this doesn't turn into a political sounding board.
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Old 10-12-2012, 11:45 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cisco_k View Post
Before moving on with my ride report, I would like to add a little political commentary to go along with what some of you have said in reaction to my reflections upon riding in Colombia. You are right that the USA has turned into a nation of restrictions and lack of personal responsibility. Too many people feel as though their life can be lived shielded from harm or risk if the government is just allowed to exercise enough power and put in place enough regulations to protect everyone. Every time something bad happens, the government passes a new set of regulations which in effect take away individual liberties but do little if anything to protect the public. The feelings of many is that if they have a disaster, it is not their fault or even natures fault but is the result of the government not sheltering the individual. Too many of our youth have grown up so sheltered that they are willing to give up most of their liberties so long as they think the government has the answers to protect them from harm or hardship. They are naive but then they have never had to live in a world where they must produce for themselves and live off of what they produce as individuals and accept and overcome difficulties through their own individual efforts. Ok, now back to riding so this doesn't turn into a political sounding board.

I wish there was a "LIKE" button on here, this would certainly get my like!

Now, PLEASE, on with the RR!!!!!
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Old 10-12-2012, 11:47 AM   #41
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Today is Chuck's 66th birthday. Ihope the iguanas in the Galapagos Islands thre him a big party! Darwin never had it so good!
It's my dads birthday also.... NO NO NO Chuck is not my father!!!!

Happy Belated Birthday!!!

BTW my dad was 82....
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Old 10-12-2012, 05:27 PM   #42
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Manizales 10/2-10/3
Our first full day in Manizales turned out to be a light day of servicing our bikes, updating our blogs and tending to cloths etc. We did go into town and spent some time looking around and finding a place to eat dinner. Overall, there wasn’t too much to do and we took a taxi back to the ECO Hotel pretty early.
Our second day began with a great breakfast at the Hotel and then the owner and her daughter spent quite a while finding us a coffee tour and arranging an inexpensive taxi ride there and back. The tour was at Venecia, which is also a Hostel and from the looks of it a very nice one with great grounds, nice rooms, inexpensive with meals available too. Had we looked into it first, we may have stayed there. The tour, and lunch, was excellent. The tour guide spoke fluent English and was very knowledgeable about the entire operation. We toured the fields, the bean processing areas and also had a brief introduction into the different coffees of the world as well as samples of different grinds and brewing processes. If one wants to visit a coffee plantation and learn about the process from seed to cup of brew, Venecia is the place to do it.



Road into coffee plantation.


Hostel house at plantation. There is a pool and extensive grounds to explore.



Look at one of the several hundred acres of coffee growing.



The coffee beans on the plant. The red ones are ready for harvest. The beans are hand picked several times to insure that only the ripe ones are taken and the others are left to ripen.



Beans in a cleaning area where sticks, leaves and anything else not coffee is washed off and removed.



Machine that removes outer soft pulp, kind of like the olive meat on the seed.



Coffee beans being washed and deposited in tank after pulp removal.



Drying vats that have heated air pumped up through them so that a thin membrane can be dried and seperated from the beans.



Coffee beans that have been cleaned, dried and packaged prior to shipment to roasters and grinders and then on to the consumer.



Manizales to Quito 10/4-10/6
Our intent on leaving Manizales was to ride to Popayan and spend a few days touring the city and seeing the downtown area which is comprised of mostly two story building all painted white. Our ride down there was uneventful and mostly riding through a long valley where sugar cane was the primary crop. When we arrived in Popayan it was beginning to rain and it was also at the height of rush hour traffic. Especially crowded was the old town area where we ended up going through the center of the local market where people and goods were spilling out into the narrow streets. After riding around a bit we finally found a hotel, The Camino Royal, that was in a great place in the center of the old town. It wasn’t cheap but it wasn’t exorbitant either so we decided to stay there for a couple of days. The hotel appeared to be very old but well maintained with antiques everywhere. They had secure parking and the city looked interesting.
That evening we wondered around the streets, had a small bite to eat and then went to a nearby bar to check out the local beers. After a couple of drinks we decided there wasn’t too much interesting about the beer and headed back to our hotel. As we walked back we found a procession heading our way which consisted of a marching band (only beating the drums), eight men carrying a platform with what I suspect was a statue of a saint, several priests and others slowly walking along carrying candles. For the sound think of Fleetwood Mac and the drum line from “Tusk” played very loudly and echoing through the streets. The procession continued to march around several blocks of the old central city and disappeared into the night. We never found out what it was all about and continue to wonder.

Friday October 5th
As I said at the beginning of this segment, we had planned to stay for a few days in Popayan, however, that quickly changed and we were on our way to Ipiales by noon. What happened was that we had an interest in visiting the Galápagos’ Islands but had not made any arrangements. While in Santa Marta, the Swiss lady we met named Regula told us about a cruise service that she and her family had used a while back and it sounded like we needed to check it out. Joe sent an email around 10am and inquired about a trip. The service owner emailed back that there was a five day trip available, due to a last minute cancellation, and if we didn’t want it we would have to wait until November. Additionally she quoted us great price and after emails and a phone call we quickly changed our plans, packed, checked out of the hotel and we were out on the road by noon.
We picked our destination city as Ipiales because it is as close to the Ecuadorian border as you can get being less than 5K away. It is not a city that I would recommend for travelers, that is unless you are looking for a dump and plenty of prostitutes. I say that because not only was the city dirty and run down but everywhere we would stop to check on a hotel several pimps would approach us. Having left Popayan in a rush we had not made hotel reservations and it dark was approaching as we arrived. Just the time that I guess some people may have been looking for more than a room. We ended up going all over town and finally picked what looked to be the best one in town. The lady at the desk was quite nice and we didn’t have any problem booking two separate rooms at only about $12.00 US each per night. We may have been some of the rare people that just wanted a room for the night to sleep. The inside of the hotel had several paintings of nude women on the walls so we got some idea of what else it may have been. Our bikes were parked about two blocks away at a secure lot with a 24 hour guard so we didn’t worry about them. Other than noise in the hall and lots of street noise outside our windows, it actually wasn’t too bad a room. Well, with the exception of no toilet seat on my toilet and no shower head or hot water in Joe’s room, but we made do by sharing.


Typical sugar cane field that was on both sides of the road in most of the long valley that we traveled through on our way to the border.



Hotel in Popayan. It says Hostal but it is indeed a hotel.



A look down the street in front of our hotel. Notice the buildings are all white and two stories.



The view from our room.



The view from our room in the fine city of Ipiales. Notice the other hotels across the street. Rent by the hour I think.


Saturday October 6th
We were out of Ipiales and headed to Quito by around 8:30am. The border crossings weren’t really too bad and a few minutes looking around at each one was all that was need to figure out the proper line to get into. The bikes had to be inspected and the papers we received from the DIAN (customs for importation) office in Cartagena were turned into the inspector. He checked for the VIN numbers from about 30 feet away so he must have had really good eyes. Leaving Colombia only required a stamp in the passport and the motorcycle inspection and entering Ecuador took only filling out one form, getting our passports stamped but no motorcycle inspection or even listing them. At no time when we rode out or in was there someone on the road checking for proper documentation so I have a feeling that someone could easily just drive out of one and into the other country without any regard for the border crossing.
Ecuador at once had the appearance of a country that was more prosperous and refined. The small towns were cleaner and the buildings were much better kept. In one larger city, Otavalo, I missed a turn at a traffic circle and ended up going through the middle of the old city. I was very impressed by the newness, cleanliness and order in that area.
The reason I had missed the turn and Joe didn’t alert me was that we had become separated a few miles back as we exited the mountains. Joe had passed a car and most likely some trucks too before I was able to also pass (not a new thing because we often get separated by a little distance while passing in the mountain areas) and I was trying to catch back up with him. We were running low on gasoline so Joe stopped and while he was stopped I passed him. Perhaps a car or truck had blocked him, and I kept going assuming he was ahead of me and I needed to catch up with him. Some distance on I decided I could go no more without stopping for gasoline myself. While filling up my bike, Joe rode up beside me and said hello. It was nice to be back together since we didn’t have a location in Quito programmed into our Garmins. What we would have had to have done is either both find a place with internet and email each other or use our Spot’s to find each other. Joe has a data plan on his phone but I have nothing but my computer. We have decided that if we are separated again, I will stop and send out a message from Spot and then wait for Joe to receive it and check my location. I will have to just wait around but we will be able to locate each other. We will also try not to repeat the situation.
Things were going very well for us that day for finding our destination in Quito too. The address we had for the hostel where we would stay (Casa Girasol) was where our tour would begin, but it was not showing up in our map searches. We just headed into town, rode quite a way and then decided to stop for some lunch and try to figure it out. While eating I asked a local about the address and upon looking at it he said we were lucky and that we were only three blocks one way and two the next from our destination. After that we were able to locate the hostel which is joined to the travel agency (Cometa Travel). We spent the night, had a great breakfast and left our bikes securely parked in the drive in front of the owners car (the hostel and drive are inside a gated courtyard). The owner, also travel agent, handed us our airline tickets to the Galápagos’ Islands then drove us to the airport and waited to make sure there were no problems.
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Old 10-12-2012, 06:21 PM   #43
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Photos on the blink again.....
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Old 10-12-2012, 06:50 PM   #44
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Photos on the blink again.....
Sorry, I didn't set up sharing in the folder holding the files. I hope this takes care of it and will double check the permissions in the future.
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Cisco_k screwed with this post 10-12-2012 at 07:24 PM Reason: Revise answer
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Old 10-13-2012, 05:54 AM   #45
knthrall
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I can see clearly now!

Photos are great sweetie! Makes me want to consier becoming a coffee drinker. Cant wait to see the pictures of the islands,
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