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Old 08-14-2012, 07:31 AM   #106
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A nation in despair
 
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Odd. I've read some accounts of this passage and nobody I can remember said they had nearly as many problems or hassles as you guys had. I wonder if they failed to mention it or if things have changed recently.
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Old 08-14-2012, 09:55 AM   #107
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Odd. I've read some accounts of this passage and nobody I can remember said they had nearly as many problems or hassles as you guys had. I wonder if they failed to mention it or if things have changed recently.
You may want to read up on two blogs:

- drive nacho drive
- life remotely

They had the same issues we had. It's not uncommon
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Old 08-14-2012, 09:59 AM   #108
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You may want to read up on two blogs:

- drive nacho drive
- life remotely

They had the same issues we had. It's not uncommon
Nacho drive?

"My transmission failed in Monterrey so I replaced it with a Nacho Drive. Cheesy, but it works."
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Old 08-14-2012, 10:30 AM   #109
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Nice pictures.
Thanks for sharing with us.
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Old 08-14-2012, 10:40 AM   #110
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Nice pictures.
Thanks for sharing with us.
You're welcome
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Old 08-14-2012, 07:51 PM   #111
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Nacho drive?

"My transmission failed in Monterrey so I replaced it with a Nacho Drive. Cheesy, but it works."
http://www.drivenachodrive.com/
http://liferemotely.com/

Both sites are stunningly written...
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Old 08-15-2012, 06:51 AM   #112
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Interesting. The Nacho folks seem on permanent vacation & enjoying it too.
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Old 08-19-2012, 08:14 AM   #113
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August 16, 2012 - On the way to El Cocuy, we made a few stops. The first one was in Curumani, a wide spot on the road infested with small hotels and even more places to eat. It was a truck stop town with some charm.

The next day we did minor motorcycle maintenance in Curumani as the trip odometer crept towards the 20,000 km mark. In the afternoon, we rode to Bucaramanga. Finally we gained some altitude and the temperature dropped. There were few things of note on the ride, maybe the fact I raced with a police motorcycle around trucks, double yellow lines be damned. They were riding two up and the pillion passenger grinned and gave me a thumbs up as he clutched his AR15 assault rifle and held on for dear life.

When we arrived in Bucaramanga, we casually informed at the police station as to hotels in the area. This resulted in a call to the tourist police and a two-up motorcycle escort to suitable accommodation, with the cops getting us a better than posted rate. Initially the hotel staff were a little shaken by the whole affair but warmed up to us when it became apparent we were mere tourists and not corrupt officials who needed a place to stay.

The next day we arrived, after some of the best riding since Chiapas in Mexico and Guatemala, in a small place called Barichara. It turns out that Barichara is probably one of those towns you will never forget. We felt we'd walked into a fairytale.



The town looks like it is nearly totally restored like it was originally built. We couldn't figure out why the place wasn't overrun with tourists like Antigua is in Guatemala. I guess we have to thank the FARC in part. The outside world also still views Colombia in terms of cocaine and Pablo Escobar. Reality is quite different and Medellin is now a must-see place on the Colombian travel calendar.



It turns out that Barichara is mainly visited by people from Bogota and Bucaramanga on weekends.



At some point in our walk around town, Baroque music wafted through the streets and we stumbled upon a practicing American/Colombian ensemble. A few concerts were planned, one of which we attending. The church's acoustics were amazing. Unlike my last attendance at the Vancouver symphony where someone clad in a noisy North Face jacket managed to ruin all the quiet passages of a performance by St. Martin-in-the-fields a few years ago, people here seem to be more attentive and appreciative. The performers are Ensemble La Rocinante and Coral Lux Aeterna.



Numerous streets in town are broken up to replace the sewer system. Stone masons are everywhere and debating the correct location of new stone slabs. It's a carefully orchestrated process and nothing is left to chance. The whole town has a museum-like quality and consistency of appearance that is simply amazing. A neon sign here surely attracts a death sentence.





A little further away from the town centre, the housing style is clearly a little different, but very much along the same lines.



On one of the afternoons when we were out for a stroll, we ran into Gringo Mike, an American who runs a restaurant/hotel in San Gil, a small town near here. He told us this hamlet was one of the most amazing places in Colombia. We can believe it.



There are a lot more pictures in the slideshow for Barichara.
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Old 08-26-2012, 11:19 PM   #114
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August 18, 2012 - Things don't always work out as planned. Our next stop was Villa de Leyva, playground of the Bogota up and coming crowd, silicone central, and with a palpable electric ambiance. Alas, it was not to be.

A quick excursion around town netted a few hotels in the +$180 range and not much else. Admittedly, it was a Colombian long weekend and the crowds were on a mission to have fun. We had to admit defeat and scurried on to Tunja. It wasn't the liveliest city in the world and a bit drab, reminiscent of the old Eastern Europe prior to German unification. Our hotel was definitely "old glory", but for a night it served its purpose.



Even our bikes found a place inside. Jan's made it all the way into the restaurant.



The next day we pressed on and ended up in Soata. We were once reminded why this country is motorcycle heaven. Twisties, vistas and smooth tarmac.



Soata is a town neither too large nor too small. Without a real purpose, it sits somewhere. The place lacked inspiration, reflected in the woman who ran the hotel we stayed at. She seemed pained to have to deal with yet another customer.



We debated what would be worse, live in a town without a soul where the path from birth to death is paved with the stones of predictability or live in squalor in Cartagena, with a chance to move up. The answer was unclear.

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Old 08-26-2012, 11:24 PM   #115
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August 20, 2012 - From Soata we headed towards El Cocuy, our jumping off point for a few hikes in the national park. The road leaving Soata was stellar for the first 24 kilometers, with not a single section of straight road to be seen. We were flipping back and forth through the turns like giddy children. This is what riding in Colombia is all about.

Need I say more?



El Cocuy used to be FARC-central, but in the last few years, the FARC has been driven back far enough to declare the area safe.



This was the first thing I saw when I got here, goats being loaded onto a bus.





We sported a similar grin earlier in the day when we were flipping through the twisties.



These guys were bemused by us taking their picture.



We also wandered around the local cemetery, quite an interesting one too.



After an afternoon of rest and a long chat with a local mountain guide, we'd picked a few potential hiking options. Given some of the feedback from other riding buddies, we decided to stop off at Hacienda La Esperanza, halfway between El Cocuy and Guican when you follow the dirt road. We're glad we did. The place was really something.



While the bike took a little rest, we donned our hiking gear and made for even higher ground.



Our goal for the day was Laguna Grande de la Sierra, with an intermediate pass at around 4,000 meters. La Esperanza was at 3,600 meters. A few hours into our hike, the weather turned nasty quickly and we decided to capitulate.



A few more inquiries later it was clear the weather was too unpredictable at this time of year to do any serious hiking. Our grand plans for a five day circuit tour were shelved after some navel gazing. Later in the evening I got to enjoy my first ever bout of altitude sickness and slept for twelve or so hours straight.
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Old 08-27-2012, 08:11 AM   #116
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4,000 m or anything above 3,600 m is serious business for a flat lander such as yourself. We used to have flat landers express distress in Denver which is about 1,500 m. Of course, that was usually after they'd had a few drinks, too.
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Old 08-27-2012, 08:20 AM   #117
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4,000 m or anything above 3,600 m is serious business for a flat lander such as yourself. We used to have flat landers express distress in Denver which is about 1,500 m. Of course, that was usually after they'd had a few drinks, too.
Oh I've been over 6K too, but then I was smarter and took a few days in stages to acclimatize
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Old 08-31-2012, 12:01 PM   #118
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August 31, 2012 - From El Cocuy, we headed back towards Tunja and ended up in the same hotel we stayed at earlier. The next day, we went to a place called Guatavita.

Guatavita is a small place close to Bogotá. Despite it being a tourist town for local Colombians, we saw relatively few hotels and ended up in a fairly modest "hospedaje" for the night.



The tower in the background of the picture above is the centre of town. You can walk across town in half an hour. We had an incredibly good chicken meal, dining al fresco, and later wandered back into town. On the way, we came across a small window from which home made cake was sold by an English woman who had lived in the town on her own for the last eight years. She'd been in Colombia for over forty years and was still lamenting the loss of a lover thirty five years ago. A wonderful eccentric, she had a nice house with a rooms dedicated to singing, painting and playing guitar.

The next day we pushed on to Medellin, via Bogotá. On the way, we got lost a few times as the GPS tracks turned from solid road into goat tracks. Eventually we made it to Bogotá, being overtaken on the highway at one point by at least ten or so M- series BMWs with their engines wound out and screaming like tortured pigs, flying by at blistering speed.

In Medellin, we ended at Casa Kiwi, a hostel in the middle of upscale Medellin called Poblado. We're going to hang here for a while and relax. Our pace of travel had decreased drastically. In May, we filled up the bikes eighteen times, ten times in June, eight times in July and four times in August.

Medellin is an interesting place. There are no spectacular highlights, but rather a collection of smaller things to see.

This is the view from the top of the cable cart, part of the metro system, where a very modern library was built in a poorer neighborhood.



The downtown core can be seen in the distance.

A visit to Museo de Antioquia was probably the most interesting visit so far in Medellin, although it is filled with Fernando Botero's art, mainly portraying corpulent people.



The life and death of Pablo Escobar is widely "celebrated" in Medellin as well, with tours dedicated to his influence in the city.



Medellin has a fair bit of public art as well.



Despite the statues and paintings, real life on the streets of Medellin is far more enjoyable. The city is filled with well proportioned females, a large percentage of them admittedly aided by modern medicine, although no field test were conducted.

The museum of modern art is something to give a miss when in Medellin.



In the time that we arrived, a few more bikers have flocked in. The count now stands at five, with an Englishman, American and Australian on motorcycle adventures of some kind or other residing at Casa Kiwi. Medellin is the city of "eternal spring", with year round temperatures hovering between 22 and 28 degrees centigrade and no humidity to speak of. It's comfortable here but at some point we will have to move on.

I've also started pursuing photography a bit more aggressively and am applying to a few stock photo agencies.
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Old 08-31-2012, 09:51 PM   #119
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even buda need to lose some of its weight it seems I know I know it's just arts



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Old 09-01-2012, 02:01 PM   #120
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Awesome!

It's so amazing how many places that these ride reports take us. I've seen more photos and have read more interesting things here then anywhere else. Thanks much for taking the time for the rest of us. It's for sure that I'll never have the chance to do anything like this in real life so reading here is the next best thing.

Gary "Oldone"

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