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Old 03-13-2014, 07:57 AM   #1696
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/139.html



As predicted, we didn't make it very far outside of Bogota's city limits last night before being stopped by the darkness and the rain. We stayed for the evening in a cheap motel right on the main highway in a small suburb called Mosquera. The plan today is to try to head further west within the country.

If it looks like we're backtracking a bit, it's because we're totally backtracking a bit...


We've been squeezing our bikes into plenty of tight spaces lately...


Last night: Wet tires on slick tile = high pucker factor

We're kind of getting sick of the cold and the rain. It seems like the waterworks has been following us ever since last autumn in Guatemala. The rough idea we had in our heads was that because we were moving so slowly, the rainy season would actually overtake us. It would seem that this plan backfired spectacularly, as the rain has actually kept the same pace as us. So in fact, we've been traveling in a perpetual rainy season for the last 6 months... fml...


As we were preparing to leave in the morning, Juan and his dad stop by on their bicycles and pepper us with questions

All over Colombia everyone has been asking to take pictures of us and our bikes. It's a bit unusual because there are lots of larger bikes like ours all around the big cities. I think what draws their interest are the overloaded luggage hanging off our bikes... and the only Asian person within 100 square miles is piloting one of the motorcycles... Latin Americans are very curious about me. I feel like I'm 25% Celebrity and 75% Alien...

Juan's dad told us that he wants to do the same trip that we're doing with his son on bicycles one day. Cool!


Heading westwards towards the Coffee Triangle

The Coffee Triangle is an area in Colombia where cars, motorcycles and trucks mysteriously vanish. Oh, and they also grow a lot of coffee plants in this area as well.

Since we're descending from the heights of Bogota, the weather starts off cool in the morning but quickly heats up as we dip into the lush valley. Between cities, most of the major roads in Colombia are only two-lane highways which means that there is a lot of aggressive passing when cars and motorcycles get stuck behind slow-moving trucks. We're told that most traffic accidents in Colombia occur because of bad passes resulting in head-on collisions or vehicles rolling over in the ditch, especially in the mountain roads on blind corners.

This is where we got into a bit of trouble: Neda was leading for the day and we were following a truck that was crawling up-hill. As we hit a small straightaway, she pulled out to pass the truck over a double-yellow and I followed her... right in plain sight of a traffic cop who was standing on the side of the road.

He pointed at us angrily and motioned for us to pull over.

Uh oh.


This is not the cop, because I was too scared shitless to take any pictures of the actual incident.
But it gives you an idea of what it looked like...


This is our first ever run-in with the law since our trip started (if you don't count Neda's no-helmet transgression with the bicycle police in Medellin). We're very wary of crooked cops in Latin America trying to shake down tourists, so we've discussed various strategies on how to deal with the situation if we're ever stopped.

I've heard that a popular strategy is the "No Fumar Espanol" defense (translated: "I don't smoke Spanish"). Basically, you mangle and butcher the Spanish language so badly that the police officer gives up trying to communicate with you and lets you off in a fit of exasperation. We both agree beforehand that this is what we'll do because, quite simply, it's not far from the truth in my case.

So we pull off right beside the police officer and over the communicator I hear Neda speak, "Buenas tardes, senor. Hay algun problema?"

DAFUQ?!?!

Because I don't understand Spanish, I'll give you my point of view of how the conversation went:

Quote:
Neda: "espanolespanolespanol"

Cop pulls out a book, turns to a page and points out a section to Neda

Cop: "espanolespanol MULTA"
(oh no, I know what that word means... we learnt it in Medellin when our bicycles got impounded for five days)

Cop looks stern. Neda looks worried

Neda: (pleadingly) "espanolespanolespanol"

Cop laughs, but not in a nice way.

Cop: "espanolespanol"

Cop then looks at me disapprovingly. Then Neda looks at me disapprovingly. What the hell is going on?

Cop: "espanolespanolespanolespanolespanolespanol"

Neda: "Gracias, senor!"

(did we just get off?)

Neda taps on her communicator: "Okay let's go..."
A few minutes later we're on the road and I ask Neda, "What the hell just happened back there?!?"

She replied, "Okay, so he said the fine for crossing a double yellow is that our motorcycles would be impounded for five days".
(Five days? Is every punishment five days long in Colombia?)

"He said that we would have to turn back towards Mosquera and wait till Monday to plead our case with the judge. Then I asked him is there any other solution to this problem?"
(Did my wife just offer a bribe to a police officer?)

"Then he scoffed at me"
(Great, we get stopped by the most honest policeman in Latin America...)

"He went on about how this was a really serious offense. But then for some reason he seemed to think that you were leading and then told me to explain to you what a bad thing you did and what a mistake it was to follow you."
(What?!? I wasn't leading! I was following Neda! Did my wife just throw me under the bus?!?)

"So I just nodded my head and agreed with him."
(My wife totally threw me under the bus.)

"It seemed to work, he let us go..."

I listened to Neda's entire explanation in stunned silence. Forget "No Fumar Espanol". Next time we get stopped, we're "Throwing Gene Under The Bus!"


Looking for a place to stay in Armenia

We tiptoed through the rest of the ride, camping out behind slow-moving trucks, inhaling diesel fumes until the next broken yellow line appeared to our left. The day stretched out incredibly long this way. We were hoping to make it to the pretty touristy town of Salento, but the daylight escaped us and we were forced to stop for the evening in Armenia.


Our hotel let us park our bikes in the spa! They slept better than we did!

Armenia wasn't even on our radar as a place to visit, but the next morning we walked around the small city to see what it was all about. It was surprisingly nice.


Medium size city, medium size traffic


There seems to be an artsy vibe around town


I do as instructed


#PopsicleEverywhereDontCare


Studies have shown that Omega 3 fatty acids from fish is beneficial for the heart
...which is totally what the artist was trying to convey. I'm sure of it...



Hangin' out, playin' tunes.


As if on cue, the afternoon brings rain...

Do you remember the kid in Charlie Brown, called PigPen? He had a perpetual cloud of dust hanging around him wherever he went. I feel exactly like that, as if we've got a perpetual rain cloud lingering over our motorcycles.




Our bikes reluctantly leave the spa

Okay, but seriously, enough with the cities, we're off to spend some time in the countryside!
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Old 03-13-2014, 08:32 AM   #1697
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Loved that last update! Enjoying this immensely.
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Old 03-13-2014, 08:36 AM   #1698
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This is too funny!

You two continue to bring a great story of interest and laughter. Thanks again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lightcycle View Post

"It seemed to work, he let us go..."

I listened to Neda's entire explanation in stunned silence. Forget "No Fumar Espanol". Next time we get stopped, we're "Throwing Gene Under The Bus!"
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Old 03-13-2014, 09:52 AM   #1699
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightcycle View Post
Do you remember the kid in Charlie Brown, called PigPen? He had a perpetual cloud of dust hanging around him wherever he went. I feel exactly like that, as if we've got a perpetual rain cloud lingering over our motorcycles.
Yes, Pigpen always had a cloud of dust, but it was Shleprock, a character from the Flintstones, was the one who always had the rain cloud following him. I know tomatoe / tomato


Of course there is always good old Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh.


At least it ain't snow, that is what we are continuing to get almost daily back home...........Onward! Keep on posting.
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Old 03-13-2014, 04:29 PM   #1700
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Bad ignition switch

Great report, BTW. I love how you have no schedule, and go with the flow.

I'm voting Ig switch. I fix things on my old Honda when I can. I've had my bike for 20 years. Honda's ignition switches have a contact that gets hot when the switch contacts get dirty/corroded. The hot contact burys in the nylon housing. Then When you first turn it on it gets hot enough with a little time to release that contact then you have contact.

.....anyway a new switch would be neat, but Honda switches, at least, can be taken apart, and rebuilt. Prolly any bike shop (non BMW) could rebuild yours if you can't get a new one.

They are just a little tricky...like on the Honda the key has to be turned to a particular position in order to get it apart. Good luck.
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Old 03-13-2014, 04:42 PM   #1701
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If getting thrown under the bus means getting off of a 5-day impound, I say we're good.
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Old 03-13-2014, 07:29 PM   #1702
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Awesome, and hello again! Loved catching up with your travels.

Might I add, that was quick thinking and excellent negotiating with the law. Last time I was stopped I had my wife argue with me loudly and mercilessly, berating me for my poor judgement- all for the officer to witness.

Officer: "Calm down please, Ma'am"
Wife: "I'll calm down as soon as he stops being so stupid. STOOOOPIIIID!
Me: Offered the most pathetic whupped "help me" puppy dog look I could muster (it was more natural to summon than I had hoped).

When the officer returned to the car after running my tag/license (clean), he looked at me, sighed and said "Here's your license sir, and I'm going to let you go. You've been punished enough for one day."

I'll take the bus instead of a ticket everytime. Works like a charm.

Safe travels you two!
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Old 03-13-2014, 09:16 PM   #1703
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Pure Gold!!! Love your ride report, It gets better and better every new story. Espanolespanolespanol and the disapproving looks and the pigpen cloud of dust. You sir, have just made my day. You have a superb gift for conveying a funny situation and making it even more humorous. Thanks!!
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Old 03-13-2014, 10:03 PM   #1704
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Gene,
She didn't throw you under the bus....she was leaning on you....in a loving kind of way...

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Old 03-14-2014, 08:22 AM   #1705
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LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT

Unreal experience, my hats off to you Gene and Neda.
If the wind ever carries you back to Calgary AB, please do ping me I'd love to have you over.

Please continue with your updates, I keep checking your blog all the time..and ride safe
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Old 03-14-2014, 01:48 PM   #1706
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Nice guys, Im still checking this rr every day
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Old 03-15-2014, 08:45 AM   #1707
eshankel
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Inet Experience from Mexico to South America

Hey G&N,
I've been following you guys for sometime. Really great report, thanks for sharing all of your experiences. I'm planning a similar trip from my hometown in Idaho to South America in September. As with any overlander, saving the $ to get this done has been one of the biggest hurdles. So, after years of planning, I have grand ideas of continuing to work at my current job during the travel period. I'm a IT Project Manager and I can work anywhere I'd like as long as I have a "decent" internet connection that holds around 6-12 mbs. The plan is to travel south, frog-hopping from moderate sized city to city at what seems to be about the same pace that you and Neda have been holding. If I have a big workload, then i grab an apartment like you guys did, and bang it out... When the work lightens up again, I can go to 4-10's or even 3-12's work weeks to allow for additional travel time. So here's the fundamental question. What do you guys think and more specifically what are your experiences with the internet connections. Every time is see you or Neda on computer or tablet I get a feeling this might be possible. So since you seem to be pretty techno-savy and are constantly posting blogs and uploading images, I figured you'd have a feel for how the inet has been holding up?

Ok, thanks much for your report... again you guys are both amazing and reading through your adventures in your amusing voice & great photography is a highlight in my week!

Late
eS
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Old 03-16-2014, 04:34 PM   #1708
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trespalacios View Post
I believe the reason for the cell phone time sales are due to the fact of the rates being higher when you call landlines and other operators.
Ah, thanks for the clarification. That makes much more sense.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dryden_rider_54 View Post
it was Shleprock, a character from the Flintstones, was the one who always had the rain cloud following him.
Yes! This is exactly how we feel!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sopranos View Post
If the wind ever carries you back to Calgary AB, please do ping me I'd love to have you over.
Thanks, that's very generous of you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by eshankel View Post
I have grand ideas of continuing to work at my current job during the travel period. [..] What do you guys think and more specifically what are your experiences with the internet connections. Every time is see you or Neda on computer or tablet I get a feeling this might be possible.
Hey eS,

We've met a few people who are "Digital Nomads", able to work from wherever they are. Not just IT people too, we recently talked to a girl who does accounting for several businesses, all her communication is virtual.

Internet is good everywhere we've visited in Central and South America. Whether it's at a hostel or in our own apartment, we've managed to upload pictures and videos, download movies and TV shows as well as Skype with our family while on the road. The only time we've been without Internet (well, besides the month we spent in Cuba) is in some very remote places - I can count the number of times on one hand - and even then, there's always an Internet cafe nearby with a dodgy connection should you need to send an email or check something on the web.

Also, the mobile Internet infrastructure is as good if not better than North America. We stopped buying SIM chips for our smartphones quite a while ago, since we always have wi-fi just about everywhere. I've seen the locals use mobile Internet in some of the aforementioned remote places, so if you want to be safe, you can get a prepaid data package. $30/month seems to be the going rate in most of the places for about 5GB, and 3G seems to be prevalent in most populated areas.

Hope this gives you the push you need to join the ranks of the Digital Nomads!
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Old 03-16-2014, 05:45 PM   #1709
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Gene, you have a wonderful sense of humor. I look forward to all of your reports and love your photography.
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Old 03-17-2014, 06:37 PM   #1710
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Also there is Internet in Cuba, but it's highly controlled and very expensive. You need to provide a passport for access (in most places) and the pricing puts it out of reach for most locals. I think the government offers it as a way to appease all the tourists that visit the island.

From the wait times on the browser, I believe the entire island is connected to the Internet via a single 56K dial-up modem...
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