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Old 12-18-2012, 05:14 PM   #166
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Finally caught up on your latest RR. I LOVE reading your ride reports. Very well written and entertaining. I know they are a lot of work, very time consuming. Very much appreciated. Heading south of the border in about a month and a half and we will use your road wisdom on our trip down. Not going as far as you have, just Panama for this year. Thanks again
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Old 12-19-2012, 08:39 PM   #167
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Columbian Traffic Rules

Hey Rex
Got a real kick out of your Primer on Bogata Traffic Protocol. The salt cathedrals were incredible looking, thanks for sharing those fotos. I am just relieved that you and that fine, fine steed of yours are reunited on the columbian side of the gap. It would appear that you were never worried that the bike would actually get on the plane in one piece. Clearly, they realized they were dealing with RexBuck.
Have a great time....
Gary

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Old 12-19-2012, 11:25 PM   #168
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Old 12-21-2012, 06:55 PM   #169
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Originally Posted by GoinPostal View Post
Finally caught up on your latest RR. I LOVE reading your ride reports. Very well written and entertaining. I know they are a lot of work, very time consuming. Very much appreciated. Heading south of the border in about a month and a half and we will use your road wisdom on our trip down. Not going as far as you have, just Panama for this year. Thanks again
Thanks for joining in and glad you are enjoying. I'm not quite as up to date as some but I enjoy putting these things together.

You are going to have a blast on your trip, safe riding.
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Old 12-21-2012, 07:03 PM   #170
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Hey Rex
Got a real kick out of your Primer on Bogata Traffic Protocol. The salt cathedrals were incredible looking, thanks for sharing those fotos. I am just relieved that you and that fine, fine steed of yours are reunited on the columbian side of the gap. It would appear that you were never worried that the bike would actually get on the plane in one piece. Clearly, they realized they were dealing with RexBuck.
Have a great time....
Gary
I should point out that throughout the mayhem there never seems to be a lot of tempers flaring. I could see fistfights (or worse) in the streets of the US or Canada if the same thing was going on. And having said all that, Colombian drivers have been very courteous to this idiot gringo and always seem to make space for my screwups.

Girag ships a lot of bikes but they ship a lot more of general freight. Since they are about the only player in the air transportation of bikes over the Darien Gap, they aren't motivated to make it easy. I'm sure that they backed a plane right up to the parking lot when they discovered who they were dealing with.
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Old 12-21-2012, 07:04 PM   #171
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Hey, welcome aboard Moto-Treks and, thanks again for all your help
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Old 12-21-2012, 07:17 PM   #172
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Dec 10 Pick up bike day

Today is the day I pick up my bike from Girag . . . hopefully.


After seeing the insanity of Bogota traffic, I decided I was too chicken to ride 10km each way to go back to Pabloís house after I picked up my bike. The traffic in Bogota is absolutely insane and I could just see me with my big-assed bike trying to follow the rules for driving in a Colombian city.



The road system here is hugely overtaxed with way too many vehicles. They actually have a law in BogotŠ that you are only permitted to drive during rush hour if your license plate is even for even days, etc. Their mass transit system is a whole bunch of articulated buses that run in their own dedicated lanes and pull up to stations just like a train station. Since they donít have to fight traffic, they move much faster than traffic and it seems to me like a pretty good and flexible system.






OK, go get my bike. After driving around in circles at the airport for a while, finally able to track down Girag. Go in and confirm they have my bike. They give me a document which we are to take to the Aduana which is on the third floor of a building across the street.


Big government office. Get to the right desk. Lady looks at my documents, huffs a little and wanders off for a good10 minutes. Returns with a couple of forms and a photocopy . She starts laboriously filling in a form by hand and gets the guy at the next desk to fill in another Ė same information on both but different forms. Finds she needs a photocopy of something in my passport and sends the guy off to get it. At least 10 minutes again and Iím starting to suspect the photocopier must be next to their coffee room or a bar or something . Finally stamp stamp, gathers all the documents up, sticks a staple through the middle of the mess and hands them to me. Iím apparently checked in.


Now back to Girag. Fill out forms, stamp stamp. Ok, go out in the warehouse. Stand around there for 20 minutes or so and they finally bring the bike out. Check it out and Iím outa there. Put a ramp down from one of the loading docks . . . no, I didnít fall off the edge. Just sayin.




About three hours in all so, including the three hours in Panama,Iím calling this a 6 hour crossing. Although in fairness more than half the time was spent with Girag. Good to go.





So, after picking up my bike I first headed for a gas station which was a real CF in itself going around in circles to get to the other side of the highway. Had to fill my Roto- Pax also and I took over 5 gallons which cost almost $30. Yikes! Expensive here. Got heading out of town and was surrounded by big rigs going mostly at a speed of stop. Every once in awhile weíd move forward a bit Ė took almost an hour to go 12 km . . . guess that is an average speed of 12KMph. Iíve always been pretty sharp with math stuff.


I wasnít going to have enough time to make it to Manizales before dark and it didnít look like a lot of places to stay on the way, so stopped for the night just outside of BogotŠ in Facatativa. Drove all over looking for hotels (I even had some written down) -after a couple of dead ends, got a pretty basic setup for 36,000 pesos ($20). Parked the bike in a parking lot next door for 6000 pesos ($3.50).



When I checked in the girl told me they had WiFi. Crank up the computer and nothing. Ask the girl again (who is also cleaning rooms Ė high overhead joint) and she gives me a password. Thank you but there is no network. She points to the router. I try to tell her the router isnít on as it has to have at least one light on which would be more than you have on (I just thought the last part or, maybe I said it in English . . .). She lets me behind the counter finally as she has not idea what Iím babbling on about and she is starting to suspect that Iím not going to shut up until I can mess around with her equipment. (That didnít sound right . . . fix her router) Finally discover the plug runs through a window into a room and is dangling behind the door. Plug it in and I suspect that is the first working internet theyíve had for awhile.


So I later discover why there probably hasnít been a lot of use of the internet - it looks like this place may be a bit of a flop house. Quite a number of ďcouplesĒ coming in and donít seem to be staying for the night. The girl running the place has to let everyone in and out and even has to let you into your room (no key is given . . .) so she is keeping pretty busy.



I found all the activity somewhat disrupting of my efforts to write mundane things like ride reports so, went downtown looking for a quick dinner and found a place and had Costillas - good and filling. Those fried plantains on the right were really tasty also.





Had to park in a little ďparkadeĒ down the street. Familyís house and they park cars around all their crap. Guy was a character with his grandson.




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Old 12-24-2012, 09:54 AM   #173
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Dec 11 Manizales

Well, if today is going to be an example of riding in Colombia, Iím really going to like this place.

Stopped in town first for a quick breakfast Ė interesting way to cook eggs Ė baked in this little pan.





Hit the highway and it was nice but busy Ė lots of traffic, and trucks were a particular pain in the ass. Decided to take a detour to get away from the traffic and hit a spectacular road with nice twisties that got twistier. Pretty country.






Big corn production in the valley bottoms





Then started to loose altitude as we approached the Rio Magdalana, the main river in Colombia Ė went from mid teens in the late morning to mid 30s in the lower altitude of the river. Rejoined the highway at Mariquita.

Well, if this was a road in Mexico, it would easily make my top 5 list. Very twisty, some of the most spectacular scenry Iíve seen. Got up to 12,000 feet altitude and the temp dropped to 10C so, not only were we above the tree line, we were above the stiff nipple line and my mesh jacket wasnít doing much good.

Tried to take a few pics when I could but every time Iíd stop, some truck Iíd passed a while ago would sneak by me again and then Iíd have to pass him again Ė passing is not easy on these very twisty roads.








This is not an unusual sight - people hauling a bit of forage on the back of a horse or horse drawn wagon





Here is another one, guy delivering his days milk production with his horse






This picture is to show everybody wearing rubber boots. Seems to be common apparal in the rural areas. People walking down the road, in town, on motorcycles - everywhere.





Came across a couple of construction sites and had to wait half hour or so to go through. One of the cool things here is that motorcycles get to go to the front of the line. So pass about 2 km of parked cars and trucks on a very twisty road and go to the front Ė then you have at least a half hour of clear road in front of you, no traffic, so much fun. Never thought Iíd look forward to seeing construction sites. Just a little dicey getting to the front as traffic is coming the other way also. Iím getting pretty good at hiding in little holes to let a bunch of trucks lumber by.


Manizales is a pretty good sized town so just as soon not go all the way through. Found Hotel Camelia Ė perfect. Secure parking, good internet, hot water. Nice area of town with lots of restaurants around. Here is some Paella and grilled pork - very tasty.









Decided to stay an extra day and get a couple of things dealt with that need doing.



I had heard conflicting stories about whether or not tourists needed the mandatory auto insurance here. Lady at the Aduana said no. Stopped at a SOAT office in a gas station and the girl didnít know for sure and could only sell me a one year policy for about $200 . . . yikes! So wandered around looking for a larger insurance office in the business district down the street. Finally found one and was able to buy a 3 month policy for $50. Probably could have gone shorter for less.


Also, I have an emergency cell phone I bought in Guatemala that needed a new chip. Picked up one with a Colombia number for under $6.


Pretty city. Have this old cable car structure that I presume was used in mining somehow in the past. The display has men sitting on platforms and what looks like some sort of ore carriers. Looks like one of the really old ski lifts from 50 years or so.





The city has a great sports complex - full sized soccer stadium in the background, soccer field in the front for recreational and youth games, bunch of clay tennis courts and some basketball courts at the side.





The city is very hilly - had to climb up some great inclines to get to the area I was staying in. It's difficult getting the perspective but the area below is about 5 or 6 stories down to the next street






Have seen a couple of Juan Valdez Cafes Ė looks like Colombia's answer to Starbucks except, they have the real deal. Juan Valdez is the ultimate icon of coffee. Really good coffee too.





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Old 12-24-2012, 11:31 AM   #174
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Well, if today is going to be an example of riding in Colombia, Iím really going to like this place.
Yes you are :-)

Great RR
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Old 12-24-2012, 02:34 PM   #175
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Yes you are :-)

Great RR
Thanks Moto-Treks
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Old 12-24-2012, 02:50 PM   #176
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Great photos and a wonderful ride continues. We are all envious of the adventure. Thanks for taking the time to post and wherever you are enjoy your Xmas. I know it isn't home with the family but it is one you will never forget. Be Safe and have a Merry Xmas. Jick and the Maggers
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Old 12-24-2012, 03:23 PM   #177
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Dec 13 Into coffee country

Went looking for a local coffee plantation that is supposed to give tours. Thought I had a pretty good idea where it was but no luck in finding it. Saw some terrific scenery though. Banana trees growing amongst the coffee trees.






This is really coffee country Ė in fact the highway going through here is called Autopista de Cafť. Mountain after mountain covered with coffee. Big business here and I suspect the industry brings a lot of money to the region. It sure looks that way.








All the main roads have numerous toll booths and, as Iíve mentioned before, motos have their own lane and go through for free. This is a pretty typical moto lane (skinny lane on the far right) but some of them they build a wall on each side at least a foot high and then put a little wiggle in the middle you have to navigate around.





Great riding today. My maps are becoming a bit more problematical and less accurate. Between Google Maps, Garmin Maps (ColRut is the mapset I have been using for Colombia) and paper maps, Iím still not quite sure if some of the secondary roads exist or not.


After not finding the coffe plantation with the tour, I located the start of the backroads I had planned which started off kind of what I thought it would be Ė gravel, dirt and rock.






Was generally not a bad road and climbed fairly dramaticly up through all sorts of banana plantations then coffee plantations with some fruit trees mixed in.






All of a sudden we come upon this decent sized town that wasnít on the map (of course). After that the road improved a bit then quite a bit. Spectacular scenery all along.

Stopped at a great little roadside restaurant and had this stuff. Have to start writing the names of this stuff down. Tasty . . . rico!





Used a lot of bamboo in construction. Bamboo is everywhere in the jungle areas and looks to make a pretty good building material.





Turn around and here is next months pollo asado walking through the restaurant.





Somewhere along the line I missed a turn and Iím guessing it was a pretty minor road so didnít mind carrying on. Then I realized I was on the road that I was supposed to be going the other way on tomorrow Ė a road that wasnít even on my GPS maps. Carried on Ė was expecting a rough dirt road but it was a nice paved road.


Passed this girl yaking on her phone and stopped about 5 minutes later for a break and here she comes still engrossed in her conversation. Was a bit startled to see me with a camera but didn't miss a beat.





Was pretty cloudy all day but getting darker. Finally started raining. Iím really taking my time now as I donít trust my back tire and these roads tend to get a lot of dirt and other crap on them which makes them slicker than snot on a doorknob.


Was behind this little car and we come around a corner going downhill and there is a bus stopped in front of us. I quickly realized the road is worse than I thought and it seemed they had paved it with bacon grease as Iím slipping around a bit. Finally kind of drifted over in the other lane which I figured was ok since the bus was now across the road. I then see the bus squeezing around two cars parked in the corner. One of the cars had slid into the side of the other as they were going around this greasy corner. Now Iím really into ďtake my timeĒ mode.

Got a good drenching by the time I got into Salento. Wasnít sure what was here in the way of accommodation as I really was ready to pack it in. Turns out this is one of those older towns that have developed a good tourist business so there are tons of hotels and hostels.


Staying above the Monte Verde Restaurant. Nice big room with a balcony, hot water and good parking (no internet though) for about $17 including breakfast.





Walked around town. Could stay here a few days I think. Kind of an interesting cross between what appear to be some locals and a bunch of Colombian tourists.






Look at the hat on the guy leaning up against the lamp post. This pattern of black and white strips on various shapes of large brimmed hats is pretty common in Colombia.









Lots of artsy shops. Bars are interesting. Most have a bunch of pool tables. Mostly older guys in there Ė some drinking beer (a lot) and some (most ) drinking coffee.



See a lot of these old Willy's Jeeps used as taxis in many small towns. Colombianas take a lot of pride in their vehicles so, even though these are ancient, they are largely immaculate.





They have a long set of steps up to a Mirador Ė beautiful setting.






Geezer was weezin again. Sheesh! Course it warmed my heart to see some young-uns not smiling much as they neared the top either. Beautiful setting looking the other way from the town.












Didnít have internet in the hotel so found an internet joint Ė pretty cheap Ė about $0.60 for an hour.


Went to a cavernous place for dinner Ė seemed to cater to large groups and families. Had patacones con todo which was outstanding Ė quite a variety of flavors. All of the different meats and cheese and sauces were lined up on this giant hard tortilla type thing. Asked for a fork and knife and the girl gave them to me but told me to eat it with my hands. So I did! Excellent.




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Old 12-24-2012, 03:29 PM   #178
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Great photos and a wonderful ride continues. We are all envious of the adventure. Thanks for taking the time to post and wherever you are enjoy your Xmas. I know it isn't home with the family but it is one you will never forget. Be Safe and have a Merry Xmas. Jick and the Maggers
Thanks for that Jick and a Merry Christmas to you and the Maggers.

It is an incredible experience. There is a half dozen bike travelers in Cali for Christmas so we should have a good time. But, I gotta tell ya, I really miss the snow.
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Old 12-24-2012, 03:38 PM   #179
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Thanks for that Jick and a Merry Christmas to you and the Maggers.

It is an incredible experience. There is a half dozen bike travelers in Cali for Christmas so we should have a good time. But, I gotta tell ya, I really miss the snow.
Ha Ha ... I miss the snow too I got out and we are in Scottsdale until the 26th and then off to Sayulita, Mexico for the New Year
A small adventure lets say.... Glad you have some company....
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Old 12-25-2012, 06:27 AM   #180
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Merry Christmas RexBux. If you have to spend Christmas away from home, where you are at is a pretty good alternative. Best wishes for a continued safe adventure. Thanks for the latest update, I can almost smell the coffee. How will you ever drink Tim Horton's when you get back....
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