PORKANDCORN: A Man & His Duck Explore South America

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by porkandcorn, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. porkandcorn

    porkandcorn FortesFortunaAdiuvat

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    296
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    tuesday, april 23, 2013

    sorry for the radio silence. a combination of bad wifi, no time, and generalized blogging laziness have conspired to create this lull in my reporting.

    cali, colombia

    i was planning on only one night in cali, but found a hostel in town that did in-house salsa lessons. the viajero hostel was good. it's a well-designed colonial home that has been converted into a hostel. they were just finishing up the pool as i was leaving.

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    cali, avenue 5 by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    Untitled by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    Untitled by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    i met some good people at the hostel, and we went out as a group to a salsa club last friday night. i was a bit nervous to start out, but soon realized that my salsa lessons had been retained in a corner of my brain somewhere. after 30 minutes of dancing, i felt like i was back on top of my game, fearless, and commanding the dance floor with my limited, but well-honed repertoire.

    saturday, i spent nursing yet another dancing injury, perhaps from being stiletto'd on the dance floor the previous night. i was concerned about another bone break because of some heavy bruising near my left pinky toe. but after a day of taking it easy, it's almost back to normal. i'm not sure what the deal is with the bones in my feet, but they don't like dancing as much as i do.

    i spent a total of three nights in cali (two at the viajero hostel) and was off to coffee paradise sunday morning.

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    Untitled by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    cali to salento by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    salento, colombia

    salento is in the heart of the coffee growing mountainous region of central colombia. it's a small, charming little pueblo kept pretty busy by a steady influx of mostly colombian tourist. after being drenched by the predictable afternoon thunderstorm as i arrived, i finally found a small hotel that had a place for the tiger.

    i walked around for a bit and then just sat down at a coffee shop to enjoy some of the local spoils. i made a small, furry friend at the coffee shop - she just jumped up on my lap and went to sleep while i got extremely buzzed on powerful café.

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    Untitled by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    i checked my email and had receive a note from some fellow oregoneon ADV riders who i met in baños, ecuador. they were heading south, and we shared info from our travels and passed along riding tips. they ended up doing the cañon del pato in peru a week later, and loved it. here's their ride report on ADVrider.com: Venturing South.

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    dudes by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    i was sitting on a bench near the main square later, taking in the flavor of locals walking about. being sunday afternoon, most of the tourist had fled back to their respective cities, and it was just me and the salenteros. and who walked up to the bench? juan valdez? no - tamara, julian, and tom, whom i had met at the hostel in cali. so off we were for dinner and and early night.

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    salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    the next morning, i went to the central square at 7:30am to catch one of the many jeeps ferrying tourists out to the valley de cocora - a beautiful mountainous area about a 20 minute ride out of town. tom, julian, and tamara showed up and we shared a jeep. we also dragged along luke, a lawyer from san francisco. at the foot of the valley, a 7 mile hike begins that loops through the jungle, over rivers, up a steep mountain face, and then into one of colombias most beautiful valleys, cocora. the ride on the back of the jeep up to the trailhead was fantastic if you are strong enough to hold on.

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    Untitled by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    back of the jeep ride, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    the jeep, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    we plundered through the jungle for about two hours and climbed some serious elevation. there were epic river crossings, rickety bridges, and masses of deep, lush jungle terrain. we stopped at a hummingbird eco-reserve on the way up to the top.

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    jungle, valle de cocora, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    gringo crossing, valle de cocora, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    bridge crossing, valle de cocora, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    hummingbird, valle de cocora, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    cloud forest, valle de cocora, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    the valley is populated with 100 foot-tall wax palms that grow among the natural grasses, feeding milk cows, and fertile slopes. we took the long way through the jungle, and it was a good trek. the wax palms are actually accessible in only a 10-minute hike from the trailhead, but we took the long way around. it was good to get some hearty exercise, and we were lucky enough to see the valley before the afternoon storms rolled in.

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    wax palms, valle de cocora, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    mystery man, valle de cocora, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    valley of wax palms, valle de cocora, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    me and wax palms, valle de cocora, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    after a shower and a nap, we all met back up, with some new viajeros, and spent the afternoon and evening playing pool and drinking local rum. the pool hall was a fascinating little hang out, full of local old men playing snooker, billiards, and cards. i don't know what they did to be able to just sit around and play games all day long, but they've got something figured out that the rest of the developed world hasn't yet.

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    pool halls, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    matan, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    pool shark, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    huh?, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    adan and leah, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    much later, and after much rum, we all headed to another house of gaming, where the preferred sport is exploding things. this club specialized in a game were you tossed a pure lead puck (dangerous, poisonous) into a clay pit full of dynamite chips (dangerous, lethal). in a fashion similar to horse shoes, the winner hit the target. but this is much better because the targets explode - a delight to boys and girls of all ages. after 30 minutes of no explosions, we just smashed some glycerine chips between the pucks to get our fix, and left content.

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    clay target, cancha de tejo, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    lead puck, cancha de tejo, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    glycerine chips, cancha de tejo, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    tossing, cancha de tejo, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    tossed, cancha de tejo, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    the proprietor, cancha de tejo, salento, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    salento, colombia to medellín, colombia

    the next morning after a good breakfast i started the five-hour ride to medellín, colombia's second largest city. the mountain road was beautiful and twisty and carried me past endless coffee farms, misty valleys, and scenic overlooks. i arrived in the outskirts of medellín just in time for the obligatory afternoon downpour, and spent the last hour of my ride getting completely soaked and fighting through some chaotic medellín traffic. i arrived safely at my medellín hostel, the black sheep. it is located in one of the better neighborhood for dining, dancing and people-watching - el poblado. i have to go get cleaned up, as a group of people from the hostel are going out to a salsa club in a couple hours. wish my foot bones well...

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    salento to medellin by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    autopista del cafe, manizales, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    coffee plants, manizales, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    valley, manizales, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr
  2. Tomaso

    Tomaso Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    71
    I see you got a reply from Al (theturtleshead), proprietor of Medellin's famous Shamrock Bar and Grill. Are you going to drop by? It's definitely on my list of top urban places for an advr to visit since reading all about it on John Downs' "South America and back on a 250 Super Sherpa Minimalist Adventure".

    Cannot wait for my turn!

    Thoroughly enjoying your posts; keep it comin'!:nod
  3. theturtleshead

    theturtleshead Tits on a fish

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    820
    Location:
    Medellin Colombia ain,t nowhere better
    Carefull now Tommy! Grumbly old Scottish fuckers may not be to everybody's taste!
    Al
  4. porkandcorn

    porkandcorn FortesFortunaAdiuvat

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    296
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    wednesday, april 24, 2013

    i've fallen in love with medellín. the mystery remains, but the fear is diminished. in the early 90's, when i was only in high school, this was the most dangerous city in the world. it is still dangerous today, but not so differently than many other big cities where we all have traveled. but it's alive, and vibrant, and unpredictable, and exciting. in some ways, i feel like i am helping the city to regain it's pride and it's dignity. a tourist would have been unimaginable here 20 years ago. and yet, here i am today, exploring the city like i have all the others.

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    monument, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    metro bridge, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    last night, a small group of people from the hostel took the metro about 6 stops north into central medellín to find a small salsa club. arriving at a small park, all eyes were on us. it's obvious from this attention that tourists are not incredibly common in this city. walking a couple of blocks, we found the spot. inside, a young, but extremely talented salsa band made infectious music while sweaty salsaleros fought for dancing space. i danced only once with a swiss traveler, and then was content to sit again the ancient, bare brick wall in the club, listen to the band, and think about where i was - medellín, colombia experiencing something to which no price can be attached.

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    salsa band, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    salsa band 2, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    salsa band 3, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    i took a guided walking tour today and visited places where most people would feel very uncomfortable. the 25 year-old engineering student guide, working in his spare time for tips, showed us the sides of the city that made him proud and not so proud. we walked shoulder to shoulder with the real people of the city. on the bad side, we sat in parks with toothless and glue-sniffing transvestite drug-addicts, stood on the spots where presidential candidates were assassinated, and visited parks where pablo escobar set off bombs that killed sons and daughters of the city. on the good side, we saw war-torn slums transformed in to beautiful public spaces, school and libraries where there were once drug labs, and streets were legal commerce has overtaken criminal commerce. medellín is a fascinating and complex place, as is colombia overall.

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    tourist, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    downtown, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    church 1, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    after 4 hours, i was in need of a siesta. unfortunately, my right foot is hurting again, and my left achilles tendon is bothering me since the mountain hike in salento. the neck issues have worsened again, and i'm loosing sensation in my right hand thumb, index, and middle fingers - this means there is pressure on the nerve in my neck at the C3-C5 levels. i'm not happy about any of this, but in time, and after getting back to a normal exercise and eating routine in portland, i'm confident i'll be back to normal quickly. in the meantime, i seem to be in a bit of pain. luckily, and sadly, i think i only have one more days ride to reach cartegena. after this, i'll be coordinating the shipment of my bike, and then hopefully relaxing on the beaches of the caribbean for a week or so before my return.

    lot's of mixed emotions in these final days, as is to be expected. the end of the adventure is becoming very real now. i spoke with my shipping coordinator, and we are planning to begin the logistics on the 2nd or 3rd of may in cartegena, colombia. i should arrive in cartegena on monday.

    i've made peace with the end of this adventure. i was fighting it for a while - back and forth between thinking too much about the end and wanting to be home, and on the other side not yet ready to return to my life in oregon. now, i have settled into an acceptance, and am just trying to make the most of the days that remain.

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    old dudes, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    explaining to a friend some related thoughts, i said: i may be content now, i may not be tomorrow. i'm ok with that, and that's where the real progress has been made in my thinking. i've been up and down so many times in this adventure, that there is no longer capacity (or energy) for the drama that feeds the ego for good or bad. consequently, i can see through the fog. i hope to take that home with me.

    wednesday, april 24, 2013

    thursday morning, i hopped on the medellín metro system with some friends from the hostel. there are two major cable car/gondola lines in the city, both of which were built in the poorest neighborhoods in an effort to connect those people to the city. giving them transportation to and from the very sleep slopes where they have settled in the slums and shanty towns is the same as giving them opportunity.

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    tourists, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    tourists, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    medellín is enormous. these photos capture just a small fraction of the red brick building that fill the entire valley for miles and miles. gliding quietly over these neighborhoods, rocking slightly back and forth, you can see down into these people's lives. it's clearly a very challenging existence, and the poverty is striking. the crime in these neighborhoods can be very intense, and the violence moreso. there are some neighborhoods where people born and raised in medellín cannot enter, as they are considered outsiders and would risk everything doing so.

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    metro cable station, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    cable view, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    south cable line, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    cable view 2, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    slums, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr
  5. porkandcorn

    porkandcorn FortesFortunaAdiuvat

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    296
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    friday, april 26, 2013

    this morning, i took the "paisa road" pablo escobar tour. i was excited, having just finished the audiobook about medellín's most infamous son. we were picked up at the hostel by a little white van.

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    escobar's ID, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    escobar tour bus, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    they first took us to the main medellín cartel (escobar's organization) headquarters. this building, now vacant, was the nerve center for a 100 billion dollar drug trafficking empire that spanned all the continents. it was built across the street from an expensive country club where he was denied membership. this building was at one point bombed by the cali, colombia cartel - escobar's arch rivals. many people died and a 12 foot deep crater was blasted into the street where we stood taking photos.

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    cartel HQ, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    satellite at downtown HQ, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    tour guide, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    next we saw the poblado neighborhood office building, also now vacant, where escobar managed all of his hundreds of properties all over the world, organized the laundering of all the dirty money, and other nefarious ventures. this building was also bombed by the cali cartel, sending shrapnel into adjacent buildings that still remains. i didn't realize it until today, but it's right across the street from the salsa club i spent 3 hours dancing at last night.

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    poblado cartel office building, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    dallas trafficking HQ, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    we visited a shrine to the virgin mary where his hitmen would go to pray for a successful kill, or visit after the kill to thank god for the guidance of their bullets. given religion was violently forced upon all of latin america by the spanish, it's no surprise that it still retains this violent character today.

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    vergin mary shine, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    after a few more stops of prominent structures and locations, we eventually found our way to the house were he was found and killed after a 15-month search by two governments, and thousands of people. he was lowered to the sidewalk of this house from the roof, where he fell in a bloody heap after receiving two shots to the body and a final kill-shot to the right ear. the people who live in this house didn't know about it's history until after the deal closed… surprise!!

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    house escobar was killed, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    house esobar was killed 2, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    house escobar was killed 3, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    finally, we visited the cemetery where he was buried before a crowd of over 2000 people, some who loved him and some who hated him. at the end of his life, he was mostly hated. he had killed thousands of innocent people, on who's bodies he built his empire that led him to be in the top 10 of forbes richest people in the world list. he terrorized medellín, bogota and the rest of colombia for years and left a violent legacy that remains today. his trafficking network didn't die with him, it was simply passed on to the cali cartel and to this day remains more active than ever.

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    cemetary, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    pablo escobar gravestone, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    pablo escobar grave, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    narco-tourist, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr
  6. pdedse

    pdedse paraelamigosincero

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,370
    Very cool...a pleasure to read your comments and take in the gorgeous photos of your travels. Yesterday and today were beautiful Portland spring days. But there will be more of those...finish strong!
  7. moto-treks

    moto-treks Back Home

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,841
    Location:
    Spokane Washington
    Hey P&C, I finally had some time to sit down here is sunny Spokane and catchup on you ride report. Nicely done :clap
  8. DucHym09

    DucHym09 n00b

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2012
    Oddometer:
    8
    Location:
    Louisiana
    Finally caught up. I know you use the occuclip for your phone then lost it-which editing software do you use?
  9. porkandcorn

    porkandcorn FortesFortunaAdiuvat

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    296
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    i just use apple's native iphoto edit tools.
  10. 25jack

    25jack WhateversComfortable

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Oddometer:
    23
    Location:
    Planet Utah
    Great read...you have helped me very much in my own preparation. Will be doing a trip South this late summer/fall with an unknown destination. I like Baja so much that could not resist doing it again. We paraglide on the sand dunes on the beaches there and it is to much fun. Ship that gear home from La Paz or pick it up later.

    How did the open source GPS maps workout for you?

    What was the best place you saw? Fav country? How was Uruguay?

    While it is fresh...What would you do differently?

    I admire and understand your doing this trip solo.

    Cheers.
  11. Cousteau

    Cousteau ...seeking adventure

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2012
    Oddometer:
    61
    Location:
    Guatemala City / Washington, DC
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    Fritz,

    Great to meet you in Cartagena. Have enjoyed reading your report the last few months and during your prep. Safe travels home.

    Cheers,

    David
  12. porkandcorn

    porkandcorn FortesFortunaAdiuvat

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    296
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    the GPS source maps worked out great. absolutely invaluable and 95% reliable for navigating in and out of the big and medium sized cities. worth their weight in gold, but then again, they are electronic and don't weigh anything...

    best place i saw? rethink the question - that's impossible to answer with so many amazing places. i really liked argentina alot - the people, the cities, the high andes passes to chile. uruguay - ok. some nice beaches. it's a pretty small place and maybe a little boring for culture and scenery? (sorry uruguay).

    i'll be working up and posting the changes to my riding gear very soon. other than having too much stuff, there's not a lot i would do differently.

    riding solo is more my style. i can be a bit of an anti-social loner at times. i don't like 'group decisions'. but when i'm feeling social, it's very easy to find people to hang out with in cities, hostels, or just about anywhere. i'm not opposed to traveling with someone, but that is what i needed to do this time.
  13. porkandcorn

    porkandcorn FortesFortunaAdiuvat

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    296
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    sunday, april 28, 2013

    one of my main goals on this trip was to experience a football match (it's not soccer here) in a major south american city. because the season was not yet started when i was in the south (brazil, argentina, chile), i haven't had that opportunity. however, i got info upon arriving in medellín that a big match was occurring. the stage was set for a huge rivals battle between the two major teams in medellín - medellín (red/blue) vs. athletic nacional (green/white).

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    ticket, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    i was lucky enough to spend some time with fantastic people at the hostel in medellín. antony from london. hong and suzanne from the netherlands. tamara from australia. steve from ireland. lisa and julien from germany. and caroline and danielle from sweden. and many others. as well as cooking and eating some meals together, 8 of us headed to the big game together.

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    team internacional, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    el viajero hostal, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    we rode the metro to the stadium and got off the train with all the green fans. the red fans would continue to the next stop. as mixing the groups is not wise unless you want a lot of fighting. we secured some tickets off the street for the section at centerfield, in a 'neutral zone' between the greens and reds. this section was protected by policia on either side - effectively riot police numbering in the hundreds. there was an enormous police presence at the game. we went through three separate checkpoints where they patted us down for weapons. i had none, and was allowed to attend.

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    pre-match, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    que for match, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    first police checkpoint, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    second police checkpoint, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    entering the stadium after the two hours of chaos and self-orientation was something i'll never forget. a deafening roar hit me immediately. then we walked out and looked at the field, and saw all the fans in full chant, which continued throughout and after the game. the greens lowered some banners down from the top, and sitting in the front were obligated to hold them on the field. we had taken sides, and would suffer the full wrath of the medellín fans if anything went down. we would also have the "protection" of the nacional fans.

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    start of game, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    start of game green, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    start of game red, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    helping out 2, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    letting go, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    the fans were extremely animated, some provoking the other side. after one of nacional's goals, a guy in crutches made his way to the field in front of us and then proudly showed his ass to the bleachers of medellín fans on the edges of the neutral zone. they were throwing things toward us in disapproval. after the match, as we spilled onto the streets, we saw a fight break out - they came to find the guy in crutches and someone punched him. he held strong, and was at one point wailing on his attacker with his crutches. these are serious fans.

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    taking seats, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    red fans, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    taunting the reds, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    green fans, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    gooooooooaaaal!, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    streamers, medellín, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    nacional came back from 2-0 in the last 10 minutes of the game for a tie. this tie relegated medellín to the B-league, which was a devastating blow i'm sure. the game and the intense setting with the mountains in the background, the insane fans, the feeling that anything good or bad could happen at any moment - all combined to create an experience i'll never forget.
  14. TheLorax

    TheLorax Comitted Lurker

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    Oddometer:
    30
    Location:
    PacNW
    The shot of you getting patted down in your official fan gear really needs to be submitted for the "Where in the World" contest back home. :rofl
  15. porkandcorn

    porkandcorn FortesFortunaAdiuvat

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    296
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    go blazers!
  16. porkandcorn

    porkandcorn FortesFortunaAdiuvat

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2011
    Oddometer:
    296
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    saturday, may 4, 2013

    monday, i left medellín for cartegena, colombia on the caribbean coast. the 11-hour marathon ride left me at the finish line, where i now sit in a nice little hotel writing one of my final entries from south america. i have put nearly 25,000 kilometers on my triumph, traveled through eight countries, crossed the andes seven times, seen nearly every major city in south america, and had the experience of a lifetime.

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    final south america count, cartagena, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    last gas in south america, valdivia, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    in cartagena you sweat profusely. it is extremely hot and extremely humid here, especially at mid-day. sometimes so much that it's difficult to think. a hotel or hostel with air conditioning is an absolute requirement, but thankfully easy to come by. most of the taxi are also air conditioned. this is a good place to buy a white linen shirt and pants for the heat. i'm slowly putting an ensemble together with my abundant spare time.

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    palms 2, cartagena, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    palms, cartagena, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    the city's colonial construction is very well preserved. the old, walled city is filled with incredible old buildings and narrow streets, each more amazing than the next. they are in various states of repair and disrepair. the north part of the old city, consisting of 'el centro' and 'san diego' neighborhoods is a bit thick with tourists, but fascinating to walk. i stayed in an obnoxious hostel for the first couple of nights, but then fled the drunken mayhem for a nice little hotel in the 'getsemani' neighborhood just to the south. getsemani's ratio of locals to tourists is about 95% to 5%. i like it here better.

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    building, cartagena, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    yellow, cartagena, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    canon, cartagena, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    this is a city of vice. cartagena is swarming with every nefarious endeavor or product that money can buy. venture out at night as a man, and you are constantly approached by pimps and hookers alike. don't feel like cuddling up with a prostitute? well, then you can buy cocaine, weed and other drugs from the same guy. what an efficient system. cartagena is a bit like vegas, but with fewer rules. that is why so many professional conventions are held here. going out at night, you see packs of dentists, doctors, engineers, and lawyers - all looking in the dark corners of the city for something they shouldn't be looking for.

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    good eats, cartagena, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    green, cartagena, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    in fact, last april, president obama's secret service scandal occurred here in cartagena. the agents picked up some girls at a club called 'tu candela', an infamous gringo den, then headed back to their accommodations at the 'hotel caribe'. both of these places are within walking distance of my hotel.

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    havana salsa bar, cartagena, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    secret service scandal hotel, cartagena, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    this is also a city of aggressive vendors. go to the old town or the beach, and you will turn down no less than 2 offers per minute for random trinkets, food, t-shirts, and other useless stuff. sometimes a simple 'no gracias' is not enough to stave off the solicitations. i've learned from locals that in this case, you have to be a bit aggressive yourself - a flip of the hand like you are waving off a dog and then ignore the seller. i watched a colombia bartender at the beach chase off a vendor like he was a stray dog - he said 'sale, lobo!' - get out of here you wolf!

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    el centro, cartagena, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    el centro 2, cartagena, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

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    fortress, cartagena, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    it's an interesting place, but the nearly 2 weeks i will end up staying here is about 1.5 weeks too much. i was planning on flying home on the 9th of may, but the vessel MEDEA that my bike will ride to galveston, texas is late into the port of cartagena from brazil. so now it's looking like i'll need to fly out around the 12th.

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    sunset, cartagena, colombia by porkandcorn, on Flickr

    monday, i'll start the process and paperwork with customs, the port authority, colombian police, and various other entities to get my bike outbound to the US. i have to personally be present for an anti-narcotics inspection when the bike is loaded, so that blew my plan of getting everything done in advance and taking off early. and trusting someone else to represent me does not seem wise in a country as infamous for drug trafficking as colombia. motorcycles are historically popular places to hide and smuggle cocaine.

    so here i am, doing my best to not go crazy waiting to go home. i've walked all over the city, and am running out of corners to explore. i guess i can just watch a week worth of movies in the hotel room, but that doesn't seem right. to be honest, i'm a bit tired of traveling and really don't feel like going anywhere else in colombia, but i really can't anyway due to the process i need to begin on monday. speaking with a friend today on the phone, i admitted it is not perhaps as glamorous a finish line as might be desired, but sometimes real life and real adventure can be rather dull. it remains an adventure. it remains real life.
  17. trespalacios

    trespalacios Oh libertad

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2012
    Oddometer:
    746
    Location:
    Upstate SC
    You have plenty of good options outside Cartagena. You can extend your ride or park your bike (I wouldn't) and head east out to Santa Marta, Taganaga, Parque Tayrona, Cabo de la Vela, etc. If you head west you'll experience a different kind of tourism (not aimed to gringos) If you were to head South Mompox may be of interest to you. The latter two options are truly off the beaten path.

    I can sit on the beach and enjoy it for about two days before i start looking for something to do, hence my perspective. you could even fly to bogota fairly cheaply or go back to Medellin which I'm partial to since it is my birthplace.

    Regarding vice...the sad part of the market is the ever present demand. Lots of overlanders take advantage of it as well as the locals... it happens in every city.

    Nice report. Too bad I miss a lot of pics because of Photobucket's bandwith limitations or however you want to phrase it.

    Safe travels back home
  18. 25jack

    25jack WhateversComfortable

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Oddometer:
    23
    Location:
    Planet Utah
    ...it would be useful to see a revised packing list of what you would take next time. Maybe that is too much to ask.

    How did the EVS RC4 race collar work out. Was it comfortable?

    What riding gear would you change?


    It was a fun read and I learned a lot from your trip.

    Jack
  19. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    4,142
    Location:
    Okie near Muskogee
    I would make the trip East about 40kms along the coast to Volcan del Tumo for a little relaxing mud bath, free on certain days when the regular tourists are not scheduled.

    I don't know what cargo company you are planning with but if fly out of Bogota to Miami it is about the cheapest way back to the States and then just truck ship or ride the bike back to the PNW. Check RTWPaul's thread last person I know of to do it and it was under $1000 to Miami IIRC.
  20. duitswes

    duitswes NAM Biker in CA

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    300
    Location:
    Bay Area
    +1 on Parque Tayrona. There should be a lot of info available. Once you are there, you can also look into the lost city hike.