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Gringo in Paradox - Travels in Colombia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Champe, Nov 24, 2019.

  1. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    A shot of my GPS in Peru at the top of the pass, not the top of the mountain...(and located far from the Pan Am Hwy).

    [​IMG]
    Tomaso and Throttlemeister like this.
  2. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Interesting... I see the GPS is showing 6300 ft elevation, and the landscape is barren. In Colombia 6300 feet could be jungle. Tree line is generally more like 12000 feet, so most of the mountains are green. Many are even cultivated with crops like coffee.
  3. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Jeff’s book covers acquiring a bike in Colombia very well. And has a good discussion about when it makes sense to rent or use a guide service.

    A major part is devoted to tours... day trips from Medellin, overnights, week long and multi week too. Most of the tour descriptions are what his company offers as guided tours. I liked that part the best.

    He talks about Sonson in several places. I described it as a “cowboy” town in this report. It is quite remote, but what I did not know before I read the book is that it used to be a central spot for anti government guerillas and was dangerous for tourists. I found it to be safe and interesting, which checks with Jeff’s current day description.
  4. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    6300 feet is the elevation gain from where I slept, to that location where I snapped the image. The elevation reading, on the right, is 15,904 feet. I didn't dust the screen off enough prior to the picture.

    And for me, Colombia is on my list. Thanks for this RR. Hopefully covid vaccines become available to tackle the pandemic in Latin America, and the political unrest gets resolved. Agreed, Jeff's book is informative and worth buying.
  5. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Wow. 15,900 feet elevation. That explains the lack of vegetation.

    In New Hampshire the tree line in the White Mountains is at around 4000 feet. The highest mountain is a bit under 6000. We think that is spectacular.
    Tomaso likes this.
  6. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Colombian protests

    Right now I am in a holding pattern, waiting to book my next flight to Colombia. My NH house is sold and I have moved out. A good friend in Massachusetts is giving me a place to stay for a while. He says I am welcome for the summer, but I want to move on in a week or two. It is really nice here though, without any pressure, and no work required.

    I am keeping an eye on the political situation in Colombia...but there has not been much change in the past week. The Wall Street Journal has an article this morning saying 114 police stations have been ransacked, several bus stations destroyed, 3 buses burned and around 50 people killed. Cali made the news with a 17 year old kid kicking a motorcycle cop in the head and getting shot in the head in return. The cop was arrested.

    Cali is one of the largest cities, and is on my list to visit next trip. So is Cartagena, which is experiencing a rise in crime also. I would avoid any trouble spot, but the natural transition from poverty to crime concerns me some. The protests apparently started from a government proposal to increase taxes. This after cutting off the incomes of poor people, using COVID as the excuse.

    The WSJ is saying that the US is threatening to cut off 160 million in aid to the National Police. But the Colombian government says that the protesters have already caused 2 billion in damage to the infrastructure. Not my problem to solve, but I do need to stay out of the way.
    Tomaso, MikeS and Cal like this.
  7. WileyRTW

    WileyRTW Wiley

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    I was not going to mention any more about the protests but since you bring it up....

    I am far from a fear mongerer and love a good adventure, but you should shelve Colombia and head to Baja as you mentioned may be a backup plan. If I didn't have Colombian friends I wouldn't have any idea of how bad the issue is since the propaganda machine downplays it and tries t say things are fine, but there are tons of videos pouring out regarding Police attacking/disappearing/murdering citizens. In Cali as of today the citizens have reportedly taken up arms and are claiming responsibility to control crime themselves, telling the police to F off. Many videos of citizens attacking tanks with rocks and fire, and attacking the police, but most videos are of the police beating and abusing the citizens naturally. Videos show police forces have cut power and gone into towns and F'ed shit up targeting people and towns rather than just protest sites. There are multiple locations throughout the country where this is going on, and protest isn't really the correct word as they are basically a step away from civil war.

    Of course, that may be propaganda being pushed since I am only seeing what I see on Facebook, and when I reached out to my friend in Barranquilla he didn't even mention the issues so I do know it depends on where you go within Colombia but it does not look like a good situation at all. Meanwhile, the cervezas are cold, waters warm, and everything is tranquillo here in Mexico.
  8. GenXrider

    GenXrider Been here awhile

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    I live in Medellin. If it wasn't for social media and the news, most people would have no idea what was going on. The "lefts" propaganda machine is alive and active.
    Turn off the news and social media, your life will be better :-)

    I Will ride from Medellin to Cali next week, no problem.
    third eye, caribryder, knight and 4 others like this.
  9. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Thank you Wiley and Genx. News and opinions from you guys beats the lame stream media hands down.

    Cali is a known hotspot for the protests and the guy who kicked a cop in the head was certainly looking for trouble. He is among the 50 dead since the protests started. My main source for Colombia news lately has been the Wall Street Journal and they reported in another article that 30 people died of gunshot wounds in New York City last weekend.

    This past week I have been staying at my friend’s place in Wellesley Massachusetts and I have never had it so good. Three great meals a day, no work, and good company. Sometimes I get phone calls from people who took over my responsibilities in New Hampshire....looking for advice. Makes me appreciate my current situation even more.

    My friend here is wealthy but has lived a sheltered life that excludes murdercycle riding. He can ride and even worked some of my trials events as an observer. Maybe I can talk him into harboring one of my bikes here. I would let him ride it of course. Probably I should approach this carefully though in case his wonderful wife objects.
    Tomaso, roadcapDen and WileyRTW like this.
  10. Tomaso

    Tomaso Been here awhile

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    Charles, I hope all is proceeding smoothly for you, whichever path you've decided to take first. I'm facing the same dilemma regarding when it's safe/not safe to return to Bogota, but return I must, if I want to finish up the dental work. This time, I'm going to rent the KTM 790 again, give myself 5 or 6 days instead of 3 (like last time), and explore the coffee region.

    genXrider, how was your trip from Medellin to Cali? Safe, I hope. An encouraging word from you would go a long way to me buying a plane ticket to Colombia.
    Champe likes this.
  11. GenXrider

    GenXrider Been here awhile

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    No issues riding to Cali and back. Right now in Cartagena, although I flew here from Medellin, zero evidence of any troubles.

    The media love to fear monger, it keeps scared people engaged.
    knight, caribryder and Tomaso like this.
  12. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Chomping at the bit

    yeah, I’m still here. In Wellesley Massachusetts. They put me to work...mowed the lawn, cleaned the gutters, and am now painting the interior of a rental apartment by buddy owns. My offer of bringing a bike over here was refused. At least he had the balls to say no himself...no asking the wife. Murdercycles are not for everyone... you guys be careful out there. I should be looking in a mirror when I say that.

    This house has frontage on the Charles River... my namesake. We are about 15 miles from Boston, where the river runs between Cambridge and Boston. Here is a photo of it my first day here.
    781334D0-4B76-4C17-B2DF-6F0AC937C754.jpeg

    The news in Colombia is mostly bad. I read the City Paper, which is written in English, but is not updated very frequently. They are saying that COVID is at a new high recently. GenX’s counterpoint is much appreciated.
    roadcapDen and Tomaso like this.
  13. GenXrider

    GenXrider Been here awhile

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    My advice…

    Stop reading the news and social media. If it wasn’t for social media, I would have no idea about the riots in Colombia and I live in Medellin and travel all over. The last week or so things have tailed off considerably, the adults are getting bored of kids throwing rocks and destroying businesses for no reason. Remember, elections are next year and plenty of what we have seen the past few weeks has been fueled by the left.

    Same goes for COVID. Medellin will lift many of the restrictions on June 8 along with other cities. Kids not going to school for over a year, destroyed economy and mental health issues are starting to take priority.
    caribryder, LJC and Champe like this.
  14. bjor1978

    bjor1978 Adventurer

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    Great ride report - appreciate the time and effort you put in @Champe!
  15. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Booked the flight.

    Yay ! This time next week I will be in Bogota again. Booked Boston to Bogota today and made a reservation at Hostel 82, where I usually stay. There is no quarantine requirement or test needed. There is a government registration form, which they had 6 months ago also. They want to be able to find you if there is an issue.

    This trip will be for about 5 months. First week in Bogota, Then head West toward coffee country but loop North of Mt Ruiz this time. This is not the rainy season so I hope to see the mountain more clearly and maybe do some hikes.

    I had to cut my last trip to this area short but this time will be able to stay as long as I like. Likely head South from there for a visit to Cali and the Pacific coast. More South from there, maybe even do Ecuador, but certainly want to ride the “ Devil’s Trampoline”, which is a famous dirt road near there. Then back North through desert country and on to Bogota again.

    Next after that is the opposite end of the country in the North...Cartagena. That will take me through Medellin and Cocorna. May stop for paragliding and to see Ana there.

    All plans are loose and subject to change. Let’s see what happens when I get there.
  16. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Pumped.

    All the connections are falling into place. Claudio, the distinguished gentleman who runs Hostel 82, emailed me back, saying I have the quietest private room reserved, and he is glad to have me back. Norbi, the new patient coordinator at Dentica by Cristina, says they will pick me up at the airport, as usual.

    I finished painting the whole interior of my friend’s rental apartment a few days ago and even got paid for it. Turned out really well, but now he is trying to pack on some more jobs before I leave. Yesterday we moved a few thousand pounds of candy making equipment for his brother. Some of the machines were so heavy it took an engine hoist to lift them. Next up is doing some tree removals in the back yard. It’s all good though. I need the contrast to enjoy relaxing in Colombia.
  17. pro69ss

    pro69ss Been here awhile Supporter

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    Glad your taking is with you.
    We’re pumped too !
    Champe likes this.
  18. GenXrider

    GenXrider Been here awhile

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    Good news! Let me know your travel plans when you are back here and maybe we can go riding.
    Champe likes this.
  19. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Genx…. I will be in touch.

    Rentals
    Last year I did a pretty thorough review of all the motorcycle rental places that I could find in Colombia…but I missed at least one. That one is Motoraid Adventure in Bogota at Calle 77. #7-64. It may be the place that Tom got his rental a few months ago. Looks like they have 4 models available:

    All are KTMs (my favorite)
    2017 690 Enduro R. $110 / day
    790 Adv. 140
    790 Adv R. 150
    1090 Adv R. 155

    3 days or more qualifies for a 10% discount
    Pete_Tallahassee likes this.
  20. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Getting real

    Boarding in 7 minutes. There was conflicting information on whether a COVID test was needed. $50 fee to talk to an airline rep by phone..American. So I figured the COVID test requirement was only for entry to the US and it appears I was right. I am at the gate in Boston heading for Miami. Then on to Bogota arriving at 10:20 PM. It has been about six months since I was in Colombia so I hope the bike starts.