Gringo in Paradox - Travels in Colombia

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

  1. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Heading down, it rained lightly. But enough to create very slippery mud, some of which ended up in my radiator
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    Far enough down, the weather clears
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    Heading back South, I skip Guacamayas and go for San Mateo for the night.
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    Nice mural in San Mateo
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  2. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Out of sequence again… back in Guacamayas… they had me park in the restaurant. And did not ask me to move it out in the morning.
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    A lot of restaurants have a hand washing sink in the dining room.
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    Hamburguesa especial in San Mateo
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    You will have to guess where this church is
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  3. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    The police station in San Mateo. Do they really have to block off the street around the town square like this ? B4F06CCB-EF84-4F94-91E2-D5E4F1D70A69.jpeg

    Phone poles are made of concrete here. Air plants are common…like in Florida.
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    A big tour group came through in San Mateo. Several bikes were from Elephant Tours in Bogota. All were big monsters, mostly BMW 1200 and 1250s. They were all speaking Spanish.
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    San Gil footbridge over the Rio Fonce. Those are all padlocks locked to the fence.
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  4. Mofrid

    Mofrid Been here awhile Supporter

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    Thanks for the great ride report! I’m really enjoying all of the pictures and your outlook.

    Keep the rubber side down.
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  5. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    San Gil

    This city was recommended by the girl who bought everyone lunch in Sogamoso. She was very nice…and good looking… but she was also the girlfriend of Juan’s brother. She happens to be from San Gil so she should know something about it. I liked it right away when I rolled in, despite my initial minor problem finding accommodation. The first thing that struck me was how busy it is. Lots of people walking around and a big variety of shops open. What a contrast to the little mountain towns. The cheap hotel is also a factor that made me stay a few days. Another feature I really like is the market area, which is only two blocks away on the same street as the hotel. There are big sections of fruit and vegetable vendors…mostly indoors but also on the street. There is a big meat section…and I eat meat… but that was not my favorite. Here are some eggs for sale…I thought the small speckled ones were interesting.

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    Indoor vegetable area. This market was open during the week and I thought the place would be inactive today.. Sunday morning. I was wrong.
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    Meat area
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    Just North of the meat section I took a photo of a footbridge over Rio Fonce and then noticed the black and white pig tied out. He was at the end of his line, wagging his tail for a while. Seems like a happy soul. Hope he does not go inside very soon.
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  6. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    One wing inside is for sit down dining
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    Yes, I had breakfast here. I saw someone else having caldo and asked about it. The waiter said something about pescado…fish… so I went for that….fish soup. It was great with big chunks of fish. The coffee was a mini cup. Strange to me, but this is what the street vendors usually sell. This meal was 10,000 pesos…less than $3.
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  7. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Did you know that Caldo is usually the word for broth and broths come in many different meats and vegetables. Are masks mandatory or is every one just being safe?
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  8. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Quite a few folks were having a liquid breakfast.
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    Walking around the town square a while later I saw a guy selling soft serve ice cream from a cart. He had an interesting rig, with a gas motor driving the machine. And his price was very good…1000 pesos…30 cents.


    And here is a street vendor who had a funny incident. A cute girl walked by and swiped a plum from his cart as she walked by. Really smooth…but he saw it. He yelled at her but she did not break her stride as she walked away. A few minutes later she returned and put the plum back.

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  9. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Totally right. Caldo means…broth. It turns out that …caldo de castilla…broth of beef ribs… is what is most common, and I have had it a few times now. This fish version is a variant, but not offered everywhere.

    Masks are mandatory in public, except while eating or smoking. Compliance is very high. Most motorcycle riders wear them while riding. I do not, so I am in the minority on this.

    Back in Guacamayas I saw a motorcycle go by my hotel with three adult riders not wearing helmets. But they were all wearing masks. I wanted a photo of that so I could crack wise about safety.

    Personally, I think I am immune. Early on I lost my taste and smell for a few days. No serious symptoms though. I have a strong opinion about the whole thing but do not feel comfortable sharing it here.
  10. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    On the road again.

    Left San Gil early this morning and took a quick run over to the famous colonial town of Barichara. Took a few pictures but did not stay long.

    The bike started making a light rattle so I checked it out at a scenic overlook. Broken skid plate. Stopped at a shop on the way out and they wired it back together. It needed welding but they do not do aluminum.

    I was hoping for a little warm weather and got more than I wanted. Now that I am out of the mountains it got wicked hot. I started the ride with shorts and my Klim jacket, but had to take it off at the first gas stop. Went with my Tourmaster mesh jacket, but it was still hot.

    Stopped at a restaurant near my second gas stop for a refreshing drink. Got a small pitcher of mora (blackberry) with milk. Boy, that was good ! That restaurant had a collection of parrots that were allowed to be free. Photos soon.

    Am headed to the Manizales area, which is near the deadly Mt. Ruiz, so things should cool down again. But right now I am still in the valley between mountain chains at a hotel. The trip was supposed to take 11 hours…Google time… and I did 9 today. The phone says I have 4 hours to go.

    oh, the skid plate broke again. Different spot. Making noise too. Nobody’s fault. It is a cheap aftermarket unit from China.
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  11. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Have you seen any unique anatomical components in your soup? I remember "Caldo del gallo", mine had the roosters crown in it, and my wife's had the feet. Another time I had soup with a pigs ear poking up between the potatoes. A sweet senorita told me "es comida!"
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  12. falcofred

    falcofred aka Beer Scout Supporter

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    Champe
    This is a fender extender manufactured by Puig, sold by Revzilla that would help in keeping your radiator clean. I have no idea on it's availability in Colombia. On radiator caps, if it is a metal cap, they are 'spring' loaded, meaning you need to push down, depress them before turning CCW to remove. I've also seen radiator caps with 'set screws' in the side that have to be loosened prior to removal.
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  13. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Have not had that experience yet, but last nights dinner was a little surprise. My poor Spanish did not help.

    I am in the country, so do not expect any English help at all. So I was ordering dinner and the waiter listed off the meats they had. He mentioned …pechuga…. Which I thought was chicken breast so I ordered that. What came to the table was a cheese soup with mild flavored meat that I doubted was chicken. A fish bone confirmed I was eating fish. It was good but not what I expected. A while later a platter arrived with my actual chicken meal.
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  14. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    I can so relate to this and chuckle! Ordering food with a limited vocabulary. The adventure doesn't pause as you enter a restaurant. I was served tripe soup in a scenario like yours.
  15. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Ordering food in an unfamiliar language is all part of the adventure.

    So is breaking down. I was thinking of taking the skid plate off after the wire repair. The other end of the repaired piece broke, and it rattled some. But I think the skid plate is a good thing …. It just might save my crankcase. So I figured I would have it welded. No hurry…I am on pavement lately.

    The latest destination was Mt. Ruiz, but I gave it up going up the access road. The mountain top was shrouded in cloud but I hoped it would be like fog. No such luck. It was rain. And cold. By this time I had changed over to my full Klim suit and set up my luggage for rain. I think I will be in the area for a few days and have another chance, so I turned back.

    Manizales is just the closest big city…. Not really my destination. Off the mountain and heading toward Manizales again, I was passing through a small town with a lot of construction businesses. Maybe someone here can weld aluminum. And what was next was a nice looking hostel…Hostel Blue. I start to check in and ask the price. 70,000 pesos. I tell the girl…demasiado caro..too expensive. So as I am saddling up outside, the girl comes out and says there is a place across the street for 35,000. It is a …hospedaje…lodging house …and I am there now.

    Then I start walking around asking if anyone can weld aluminum. A really rough looking truck repair yard answered the call. The head mechanic dropped working on a semi engine and fixed me up. He found that the support bracket for the skid plate was also broken. So he had to weld aluminum and steel. Charge…40,000 pesos…about $11.

    Real mechanics are the salt of the earth, doing real work, and applying considerable skill. And it was another adventure in which I learned some new words. Soldar means weld. Looks like solder though doesn’t it ? And the key here is to tell him it is aluminum. Luckily that word is very close to English…aluminio.
  16. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Got an answer to some questions from my sister, Helga. She is pretty smart, for a girl. The small speckled eggs at the market are quail eggs.

    And the long leaf spiked plant that I was wondering if it was cultivated is …Hawaiian Silversword. They are trying to save it from going extinct in Hawaii. Now they know they can just get some from Colombia and replant.
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  17. GringoRider

    GringoRider Adventurer

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    People will tie fighting cocks to keep them separated. Till it's showtime.
  18. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Last night I stayed at Hospedeja la Enea in the town of La Enea, a little West of the big city of Manizales. I had tried to ride as far as possible up Mt. Ruiz but the clouds were covering the higher parts of the mountain. Sometimes those clouds are just fog, but in this case it was raining.

    I turned around, found a place to stay, and got my skid plate fixed instead. Internet, as well as phone reception, was poor there. So this morning I checked the cloud situation, and they were lower than the previous day. So Mt. Ruiz is eluding me again. I can still go back, but for now it was time to move on.

    The next stop is Salento, the heart of the coffee region, where I am now. This is a good place to use as a base to explore this area. The Viajero Hostel is where I stayed 6 months ago and I like them because the internet is good and they have hot water showers.

    Now is a good time to catch up on photos.

    Leaving San Gil early in the morning, I rode the half hour to Barichara, the town that is well known for its authentic colonial architecture. It was nice but a short visit was enough. The town is built on the side of a hill, with the highest point being a scenic overlook. It was here that I had a good look to see where the rattle on my bike was coming from.
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    The view was across a valley with river at the bottom. Nice, but you see that a lot cruising cross country. There was nobody else there and the area is not developed beyond a dirt parking lot.

    You know I like to explore off the beaten path. And the most well known characteristic of Barichara is the big flat rectangular paving stones that all the streets are made of. Mostly they are in good condition, but off the beaten path they are not so great. I have read some accounts of them being hard to ride on with a motorcycle. Here is one of the back streets that could use a little attention.
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  19. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Entrance to Barichera. The main roads are fairly well grouted, but you still need to watch the road surface.
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    This is a giant replica of an insect that natives used to eat here. I read that you can still buy them as a snack in Barichera and San Gil. 1CBDB248-74BE-4D92-8D3C-3F3D35C58B60.jpeg
    O

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  20. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Actually, this is what most of the paving looks like. Easy to drive on but you have to pay attention.
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    Leaving San Gil I was headed for Manizales, which I could not make in one day. So no point in pushing it. Not far from San Gil there was an interesting big, whole airplane on the side of the road. Who knows what it is ?
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