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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    Is it hot in Cartagena ?

    Why yes, it is. Riding in here I used my mesh jacket and the Klim pants. The AGATT folks would be proud. But on arrival all that had to come off. Quick change to shorts, flip flops and t shirt. The hostel offered to turn on the room air conditioner but I prefer natural as long as I can stand it.

    Most construction here is concrete. That allows the use of a lot of tile. And the tile is often cold. I find I can get another degree of cool going barefoot on the tile. Sometimes even flip flops are over dressing.

    Not sure what to do with the bike. The parking in the city is scarce and the parqueaderos are not abundant or convenient. My bike is out front and I am told someone who works here, who also has a bike, will help me bring it inside the first night. There are around five big steps...no chance of riding it in. I am still in walking mode so I would just as soon leave it there.
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  2. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Backing up a little to Mutata, the little town before Turbo.

    I killed a day here waiting for rain to pass, which never did. But the middle of my wait day was clear so I rode around some. There was a large back neighborhood, off the main road, that was all cobblestones. I have seen lots of complaints about the ones in Barichara…the famous “old colonial town”, where they paved the streets with small round stones. I agree that they are not very comfortable in Barichara, but these are much worse. The stones are bigger so the vibration has a lower frequency. And is way more annoying. I went for the sidewalk here.
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    All along the main street were vendors but only one with the small bananas. And that was all he had. I visited him twice. They cost 200 pesos each. 6 cents. Take your pick of ripeness.
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    Men at work. Usually everyone is working hard. Like here.
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    But occasionally you see seven guys standing around and one guy working.
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    Actually, I have seen a better photo …twice.. but have not captured it yet. Twice I have seen entire highway crews sleeping at the side of the road. They do have some hard work and it could have been legitimate breaks.

    I was having trouble seeing through the face shield while arriving in the rain. So I kept it at a 45 degree angle and looked underneath. I could not tell that much of the problem was dirt… not just rain. Mini photos of face shield and boots the next day.

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  3. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Choice of hotels in Mutata

    I was not really impressed with the quality of hotels in this town while passing through in the dark. I picked the last one because it was the last one. It was raining and I was ready to stop. It was not that bad…these might have had more potential …
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    Would you eat at a restaurant named…”The Surprise” ?
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  4. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Cartagena

    Where to park ?

    On my first trip past the hostel I stopped but could not park. You would have to park in the culvert part of the road, which has some angle. My bike will tip over to the right if parked on the right. And it will tip over to the left if parked on the left. So I went and found a piece of concrete for a shim. And used that under the kickstand to park on the left.

    The day shift told me we would be bringing the bikes inside for the night. But now I have talked to David, the night shift desk clerk. He rides too and he showed me the video monitor for outside, on which you can see his and my bikes. He said it is impossible to bring the bikes inside and that they are safe where they are. Mine now has its cover on as well as the disk alarm. The disk alarm is now about two years old and the battery is dying. It now makes a constant ticking sound to remind me. Sounds like a bomb timer. ha ha
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    This is part of the wall that surrounds the old city. These cannons look pretty good. There are a few others that are really badly corroded and filled with cement.
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  5. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Good times, thanks for reporting!
  6. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    While in Cocorna I would pass by the parapente launch sites. Got a few good shots there.

    take off. There is a third person assisting.
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    Just cruising past the viewing area
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    Pre flight
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    This landing was a little long. The parachute draped over the fence where I was standing. I had to move. The landing was also unusual...butt first. No real issues though.
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  7. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Take off run
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    In flight
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    Very smooth landing
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    I

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  8. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Human statues in Medellin.... Botero Plaza
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    Big multi ton outside statues by Botero.. Botero Plaza , Medellin
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  9. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Crash scene on the Medellin - Bogota Autopista. I went by there a half hour later going in the other direction and they rider was still on the ground, somewhat more undressed, but still not getting up. Be careful out there.
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    Paragliding a different day. Nice landing coming up.
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  10. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Adult playground equipment in a park in Medellin. This is not easy. There were a couple of other pieces but they did not photograph well.

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    That house down the hill has a nice view of the waterfall. This is the parasailing valley of Corcorna.
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    This guy was ahead of me at a road construction stop. There were three kittens in that bag
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    Tunnel near Medellin. Typical.
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    Lunch on the road.. Pork ribs. Fresh squeezed orange juice.
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    Skid plate rotated to the ground in front…the two front bolts are missing.
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    These trees grow in the flat fertile valleys. They are unusually symmetrical.
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    Typical tunnels. The unfinished one in the construction zone before Mutata was especially interesting.
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  11. GenXrider

    GenXrider Been here awhile

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    The AGC grafiti on the first crappy hotel photo is the paramilitary group tag.
    Plenty of paramilitary activity in this area due to its location to the drug trafficking routes via Turbo, Necocli etc

    When I lived in Cartagena you could not ride a moto in Centro, maybe things have changed.
    Most travellers with bikes used to stay in barrio Getsemani just outside of Centro for this reason.
    Getsemani has hostels with parking and you have parking options in Getsemani.
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  12. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Cartagena was interesting.. The old city has preserved most of the fortifications from colonial days. There is a stone wall around it with numerous canon placements. And nearby on a hill is San Felipe castle, which is a fortress overlooking all the major waterways. The history of the city is that it was attacked many times, and sometimes successfully. The defenses were reinforced often to keep up with the threats. I enjoyed the historical aspects.

    The tourist hustle is a big negative though. You cannot walk a block without someone trying to be your buddy, sell you something, or just ask for a handout. All of them mean well, but it gets old quick.
    I spent a couple of days walking around and a couple more riding. I had been under the impression that there were no good beaches but that is totally wrong. There are lots of beaches. Most of the ones close to the city are well attended. All are decent sand and some have soft white sand. A little North of the city are larger beaches that you can ride on. I had to be a little careful in the deeper sand... smooth tires are not the best choice.

    The street food scene is not as prolific as Bogota or Cali. And everything is more expensive.

    I was told about a world famous ceviche restaurant...La Cevicheria... I tried it, but am not a convert. I was jealous of the cooked fish dishes around me.

    There is one Botero statue in Cartagena. It is representative of his work...a big outdoor bronze of a “full figured” lady lying down. You are supposed to touch her boob for good luck. Well, I certainly don’t need any bad luck...

    Cartagena photos soon. This morning, Tuesday, I did make a break Northward to Santa Marta. It is about a six hour ride, and for me, it went through several rainstorms. I have just arrived and am now drying out. The restaurant in the hostel has changed from last time I was here. They now serve three meals and the menu is different. The dinner menu is more varied and cheaper. It is still on the high side....but I just had the tropical fish and chips and it was excellent.
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  13. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Those dirty dogs

    Another police encounter today. I was cruising a busy area looking for an oil change and missed missed the shop I was looking for. Making a second pass, I went through a police checkpoint again. They did not stop me the first time but they did the second time. It was a crowded intersection with lots of witnesses so there was no hanky panky. My paperwork checked out so they let me go. But they had a flatbed on site and tried their best to add my bike to their collection.
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    As I was leaving, the crowd started gathering about 50 yards down the road. They had snagged a car and put it on a second flatbed. There were objections and people wanted to see how it turned out.
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    This is how cops earn the reputation that they have. Real criminals are too dangerous.
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  14. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Parking issues.

    The Viajero hostel in Santa Marta was my favorite two years ago. It was modern and new with all the amenities I like. But things change…and not always for the better. Last time I was able to park in the yard but reception told me that is no longer allowed. They suggested a parqueadero on the next block for 10,000 pesos a night. I opted for sidewalk parking instead . I used three locks. Steering lock, disc alarm lock, and combination lock cable to a fence. Also a rain cover. So the next morning the manager had a word with me. He said that sidewalk parking is illegal and both he and I would be fined if the police feel like it. So from now on I am to park in the yard overnight.

    I am to bring it in late and take it out early. During the day I park on the street with several others. It is a quiet side street so I am happy .
  15. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    AGC and Mutata

    A big THANK YOU to GenX for the alert to the meaning of AGC on the hotel wall in Mutata. AGC is also known as the “Gulf Cartel” and can be dangerous. I knew that there was cartel activity in the region that borders Panama but I did not know about this group until GenX mentioned it and I researched them on the internet.

    Apparently they have been very active in the last few years and have lost several of their leadership to government crackdowns. Funny thing is that Lonely Planet recommends some of the towns even closer to the border. I would not.

    My experience in Mutata was mostly pleasant, with no contact with the rebels, that I am aware of.

    I did have one incident that I thought was weird. My last night there I was going out in the evening to restock food for the next day. There were three people on the porch so I said ....buenas noches ... to them. Normally you get a reply but this time there was none. When I returned, one of the ladys got a bit huffy with me and I could not understand her problem at first. She was speaking fast in Spanish but I caught the word...plata... silver. So I figured she wanted to be paid. I asked her that and the answer was affirmative, so I paid her in full on the spot. She turned the money over to another lady sitting there who was older and totally calm... probably the owner.

    What is weird is that nobody asks for money at restaurants or hotels. You usually have to ask for the bill.... la cuenta, por favor. They never want to interrupt you at your meal, even when you are finished. Maybe I am spoiled by the usual extremely considerate manners.
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  16. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Beach parking

    In Cartagena I spent some time cruising the beaches. Most of them allow driving on the sand. Where it is a little moist it is firm and no trouble at all. At the edges it is not so firm and that is where I like to park. My bike has a reasonably big foot on the kickstand but no way will it hold up the bike in soft sand. I was already carrying my chunk of concrete for parking at the hostel but I beefed up my parking kit with a kid’s flip flop. The flip flop is nice to protect my rack from the concrete also.
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    Rough part of a dirt road between beaches
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    Building for sale on the waterfront. I followed the beach road to the end. It went to a shallow mangrove area where there is a small fishing village. Most of the buildings here are not on stilts, but this is, and the view must be pretty good.
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  17. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    That's very common in Latin America. It's considered impolite to give you the restaurant tab without first being asked. Doing so is interpreted as rushing you out - very impolite. The norm is you ask to pay, not they ask you to pay. As you surely recognize, the cultural norm of "welcome to my (casa, restaurante, pais)" is strong in Latin America.
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  18. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    You can rent motorcycles in Santa Marta again. They are small ones, for around town and to the beach. Around $20 day seems pretty reasonable.
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    Street scene with one of those optional stop signs. Usually treated as …yield…sign. Beach and island in the background.
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    You will hear that there is no beach in Santa Marta. There are actually at least two. This is the one south of the marina. The guys pulling on the line are bringing in a big net. There are two teams…one for each end of the net….and a small boat in the water to make sure the net does not get fouled.
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    Resulting catch is kind of small…about 20 fish about a foot long.
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  19. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Rooftop pool at sunset at the Viajero hostel, Santa Marta.
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    Evening group at the pool
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  20. olderigetfasteriam

    olderigetfasteriam Long timer

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    Great RR. Thanks so much for allowing us to ride along.
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