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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    If you get into the export business you might meet this boat.
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    Doing a little research on the cartels that do export, I read that the next larger town over, Cienaga, is known as an unauthorized export hub. Apparently they lost a submarine not long ago.

    This is a small group of young hooligans that like to swim next to the main pier. They will do tricks like leaping into the water over the rocks and diving for sea life. Some of them will ask you for money. They are just having fun and not particularly pushy. E985ED6F-7649-4400-B5A0-4390DF32980A.jpeg

    This is the beach north of the marina. The outboard powered launches are taking tourists to the really great beaches nearby. Most of the best ones have no road going to them. Tayrona Park is one of their destinations.
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  2. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    There are some very nice sailboats in the marina. The one closest to shore here is my style, but right now I am glad I don’t have to do the maintenance on one.
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  3. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Big ships cruise close to shore here. Some stop in ….the port handles bulk coal carriers ..outbound… as well as container traffic.
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    The south beach. In the distance is one of the finer beaches that you need a boat to access. The shore approach is blocked by a military base. 7D7E8EF3-8E1A-4F52-B685-17633A82F5D9.jpeg
  4. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Backing up to Cartagena. This is lunch at La Cevicheria. I was going to order their small bowl but they showed me how small it is, so I went with the larger one. Next time I will stick to my guns. The drink is coco lemonade…the most expensive drink I have had in Colombia…17,000 pesos. …$5. Tasty and refreshing but a budget buster.
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    A statue of a native girl from the colonial days. She is the Latin American version of Pocahontas, abducted by the Spanish at 15 years old.
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  5. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Cars here are interesting and different from what we see in the US. Lots of Renaults… amazing that they still run, considering their construction and condition. Jeep types are super popular…would be a good choice for me. My first few cars were VW bugs though, and I still like them. Lots of them around. Here is a nice one.
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    Playa de Oro …..beach of gold, A little north of Cartagena. Possibly my favorite of the area. It is further down the beach road, which is rough in places, so there are less people. The little shelter was being used by the police to stay out of the sun. They waved me over when I parked…awe shoot….Just wanted to shoot the breeze….whew.
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    Same beach. You can see the city in the background a few miles away.
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    Buzzards in a tree near the beach. These guys do good work keeping the place clean. There is much less road kill in evidence here than in the US.
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  6. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Typical little shelters on a beach near Cartagena. These are supervised and maintained privately. It costs a little dinero to use one. Many offer refreshments too.
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    Unusual architecture for a lifeguard station
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    Near the end of the dirt road along the beaches. This is past the fishing village. The mangrove area has some little islands. This is the way to the …Isla de la Felicidad….Island of Happiness.
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  7. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Are you able to enter the docks or are they gated? I love walking docks looking at boats.
  8. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    The marina is fenced and gated. They have a guard shack that is manned.

    I also like walking the docks looking at boats. I am thinking of asking for a tour so I can see If I want to bring my (imaginary) boat there.

    In reality, I rarely docked my boats. My preference is to anchor out in the harbor and dinghy in. Dockage is almost always expensive…defeats the purpose of having a liveaboard sailboat. I do not see any pleasure boats anchoring out here though.
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  9. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Sopa de costilla…..rib soup

    Early this trip I learned about …caldo de costilla… beef rib broth. It is a hearty breakfast, sometimes served for lunch also. It is a favorite of mine, being commonly available, cheap, and really good.

    But today I found a variation that is even better. I was out riding when it started to rain so I parked and looked for a suitable indoor activity…like eating. A little local restaurant with about 8 tables caught my eye because it was busy. A sign advertised …sopa de costilla…rib soup. So I figured it would be a bit thicker than rib broth.

    I was right. It had a few more ingredients, but the big difference was that there were no bones and more meat. The meat was tender . And there was a piece of corn on the cob like you see in sancocho. Rice on the side.

    The counter guy was really nice. Told me three times what it cost, even though I got it the first time. 8000 pesos…$2.20. Yum

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    It is possible that the price was emphasized because this was a little more money than caldo. Usually caldo is 6000 pesos. Once, at a food market, it was only 5000. All of them were great deals.
  10. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Today’s ride went to Cienaga, the black market export hub. There is a road that runs from Minca, the eco / hippy hangout in the mountains to Cienaga. I tried to follow it on an earlier trip. Twice. The first time I did not know about it and was too low on fuel to continue. The second time was after a rainstorm so the road was muddy to start. Then it started raining hard so I gave it up. This time I wanted to try it from the other direction. It was going well until it came to an open gate. The gate looked private so I did not continue. But this is what the trail looked like.
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    Back in Santa Marta it started raining so I got off the bike and walked. It was raining really hard at times making it impossible to cross the street without walking in fast running two inch deep water. The road is crowned so the deeper water is at the edge. Here is a guy who charged a toll to use his makeshift bridge. I like how he solved a common problem for others, to earn some money.
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  11. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Being based in Santa Marta is really good because the hostel is great and the location is central to all the attractions. But it would b nice to be based at one of the attractions too, right ?

    Well, one of the attractions is the superior beaches to the north. And it so happens that there is another Viajero hostel (a chain I like) there. It is about an hour’s ride, past Tayrona Park. I have driven past a few times without seeing it, but yesterday’s ride was for checking that out, as well as seeing how close to Tayrona Park I can get, without paying their crazy high admission fee.

    So I checked out the hostel first. Liked it a lot. Moving there today. They have some ocean beach frontage and an outdoor pool. More photos later but this is their bbq pit.
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    Checking out other beaches in the area, I came upon this funky bridge. It is still useable, but there is some rot in the boards. I wanted to take my bike across but the gaps bothered me some.
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  12. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    There were other options. This one looked good, even though it was easy single track.
    Starts here
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    Ends here
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    The beach itself
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  13. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    The trail going back
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    A nice fixer-upper boat. Looks like someone has claimed it already. There is some semi-fresh fiberglass work in evidence. The hull is warped and the transom is in pieces. But the price is right.
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  14. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    I like small beaches that are relatively unknown. Usually there is little to no signage to them. This one is marked only by the hotel that is near the main road..Rte 90. You just go past the hotel and some residences before it goes to single track.
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    Road hazard…coconuts
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  15. JuddS

    JuddS Been here awhile Supporter

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    I didn’t read your whole report. Did you go anywhere south of Medellin that you recommend? I’m planning to doing eje cafetero on the way down to ipales. Any suggestions from anyone…?…
  16. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Sure...most of this trip was south of Medellin. Salento is the most common destination in the coffee region, but you should see the Cocora Valley right next door.

    I went as far south as Pasto but did not continue to Ipiales because the Ecuador land border was closed. I went east instead to do the Trampolin del Diablo, which I recommend if you like a little dirt challenge.

    On the way back north I spent some time at the Tatacoa Desert, which was a definite highlight.

    Are you intending to cross the border at Ipiales ?
  17. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Sure...most of this trip was south of Medellin. Salento is the most common destination in the coffee region, but you should see the Cocora Valley right next door.

    I went as far south as Pasto but did not continue to Ipiales because the Ecuador land border was closed. I went east instead to do the Trampolin del Diablo, which I recommend if you like a little dirt challenge.

    On the way back north I spent some time at the Tatacoa Desert, which was a definite highlight.

    Are you intending to cross the border at Ipiales ?
  18. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Sure...most of this trip was south of Medellin. Salento is the most common destination in the coffee region, but you should see the Cocora Valley right next door.

    I went as far south as Pasto but did not continue to Ipiales because the Ecuador land border was closed. I went east instead to do the Trampolin del Diablo, which I recommend if you like a little dirt challenge.

    On the way back north I spent some time at the Tatacoa Desert, which was a definite highlight.

    Are you intending to cross the border at Ipiales ?
  19. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Sure...most of this trip was south of Medellin. Salento is the most common destination in the coffee region, but you should see the Cocora Valley right next door.

    I went as far south as Pasto but did not continue to Ipiales because the Ecuador land border was closed. I went east instead to do the Trampolin del Diablo, which I recommend if you like a little dirt challenge.

    On the way back north I spent some time at the Tatacoa Desert, which was a definite highlight.

    Are you intending to cross the border at Ipiales ?
  20. JuddS

    JuddS Been here awhile Supporter

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    Why was the desert such a highlight? It would add 9 hours on my trip, but if its that good perhaps ill make the swing. Im passing close to the cocora valley, but why is it good?

    I really appreciate you mentioning these places as i dont have a plan.