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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    Getting current information on Ecuador is not easy. A lot of internet postings are undated and/or outdated. Just showing up at the border has possibilities sometimes but probably not in this case.

    The hostel here is officially closed. They have not asked me to leave but I feel a little in the way. Last night they brought my dinner to the room...about 200 yards from the kitchen...a long way with heavy plates. Just walking that distance back and forth is time consuming. They also had a couple of big jock types carry my two biggest pieces of luggage to my new quarters. I will say that the private room is very comfortable. It is actually a concrete hut with a thatched roof. Quite large and airy.

    Today is not raining and there are spots of blue sky. So loading up and heading further up the coast. Maybe past Palomino to the northern desert.
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  2. GringoRider

    GringoRider Adventurer

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    ¿So they have horse steak? Have you tried that?
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  3. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    The menu does list horse steak. You are a careful reader. I did not try it…but I will pass that way again. I have been mentally changing…caballo.. to. Caballero, which would make it sirloin steak.

    I was even asked to translate that part of the menu once and missed that.
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  4. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Going northeast up the coast I landed in Riohacha. It is on the edge of the northern desert, so it is dry and hot. It has a very long beach that you can drive on so I did that…shirtless.

    At the hotel I was intercepted by a street helper who steered me to an Arabian restaurant nearby. It was very good.

    My next move is see how far into the desert I can get. I can already see that gas will be an issue. There are people selling gas out of bottles on the side of the road. Also, this is near the Venezuelan border, so there are refugees asking for money.
  5. GringoRider

    GringoRider Adventurer

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    Yeah that must be it. I can’t imagine they’re serving horse there.
  6. JuddS

    JuddS Been here awhile Supporter

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    I've bought gas from people on the side of the road. If they have several cans for sale my strategy is not to let them touch the cans before I select the ones I want. I was riding in morocco once with a local and he said the guys selling it always mixed half the cans with water and then when a tourist would come the would grab the half water ones and shake them up a bit and put them in the foreigners car. Then follow them with a pickup and offer a tow back to town. Now, thats good thinking on their part! Nothing beats repeat business!
  7. GenXrider

    GenXrider Been here awhile

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    It's not horse :-). "Bistek a Caballero" is steak with an egg, onions, tomatoes, and sometimes peppers on top.

    The gas you will find at the border is normally illegal Venezuelan gas. It's cheap and normally VERY good!
  8. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    I am surprised by how far I got. From Riohacha I went further up the coast to Manaure. That is known for salt mining. The natural conditions are ideal. Flat land, hot dry air, and wind. So they have big piles of it and trucks loaded heavy with it driving around. Some trucks have the salt loose in dump trucks. Others are flat bed with sacks of salt.

    The salt operation is very old and very productive. There have been some recent fights about the proceeds. Right now the solution is 25% to the town. 25% to the native group. 50% for the company.

    I tried the coastal route which is all dirt but wide and well graded. It is desert all around. Some small trees and lots of different types of cactus. There was a lot of standing water. You could see that the road took a beating in the last rainstorm with the deep ruts… now dried solid.

    The last stop of the day was Uribia, the take off point for serious desert travel. There are only two hotels in town. Both relatively expensive….65 and 70,000 pesos. So this is not a spot to linger.

    Trip Advisor says you need 4WD after Uribia. There are no buses or other public transportation to Uribia. So you need a cab from Riohacha. A cab will not go past Uribia though so then you need a guide and/or tour group. Of course Trip Advisor did not think of motorcycles.

    The map I have shows a road straight north to Puerto Bolivar. There are some smaller roads going to the coast before that, but they look complicated with possible deep sand. That is what will probably stop me anyway. You really cannot tell road condition from a map.

    When I do retreat from the desert, one possible stop is Maicao. That is practically a border town to Venezuela. Which is the big reason not to go there. We shall see.

    Roadside gas is mentioned. I am seeing a lot of it here in Uribia. It is typically in two liter coke bottles, with some 5 gallon jugs standing by. I think I will get some. Last time I gassed up there were 15 motorcycles ahead of me in line. Took about an hour. There is no line at the coke bottle stations.
  9. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Bought some coke bottle gas in Uribia so I would start the desert run with a full tank. I went to the end of the road up to Puerto Bolivar, which is a military base. It was hot and sort of boring. Not much to see, but at least it did not rain.

    I know there are some great beaches and other coastal features that I missed, but the distances are long and the rewards are small. I was approached a few times by official government guides but declined their services. One of them took the time to explain that it is a full days ride…10 hours… between destinations. The loop he proposed would take 4 days and he would ride his own bike.

    At this point I think I am pushing my luck with desert riding. My chain is getting worn out and the front tire is pretty thin. So I am going back to civilization. Now in Guajira. I am not tired of beaches yet, so the next stop is probably Palomino.
  10. Tomaso

    Tomaso Been here awhile

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    Charles, you mentioned, when we met in Bogota, that you might try to get into the indigenous region up there in the Sierra Nevadas of Santa Marta, which is pretty closed off to tourists. Have you thought about that any more or is it not that compelling now that you've explored the region?

    Keep it coming, buddy! I'm loving it!
  11. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

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    you have to be a Ecuadorian to cross they are not letting foreigners cross to my knowledge travelbans.org
  12. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Last night’s stop was just where I ran out of personal energy. Turns out it was only a half hour from Palomino, where I am now.

    This time I picked the hostel by riding around looking at them. I was looking for higher than average quality for less than average price. I got one of my wishes. The place is really nice but it costs a little more…40,000 pesos….$11.
    It has a toilet seat, air conditioning, and tv. Water is one temperature…very warm.

    I scouted on the land side of the highway instead of the beach side to get away from all the action. And it should be a better value too.

    It turns out that my hostel is on the road to an indigenous village. Their people are constantly walking past the hostel. They are pretty obvious. Usually they are wearing all white and they are small dark people. There is a sign on the road about a mile in to tell outsiders to stay away. That sign was being ignored, but I turned around…for now.

    The desert riding got me all the sun I want for a while. I have had to lather on the sunscreen to avoid wearing more clothes. Almost nobody out there wears a helmet or mask. Hats and other sun shields are common though. My arms and hands are the most exposed part of me and they were glowing, in spite of spf 60 sunscreen.

    Today I resorted to a long sleeve shirt and tried to hide from the sun. Later in the day it clouded over and started raining. But I am not complaining. I need a break and I want to stay here a while.
  13. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

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    there are pretty cool beaches near palomino playa Elisabeth a dirt road a couple km north of you, google map it
    End of the month I am doing la Guajira again
  14. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

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    have dog will travel 5890ED13-59AF-451A-BE6B-544464ED0004.jpeg
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  15. JuddS

    JuddS Been here awhile Supporter

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    You are in a special place. Adv riding where indigenous people dont allow foreigners. Life memories for sure. Enjoy and keep posting.

    @AlMostThere. The border is definitely closed on the colombia side and i have not even bothered to check ecuador as no ine can get across legally. DIAN in colombia now says they will extend my permit though, so at least my bike wont be illegal. Im not keen to lose my bike to more paperwork and potentially never get it back.
  16. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

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    the question is how do you get more that 180 days a year with your passport? answer visa
  17. JuddS

    JuddS Been here awhile Supporter

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    Champe. I ride up to nevado de cucouy last time i was down there and really enjoyed it. If you are heading up towards bucamaranga area next it is kinda in that general location i think. I took the dirt roads nearly the whole way and found it to be a spectacular area to ride. There is a long ride on slab through a hot and dry canyon going that way that isnt the most enjoyable part of the trip, but you can make a lot if ground in a day if you ride it hard.
  18. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Wayuu people

    The native people here do not like to be called Indians. Other groups are Indians but not them. They call outsiders “damagers” and do not care for them. They have their own language and do not tend to reply when spoken to.

    This attitude has probably saved their culture. This group was not subjugated by the Spanish for several reasons. Where they live is very hot …gets uncomfortable when you work. The Wayuu also learned very early on to use firearms and ride horses, so they were able to defend themselves.

    The Guajiro peninsula (desert) is where they live. Some in Colombia and some in Venezuela. They comprise a large portion of the “Indians” of both countries.

    The Wayuu have had some success in asserting their land rights. An example is the share they receive from the Manaure salt works. The two highest Andean peaks in Colombia are located in their region so climbing them is generally prohibited.
  19. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Perfect. A dirt road leading to a beach outside of town. The kind of exploring best done on a motorcycle. Usually scenic with a big reward potential…a nice beach. I did check Google maps and it looks to be an easy run from here.
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  20. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    I have a bunch of photos ready to upload that were taken with my real camera. But it is also time to go for a ride. So here are a couple of good ones as a teaser.

    I may have the ultimate motorcycle / goat photo. On the most extreme leg of the Guajira desert ride I was seeing guys with dead goats tied to their bike. Obviously they had been hunting, but it is always sad to see the end of life for a large living being. On the return trip there was a sight that was much more uplifting. This guy was going my way and we leap frogged some doing rest stops. When I first saw this guy I was mainly seeing horns and thought he was a hunter. As I got closer I could see that the horns belonged to live animals. So here you have a guy riding his bike with four live goats.
    C630043C-EA38-46B1-90F8-82800D5916AA.jpeg
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