Gringo in Paradox - Travels in Colombia

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

  1. OEM

    OEM n00b

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    I'm very late to the party, but throughly enjoying your ride report. I have been fortunate to visit Colombia a few times, just never on a bike. It's a beautiful land with beautiful people.
    Thanks for the fantastic ride report.
    Champe likes this.
  2. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Moved to Santa Marta.
    Got invited on a ride by a local motorcycle gang… Desertores Biker Family.. supposed to be tonight from Santa Marta to Cienaga.
    Will I ever return ?
  3. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

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    go to Popeye bar truck stop resort the owner is a biker it has a semi private beach I like it there it is on the out skirt of cien naga on the way to barranquilla watch your speed limit mucho cameras and cops everywhere
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  4. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Would that be the Popeye’s restaurant that is on the way to Taganga ? I have passed by there a couple of times but will stop next time.

    The motorcycle gang ride last night came off great. I only wish I knew more Spanish so I could catch on to more of the jokes.

    There were 16 bikes, several with passengers. Mine was the biggest bike there….no Harleys. These guys ride fairly tight and fast. The destination was Cienaga, which I had read was a cartel shipping point. There was no sign of any type of crime. We had a nice dinner at the beach.

    They gave me a sticker for my bike. So now I am sporting two stickers. The first is the ADV one, of course. They did not offer me a shirt. No wonder, since they all have their name on them, as well as blood type.

    I thought the name of the group had something to do with the desert. Wrong. Desertores are deserters. Ha ha.
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  5. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Oops.. need to read the whole message. I see the Popeyes you mention is near Cienaga. For some reason they use the Popeyes name a lot in Colombia. They know all about the spinach eating too.
  6. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Desertores

    When I arrived in Santa Marta yesterday I was too early to check in to the hostel, so I went to a favorite spot near the ship docks. You can not get into the actual docks without passing through a secure gate so I go around to the side where you are on a high cliff overlooking the ocean. It used to be a straight shot on a gravel road. Now there is a truck scale and some other stuff you have to pass.

    So I was up there minding my own business when a guy in a work uniform comes over and starts a conversation. Of course he only speaks Spanish so I am trying to figure out if he wants me to leave.

    Turns out he likes my bike and is a rider himself. In fact he is a member of a bike club and invites me to a ride that evening. Hell yeah. This guys name is Nemias but it did not register until he sent me a WhatsApp message later. He was wearing a one piece jump suit and a mask. How would I recognize him in a riding outfit ? (Nemias is the guy standing next to me making a peace sign.)

    Well, it worked out fine. The group really is like a family. There are some very different types among them. One of the friendliest was a guy who ate everyone’s leftovers. He was always laughing. And he got a lot to eat.

    Their shirts were worn by most members. Great design, I thought. The lead cluster of about 5 riders were all wearing the shirts. On the back is their logo as well as a reflective design. A reflective garment is actually required at night in Colombia. But what was important for me was that I could identify them in heavy traffic while filtering ahead of slower riders not part of the group.

    This is the desertores logo
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  7. MikeS

    MikeS Fur shur! Vamos! Supporter

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    Interestsing; "Desertores" en espanol, and "Biker Family" in English... plus a twin cylinder engine logo, a rarity seen on the streets of SA where I've ridden. Enjoying your RR.
  8. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Right. V twins are super rare in all of Colombia.

    As soon as you say you are American and have a motorcycle people think it must be a Harley. But I think in four months of riding here I have seen two. Except for the time there were about 30 Harleys riding from Medellin toward Bogota . Mostly oldies and mostly loud. Colombians go nuts over them, especially the chicks.

    I think the Americanization of the logo reflects the general feeling that anything American is cool. I think I sometimes get the benefit of that. And Nemias gets three club brownie points for getting me to ride along.

    The back of the shirt is styled like the colors of an American biker club. The rocker says …Santa Marta.

    I think the biggest bike in the club was a 250. But you would be surprised at what they can do with what they have. In traffic they are downright superior. And on a downhill they can do everything a big bike can do.

    The club bikes were not totally basic bikes either. The most common single model bike you see in Colombia is the 100cc Bajaj Boxer. A new one is around $1100. Nobody was riding one of those. There is obvious pride of ownership with having a bit more bike than that.

    Nobody drank alcohol at the dinner. Germany is like that too.

    This ride was at night. Big rule violation. But my excuse is that I was riding with locals that know this road. And their on-the-road danger signals were prolific. Lots of leg pointing. Lots of times pointing out a slow rider not in the group. The whole route is not dangerous anyway. There are practically no potholes.
    GringoRider likes this.
  9. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

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    I am a member of LAMA
    Latin American motorcycle Association
    650 and up is the only requisite There are 15 or more chapters in Colombia and presence in 30 or more countries in the World
    a great club Humanitarians all the way
    passion is a requisite and we do crazy things like 1200 km in 24 hours IN COLOMBIA
    this is pretty serious stuff
    I have done 12000 meters altitude gain according to my ReLive app in 24hrs 3 mountain ranges rain fog deserts I wore out my back brake pads in one day
    a f700 can take the punishment and I am happy with this bike
  10. JuddS

    JuddS Been here awhile Supporter

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    Have you guys heard anything about when the border with Ecuador may open? Im trying to cross legally in Ipales.
  11. JuddS

    JuddS Been here awhile Supporter

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    @Champe i love your ride report, but i personally would not be so open in an online forum about my exact location and plans. I wonder if others agree with me or think im being overly cautious. As a gringo who has lived half my adult life south of the us border, ive seen a fair bit of kidnapping and robbing of americans who get a bit lax about their personal security.
    Champe likes this.
  12. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Good thing they are not Latin American Motorcycle Enthusiasts. That would be LAME.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

    I am sure it is a great group since you endorse them.

    ya....1200 km in 24 hours is really hard. It is easy to run out of pavement on long rides. And you always run into stretches of pavement that require lower speeds and close attention.

    You do get quality when you buy a BMW. I had a 650 Funduro for a while. Great bike. The saddlebags on mine were BMW brand and not that great though. I was comparing it to a 2004 R1150GS I still have. They were both heavy but you know these bikes are still pretty agile if you keep them rolling.
  13. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

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    nope you will be unauthorized
    No go
  14. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

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    its the reason for 650 cc and up
  15. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

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    there are five riders in my chapter out of 22 that go off road they have small bikes made for punishment they also have big bike and we get together often to explore some of the most off road experience that Colombia can offer we search and search for day rides or multi day rides we see incredible vistas I wish I had a suzuki dr350 to do this with my friends but I still get there on my f700 tempImagej62JpP.jpg
  16. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

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    I was working in Neiva in 2018 and the city was hosting bike week neiva 150 bikes showed up anything from a G650gs to a gold wing very well organized when we went on a ride the cops escorted us with there vstroms they stopped traffic to let us not stray I was impressed with the organization Colombia is a moto Nation 9million strong
  17. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    good advice.

    I hope we get someone on here that has their finger on the pulse of the Ecuador land border.
  18. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

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    Not going to happen Dude I live here and know what's happening with overland border crossings I am immersed with Colombian culture and there is nothing better than knowing what restrictions is front of you so you can go on a Adventure wait till it until it is open is my only advise it could be worse stuck on a small island at least this island is large
    Covid vaccination hasn't even hit 50 percent here 75 percent will probable ease restrictions on border crossing are you prepared to end up in a ICU being a foreigner do you even have medical insurance this is why borders are closed to foreigners
    Its not a free world as we speak Enjoy Colombia
    you are probably one out of five people in this world that has 50 pages since covid
    of your life on travels in Colombia None of it is news to me Been there done that
    what I have learned and cherished is that you can always make the most out of a bad situation
  19. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Exchange rates.

    Last time I posted exchange rates two months ago there was a peak in the rate and I was in Bogota. So I got my best rate ever at 3820 pesos per dollar.

    I did have to exchange money again later. Once was in Palomino where there were signs for exchange but none were manned. A small grocery store gave me 3300...the worst I have gotten. Of course I changed a minimal amount there.

    Here in Santa Marta today, at a....cambio de moneda....they gave me 3650. Close to average.

    So you can see there is a fair amount of variation. You want to deal when the dealing is good.

    Speaking of money... It is a good idea to have some small bills with you. Small street restaurants and cart vendors often have a hard time making change. They will do it, of course, but they often have to go to another shop to make your change. I usually have a few of the smallest bill...2000 pesos....which pays for a fruit cup , ice cream, drink or empanada. Money changers usually give you large bills. Break those at gas stations, pricier restaurants, and supermarkets.
    Pete_Tallahassee and GringoRider like this.
  20. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Security

    Someone leaving here today told me that Santa Marta was his least favorite Colombian city. I was a little shocked because I am in a good groove here. Of course I experience the city differently. I do motorcycle excursions. This guy walks around the historic district at night. He is a big guy but someone held a knife to his throat and took everything. Same guy loves Cartagena, which I find mildly threatening. Everyone’s experience is different.

    I am still relying on plan A : carry minimal stuff and be ready to give it up.
    Kidnapping me would be fruitless. Nobody I know has much cash and would probably tell you that I am worth more dead than alive. I still have both fake wallets and both phones. Knock on wood.