Gringo in Paradox - Travels in Colombia

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

  1. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

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    Like this one ,Nevado Huila near Neiva Maybe 10 days a year you can see this peak we were doing Aerial survey and had to wait a long time to get up there
    2E47C079-E971-43F8-90F8-A70DABCC3DCC.jpeg 4B8D341F-3724-4C75-8BCF-ACE059527EA4.jpeg
  2. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

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    I spent 2017 -2018 flying around Colombia Down right dangerous in a none pressurized piston twin without oxygen but after seeing what's down there Heh I thought this is worth seeing on the ground mid august 2017 I bought a f700 I had never owned a big street bike or had a licence
    I did motocross in the late 70s that was it .Wow what a game changer with modern machinery and a Colombian drivers licence
  3. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Those are some impressive photos.

    Did you ride your BMW to Cerro Kennedy ?

    I took the Duke past Minca, about 12 km. That much is greatly improved over the last time I was here two years ago. But then the more serious dirt begins at a left fork. It starts climbing right away too so I think that the road is climbing a mountain. I walked up the dirt part about a km and met some birdwatchers. They confirm what Almosthere says. Apparently there are windows of good visibility occasionally during the day, but early morning is best.

    For those unaware, it is very difficult to see the highest peak in Colombia. It is surrounded by smaller mountains that block the view. It also is almost always in the clouds. And to make things more difficult, the Indians claim it as sacred ground. Cerró Kennedy is a small mountain near the big one so from there you are supposed to see it well.

    i found an ATK 200 for 80,000 pesos for 6 hours. Guy says it will make Cerro Kennedy. So I scheduled that for Thursday, 5AM.

    Am also changing hostels. I have a private room with no air conditioning or wifi. The price is right but I think the owner resents having been beat up on the price. Hey.. I think 30,000 pesos is more than the 0 pesos to leave it empty.

    So I checked around today. Usually I do not shop around, but I tried it here. A place a mile up the road only has private rooms and wanted 100,000 pesos. Another one is right in town with a pleasant hostess for 25,000. It is a dorm bed but with wifi. I could send photos again. I will move over there tomorrow.

    Casa Azul is a waterfall. You can swim in the river at the base. It is nice but very popular. Hundreds of people. And there is a pretty rugged 2 mile hike getting to it. Motorcycles are allowed on the trail too so I got sucked in to another medium hard ride on the Duke. I was praying for no rain on the way in.

    Speaking of rain, it did rain here again today starting at 1 PM. This again confirms that the best time to ride is early, and to expect afternoon rain.
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  4. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

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    yep the I was there with the 700 Cerro Kennedy base militar its a good three hours if you take it easy there is a sign >base military Cerro Kennedy take a left off the main road then it gets interesting its a ascent with big drop offs beside the road
    when I left I continued to Cienaga down hill all the way The locals in Minca said I would have a hard time doing and did not recommend tempImageODM1Kt.jpg 98CF241E-022A-4B03-914E-A37EA874860A.jpeg the Minca Kennedy Cienaga route this is just another day in my Routine I have only turned back once in my 56000 kms of travel in Colombia ,It was a gigantic nasty land slide where the whole side of the mountain where the switch backs dropped 15 feet and it was starting to rain, bad idea I thought the first pic is this year the second pic is 2018 just after the slide they have cleaned up the road since then and 4 wheel traffic does not go there this is the Sogomoso Canyon
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  5. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Probably you are using some of your motocross skills on that 700. I would be afraid of the damage it would take on a drop, being so heavy. Especially steep downhills with a mud surface.

    Good I did not try Cerro Kennedy today. It was raining at 5 AM,, then quit for a while. Started again at 11:30. Same forecast tomorrow. I have changed my rental to Friday.
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  6. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

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    actually my crash bars do a good job only scratches and dents on the bars and hand savers Yes the bike is heavy especially when I have to pick it up on a down slope I used to ride solo a lot but now I ride with companions since I have settled down in Bucaramanga
    The dreaded front brake on loose ground oopps tempImageSyJuDn.jpg
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  7. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    Amazing that you have done the Minca Cienaga dirt loop. I have tried it from both directions on my Duke. From the Minca end I hit ridiculous mud pits and from the Cienaga end I hit an open gate (maybe I was off course).

    A lot of the main road from the Minca end has been paved with two track concrete since two years ago so it may be time for another go.
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  8. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    In the historic district of Santa Marta, you encounter lots of beggars. Some are Venezuelan immigrants and some are pros. All are annoying, but someone thought to make some fun of the situation.
    7BDC07CB-FDDE-426D-BC74-11F3A3921C68.jpeg
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  9. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

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    look at the portrait on your 50 thousand peso bill the statue has a great resemblance of Gabriel Garcia Marquez a famous writer Colombian
  10. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    It does look like him indeed. There was no inscription or plaque that I could see. But the statue is a great piece of art in itself.
  11. JuddS

    JuddS Been here awhile Supporter

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    I dont want this post toncome off the wrong way, buy are you changing your behavior at all post robbery? I legit come to this thread to see how long you last. I dont say that to be mean, but rather out of concern. I remember when i used to have some rough security guards protecting me when i was in the casino business and they would joke about how easy it was to dig a hole to put a gringo in. I remember once i got in a fight and learned that for 300 bucks there were plenty of people offering to kill the guy for me. I declined of course as im not crazy.
  12. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    I suppose I am a little more careful now. Notice that I have not posted my present location like I normally do. But the incident in question could happen again tomorrow. This time I will have the phone and a bike with me the whole time. There is no phone service there but I will need it to take photos. Also, this time a few people know where I am going.

    Tomorrow is my birthday and I have scheduled the most adventurous trip available out of Minca. It is an 8 hour hike each way. The bike is supposed to take 3 to 4 hours. Wish me luck.

    I am renting from Jungle Joe (Luis) who is charging me half of what another outfit wants. I have talked to him every day for the past couple of days and we have a good understanding of each other. The guy is middle aged, speaks great English, and runs several tourist businesses. He does not want to get up at 5 AM so he said take the bike tonight.

    He actually came to the hostel a few minutes ago and delivered the bike in the rain. He has my business card but no money from me yet. No paperwork. No security deposit or credit card. He says ...here is the key and the helmet - pay me when you get back tomorrow.

    He had to find my room and asked directions from some other guests. So they got the story including the birthday. Now they have contributed a large bottle of rum to my celebration tomorrow. I will need some help with that.
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  13. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

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    I was robbed twice in Colombia 1981 21 years old, Cali and Tumaco I was on my way to Ecuador They had guns In Tumaco I was Back Packing and camping on the beach. Colombia has plenty of guns Narco Terrorisms was alive and well in them days I hitched a passage on a boat out of Tumaco to Esmeralda Ecuador the Crew were smugglers of a different kind they were smuggling shell fish because Ecuador paid way more than Colombian prices
    then I hitch hiked to Quito where I had a money wire transfer waiting for me this took a week of travel I did not have two pesos on me the bandits cleaned me out in Tumaco and left me with my passport and life . Imagine trying to explain to the immigration in Quito that I need a entered stamp on my passport. Que! how did you get here Things were much simpler then I got my stamp and went back to the coast and repaid everyone that helped me including the Colombian smugglers that showed up a week later in Esmeradas holly shit I was glad to get out of Colombia and now I live here WoW or WTF
  14. JuddS

    JuddS Been here awhile Supporter

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    I think its a pretty common thing for people who have not lived "south of the border" for years or decades to take a bit of time to figure out there own personal security. Then after having some personal experiences with crime, i think most people become a lot more cautious.

    One big difference Ive found is that the coconut telgraph is very active compared to in the usa. Familes live together and move from their home town much less frequently than in the usa. So, if a street mechanic knows you are in town with an expensive bike and friendly, then his brother and his cousin and sister and their friends also know you are in town.

    I lived in a beach town for years and would see it play out again and again with gringos. Come to town, meet people, get comfortable and then a group of people would target the guy and take everything. Sometimes it was drugs in their drinks and sometimes is was violent and more often than anything else just a slow drawn out process of gaining "trust" before separating them from their belongings.

    I think I really understood it one day when i was having dinner with a politicial and his favorite prostitute. She was telling me that things had been good that year as no one in her family had been suffering from hunger and they even were able to get some pain medicine for her mom dying from cancer. Id seen this woman steal from men before and i hated her for it. Then i asked myself what i would do if my kids were hungry and my mom had no pain pills to help her die in comfort.

    Life is cheap for a lot of people who have very little to lose. Of course, 99% of people are not bad people, but 1% is a hell of a lot of people to watch out for in a country with 40mm people.
  15. JuddS

    JuddS Been here awhile Supporter

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    And Feliz Cumplianos!!!
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  16. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

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    si Champe feliz cumpleaños enjoy the rum and senoritas dont get robbed
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  17. Pete_Tallahassee

    Pete_Tallahassee Grampy Supporter

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    Happy Birthday
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  18. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    This morning I rode an AKT 180 to the top of Cerro Kennedy. The Duke would have had problems with ground clearance and maybe traction. It rained last night so everything was wet. The ride up was sketchy at times with steep uphills and loose rocks. Got sideways a few times but no drop.

    There are several hostels near the top that I have not seen listed. At the very top is a military base with a gate and a guard. He told me I could go no further. No photos of the base allowed. There were clouds in the direction of the glaciers. So I waited around . Walked over to the helicopter landing pad. Guard followed me. He tried to strike up a conversation but I could only understand a small part of what he was telling me. I asked if I could take a photo of him and he said no.

    One thing I did understand was when he asked me for a cigarette. In fact he asked twice, at least. I offered him a banana and he took that.

    Two more civilians walked up when I was there. It was a Colombian who works in New York with a guide. They had driven a Land Cruiser most of the way and then walked.

    There were some very nice views in the direction of the ocean. You could see Santa Marta, Cienaga, and the sandbar that leads to Baranquilla. But no glacier, which was in the opposite direction.

    The ride down was worth all the money. It was a little drier and the bike liked going fast. So much fun. It would stall sometimes with throttle off…I was told later it was the altitude. And I thought the back brake was weak. Well, it is a drum brake and a cheap chinese bike so maybe I am asking too much.

    Stopped at the hostel when I got back to pick up the rental helmet and returned the bike about 10 AM. Paid the man. Listo
  19. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    12:30 PM now and it just started raining. It is the rainy season now so afternoon rains are to be expected. I am happy to be off the mountain and staying dry. Mt. Bolivar and Colon kept up their guard from me getting a good tropical glacier photo…again.

    While packing for the trip last night I discovered that I have fake wallet #2 with me. I carried no wallet on Cerro Kennedy though. I could get used to that too.

    The Duke is outside, double locked and covered. Nobody is concerned about it. The good thing is that it is up a long narrow and steep trail…impossible to get to with a truck. That has been my biggest concern. With the steering locked and the rear wheel locked, it can still be lifted and thrown into a truck. It is damn hard to carry for 100 yards though.

    The robbery was serious but I have experienced much worse in the US. A BMW was stolen from me at knifepoint in Boston. A Honda CRF 250 L was stolen from my garage in New Hampshire. I recovered the first one myself and the police recovered the second. I lost all the copper plumbing from my house in Boston to burgulars while I was at work once. Lots of minor losses over the years too.

    So I am not really that trusting.

    ha ha. Now I am missing my bottle of rum. Last night we had a minor party with beer that transitioned to rum. I had to leave the party and go to bed but left the rum. I think it was still on the table this morning at 5AM, but i am not sure.
  20. Champe

    Champe Long timer

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    How long will I last ? Ha ha Lots of people are wondering that.
    I cannot go very deep into some of my crazier adventures because they are not necessarily moto related and you would not believe them anyway. But it has been said that I have 9 lives. At this point it is more like 19.

    Most folks here are rooting for me….thank you. But a few are not. I aim to please the first group and spite the second.
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