Gringo in Paradox - Travels in Colombia

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

  1. Champe

    Champe Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,467
    Location:
    Belmont, NH
    German food in Bogota

    On Calle 85, near the hostel, is a small German restaurant called Euro Snack. I have eaten there before but I had a Turkish specialty, which happens to be very popular in Gemany (Doener). This time I went for Bockwurst, a real German sausage. Along with a Poker beer…the cheapest domestic one.
    1E08724D-23BE-4721-9D6C-727C984AA121.jpeg B9FEE5C3-99CE-4EDA-A93C-720AFA2FD6D6.jpeg
  2. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2020
    Oddometer:
    456
    Location:
    Cana Col
  3. Cal

    Cal Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,571
    Location:
    Calgary
    Champe
    I have used 2 different bikes for Mexico a F650GS and DL 650 the f650 was good for Baja but the v strom was the best for the mainland. Both bikes have the same mileage on them 115,000km all mileage in Mexico and central America.
    RedDogAlberta, Champe and roadcapDen like this.
  4. Champe

    Champe Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,467
    Location:
    Belmont, NH
    Yes, I think 650 is a good size for long distance travel. I see you are opting for low maintenance and high reliability with your choices of BMW and Suzuki.

    I had a 650 BMW Funduro for a while. Also a BMW R1100GS at the same time. I liked them both but they were in the heavyweight category. And not that much difference in weight between the two. Eventually I decided to keep the bigger bike because it had a better luggage setup. Now I have an R1150GS with Jesse bags and a set of TKC 80 knobby tires. If I was carrying a passenger, it would be my choice for Baja. It has done some easy off road work but I would hate to get stuck in deep sand or mud with it.

    Seems to me you can do Baja with just about any bike. Of course your choice of bike will dictate the routes that are possible. My friend Ed Bach (Flyingdutchman17) has done the whole length on a heavy sport bike, at high speed. I believe he stayed on pavement the whole way. I prefer to mix in some off road routes and if I get into some tough spots, I know the lightweight KTM will get me out.
  5. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2020
    Oddometer:
    456
    Location:
    Cana Col
    I can attest to the 1200 and 1250 gs. In the upper Guajira trip I did it with 3 other riders one on a royal enfield 650 interceptor one on a 1200 gs one on a 1250 gs adventure the latter 2 had to drug this the sand and mud constantly I had my problems on my f700 but nothing like the big boxers
  6. itinerant wool stash

    itinerant wool stash Inveterate optimist Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2016
    Oddometer:
    297
    A Doener Kebab for 15k COP :jack You can get it for less in most of Germany ...
  7. Champe

    Champe Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,467
    Location:
    Belmont, NH
    At 15k this retaurant made no money on me last time I was there. I stood up to take a picture of the doener for this blog. When I sat back down on the plastic chair a leg broke off and I landed on the floor. The proprietor told me the chairs were quite sturdy and wanted to know what I did to it . I told him that I did nothing unusual . The chair went into the dumpster out front right away.

    Funny thing. It has been a few months since I was there last. Now I see all the “sturdy” plastic chairs have been replaced with much nicer wooden ones.
  8. Champe

    Champe Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,467
    Location:
    Belmont, NH
    Could be that my exploration of the northern Guajira desert was not thorough enough. I thought the scenery was unchanging for mile after mile and the coast was not visible most of the time. The Duke was not struggling but the way was long without the rewards I was looking for.

    Almosthere has a different impression, which is good. I happened to run into a good youtube video that shows the conditions I experienced. The little crash they did must have been from inattention or hot dogging…my little Duke stayed upright the whole time.
  9. Champe

    Champe Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,467
    Location:
    Belmont, NH
    La Calera and the Lost Factory

    La Calera is a small picturesque town in the mountains East of Bogota. It is handy to the hostel I stay at because it does not involve a long ride lengthwise through Bogota’s famous heavy traffic. I have recommended the ride to others and have done some long dirt rides in the area…the longest being La Calera to Choachi, which took most of a day.

    Yesterday I went there again to find the “paved” route from La Calera to Choachi. On the way is a landmark huge abandoned factory. The road turned out to be partly paved for the first few miles. It was looking like rain while I was on it so I did not complete it. And it did rain, even before I reached pavement. I am not so much into beating the Duke or myself at this point. Rain while on pavement is not fun for me. And rain while on dirt is just miserable on smooth tires.

    But the lost factory was amazing. It is really big, covering more than 10 acres with lots of decaying buildings. There are signs all over the place saying keep out, private property and …danger of collapse. There are decent dirt roads all around there that I was tempted to explore.
    D8E6D016-722A-42E1-AA24-248E62085DD1.jpeg 12478BB3-0537-4A0B-B9EA-EA58FFC2E9AB.jpeg

    There was nobody around, except for a beater car that passed by. I gave him a thumbs up. He beeped his horn. I was hoping this was not another Taganga situation. There were alternate dirt roads available there. They had this steep section blocked off but it looked doable to me. On the return trip I took a photo. The car went left. I went right…same way I came. No problema.
    296038EC-9292-403E-BE6B-AE8021664AFF.jpeg
  10. Champe

    Champe Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,467
    Location:
    Belmont, NH
    Since I was …I think…. lowballed on the selling price of the Duke I am not so inclined to fix anything. It is perfectly rideable as is. I did continue heat treatments to the back brake. Nothing drastic like a glowing disc or smoking pads…just a bit of heat. It was working, the brake kept improving, and now the treatment is complete. 100% brake again. No problem activating the anti skid.

    ha. antiskid. I have turned it off a couple of times but it is a pain in the butt. It resets every time you turn off the ignition.
    I purposely bought my 690 for the fact that it is the last year without antiskid …2013. Lots of guys are trying to neuter their antiskid on the newer ones but it is not easy. I see you can get a dongle for a 690 that will override the reset. I feel I have one step better, not carrying the hardware for antiskid.
    GringoRider and 531blackbanshee like this.
  11. JuddS

    JuddS Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    May 28, 2019
    Oddometer:
    289
    Location:
    Chicago
    I've really enjoyed your thread and thank you. When you leave and start your next adventure, make sure to let us know on this thread if you start a new one.
    531blackbanshee and GeoAggie like this.
  12. Champe

    Champe Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,467
    Location:
    Belmont, NH
    Pasteurized eggs

    I have written before about how eggs here in Colombia are not refrigerated. There was a response from some people that raise chickens telling me that unwashed eggs do not need refrigeration. Here is a photo og some recent eggs I purchased…there is no sign of being unwashed that I can see.

    Also, this is the first time I have noticed a label indicating pasteurized. Each egg is stamped to indicate that. Pasteurization is not common but these were the cheapest eggs at the time so I bought them.

    I like eggs, especially since I read about their heathful properties. With Colombian eggs I do notice that the yellow is more intense, but otherwise they handle the same as anywhere else. 60A0C424-C47F-4272-A28A-3D6E5760495F.jpeg
    This morning I made french toast. I put a touch of local honey on them and cut up a pitaya on the side. The hostel breakfast is free but very basic so I got some comments. The hostel owner, Claudio, was impressed. A nice Colombian girl who cooks a lot wanted to know how to make them. She has been striking up a (lame) conversation with me every day lately. I say lame because we have to speak in Spanish and I reach my limit pretty fast.
  13. Champe

    Champe Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,467
    Location:
    Belmont, NH
    Rough day

    Yesterday I made a day trip to Lake Guatavita, the famous site of Indian gold sacrifices. It was interesting but I can see that I am burning out on tourism.

    On the way I was stopped by the police again. A pretty female officer went through my paperwork and found that I did not have a current.technical inspection. This is required every year except for new bikes for the first two years. I was 11 days overdue. She called over the rest of the gang and they told me they were impounding the bike.

    I told them how I “love” Colombia. I was robbed a couple of weeks ago and now I am being robbed again. This is way more serious. I was going to have a very long walk home, and a bitch of a time getting the bike back. The police were of no help last time and now I know what they are “good” for. I held back my true negative feelings for them and eventually they passed me around to an officer that let me go.

    At Lake Guatavita, I was not in the best mood but I went through the motions of getting admitted. The desk clerk spoke no English and the process was complicated. Lots of rules. They gave me a couple of pages of English to read and toward the end it got interesting. They charge 13,000 for citizens. 19,000 for gringos. And 0 for anyone over 65, regardless of nationality.

    I was just going through the motions, because thunderstorms were threatening and I did not want to spend a lot of time there. But being the cheapskate that I am, the price roped me in. I showed an ID and got my free ticket.

    You have to go with a guide. And the next tour was in four minutes. This was looking good. An Indian guy named John took a group of 33 of us up the trail. He only spoke Spanish (and Indian) and talked alot. The group all had to stop each time he started talking. The climb took an hour and 45 minutes. Most of that time we had to listen to John’s speeches. He was very animated, telling jokes, teaching some Indian language, and describing the “ecosystem”. It was probably interesting for some but I was bored stiff, and looking at the clouds.

    When we finally got to a point where we could see the lake, someone got out their drone and started flying it. John told him he had to put it away. It’s gonna disturb the ecosystem. Glad I did not bring my drone. I happen to know they are mostly illegal, but generally that is not enforced.

    This is John explaining the medicinal use of this tree.
    FC22BB34-578D-4DF9-B484-8FDDA63F2BC5.jpeg

    This is an older lady that was trailing the group but I am amazed that she made it. Good for her. She had 3 or 4 people with her and they needed someone to take a group photo. I took it as a compliment when they asked me to do the honors.
    F294626C-B63B-4CD9-B088-DF1F7CBE23A2.jpeg

    This is an Indian meeting house. Nobody said it was ancient. It is made of concrete and has a varnished wood floor. It has a fire pit in the middle and bench seating around the perimeter. We endured at least a half hour of John’s grandstanding in there.
    F0F8D0B7-1471-4E5A-9630-68D3881F9E3B.jpeg

    And the lake itself. This is my first panorama shot using an iphone. A single frame would not capture the whole lake. The basic story of the lake is that the ancient Indians used to throw gold dust and artifacts into the water as a tribute to their gods. During modern times the lake was drained twice to recover the gold, but each time they spent more money than it was worth. Today there is a big notch out of the mountain where they cut it for draining. That notch takes out the top 300 vertical feet or so, from the ridge. It is to the left in this photo but the vegetation and angle hides it . Back at the planning stage I posted an aerial internet photo from opposite the notch. In that photo the notch was obvious and the water looked blue. B0C4A08E-07D8-4AC0-B340-EAE0B9E8285F.jpeg
  14. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2020
    Oddometer:
    456
    Location:
    Cana Col
    Can’t say you were not warned about your none compliance you lucked out
  15. Champe

    Champe Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,467
    Location:
    Belmont, NH
    I admit it. I hate being told to do stupid stuff by stupid people. The US Is really good at this and getting better. I was looking at Colombia as being a relief … like the US was years ago.

    My investing anything here is on indefinite hold. I have deliberately held back some of my more negative experiences and those of other expatriates so as not to create an overall negative impresssion.

    If you have an interest in promoting Colombia as a good destination, I encourage you to start a report. I only have a couple more weeks before I bow out.
    GringoRider and Pete_Tallahassee like this.
  16. ALLMOSTHERE

    ALLMOSTHERE Make to best of everything

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2020
    Oddometer:
    456
    Location:
    Cana Col
    Naa It needs no promotion 2016 8 million tourists 2019 11 million
    I live here and quite happy to live in a diverse country
    Ive paid my dues having a few speeding tickets one was photo radar 83 km in a 80 km zone 480000 peso fine imagine 3 km per hr, that is walking speed
    Getting caught in the city on a pico placa day is worse
    The reality is you are not a tourist on a Colombian plated bike in the eyes of the law
    Ive talked my way out many times and payed the bribe Sometimes you just dont know
    GringoRider likes this.
  17. Lesharoturbo

    Lesharoturbo Nerdly Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Oddometer:
    3,217
    Location:
    Austin TX
    I think that we get used to just how stupid things are here in the US and don't realize that in a lot of cases the stupidity is about the same as it is everywhere else. When we visit other countries we're just not used to the stupidity. For instance, I have some friends who moved here to Florida from Brazil. By law they could purchase a house in their name and own the house. However, they could not purchase a car. So they had to use a rental car for about a year and a half before they could qualify to purchase a car. It makes absolutely no sense why they would be able to purchase property real estate but not purchase a car. But that is the stupid here.
    GringoRider likes this.
  18. Champe

    Champe Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,467
    Location:
    Belmont, NH
    Yes...there is stupid everywhere. It is just a little different from place to place.

    A huge fine for 3km over the limit is ridiculous. I used to laugh at my German friends who live with speed cameras. I used to tell them that they would be shot out within a day in the US. But now I think they would be meekly accepted. It is amazing what people will tolerate.

    Long lines are another of my pet peeves. Today I tried to buy an ice cream at an Oxxo store. I had the item and the 1100 pesos in my hand but when I saw the line, and the inactive register, I put the item back and left. They do not deserve my business.

    A little later I looked in the ice cream case at a small tienda (store) and did not see my favorite. The cashier came over and shuffled them around, found my type, and got paid on the spot. That is how to operate.
  19. Champe

    Champe Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,467
    Location:
    Belmont, NH
    I guess I will look up Bogota rules again regarding pico placa. What if they catch me with two violations ?
  20. Champe

    Champe Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2015
    Oddometer:
    1,467
    Location:
    Belmont, NH
    Almosthere.... tell the truth. Do you strictly adhere to pico placa in Buca ?

    I am thinking back to that flatbed half full of motorcycles in Santa Marta. I bet the cops were out ringing the register. I was just lucky to be in compliance that day since I knew nothing about pico placa.

    But later, I did a little street study, and found that practically nobody was following the rule. So my conclusion is that this is a rare occurrence. I will do a similar study in Bogotá.

    I am curious though. You have had your horns shortened already so you could be one to comply. Would that be true ? And are you cured of going 3km over speed limits ?
    GringoRider likes this.