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North to South America on a Honda 250

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Joris van O, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Hi Joris
    I am in Mexico now on my yearly 2 month escape winter tour. I find 3 months travel is about my limit and want to go home. I am married as you know and it is nice to get back to my very supportive wife!! Was nice to meet up with you and your report has kept me going during my time at home
    Saludos
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  2. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    With all this hurrying I managed to arrive in Panama City a week before the Stahlratte would set sail, plenty of time to explore! Lots of walking, lots of rain. Missed most of it but one day when I was walking along the waterfront I was caught in a severe downpour and my only shelter was a palm-tree, that helped for about ten seconds. Every piece of clothing was drenched so I gave up and retreated to my hostel in Casco Viejo
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    This Luna's Castle hostel also organized walking tours and everyone said that it was a must do. So I did. Really good, Panama has such a rich history. Not in the least by the US influence regarding the Panama Canal.
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    Casco Viejo, or Old Town, a decade ago wasn't a place where you would want be. All the buildings were in ruins, zero security. You'll still see a lot of derelict buildings but the majority of them is already rebuild or in the process of being rebuild. Force behind all this are three foreign investment companies (if I remember right) that each own one third of the area. The whole Old Town is a Unesco Heritage site since 1997.
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    And completely unexpected, there's even Sloths in Panama City!
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    The walking tour also took us up a hill that provides a nice view of the city. You could see Old Town, the new center, the airport, the locks.
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    You gotta practice somewhere.. :)
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    Some entertainment. Went to the new Starwars movie with some guys from the hostel. One of them was Rik, also Dutch and also traveling by motorcycle. He was smart though, he just bought a KTM 1190 in California.
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    View from the Hardrock hotel bar, we couldn't afford to get drinks there, just went up for the view :D
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    Went to the Miraflores locks for a visit, but thought 20 bucks was a bit much so watched a ship go through from behind the fence. Also, couldn't figure out the prices on the sign..
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    Together with some other guys that would also sail on the Stahlratte we got together for Christmas and booked an Airbnb. It was really great to spend these days with some like minded people. Micah (US) , Hanne and Jasper (Belgium) and I shared the apartment and for Christmas dinner we met up with Dec and Lauri too. Of course we didn't drink much that night, we never do.. Micah also didn't almost get a ticket for crawling into the decorations..
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    The 26th we left the apartment, and the 27th we were to set sail for Colombia. That gave us one night to spend somewhere. There weren't many options near the port of Carti. Only a hostel/campground named Pachamama Gipsy Lodge. We all sort of agreed to meet there again in the afternoon. Well, after a week in Panama City I had seen most there was to see so I slowly made my way to lodge and arrived first. On route I stopped at this weird abandoned restaurant/kindergarten place.
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    Sparta and Seb also joined us, whoohoo.. We were all super excited to get on the ship the next morning! Finally we would depart for South America.
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    Of course Jasper and I had to hike to a tiny waterfall near sunset. On flip-flops, on a muddy trail and falling darkness.. Worked out great haha. I was so glad I brought my phone, so we at least had a light to find the way back in the pitch black. This is how people get lost in the jungle..
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    Last night on land!
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  3. Drybones

    Drybones Fish bones are on my truck seat cover, too

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    Is your orthodontist "Dr. Genetics"? :D:D
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  4. Kiwi Canuck

    Kiwi Canuck Been here awhile

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    [QUOTE="Joris van O, post: 39331374,









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    Last night on land!

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    I meet the same couple at Horizons Unlimited in Nakusp BC back in July and got a similar picture as I was on my 2018 ATAS and thought it was great to see the original beside the 30th anniversary model.

    Cheers,

    David.

    09B6068D-691D-4544-A548-BCAAF6299066.jpeg
  5. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Thank you!

    Ah, you finally got the v-Strom out of storage? Enjoy Mexico Cal, but I guess you'll know how to do just that after 10? trips.

    :D

    I meet the same couple at Horizons Unlimited in Nakusp BC back in July and got a similar picture as I was on my 2018 ATAS and thought it was great to see the original beside the 30th anniversary model.

    Cheers,

    David.

    View attachment 2121670 [/QUOTE]

    Awesome! Yeah Hanne and Jasper have near identical RD03's, in the best color scheme ever if you ask me. Love the new AT's with the blue, red and white too!
  6. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    We woke up to rain, great! All suited up I started on the last bit to the harbour of Carti. Of course it rained all around me but I never got a drop on me.. When I stopped at the entrance of the Kuna reserve to pay the 23 dollar entree fee the rest caught up, so we all rocked up around the same time at the dock. And there she was, anchored just of the coast. Whoo, I couldn't suppress my excitement. It's getting awfully real now :D we also met the rest of the guys we would be sailing with.
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    Together with our luggage we were transferred to the Stahlratte via a lancha. This way we could get comfortable on the ship, have lunch and get to know each other. After lunch we took our day packs and were taken to one of the many small islands that make up the San Blas Islands. We would spend the afternoon and night there so that Captain Ludwig and his crew could load the bikes without us worrying about everything. There was one problem however, two bikers were still missing. Rafal and Jerzy (from Poland) were supposed to be there, but Jerzy's KLR had a broken chain (talk about bad timing). They missed the boat to the island but we later heard that they managed to get a truck and arrived at the dock just as the last bike was lifted on board the Stahlratte.
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    The island where we would spend the night was beautiful. There was a small hotel, a runway and not much else. Fun fact about the runway, a few years ago the US invested a fair bit of money to lengthen it to enable bigger planes to land. They only forgot to include the removal of some palmtrees in the deal that was struck with the Kuna. When they finished the runway and wanted to take down the trees the Kuna said 'no, that wasn't the deal. Those trees are important for us'. And so there's a nice long runway, for small planes only.
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    After a night on the island this time we would really set sail for Colombia. During breakfast the silhouette of the Stahlratte became visible on the horizon and not long after that we boarded and were reunited with our bikes.
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    After a short sail were all the boys took a look at the 4 cylinder diesel heart, we dropped anchor for the last time. It was play time in what could best be described as Cast Away heaven. Postcard picture islands. Fresh lobster for dinner was delivered by local fisherman. Lots of other sailers here too.
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    Playing your favorite show
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    Playtime over, let's go to Colombia! There were even some dolphins to accompany us part of the way. Once out on open sea the waves really kicked into high gear. I was really glad I bought some pills against motionsickness, without them it probably wouldn't have been as enjoyable. Still, I didn't think sleeping in my bunk was a good idea so I slept in one of the beds on the deck. Pretty good if you ask me. Peeing was another challenge, there's a toilet on board but it's just as easy to just lean against the railing. Better hold on tight though with those waves, if you go overboard during the night they'll never find you again.
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    After a night with little sleep for most of us, the sun finally rose and we had made good progress towards Cartagena.
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    You could smell land again, well you could see it too. The high rise buildings of Cartagena came into sight and soon we moored in the harbour. Awaiting custom clearance in the morning.
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    Celebrating with a bottle of rum, or two, or three..
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    Calm night, and everyone has a good appetite for breakfast. Bikes uncovered for the customs man to inspect them.
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    All in order, time to unload and enter a new country and a new continent! :D
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    Yaaaaash!! Here's to a surprisingly smooth crossing.
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  7. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Yaaaaash, congratulations!
    Picture postcard for sure.
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  8. nails1

    nails1 Been here awhile

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    Joris, How are you feeling about your bike? (I mean, setting aside the bombed motor.) Would you rather have something dirtier, like a KLR 250? Or something bigger? Or both?
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  9. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Oh.. Good one. I guess the perfect bike doesn't exist.

    But yeah sometimes I would like a bit more power, especially in the mountains it just runs out of steam. Makes overtaking a bit sketchy sometimes. Just 5-10 hp extra would be sufficient.

    Sometimes a bit more suspension would be nice too. To tackle those dirt roads without shaking my fillings out.

    But, I keep being amazed about what this little machine is capable of. It is extremely comfortable, 400/500km a day is not an issue. With its 16 liter tank I can go at least 400km. No bigger aftermarket tanks or Rotopaxes needed.

    Remember that scene in the Long way Round, where the wrestle they BMW's through Russia and Claudio gets a small local bike. It's like that, everything is so much easier. Park it downhill, just walk it back up. Lost balance? just put both feet down.

    It might not have much power, but it did get me up to 4400m and happily cruises at 80kmh when it flattens out.

    It might have crap suspension, but it keeps on going. I'm never scared to take it anywhere. Ride the Dempster, sure! Ride the interstate, why not!

    Riding in sand was a new thing for me. But this underpowered clapped out little Honda did fine with its bald street tires. Put it in second gear, pin it and hope for the best.

    So, yes I would love to have more power, or better suspension and bigger wheels. But I haven't and for what it offers from the factory it manages surprisingly well.

    I did a little ride in Peru yesterday, couldn't help but share it already with you guys. Story to follow later.
  10. nails1

    nails1 Been here awhile

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    I just looked it up: 17.5 HP.

    Sure there's a perfect bike. It's the one with a little more HP and a little more suspension. :lol3

    I doubt that you see many non-local bikes with less motor or suspension. I'm sure a lot of folks don't think what you're doing is possible. Much less fun.

    Where did you find the Dakar clip? :clap
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  11. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Joris, pounding out the kilo's to beat the weather, shitty Wi-Fi or hooked up with a Chica?
    Ride safe Amigo.
    Awaiting an update when you can...:gdog
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  12. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Alright alright, I'll post an update tonight! I've had some long days, had some problems with the bike that needed some attention and was generally just playing tourist.
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  13. nails1

    nails1 Been here awhile

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    Get back to work! Whatta-ya think ur on vacation or sumpin?
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  14. Wully10

    Wully10 n00b

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    Been following along and the trip looks amazing; thanks for posting updates as i know it is a lot of work! It is tough on the long trips to keep up the energy but Peru is one of my favorite countries and i hope it helped re-energize the batteries. Along with many Pisco sours.

    How was the riding in Paracas? Also, were you able to ride on the sand dunes in Huacachina?
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  15. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Alright.. Went out for food and drinks last night but here we go!


    So the first night on Colombian soil was the 30th of December. Time for a little walk around and some cervezas. Cartagena is a lively city.
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    Next day, the 31st.. The city was working on the festivities for that night. I just walked around some more in the old fortified part.
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    Cheap haircuts and cheap food!
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    More alleys and umbrellas, and more dancing on the street. I'm liking Colombia! It feels alive and vibrant.
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    Everywhere in the city they were setting up chairs for the New Years eve party. Must have been a million chairs all together. I thought to myself, they're never gonna find enough people to fill them all. Turns out I was wrong.
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    Most of the Stahlratte crew met up to celebrate 2020 together. We wandered around town first but then decided to get ourselves some chairs too. Not sure what was going to happen we picked a place right in the middle of the street. Opened a couple of beers and let the madness unfold.
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    Just before midnight the traffic came to a grinding hold, people spilled out into the streets and soon the countdown started. There were loads of fireworks, happy new years all around, a great experience! The big party however never really materialized. After half an hour or so when the fireworks ended most people got up and went home. We all lingered for another hour or so and eventually also headed back to our respective accommodations.
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    Feeling a little miserable in the morning I was glad I had booked another night. A good breakfast from the hostel got me going and I checked out some more sights, but mostly just chilled.
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    The 2th of January and the first riding day in the books. I cruised down to Caucasia and picked a hotel there. There's not much between Cartagena and Medellin so this seemed a nice halfway point. Guess what, I wasn't the only one with that plan. I parked my bike around the back and spotted a familiar yellow BMW. Dec and Lauri had also found the same hotel. So after dinner we got some beers together.
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    Team yellow BMW left early the next morning, they went straight for Medellin. I on the other hand decided to spend a night in a town close to Medellin, named Guatapé. Famous for a giant granite rock sticking out of the earth. The ride was again very pleasant, nice green hills and mountains. I also noticed that in Colombia motorcycle travel is big! Small but also big bikes, mostly riding two-up and with panniers or just backpacks traveling from city to city.
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    Grabbed lunch at a roadside restaurant and enjoyed more lush green hills.
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    Near Guatapé was a nice place to camp. And since the weather was good I was an easy decision.
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    The town itself was flooded with tourists, mostly from Colombia though. I learned that it was the Colombian holiday season, that explained a lot.
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    "Oh baby, you just burned my balls..." Found a nice Indian veggie restaurant to get dinner and got chocolate salty balls as a postre. Made me chuckle..
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    After a brilliant sleep in my own little tent I jumped on the bike and rode to the Piedra el Penol, the rock that everyone wants to see.
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    I think it was almost 700 steps to get to the top. After buying a way to expensive bottle of water I started the climb. Soon I was encouraged to keep up my pace as there was this girl behind me also keeping a good pace. Eventually I stopped for a break and we started chatting. Valentina was from Armenia (the city, not the country) and on a little holiday herself. We continued together and although I was pretty exhausted reaching the top I couldn't show it to much of course.
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    We talked for a bit, enjoyed the view, did a circle on the top of the mountain and then started the decent. Another 700 or so steps down. Once down I thought to maybe get some lunch together but no, it was a quick thank you and goodbye. Uhm alright.. Okay bye then. Nice meeting you.
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    With no distraction I went back to the campsite, gathered my stuff and got on the road to Medellin. First two hostels I tried were full, but the third one had a bed for a few days. I had given up on finding secure parking by that time but I was allowed to park in the bar at night. That meant I had to ride it in at midnight at get it out at 7am, well I'll just leave it outside then.
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  16. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Thanks for following along :) Peru was awesome (I'm now in Bolivia) but the rain season did dampen the spirit at times. On the coast it was hot and fine, in the mountains not so much. Had a Pisco sour or two :D

    Paracas was incredible, once you get away from the tourist route that is mostly paved it is like a Dakar scene. Just endless plains with sand and rocks and hills you can power up.

    Huacachina was great, spend two nights there camping at a lodge. I didn't take my bike out into the dunes, I learned a while ago that really soft and deep sand aren't its favorite. I might be able to do it with proper nobbie tires and stripped of all the luggage but even then it wouldn't be easy. I would love to try it one day with a proper bike though. So instead I did what every tourist does, and got a ride in one of the many dune buggies.
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  17. nails1

    nails1 Been here awhile

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    Thanks so much for the update -- I was just losing all faith!
    But I wish to point out that you're still a month behind. :ksteve
    (I have a good friend in Lima, and he's about to get married! BE CAREFUL!!!)
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  18. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Medellin.. Surely I'm gonna get robbed, shot or murdered here.

    Better go for a walk to see what all the fuss is about. It was quiet in the streets, to quiet.. Where is everyone?
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    It was the weekend of a national holiday, so all the businesses were closed and all the people were off from work. That explains why there's no one on the streets. But where did they go? Well, they all congregated at tourist hotspots in the city. At the Pueblito Paisa on Cerro Nutibara for example.
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    Or at the Plaza Botero.
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    Also the metro..
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    More people in line for the cable car to Parque Arvi. So much even that they closed the park to prevent more people from entering. So I could only take the cable car up to Santo Domingo, walk around for a while and return.
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    After the failed attempt to visit Parque Arvi I went to the Jardin Botanico. Not closed but still a lot of people.
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    My hostel was located in the Antioquia district near Carrera 70. A more authentic but still very lively area of the city. El Poblado is the area where all the big hotels and hostels are. Keen to see which area I liked better I went for a walk to check it. The verdict, glad I wasn't staying there. Way to much gringo city. Did grab an overpriced lunch and beer there and admired the amazing murals that you can find throughout the city.
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    With the long weekend finally over the shops opened again and that meant doing some shopping for the bike. The little Honda needed a new rear tire, the Chinese 50/50 I got in Mexico was done after 5k km. Also fresh oil, a new chain and sparkplugs. The amount of motorcycle shops in Medellin is staggering, must be hundreds. They even have shoppingmalls for tires and parts.
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    I picked a new Kenda tire for 35 dollar at one of the bigger stores (Mundimotos), not the one I wanted but it should do. Asked them to change the oil too. I think this was the first time ever that my bike had been on a lift.
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    I also got a new Yamaha o-ring chain from Mundimotos as they turned out to be the cheapest around. They didn't have time to install it, so the hunt was on for another shop to help me out. Honda World sounded pretty good, they had a bunch of old bikes out front so mine would fit right in. I asked if I could do the work myself with their help and that was fine. The owner was a friendly guy and very proud of his shop. He had so many cool projects laying around.
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    He also pointed me towards a guy that could clean my bike. He did a perfect job! And all this was within the same block.
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    With the important work done it was time to kick back. The hostel organized salsa classes every week, so I joined them. It was only one hour, so not much more than the basics but enough to get back into it (I practiced it back home for a while).
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    Mas cervezas with some guys from the hostel.
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    That concluded Medellin for me and I didn't even get robbed, shot or murdered. I actually really enjoyed the few days that I spend there. The city probably has much much more to offer but that would require a longer stay. I got a good impression this way but had to get going to get to Bogota in time for a meet-up.
  19. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Nice Joris you dancing fool!:rilla
    Liking those big wheel Honda trikes...
    and Happy Birthday!
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  20. nails1

    nails1 Been here awhile

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