Xplore2Gether - California to Ushuaia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JimsBeemer, Mar 6, 2019.

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  1. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    The day before Paragliding, we went rafting - class II and III rapids. We were to busy paddling to take any photos - but I did have the GoPro on my helmet (thanks to our guide for letting me use the helmet w/ the mount!), and made this video clip. A bit long at a tad over 6 minutes, but there is a fun part about 1:30 in where our guide makes us jump out of the raft to practice a rescue, and at 4:37 I take the dare to get out of the raft and float down the rapids in my life jacket.



    We used the tour agency at the Hostel Macondo in San Gil for both the rafting and the paragliding - they were recommended in Lonely Planet. No regrets - good experience.
  2. powderzone

    powderzone Been here awhile Supporter

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    Awesome! Enjoying following along.

    I had a good laugh from the differential equations/vectors comment a few pages (and countries) back. When I make comments like that around the family, lots of eye rolling ensues.
    Cheers!
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  3. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Here are some other pictures of San Gil, including some from the El Gallineral Parque just at the edge of town.

    DSC02949.JPG In the parque - this bird did not seem very "wild" - I think it is a mostly domesticated show-piece. Note the bare tail features. But he/she was pretty!

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    Also in the parque - this thing appeared to be "wild" but highly acclimated to humans and the food they can provide. I don't know what it is called - it was the size of a small dog and I was brought to mind the "ROUS's" in the movie, "The Princes Bride". If you've watched the movie, that will work, if not, you should.
    20190620_145337.jpg In the park.

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    In the park. Since Central America, one of the things that has just blown us away is the trees. There are so many HUGE trees of different kinds, and it is very frustrating trying to photograph them, because you just cannot do it justice. Note the small man (me) at the base of what I think is a Ceiba tree. My favorite is the Guanacasta tree. Redwoods and Sequoia do not have the lateral expanse of canopy that these trees do - that is what really sets them apart. I expect to see Galadriel and her court about - they carry that sort of mystic grandeur.

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    The view of San Gil from our Air BnB.

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    San Gil
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    San Gil is so steep - it is hard to capture on camera. It made riding the bikes very tenuous - you had to pick your route carefully and always be aware of the ground slope before you put your feet down. The road in the background is the same road as in the foreground.

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    A zig-zag staircase for pedestrians, to make it up just one block!

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    The Macondo is a well known hostel in San Gil, and they have a tour agency - we used them for our Paragliding and Rafting trips. Carol in the picture.
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  4. jowul

    jowul Been here awhile

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    That animal (rodent) is a Capybara. In Colombia they are relatively small, however in the Amazon region they can get quite big. I am enjoying following along. I had to laugh about your experience in Turbo. Last time I was there was in 1959 and it was a "sh. hole" then
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  5. mneidin

    mneidin Adventurer

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    I believe the rodent is actually an agouti.
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  6. jowul

    jowul Been here awhile

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    You may be right. The nose looks different from a capybara
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  7. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    And some things never change! Even people in Colombia frown when I tell them we landed in Turbo.
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  8. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Thanks! - I searched "Agouti" and looked at some pictures on the internet, and I'm positive that is correct. Big rodent!
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  9. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    We left San Gil and headed to Barichara, which is only about 45 minutes away, but a world away in terms of "vibe". We left behind the 20 to 30-somethings and their backpacs and desire for adventure sports, and landed in this town that has such well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture that Spanish movies are sometimes filmed here (we read). It was a holiday weekend and the town was full of tourist - but almost entirely Colombian tourist from the city, not the young expat backpacker crowd we hung with in San Gil. We stayed in the Hotel Mission Santa Barbara, and the owner and his wife were there for the holiday weekend. The owner gave us a tour and explained how this hotel came to be - and it is the oldest hotel in the town. The town was a dusty decaying village 30 years ago, but today is a well-restored and preserved example of a 18th century colonial village, and has developed a reputation as an "artist town" - there are a lot of rock carving artist in particular.
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    Small town - several churches (as typical). This is the main church at the town square (always a town square, and always a church at the town square).
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    We liked the inside of this church more than most we have seen - much less "ornate." Some of the churches have so much gold-leaf gilding it is overpowering.
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    View down one of the streets. The road from San Gil is paved right up to the outskirts of the town, but the roads interior to the town are all stone, like this. And some of the roads are very steep - which seems to be a given in this very hilly and mountainous country. Can be a challenge pulling into a strange town with a loaded ADV bike, having to find your way through stone streets of varying quality on steep hills with off-camber slants! Poor Carol - she barely flat-foots her bike, so stopping and starting on these rough un-level surfaces is a challenge.
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    Carol talking to a man weaving at a craft center in Barichara.
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    At another craft center, they were showcasing the making and dying of fabrics - and they had a very nice garden with various herbs and plants used for this purpose. Including this "herb" - not sure how it is used in fabric making! But there it was, labeled and all.
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    An example of some of the stone carving found in this area. As you approach Barichara from San Gil, there are shops selling carvings on the roadside, as well as inside the town.
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    Had to put this guy in here - they are everywhere. Black Vulture. See them all the time.
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    At the far end of town there is a park, (Parque Para Las Artes Jorge Delgado Sierra) that showcases some stone carving art, and has a very nice garden. Plus - it has a veiw that overlooks this ... Spectacular.

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    In the Parque Para Las Artes Jorge Delgado Sierra.
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    Carol checking out our route to get out of town in the morning, where we decided we would go wrong-way on a one way road for a few blocks - was by far better than the "correct" alternative! Nobody seems to mind motorcycles going the wrong way in these small villiages. Or, if someone does yell at me, I just say "No entiendo!" and keep going :-) The picture does not do it justice - this road is steep!
  10. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    From Barichara, we headed towards Bogota, with a stop at Zipaquira to see the "Cathedral de Sal", and underground cathedral built in a salt mine. There were two possible routes after backtracking from Barichara to San Gil; we could take Rt 45A, which we had taken from Bucaramanga to San Gil, which was a mountain highway with a LOT of truck traffic (you have to experience it to unerstand - more trucks and buses than cars), or we could take 55. We asked locals, and posted a query on the panariders Facebook page, and ultimately decided to stick with 45A. Great choice! We took two days to get from Barichara to Zipaquira, stopping one night at a road-side hotel. The truck traffic on this stretch was much less than from Bucaramanga; it was a lovely ride, and more direct into Zipaquira than 55 would have been.

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    Our route from Barichara to Zipaquira (over two days)

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    Along 45A. Pastoral would be a good description.

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    Carol patiently waiting for me to take pictures :-) Shoulders are almost non-existent, so it is not easy to find a place to pull off.

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    And more ...
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    Mile after mile (Km tras Km) - it was truly a wonderful route. There were trucks and buses - but significantly less than we had on the section of 45A out of Bucaramanga.
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    We took a "detour" into Zipaquira that led through this pueblo. Carol waiting again for me to take pictures (I was taking the previous photo). And note here her feet - she has both of them on the ground, but "just". If I had that little leeway in terms of handling my bike at a standstill, I would have dropped it as many if not more times as she has! She is amazing - it isn't easy.
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  11. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Zipaquirá was a quaint little town - aside from the Salt Cathedral there isn't much there, but it is not a bad place to spend a day We stayed at the "Hotel Camino Del Sal", which was easy walking distance to the town center, with a lot of restaurants to choose from for dinner. It was nice - but the one downside is that they do not have elevators, and they put us on the top floor. Hauling three dry bags, a carry sack and two tank bags with helmets and in our ridding gear up those stairs was no fun. It was harder than I thought it should have been until I looked at my Garmin Inreach and realized we were at 8,700' elevation! No wonder I was getting short of breath.
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    Zipaquirá town square.
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    View of a church on the hill from the town square. I walked up the hill to this church which afforded a great view of the city (see following).

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    Another view of the town square with the obligatory church dominating the architectural landscape.

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    The "church on the hill", as seen after walking up the hill.
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    View of Zipaquirá from the church on the hill.

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    Another view from up on the hill.
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  12. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    And then there was the Cathedral de Sal. We got there late in the afternoon on a weekday, and were pleased that it was not overly crowded. It was very interesting - worth seeing since it was on our way. I'm not sure I would go way out of my way to see it, but I'm glad we were able to see it. It is an "edifice", if that is appropriate term for an underground construction! As you walk down through tunnels to the main Cathedral, you go through the "Stations of the Cross", portraying Jesus's journey from his being condemned to death to his crucifixion and resurrection, with various key points from the narrative in between; 12 stations in all. This is a standard part of any Catholic church, usually displayed on the left and right interior walls of the church, as I have learned. It is one of the things I have enjoyed examining in the many churches we have visited (there is more than one in each town!), because the way the 12 stations are portrayed, artistically, varies greatly from church to church. The Cathedral de Sal takes this to a new level, with the 12 stations being represented through abstract art installations comprised of carvings in the walls of the tunnel, with a simple cross as the common theme. Was interesting, but honestly it was a bit hard for me to really "see" what the English language audio tour was telling me I should see :-) But it was impressive in any case.

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    Heading down into the tunnel - ear buds on for the audio tour. It was a "bring your own earbuds" audio tour - which seems to be the common thing based on our experience here and in Cartagena.

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    One of the Stations of the Cross - I think this is the second station, "Jesus falls for the first time". Ok.
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    "Jesus meets with his holy mother". Another "ok, if you say so!" It was very abstract. The audio tour tried to explain it and get you sort of ïnto it" and there was more to it than this picture can take in. But it was, for me, not easy. And I tried!

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    View of the Cathedral from above, with the angel watching over.

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    Better view of the Cathedral. This is an active church - and from the information we were given, they can have up to 3,000 people here for mass on Sunday. Carol and I had a hard time imagining the logistics of getting all of those people down in through the tunnel and back out. I'm sure there are multiple masses in the day - but still sounds like a logistical nightmare.

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    The women taking Jesus's body. There is a lot of interesting artwork/statuary to see in the Cathedral, some of it made by the miners (not sure of this one).

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    And at the end of the day ... it is a tourist destination, so there is a huge area for consumption of touristy type trinkets. What I found interesting was the display for sale, side by side, of Christian and "pagan" icons.

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    Reflection pool in the salt mine - note that there are two of me. Carol took the photo.

    DSC03343.JPG After several hours underground, we emerged to find this awesome view of the sun shining down through the clouds on part of Zipaquirá.
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  13. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    Bogotá! Huge city - someone told us the greater metropolitan area is around 11 million people. This was more of a "refueling" stop for us than a sights and sounds stop. We used the Marriott hotel points (still have some!) and stayed at a nice Sheraton downtown. We did some shopping - umbrellas (necessary!), motorcycle gloves for me (not necessary, but I like them!) and some new water bottles and a cargo net for our tent (we WILL camp again!).

    Then we found a Tigo store and got our phones "registered". This is something to be aware of; if you bring in a phone that was not purchased and already registered in Colombia, and you install a Colombian SIM card (from Claro, Tigo or whomever), you have 20 days from the time of activation of the SIM card to "register" the phone, showing proof of ownership, or your service will be disrupted. "Proof of ownership" is a copy of the receipt showing that you bought the phone. Of course everyone carries around a copy of the receipt for their three year old phone, right? Sheesh. It is supposed to be some sort of anti-theft program, and as I understand, Chile has a similar arrangement. We had purchased Tigo SIM cards on our first day in Colombia, in Arboletes, and I received a couple of text messages from Tigo since then reminding me to register my phone, with a link to do it online. Of course I do NOT have the receipt for my or Carol's phones. I tried but failed to do the registration online once, attempting to use a screenshot of my AT&T mobile account showing that the phone was out of contract and hence paid for (read that suggestion somewhere), but got confused (it is all in Spanish). Then I went back to the starting page and translated the part that said you could do the registration at a Tigo store, and if you didn't have your receipt, they would have a "declaration of ownership" document you could fill out.

    So we went to a fairly big Tigo store in a mall in Bogotá- and they had no clue what I was talking about. Until I showed them the Tigo web page for registration, and then they got someone who knew what they were doing, and it was a snap. Unless you happen to have the receipt for your phone available, going into the store is definitely the way to go. And I never had to fill out a "declaration of ownership" document - the woman just typed in a bunch of information about my phone, the SIM card and me, and I got a text saying my phone was registered. All that said, this was on day 21, and I still had service. So I really wonder what would have happened if I had just ignored it. Anyone know?
  14. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

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    Here in Mexico it it was easy to buy a phone with no ID and just buying cards with additional minutes. Then, because cell phones were being used in all kinds of illegal schemes it all changed and the phone companies and the government want to know who has a phone. I don't know if it is a similar reason that you have to register the phone there. You worked through it and got it sorted. Good deal.
  15. jowul

    jowul Been here awhile

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    There is a road going in all the way to the cathedral so I am sure church goers don't need to go through the tunnel. Actually when I lived in Bogotá we always drove our own car right into the mine to the church.
  16. JimsBeemer

    JimsBeemer 2017 R1200GSA

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    We did see some sights in Bogatá: Wewent to Simon Bolivar plaza and had lunch at "La Puerta Falsa", some apparently famous Colombian restaurant that Carol found on Lonely Plant (the line we had to wait in suggested that the part of the planet that knows this restaurant isn't so lonely!). We had a traditional stew, and it was very good. And on Sunday, we visited the "United Church of Bogotá", a non-denominational church that explicitly ministers to expats, after which we climbed (i.e., we did not take the tram) up to the top of Monserrate, the tall hill that resides over Bogatá, with a church (of course) at the top. We also walked down - in a rainstorm! Our new umbrellas were put to the test, and a bit wet none the less, we used Uber to get back to our hotel after watching lots of people try, unsuccessfully, to hail a cab. Uber is in a strange place in Colombia - it is officially "illegal", but it is very common, and, like everywhere else, extremely convenient and easy to use.
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    Bolivar square - yes that is my thumb. Ooops.

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    On the ceiling of the church at Bolivar Plaza was this painting with an interesting "3D" effect. It was a little "creepy" actually, I thought.

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    More Bolivar square - with a hint of thumb again :-)
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    About to start on our way up Mnserrate - all smiles.
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    About 1/2 way up Monsarrate - the smiles are now a bit forced! It was a climb of bout 1600 feet, to nearly 10,000' elevation. Bogotá is at a very high elevation - one of the highest elevations of any capital city in the world (I read).
    DSC03428.JPG Zoom lens shot of Bolivar Plaza from the top of Monserrate.
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    Smiles are back: We made it!

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    Panorama from the top of Monserrate - 11 million people ....

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    Time to go down, and glad we bought those umbrellas the other day! It rained the whole way down - the trail was like a creek bed in places. DSC03496.JPG
    Found this poor guy was tied up outside in the rain when we got back down; there were several llama being used for pictures for tourists.
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