A trapped nerve, bloody spokes and lovely Colombians..
Ecuador, Ibarra, the 6 of June 2009.
On an early Monday morning we went to the harbor in Cartagena to look for Guido's boat. We could see it, it was not far away, but Guido didn't respond to our nervous phone calls. Two hours later he did, he had been in a deep coma, due to a hectic boat crossing and probably to much beer. There had been a terrible storm, everybody on the boat had been sea sick and the waves horrendous. Our bike had attacked Guido's dingy, so it was damaged and our sidecar had a broken light, but there she was!
It was again a stressful and nerve breaking procedure to get bike and sidecar off the boat onto dry land, but we had no mayor problems. Randy, a biker who also stayed at the same hostel as us, gave us a hand and after a few hours working in the burning sun the sidecar was roadworthy again.
When we arrived at hostel Casa Mara they asked us to dismantle the sidecar from the bike, so it was easier to park next to the swimming pool, ha ha...there was loads of space!
The next day we went to the Aduana, called DIAN, to get the bike paperwork done. This office is very interesting, if you have to wait you will be entertained by everybody who is working there. I have never seen so many people flirting and working with each other at the same time.
Officially they have to inspect the bike, but is was almost lunchtime, so it didn't happen. Still I got almost a heart attack when they asked me for a bill of lading, a paper you need when you use a cargo ship, but the sidecar came on a small sailing boat, so we didn't need that!
To celebrate having our bike back we went that evening to the old part of town, together with Randy, who got got grabbed by his tools by a 'lady of the night'. After this incident I walked between Andy and Randy to protect them from more assaults. Like a bull terrier.
In one of the next days Andy's back got very stiff and painful, due to a trapped nerve. Not nice. A group of bikers stayed at hostel Casa Mara, so we met Grace and Adam again (we had met each other in Mexico). Randy took of with his mates and we were on our own again. Andy couldn't walk or sit down, but luckily we were in a great hostel with very nice people! After 4 weeks Andy managed to walk around for a short while. He did a lot of exercises and finally he was able to move around normally again. By then I knew every part of the old town and I could do the shopping in 'Exito', a big supermarket, with my eyes closed. There was lots of time to email and to explore the routes into Peru and Brazil and to read books. I repaired bags and clothes and we found bike insurance. We watched too much TV
and put on weight, because we consumed too many pizza's. I also learned how to kiss and fart at the same time and we had our romantic moments...
Maya: 'You are my sun and I am your flower'.
Andy: 'I am a shoe and you are my sock'.
Maya: 'You are like honey and I am your bee'.
And off course it turned the wrong way...
Andy: 'I am your toilet and you are my s...'.
We met more nice bike travellers and had a beer together from the moment Andy was able to do so.
The hunt for spokes started again and we found a shop where they would be able to rebuild the front rim, but they never called us back, so we wanted to leave it. On the day of leaving Cartagena we visited this shop, they still had the one and only spoke that we needed as an example.....and then we found out that they had found the spokes we were looking for months for! So we went back to the hostel, they were happy to see us again and we took the rim the next day to the shop. They did a good job and we were very pleased with that!
Finally we left the hostel and the lovely people who are working there and hit the road again. After a few hours riding we had to wait for hours, a bridge was closed! At the end of the day we found a noisy place to stay. Roaring trucks kept us awake.
After 3 days on the road we arrived in Medellin. We didn't get stopped by police and army to often. And if they did they were more curious about the bike than serious about checking paperwork. Two years ago we got stopped every day many times, but now not very often.
It's only since 7 years that you can travel like we do in Colombia, due to a very good president, called Uribe. He attacked corruption and terrorism and the economy is going up. We didn't hear any complains about Uribe, but next year there will be elections again and Uribe can't get reelected, because he already has done almost two terms. We hope that there will be another good president, Colombia deserves that.
We got lost in Medellin, as we do everywhere, but found Ruta 40, the famous BMW bike shop. We said 'hello' to Mauricio and the other people who are working there. Every time we got lost in Medellin there was a guy on a little bike showing us the way, like a guardian angel. We went to Suzuki Super Servicio, the bike workshop were Carlos Mesa is working now. Two years ago he was working at Moto Angel and he helped us out with several bike parts. Moto Angel still exists, but it has changed ownership. Carlos and Mario (the manager of Suzuki Super Servicio) offered us space in their workshop where we could work on the bike. That made us very, very happy! Carlos took us to hostel Medellin, they have a big garage and we came back the next days to work on the bike.
When I said to Mario that you can eat from the floor (a Dutch expression that means that the workshop floor is very clean), he asked: 'What do you want to eat?'
Our front wheel got new spokes in Cartagena, but we didn't had any reserve spokes. Mario and Carlos arranged that. They helped us out with many other things and didn't mind having us working in their palace. They like to have bike travellers around and we felt very welcome.
I bought a big cake that was covered with cream and fruit and everybody in the workshop got a huge piece and we made a big card, but you can't do enough to express the feelings of appreciating the friendliness and helpfulness.
I am a big fan of Carlos, he is not only a very good mechanic, he is also nice to talk to. The same counts for Mario and both are full of humor and lust for life.
The bike is ready now to cross into Peru and Brazil, we don't have to worry about those bloody spokes anymore. Thanks very much Carlos and Mario!!!!
Trying to get out of Medellin is not easy, the traffic is horrendous, but still somebody managed to give us a TRIUMPH t shirt out of a window whilst driving a car!!! We only got lost once and kept following the 25, that took us out of town. We past many small villages, got black faces from the smoke from the trucks, but enjoyed the views very much. It got cooler as well, we didn't sweat anymore and we even had some rain. That night we stayed in a so called 'love hotel' with a big garage and I cooked inside. It was a bit noisy at night of course.
The next day we drove over windy roads through high green mountains, it was stunning. People were waving their hands off, like everywhere in Colombia. We drove through sugarcane fields, along banana, pineapple and coffee plantations. The hills are so steep that people are living very close to the road . Just before dark we found a small room and the bike parking was in the restaurant.
The area before Pasto reminds me of Scotland. And then we saw a guy on a push bike, he was going uphill for hours. We stopped, had a chat and shared our bread. Then a bike came from the opposite direction.... Bernard and Cathy from Britain, on the road since August last year. She is blind, but has been all over the planet!Have a look at their web site, she is a good writer (www.worldtour.org.uk)
Yes, you meet amazing people while you are travelling.
We exchanged maps and stories and then everybody had to follow the road again.
That night we stayed in a dodgy love motel in Pasto. The border is not far from this place, so we crossed this the next day. It was a Saturday and there was no queue at all. I had to help the border officer with the paperwork and I am glad that my Spanish is a bit better now.
We only got a visa for Ecuador for 10 days, the computer didn't work. Luckily Ecuador is not that big.
We got an email from Jeff who we want to visit in the North of Peru, but some roads are blocked, so we have to be aware of that.
At he moment we are in the north of Ecuador, in Ibarra. It was a very beautiful ride to here. Ecuador is different, the people are more serious than in Colombia, but still very nice. We have many good memories of Colombia, due to many friendly and helpful people. There is something special about the Colombian people, they seem to be happier, they show the biggest smiles, are unbelievable friendly and helpful. We wish the people this country well, they deserve it.
We are in a nice place, we will be on the road again tomorrow, but first I have to cook....in a cupboard.
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