Cali, Biker heaven!
We had been in contact with another group of riders who were listed on Horizons, and headed straight for the Asturias bike shop in the town , where we met Jorge, the gregarious owner, and Harley rider, his wife Sory, and their French friend, Alain, who came to the shop hen Jorge phoned him to inform him of our arrival.
The Asturias posse
Alain, walked us round the corner to the Casa Blanca hotel, owned by a young Dane called Mike. Mike had been traveling on his bike through the Americas when he met his now wife, and they had bought the Hostel in Cali. He showed us around the hostel, and we parked the bike in his garage. The hostel was spotless and brand new, and full of bikers and a cyclist as well as backpackers and Argentinean tourists.
Me and Alain outside Casablanca
The outskirts of Buenaventura, one of the poorest parts of Colombia
Alain the Frenchman came to the hostel the next morning to take us out to the afro Caribbean port town of Buenaventura, and after a fresh fish lunch in the colorful market, he dropped us off in the village of Cordoba. We left the bike at the house of one of his friends and said goodbye to Alain, while we walked down to the railroad.
The trains no longer ran along these tracks, but instead, the locals had come up with a novel form of transportation-the MOTO –Rail.
The front wheel of a common 125 motorbike was bolted onto a wooden platform, which had runner on one side, connecting with the old train track, while the rear wheel sat on the track and drove the contraption. We sat on a little wooden bench on the platform, and the driver started the motor an doff we went. It was an ingenious mode of transportation, and as we rode along the tracks, Jacquie and I couldn’t suppress our maniacal grins. We passed over old railway bridges and looked down into the dense jungle below.
We rounded a corner, and coming in the other direction another moto-rail contraption approached. This was a single-track railway and someone had to get off. Our driver asked us to get off the platform, and he and his co-pilot swiftly picked up the whole bike and platform combo off the tracks and on to the side of the railway, the other bike passed us, and we picked the bike back up and placed it back on the tracks, this happened another two or three times on the way to our final destination, some 25 minutes down the tracks, San Cypriano.
We walked for 5 minutes or so into the village , where kids were running around all over the place and the local afro population regarded us with quizzical looks.
We found a room in a boarding house, and went for a walk around.
San Cypriano "high street"!
A football game had just started on the village pitch, where the jungle had been cut back to clear land ofr this important pastime. We pulled up a couple of chairs and sat and watched the game with some of the other locals. It was a hard game to follow, all the players were shirtless, and we had no idea who was on what team!
We watched the game , which ended when the sun went down , and the hunted down a place to eat. Our options were, to say the least, limited. There was one restaurant open in the small village, and we sat down and asked for a menu. There was none. Instead we were told that if we wanted to eat, we would have to come back in an hour, and the food would be ready. “What are we having”, we inquired-“Fish” was the response.
“Very good, fish it is then, we’ll see you in an hour”.
We wondered around for a while, played a quick game of scrabble, and an hour later, we were sat in front of two plates, of fried fish and rice.
One of the local kids
We ate and played with the inquisitive local kids, before heading back to our lodgings in the dark. When the sun went down, the village went dark.
The next day, we took a pair of huge inner tubes and a couple of local kids as guides, up through the village to the top of the river, where we sat in our tubes and rode back down the river to the other end of the village. There were some fairly rapid parts of the river, which got our hears pumping a bit quicker, and at one point, my arse slammed into some rocks where the water level was lower than expected, but the four of us had a great time tubing the river and riding on the water.
We got back to the village, packed up our stuff and headed back to the railway track for our ride back to Cordoba where, hopefully, our bike awaited.
We got back to Cali just before dark, and shared our experiences with the other guests at Mike’s Casa Blanca hostel.
Alain met up with us again for one last ride around Cali. We went up to the nearby Lago Calima, and stopped off on the way to sample some delicious roadside snacks.We stopped again for a quick beer, for Alain, and hot chocolates for me and Jacquie.
At one point on the way back to Cali, Jacquie turned round to take a photo of Alain on his BMW, and when he saw the camera pointing at him, he quickly stood up on his pegs, and with his arms straight out, assumed a Jesus-on-the-cross pose for the picture, at 50mph!
Back in Cali, I had to get the lens of my camera cleaned, so, Jacquie and I took a cab to the outskirts of town to find the Panasonic service centre. The cab ride back into the centre was unforgettable. The Service centre called a cab for us, and when it turned up, we had to stop ourselves from laughing. The yellow fridge-on-wheels type Japanese cab was pimped up to the max. Low profile tyres sat on chrome wheels that were a good 4 inches wider than the body of the car, and the suspension was jacked up to boot. Inside, where a driver’s mirror would usually be, was a 14inch tv screen, showing bikini clad, big tittied Colombian girls grinding and shaking their groove thang to a latin beat.
The music was pumping, and the visuals were outstanding. I don’t know how impressed Jacquie was, but I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen until we arrived back at the Casa Blanca, I almost asked the cabbie to drive around a bit longer, but didn’t think Jacquie would find it as amazing as I did, so we paid and thanked the driver and went into the hostel.
We popped in to Jorge and Sory’s shop to say we would be going the next day , and to thank them for their hospitality, but they told us that there was no way we could leave as a big bunch of Cali riders, led by Jorge on his ’97 Harley, were all going on a ride , and we simply had to go with them.
We agreed to meet at the shop the next day, and I went and took the bike for a clean in preparation for our up coming ride out.
Ready for the Rideout
We turned up at Asturias at 9 the next day, to see half a dozen assorted “Alto Cilindraje” bikes already waiting. We got chatting to some of Jorge’s biker friends, and more and more bikes turned up. Come 10.30,around 40 bikes were gathered at the shop, and we started off on the ride.
We picked up a few more bikes on the way out of town, and when we made our first stop, at the Suzuki / Honda main dealer, there were over 50 bikes.
There was a mini show on at the dealers, and Jorge’s group and us parked up in the parking lot, where we were treated to a stunt show, and got involved in some bike games, slow races and the like. Jacquie and I were interviewed and photographed, and even won some prizes, and then we were all on our way again to stop number two.
Garth in a slow race against a mini moto
The Gringo biker being interviewed
About 60 bikes were now riding together , and when we pulled into the next stop, I was surprised to say the least at our final destination, the car park of a nearby Police station, about 2 hours out of Cali!
As it turned out, the Cali bikers had been invited to come to the Police station, where the cops were having a family day / Halloween aprty, and all the kids were dressed as bikers!
Jorge and a bikeful of happy kids!
The event was huge fun, the bikers took the kids, and some of the adults, out on short rides, with up to three passengers at a time on each bike, and the cops and their kids posed for photos atop the Harleys and other bikes in the car park. We were treated to lunch, and it was the first, and hopefully the last time I was served lunch by a uniform copper!
While we at the police station, the sky darkened and the clouds thickened, the bikers, looked dubiously at the oncoming weather, and at around 5pm, we made our way out of the car park, just as the rain began to fall.
We made it just around the first corner, where there was a restaurant with a large covered area, and 50 or so bike pulled in out of the rain. We waited a wile to see if the weather would pass, but the rain simply became harder and harder, so we donned our waterproofs and started to make our way slowly back to Cali. We stopped on the outskirts of town and said our goodbyes before everyone made their separate ways home.
Posted by Dan Shell at December 16, 2009 02:34 AM GMT
We had intended to only stay in Cali overnight, but had stretched that out to 4 nights, it was time to get on the road again and head for Ecuadorian border.