Cartegena is a great city to be introduced to South America. I spent most of my walking time in the Old Town, and the colonial flavour of a city established in the 1600's is something that this small town Canuck appreciates. After dealing with Migracion, Customs, and the attendant paperwork associated with obtaining bike insurance, it was time to move on and eastward.
Santa Marta had been recommended by a number of folks, and the road leading to the eastern city was straightforward and only about 300 kilometers from Cartegena, making it a good ride for the fist time back on Blondy after a week at sea and in front of custom house desks...
I rode with Uli and Michael, and a party of three riders is manageable without coming across as a gang. Nevertheless, whereever we stop, the gringoes with the grand motos are surrounded as people are used to simple 125 cc Chinese machines, and our bikes seem huge to them. All in all, the gawkers have been polite and keep their hands off the merchandise, although I did let a pretty girl sit on Blondy today...
The ride from Cartegena to Santa Marta was straightforward, and the ruta kept mainly to the lowlands, which meant that the temperature for the ride was around 35 celsius for most of the day. I think I got heatstroke in northern Baja when I tried to ride with all of my gear, so I have rationalize d my gear down to shorts and my riding jacket. As long as we are moving, it is cool enough for me to handle the jacket. Uli and Michael are both wearing full gear, and more power to them, but my pants are simply too hot for this climate.
Uli is very computer literate, and he is religious about downloading the riding track from each day from his Garmin. I am going to steal his information to show the route that we took through the lowlands to Santa Marta.
Even though Mr. Garmin says we gained 3000 feet over the day, it was very hot and when we arrived in Santa Marta, it was definitely time for cold showers and some beer for the boys.
I had read somewhere that Santa Marta was the earliest established colonial town in the New World, and while we did not really see evidence of the 1600 era building, the city did face the ocean, and it was clear that it is a major transportaion center for Colombia, as evidenced by many trucks on the highway. We found a good hostal, and we were able to conduct a walkabout around the beach area as well as down el centro.