March 26 Esperanza, Colombia
Uli and I had stayed in San Gil a few months ago, so I remembered the very steep streets which characterize this city, which is set at the bottom of a river valley. The river provides folks with some rafting experiences.
I left the hotel, and set Mr. Garmin for a nearby town, Barranchu, which is supposedly a colonial town. Naturally, Mr. Garmin took me overland, almost straight up and over the hills through what was probably the original road 30 years ago. While I had not planned on it, the dirt was an added bonus, although I see that I have one shock leaking again, and Blondy groans to get up on her legs in the morning as a result of a leaking front shock.
When I arrived in Barranchu, a fellow moto fiend came over and introduced himself. We had a good chat about riding in Colombia, as he and his wife were on a week holiday and were doing a tour of northern Colombia. They were from Medelin, and they had hosted a felllow Canuck at their home not so long ago. He was from Nova Scotia, and his name was Len Macdonald. I will see if he is on ADV when I have internet.
I had passed a number of stone carvers as I was travelling towards Barranchu, so as I returned to get back on the highway north, I stopped to chat up these guys and see what they were up to. A tough job, with lots of rock dust everywhere, and not very much in terms of protection. Their pieces were intriguing considering they had minimal tools.
San Gill is set in a valley, as these photos show.
Well into the afternoon, after a great ride down the side of Canon Chucamunga, I began to thinking that perhaps I had missed a turn.
These pics don't do the canon justice...
After some time of second guessing myself, I came around a corner and recognized a small restaurant where Uli and I had stopped to eat and drink so many months ago. I believe that it is much hotter now, and I think even greener, if that is possible. After being reassureed that I was on the correct highway towards the coast, I decided on an earlier finish today. I was very hot, and there was no sense in ruining a good ride by being overtired. One of the signals for me is that when I start getting pissed off at dumb drivers, I know it is time to start thinking about calling it a day. I had successfully navigated through Buccamunga in short order, and when the traffic started to piss me off, and I was starting to pass longer lines of trucks and muleos, I knew it was time to find a room. I passed a couple of good looking camping spots which were situated on the river, and I was seriously thinking about a swim when I came upon the little town of Esperanza.
I found a small hotel beside the hiway, with good parking for Blondy. I immedialtely had a cold shower, as this was the only option, and changed into my Colombian soccer shirt. Today is a full moon, and there is a soccer game tonite. I am sure that I will fit right in with the locals..
Wednesday March 27
A couple of good shots of cafe tinto and I was on the road again this morning by 7:00 AM. Within two hours, I had seen two serious accidents, which were a bit unnerving.
Some woman drove herself and her husband and baby right into the front end of a fuel truck. Needless to say, the fuel truck won. I spent the rest of the morning debating whether it was her fault, or her dead husbands' for allowing her to drive a truck which clearly did not have the power she thought it had to safely pass. The point is moot: one family gone.
The second accident involved a moto. All that was left were the crowds, the cops, and one bent bike, along with a certain amount of blood all over the pavement. Maybe because this is Semana Santa people are more eager to donate their bodies, or perhaps they are just plain bloody stupid when it comes to holiday driving...by 11:30 I was started to swear at the idiots, and that was my signal that I needed to make it an early day.
I am down on the lowlands now, and it is very humid and close to 35 degrees, so it is understandable that I am heating up earlier in the day than usual. I found a good hotel in Plato, and although the wi-fi is unbearably slow, I think that I will be able to plan my approach to Cartegena. There is a beautiful full moon again tonite, so perhaps that goes to explain today's carnage....
Tomorrow, Cartegena revisited...