Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Colombia - part 2

After 2 weeks at Casa Blanca hostel in Cali it was time to make some ground and head north. I had replaced all my spares and picked up a second hand rear tyre cheap so I had the bike sorted for a while.

I was aiming for the tourist town of Salento in the heart of the coffee growing area of Colombia. Colombia is the worlds 3rd largest country for coffee production. Here I got to tour a small organic farm and see the process of beans harvested through to sampling a freshly ground brew.  The area is also famous for is beautiful scenery and it's tall wax palm trees towering up out of the forests and paddocks.
 Wax Palm trees near Salento

Don't think this is up to DOC standards!

In Salento I met up with Guy from the UK on a BMW 650 Twin. We did a day ride up through a bunch of muddy farm tracks in the hills surrounding Salento.

Day ride with Guy

Out in the middle of nowhere you find churches like this

The next few days I rode with Guy to the city of Medellin via a series of back roads and small towns perched up high on ridges and surrounded by coffee farms and lush green hill sides. This was some pretty cool riding, the scenery was fantastic, the roads narrow and winding and the towns busy with interesting people. We attempted to get up close to an active volcano but got washed out not by ash but by a thunderstorm that had the track transformed into a river and created an impassable mudslide.

Coffee seedlings

Coffee bushes growing amongst Plantans ( Banana's)

View from our hotel in the mountain town of Salamina

Guy talking with friendly farmer about to take his sack of coffee beans to town market

Lunch stop in Aguadas
Only 20 years ago Medellin was the worlds most murderous city and the centre of Colombia's drug trade. Car bombs and Gun welding motorbike riding hit men working for drug lord Pablo Escobar causing many deaths. Escobar was gunned down and killed in 1993. Now days the city is famous for it's beautiful women, and yes the women are gorgeous, helped by the fact that plastic surgery is cheap and common here.

My first day in the city and I'm off on a ride with Guy and a few other riders organised by Mike from Motolombia bike tours and also the owner of Casa Blanca hostel down in Cali. Mike and Thomas the owner of the local Kawasaki shop took us on a great loop around the hills surrounding the city.

Day ride lead by Mike from Motolombia bike tours

After the ride we went and checked out a large motorbike expo which was conveniently on the week end that we arrived. Colombians like there bikes and there is a lot of money here, at the expo we got to see the latest in bikes and  performance accessories. I'm sure there must have been some plastic surgery representatives somewhere too judging by the amount of breast enhancing accessories on display as well!!

Before leaving the city I caught up with Alen whom I met way back down in Lima a couple of months earlier. Alen gave me a tour around town, it was interesting to here about the changes that have happened in the city over the recent years.

The Ducati Display

Big crowds at the Medellin motorbike expo

Brightly coloured Streets in the town of Guatape

Every town in South America has a central plaza and church

My route from Medellin east to Villa de Leya took in a bunch of small towns and rough roads, I averaged less than 100 km a day for 4 days due to damaged roads, nice towns and people that were just too nice to ride on through in a hurry.

Elizabeth and David took me down to the local swimming hole

Drug lord Pablo Escobar's first smuggling plane at his old property

Flood Damage just before the town of Otanche

 I arrived at the town of Otanche for lunch and was soon told that the main road out of town was cut off by a large slip, could be a few days before it would be cleared.  Ok, this place is interesting and I don't mind spending the afternoon wondering around. I bump into some very friendly locals at the coffee shop that speak some English and I end up spending the rest of the evening having a few beers with them. Really nice people and I wish I had more time to hang out in places like this. Turns out that there is a "ultra carratera" another road that could be possible.

Next morning armed with a hand drawn map from the hotel staff I head off in search of the alternative road. I'm at the right town were the road turns off but can't find it, I ask at a cafe for directions, turns out one of the guys is heading my way, I wait a while and then get guided by Andreas and his mate on a little Suzuki 200. He takes me so far to the town of Muzo and then suggests I follow the bus out. I 'm a bit reluctant to follow the bus but am soon clad I did as there are many junctions with no signs and the Toyota landcruiser "bus" is getting along fairly smartly down the rough road.

Towards the end of the day I'm following along behind the landcruiser surrounded in beautiful countryside and reflect on what has been an awesome day. Due to the damaged main road  I have been guided along this fantastic network of roads perfect for motorcycling deep in heartland Colombia passing by small towns that I would have otherwise missed.

another town, another impressive church

This is near the start of the alternative road, looks like it´s going to be an interesting ride!

My Guide Andreas ( left)  and his mate

My Landcruiser guide vehicle

After 4 days I finally make Villa de Leya 

1 comment:

  1. I love the colourful buildings, so vibrant! Great that your detour around the closed roads led to better things than your planned route.