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"To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower; Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour." William Blake


Stars and Safety

July 15th, 2009 by sunflowers

Colombia has a sorta zero tolerance with guerrillas and there is a military presence everywhere which is brilliant for traveling. I have felt safe everywhere I have gone. With one exception. On the roads. It has been the worse country for trucks and buses blind overtaking over the many mountain passes that you have to do.

Someone asked me if I had noticed the stars painted on the road and pointed out that they represent someone dying in that place. Then I noticed how many of them there were. At one place I counted 16 stars in 5 miles of relatively straight road.

I had 10 hours of riding to get to Neiva. Thanks to Jaiver for putting me up and accompanying me for the best steak I have had on the trip.

NeivaNeivaNeivaNeiva

NeivaNeivaNeivaNeiva

Posted in Colombia | No Comments »


Administration and Maintenance in Cali, Colombia

July 14th, 2009 by sunflowers

In Cali there is a hostel run by a Danish overland biker and his Colombian wife which most of the motorbikers who pass through Colombia stay at. It turns out that they help bikers extend their bike permits and that the local Suzuki bike shop was doing an organised ride out to Desierto de la Tatacoa because there is an astronomical event this time of the year.

So Mike and Diane spent lots of time helping me extend my bike permit, organising for me to meet up with the bike club on their ride as I will go tomorrow to head towards San Augustine and meet up with them on Saturday for the camp out in the desert and arranging for new tyres, sprocket and chain to be fitted when I get back (the chain and sprockets cost $300US here rather than $130US in the US and I was going to get my sister to bring them out to Lima with her but the bike shop said they may or may not make it to Lima so I thought I better err on the side of caution as I would rather not have an accident). Also I finally got my license plate number put on my helmet and a vest which Colombian riders are required to wear.

CaliCaliCali

Posted in Colombia | 3 Comments »


Not Enough Time

July 13th, 2009 by sunflowers

Desierto de la TatacoaWhen I first got to Colombia I saw these two photos on googlemaps so one of the main places I wanted to visit was Desierto de la Tatacoa and then go to San Augustine, Colombia’s main archaeological site (which someone compared to the Easter Island statues).

So I was already to head leave the hotsprings hotel early in the morning and decided to check how long the distances were only to discover that one of the roads I would need to take to make it out of the country on time was a 6 hour unpaved road with river fords and so many potholes one blog I read the tourists had to turn back after four hours for fear of braking their vehicle. Desierto de la TatacoaSome people might think that I am crazy to do this trip by myself but I am not stupid enough to want to break down on a rough road by myself in potentially guerrilla territory without enough time to sort any potential problems before my bike permit expires. And I need to sort out new tyres before leaving the country.

It was a bit of a bummer as if I was busing I could have done it. So it turns out there is places a bus can go that a solo girl on an overloaded motorbike with a lack of time can’t.

(btw the photos are from www.panoramio.com but I couldn’t seem to link to them).

Posted in Colombia | No Comments »


Coffee and Hot Water

July 12th, 2009 by sunflowers

Riding to and through the coffee district was beautiful. I got to the hotsprings by mid-day and still feeling slightly sorry for myself I used it as an excuse to treat myself to a stay at the hotsprings hotel.

Coffee ZoneCoffee ZoneCoffee ZoneCoffee Zone

Coffee ZoneCoffee ZoneCoffee ZoneCoffee Zone

Coffee ZoneCoffee ZoneCoffee ZoneCoffee Zone

Posted in Colombia | No Comments »


Hot in Honda

July 11th, 2009 by sunflowers

I woke up at six am on Saturday when I was suppose to leave 2 hours after going to bed and I realised I was still inebriated. I had thought because I was drinking lots of water and didn’t feel intoxicated that I would be ok.

It took me until 1pm to finally feel well enough to get on my bike. I would have asked to stay another day but I was too embarrassed as it was my own fault I couldn’t leave. So it was under a grey sky that I left Bogotá.

I managed to do 100 miles in 4 hours to a town called Honda where the temperature averages 29C and stayed in this horrible hotel where someone started playing loud music at 4 in the morning.

HondaHondaHondaHonda

Posted in Colombia | No Comments »


What do Colombia, Turkey and Greece all have in common?

July 10th, 2009 by sunflowers

I was suppose to go to Medellin to get my bike pannier sorted out but on waking up in the morning I decided I was running o
ut of time in Colombia (I had gone into Bogotá to try and extend my bike permit but they said because I had been to Venezuela without the bike that they wouldn’t) and I didn’t fancy riding into a big city. So I asked if I could stay another day in Chia and went to a local metal working place and had them work on my pannier and as my bike was running a bit chuggy I went and had the carburettor cleaned out and a fuel filter fitted for $10US and it is running much better.

ChiaChiaChiaChia

ChiaIt turns out Chia is the big night spot for people from the capital so we went to this really cool/huge restaurant bar, Andres Carne des Res, where they had great music, free fruit and stickers, a band that would come around and put a sash on you and play music for your table and you could get your face painted. We drank many bottles of the Colombian spirit Aguardient which is an aniseed white liquor similar to Raki (Turkish) or Ouzo (Greek). I originally hadn’t wanted to go but it was a cool night and it turns out Lucia’s brother was a good dancer.

ChiaChiaChiaChiaChia

Posted in Colombia | No Comments »


Chia, Colombia

July 9th, 2009 by sunflowers

I am staying in a in a little town adjacent to Bogotá which it turns out is named after an Mitos (indigenous) goddess. Which somehow seems apt and I also saw a female biker there. Lucia’s mom walked around the town with me reading the inscriptions on each gate to the city center. I was so excited about reading Spanish that I bought a couple of children’s legends books to help me learn Spanish. But after trying to read them I realised I had over estimated by ability.

I also went to the Salt Cathedral. Riding there in the pouring rain wasn’t fun. In Bogotá I went up the gondola for a view of the city and to the gold museum where some young guy started talking to me saying he had studied english in NZ but it seemed a bit dodgy. And I went out to a local farm and sat in on teaching the young ones language skills and coordination but unfortunately not many of the children turned up.

ChiaChiaChiaChia

ChiaChiaChiaChiaChia

ChiaChiaChiaChia

ChiaChiaChiaChia

ChiaChiaChiaChia

ChiaChiaChiaChia

Posted in Colombia | No Comments »


Brrr in Bogotá

July 8th, 2009 by sunflowers

ChiaBogotá is the capital city of Colombia and you would think in a country that has so many warm places they wouldn’t stick their capital at an altitude of 2600 meters so that the weather is a constant 17-19C during the day and 5-8C at night. Either my blood has thinned or it is because of the altitude but to me it feels about 5 degrees colder than it is and this is how people dress during the day.

I am staying with a couchsurfer Lucia and her family. Her mother kindly took me fruit shopping
(pitaya = dragon fruit, higo = cactus fruit, granadilla, feijoa, uchuva = gooseberries, chirimoya, maracuyá = passion fruit) and that evening I went with Lucia and her fiancée to a media club where they short films and for some of the best Sushi I have had.

ChiaChiaChiaChia

ChiaChiaChiaChia

Posted in Colombia | 1 Comment »


Villa De Leyva

July 7th, 2009 by sunflowers

Villa De Layva is a historical colonial town in Colombia. In the morning I went on a two hour walk while listening to my spanish lessons, to El Fósil where they have a full fossil of a Kronosaurus in the position where it was found. I find it quite freaky to think that millions of years ago where I was standing was covered in water and dinosaurs were swimming around. The courtyard is in my $12US per night Hotel Colonial.

Villa De LeyvaVilla De LeyvaVilla De LeyvaVilla De Leyva

Villa De LeyvaVilla De LeyvaVilla De LeyvaVilla De Leyva

Villa De LeyvaVilla De LeyvaVilla De LeyvaVilla De Leyva

Villa De LeyvaVilla De LeyvaVilla De LeyvaVilla De Leyva

Villa De LeyvaVilla De LeyvaVilla De LeyvaVilla De Leyva

Posted in Colombia | 3 Comments »


It's My Trip and I'll Read If I Want To

July 6th, 2009 by sunflowers

I didn’t do any of the activities around San Gil and instead had Spanish lessons with Andres daughter, visited his grandmother and aunts, found out that turtles are at it all the time, went into town and visited the public gardens with hanging spanish moss and spent lots of time in the hammock reading and looking at the wonderful view.

San GilSan GilSan GilSan Gil

San GilSan GilSan GilSan Gil

Posted in Colombia | 1 Comment »


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