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01.04.10 Colombia
On the road by 8am. Wow, we had seen so many old Renaults in Colombia. Colombia is full of Renaults, bicycles, bicycle rickshaws, motorcycles, other cars and trucks, and of course people. And there are so many little restaurants in the villages and towns. Sometimes the owner sits down with us at the same table and wants to talk to us. We are in the flats, everything is so green. I really enjoy the flat areas and the heat and humidity no matter how hot it is; knowing everything will change in the Andes... On our left we had a big mountain range, up to 4800 meters. We passed a river, people were washing their clothes in it and little children played in it. We saw lots of carriages that were pulled by donkeys or horses. We passed a bridge, looked down to these endless banana plantations. We stopped on a bridge and underneath us was a rope, and all in a sudden we saw hanging bananas on it passing by. They used the rope as a type of transport to get the bananas to where they wanted them to be. Not long later the hanging bananas on the rope disappeared in the distance, I wondered how long the rope system might have been. We stopped for lunch. People love using salt. Everything is fried and salty. The people here eat hardly fruit and vegetables. We forgot to tell the cook to prepare our food without salt and got hammered again. We were looking for a town to stay for the night and found one, nicely tucked away behind a river and a railway track, 2 km off the main highway. The houses were painted in all sorts of different colors, like green, yellow, blue, orange, pink, red... We checked out a few hospedajes and at the end we rode back to the first one we saw. The man who lived there told us that they were full, but we knew it wasn't the case, so we were persistent. When we walked to our room, we saw lots of other empty rooms. I guess the man was too lazy to deal with guests. His wife did all the work. We stored our bikes in their courtyard and carried our bags up. We didn't have a shower but a big bucket with water in it. It felt nice to pour the water over our greasy bodies, trying to get all the filth off...In the early evening we strolled through that nice town. We had dinner in a restaurant. The eating area was actually their living room, why not? We saw pool bililard almost on every corner, it seems to be big in Colombia. There were hardly any cars in town, mostly motorbikes and bicycle rickshaws, and lots and lots of people. People have so much time here, what a luxury. Some people had their rocking chairs moved out of their houses onto the footpath in front of their houses and watched life go by. I would have loved to take more pictures but I was too shy. I did some computer work in the evening and discovered a virus that changed lots of things, weird things happened. Hm... That's it so far for using the computer. We had no water in the evening. Got a bucket water from their laundry system, and again, some fish swam in there.
Resume: Cienaga-Aracateca, 60km, 31 to 43 degrees
LINK: Photos 084-088

02.04.10 Colombia
Got up at 6.20bam, made porridge, pumped up the tires. The valve on one tube broke, so we had to change the tube. The family was watching us. We ate the eggs that we boiled last night and sat on the doorstep in their courtyard. Chickens were running around. the chickens ate the shell, we ate the eggs. We rode to a few bike shops and asked for tubes, to have spare ones, but they only had the other system, Schrader. In no time we were surrounded by at least 15 Colombians asking us all sorts of questions. When we finally left the village we passed a man who had a parrot on his shoulder and walked around, so cool! We also saw a man who turned his whole bicycle rickshaw by 90 degrees to fix a flat tire. The road was flat and straight, we followed the huge Magdalena Valley. It was green and tropical, the air smelled really sweet. To our left we saw the mountains, about 5000 meters high. We passed lots of palm oil trees and sometimes, trees grew so close to the road that they built a beautiful arch above the road, giving us shade. The crickets and cicades were loud. They sounded like a combination of whistling and a pan flute. We also passed quite a few military posts, every 10 to 20 km. They stand right next to the bushes in their camouflage uniform so you would hardly see them, but then they wore a bright orange vest for visibility. Do they want to be unseen or seen? We also saw bicycle signs on the side of the road. They looked really sophisticated with suspensions on both tires. The scenery was so lush and green, we also passed wetlands with ibises in them. It was almost a jungle, and so swampy. Have I mentioned the butterflies? There are so many butterflies in the air, in all colors and shapes. Butterflies in the air, caterpillars on the ground. They walked in all directions. There was hardly any traffic on the road, so peaceful and quiet. It was Good Friday, everybody spent time with their families. We saw a river, children were bathing in it. We stopped and Bhinti jumped in with all his clothes. Not much later we were back on our bicis. The area was as flat as a pancake with lots of grassland and cows, no wind. When we got to our destination town, again, there were lots and lots and lots of motorcycles with 1 up to even 5 people on them. The whole family fits on them. And again, we had no running water. In this area they only have water for 2 hours, one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening. We found a nice hospedaje, enough riding for me today. The lights were out by 7 pm. Oh ya, I forgot to mention that we passed a tiny village with mud houses, houses made of branches and straw roofs , it looked like an African village.
Resume: Aracateca-Bosconia, 82km, 32 to 44 degrees
LINK: Photos 089-100 , videos 205-206

03.04.10 Colombia
Our room had 31 degrees, the fan was on full blast. It was really windy, but at least the thirsty mosquitoes have no chance to land on us. On the road before 7am. We had a long day ahead of us. After 30 km, in the middle of nowhere we saw our first restaurant and stopped, it was 9 am only. We left the mountain range on our left behind us and all in a sudden the green and lush area changed into a dry semi desert. Skinny cows tried to find grass, there were lots of cow skeletons on the fields and on the side of the road. The vultures were happy. The road was straight as an arrow, no curve for hours. We saw a few iguanas, some of them were blue. The traffic got crazy. So many trucks passed us, we got many greetings and thumbs ups, and when they toot their horns, it is so loud, that it almost blows us off the saddle. Our bodies craved vegetables. But there are none, only a few slices of tomato with a bit of onion. Everything is salty and fried and the meat is most of the time hardly chewable. How do people stay healthy here? In the semi desert were hardly any houses, what a remote area. After hours of riding we got closer to another mountain range on our left and the scenery changed again dramatically from dry to lush. We were back in the humidity. Big banana fields opened up in front of us. Donkeys, pigs and cows took themselves for a walk on the side of the road. At about 4 pm we got to our destination, to Curumani which was a bigger town. We checked out the center and went into 2 bike shops asking for tubes. But again, they had only the other system which is useless for us. I bought a garden hose to defense myself in case aggressive dogs will attack me. Rest day tomorrow, yay!
Resume: Bosconia-Curumani, 101km, 29 to 46 degrees
LINK: Photos 101-107 , video 207

04.04.10 Colombia
What a nice sleep in, resting has a new meaning for us. We found an internet place with slow connection and without skype. We wanted to call our families, so I tried to download it on one of their computers, which took 30 min. At the end it didn't work out. Our computer was out of order because of the virus. I spent 2 hours in the internet cafe, 1.75 hours was waiting time. It reminded me of crazy India... I missed my parents and my friends. Will I see my friends ever again??? What a strange feeling that was. We had 2 fruit shakes on the side of the road. When I paid I realized that there was a message written on the note. It said: Life is beautiful, enjoy it! This is the second time that I had a note with a message on it. I guess that's what people do. They write messages on them and pass them on. I wondered how many people have already read this one. I was glad it was a rest day. People chilled and played pool and drank beer. Everybody is so relaxed, and they love their uplifting music. On a materialistic level they might be poor in the eyes of Western people, but nobody can take away their beautiful music!
Resume: rest in Curumani
LINK: no photos, no videos

05.04.10 Colombia
We both had diarrhea, I guess it was the milkshake from yesterday. We left at 7.30 am. For the first time it got a bit hilly today. I realized that we were really spoiled with all the flats we had. We passed more palm oil tree fields. Before we got to a little town, there were lots of women sitting on the side of the road, selling fruit. We stopped for some mangos, oh we are in mango season... 8 cent each! Bhinti's face was yellow in no time. As we intended to buy more mangos the woman wanted to gift us 2 pieces. The people are so lovely here. I had a ly down on the side of the road, 10 min later we kept riding. Then we both had to stop, something wanted to get out of our bodies... oh ya, the diarrhea thing... At the end I even threw up from my bike, thank god it happened in a town, where we ended up staying. Every day is an adventure. I actually wondered that we haven't got diarrhea much more often. As I can remember our last intestinal event was in Guatemala. This time we got a room with air-conditioning. That means no wind in the night! We bargained down the price and I enjoyed the cool air. I didn't feel like eating. All restaurants have the same. 4-5 different meals. Rice, fried green bananas, some slices of tomato with onions and then either pork (sometimes), beef or chicken. And they also have soup. No beans. They don't use herbs, they just use heaps of salt. I dragged myself to an internet place.. I really didn't feel like moving. Wow, there are so many motorcycles on the road! 50 % motorcycles and 50 % cars. I have never seen so many motorcycles in any of the other countries we had been. Back in our room, I enjoyed the cool air, no storm from the fan, no flapping hamster cheeks...
Resume: Curumani-Pelaya, 69 km, 29 to 38 degrees
LINK: Photos 108-109

06.04.10 Colombia
We only ride 45 km today. We had a nice sleep in. Bhinti bought some food and came back with some mangos that he found on the street. We saw them yesterday and wondered why nobody picked them up. They were ripe and juicy. We left at 10 am, it was a cloudy day. We had big mountains on our left with dark clouds above them. We heard thunder. There were no restaurants so we ate our boiled eggs. Colombia has been amazing. The people are incredible. They are so friendly, open and curious and we get so many greetings. Today 3 police men on the other side of the road started to yell at us. Okay, so we stopped. What had we done???? They came over to our side and offered us a pop drink and cookies, asking us lots of questions. They were hilarious. We ended up taking some really funny photos with them. One police man on Bhintis bike wearing my sweaty helmet and I am on my bike wearing his police hat. We had a good laugh altogether. They gave us their email address, then we pressed on. Even the military is friendly to us, sometimes we club hands with them when we pass. They all smile. It started pouring down, big drops. It felt nice. We had to climb one long uphill, then we arrived in Aguachica. It was bigger then we thought it was, 100.000 people live here. A man on his motorcycle showed us the way to the city center. We found a nice room, the hospedaje even had a little swimming pool as we found out later. Our room was big enough for the bicis and on the ground level, that means, we just need to roll them in. The size of the city was really a surprise for us. On the map, all the dots look the same. And there were even more motorcycles on the road, I would say 70%, 30 % cars, taxis and bicycles and bicycle rickshaws. Little boys, about 10 years old are riding them. A guy that we passed on our bikes sold cakes and offered us a piece each, so nice. They love to share. A dad passed on a motorcycle with a baby in the front and his little son, maybe 4 years old, behind him. I wanted to get our computer fixed and just around the corner was a computer shop. The woman in the computer shop also could recommend a good dentist as a piece of my tooth broke off a few days earlier. When I asked her if I need an appointment she told me that she already called the dentist, who was only 5 min far away. 10 min later I was already on the dentist chair. I took almost one hour and I walked out the door with a new filling and paid only 15 dollars. In the evening we sat at the busy plaza where all the street food was. The pizza man had a little stand and wheels with electricity, a fan, a TV and a little pizza oven, everything he needed. There were no tables, just some chairs. While he made the pizzas he watched TV. What a great business on wheels. When we got back we had a nice swim in the pool. Who would have thought that we would be having a swim today and I would get my tooth fixed???
Resume: Pelaya-Aguachica, 49km, 27 to 37 degrees
LINK: Photos 110-118 , video 208

08.04.10 Colombia
Yesterday I spent 4 hours in the computer shop and they got if fixed! At the end the woman even didn't want to charge me, but I was persistent. It got quite late so we decided to stay for another night. In front of our room was the courtyard with a TV. The night shift security watched TV almost all night long. People are so addicted to TV. Almost every restaurant and hotel has one and it is always on. No matter if it is morning, noon, afternoon, evening or night. Often, when we get shown a room they switch on the TV automatically. When we say we don't want it on, they give us a funny and questioning look.

Today we left Aguachica at 9 am. The road was flat and the sky was cloudy, nice for riding. Just after we left, 2 men in a car were shouting to us, turned around and wanted us to stop. They were really determined. We stopped. They were journalists and wanted an interview with us for a national TV station. They got out their microphone and camera and off we went. A man on a bicycle selling ice cream passed and the 2 journalists bought us 2 ice creams after they interviewed us on the side of the road with all the loud trucks passing. So funny! Today was the day with the craziest traffic. Trucks were overtaking other trucks, most of the time the road had no shoulder. It took us lots of concentration and awareness, always being prepared to get off the road in case we had to, but at the end it was all good. We had head wind and Bhinti drafted me, I felt quite strong today, getting my energy back. On our left we passed 3 big trees with lots and lots of these white birds with the long necks on them. They were nowhere else, only on these 3 trees, strange and beautiful. From the distance it looked like a blossoming tree. We stopped in a little village where the houses were right on the side of the road. The traffic was crazy! I asked the people if this is normal, yes was the answer. Their living room is only 3 meters far away and they can't escape from the noises of these loud constant passing trucks. Truck after truck after truck... Coming back to the curiosity of the people. Sometimes people pass in cars or on motorcycles and they take pictures of us with their mobile phones. Even once a bus driver slowed down and yelled out of the window asking us from where we were and where we were going to. We stopped for a watermelon in another little village, not giving up asking in bike shops for the right tubes. Finally we found some! We kept riding and arrived in San Alberto, our destination for today. My appetite came back. At a restaurant the waitress cleaned her teeth with a toothpick while she spoke to us. Why wasting time... After we finished eating and looked for an accommodation, a little boy wanted to show us some hospedajes on his bike, so we followed him. We ended up in a hotel that was still under construction, we were probably the first guests there.
Resume: Aguachica-San Alberto, 72km, 29 to 35 degrees
LINK: Photos 119-132 , videos 209-211

09.04.10 Colombia
Here in San Alberto the road divided itself into two roads going into two different directions, that also means that the crazy traffic gets get cut in half. We will follow the beautiful Magdalena Valley until Honda. Honda is a town at the end of the valley, about 380 km far away. The little map of Colombia didn't show many villages on this road, in fact, the whole road was not even on our big map (map of South America). I wonder how old our map is. The road was flat with a nice wide shoulder. The first 60 km were easy riding. We passed lots of green grass with cows on it and also wetland areas. The caterpillars and butterflies were still going crazy and the air was so sweet. Lots of ibises were hanging out near the cows looking for maggots to eat off the cows. Sometimes when we stop we ask for tea but people don't seem to know tea, I guess this is a coffee land. I was thinking of the 3 Kiwis. It was so nice riding with them. I also thought what they carried. They had a big pump and 2 guitars with them. Why not. While I was in my thoughts a car all in a sudden slowed down and out of the window came an arm with a bottle of orange juice for us. Without stopping I took it and said thank you, they wished us a safe trip and drove off. People are amazing, they are so generous here. We crossed a brown and muddy river and then we were in the hills. The clouds were really dark and we heard lots of thunder. We had only 10 km more to go but decided to wait at a restaurant as it started already to pour down. That thunder was loud! The rainy season had started at the beginning of this month. We chatted with the locals, had something to eat and after one hour it stopped raining so we pressed on. The first hotel that we finally found was booked out. In front of it were standing lots and lots of trucks. We didn't have too much daylight left and passed some more hospedajes, they were all booked out by the truck drivers. 2 rooms were left in an hospedaje, that was a bit further off the road, lucky us! Is it always like that here??? It was the smallest room we ever had but somehow we squeezed our bikes in there. The bathroom was so tiny that we had to climb over the toilet to reach the shower. The shower over flooded and all the water ran through the room. But at least we found a room for tonight. The mosquitoes had a big meeting it looked like, that means: fan on full blast!
Resume: San Alberto-Lizama, 92 km, 26 to 39 degrees
LINK: Photos 133-140 , video 212

10.04.10 Colombia
While we pumped up the tires before we wanted to leave, another valve got shredded. Off come the bags... We made porridge and left. After 20 km of nothing there was finally a small palapa. We thought they have food but they didn't. We asked for a fresh fruit juice with water. She made us two, at the end she didn't want to charge us and wished us safe travel. Have I mentioned that the Colombians are incredible generous??? We realized that we haven't seen any Gringos since the coast, Santa Marta. Everything around us is unspoiled, no Gringo influence, nothing has changed by the tourism, the people are curious what we do, there are no Gringo prices in restaurants, no development, no subdivisions, we get so much attention. Colombia has been hidden from the tourism probably because of the drug trade. It feels so untouched, so real. We also realized that we start many sentences with: "Do you remember...". Yes, we have been to so many places, have seen into so many faces. So many stories to tell, so many memories to share. We were partly in the hills today. When we stopped for lunch, there was a cat and a parrot, both sitting on the floor. Have you ever seen a cat and a bird together on the same floor? The bird walked to the cat and tried to bite her, and the cat walked away... Pretty clear who the boss is here. We decided to ride another 35 km. After 20 km I felt tired and exhausted, we haven't seen any villages or hotels. Then I got a flat tire.... right in front of a hotel. Coincidence or what? We fixed the flat tire and decided to stay. The hotel also had a restaurant attached. There was a little hammock between 2 trees. And in the hammock was a little monkey. I thought they rescued him. He was so young, only 2 weeks old. Later we found out that the owner of the hotel had killed the mother in order to keep the little baby. I couldn't hold back my tears. Why do people do such horrible things? What do they think?
Resume: Lizama-Puerto Parra, 72 km, 28 to 31 degrees
LINK: Phohtos 141-144 , video 213

12.04.10 Colombia
Yesterday it rained and we heard thunder in the morning. So we stayed in bed and got up quite late. It still rained. When I looked at Bhinti's tire, it was flat... So yesterday we changed the tubes twice, today we have another flat tire... What is that all about? It didn't stop raining so we decided to have a rest day.

On the road by 7.30 am, no rain. After 20 km we stopped for breakfast. And I discovered that they have MILO, which is a chocolate drink. I used to have it in New Zealand and I forgot about it. And now, here in the heart of Colombia I found it again. Yummy in my tummy!!! What a nice surprise. We kept riding through that beautiful, green valley with all its butterflies and sweet smells. Grass, trees, rivers, cows and horses. After a while we got to the turn off to Medellin, a beautiful city in the mountains. What do we do? Do we ride through Medellin which means we leave that beautiful valley and start climbing the mountains pretty soon? Or do we follow the valley until we get to the end of it and climb the mountains much later? We went for the second choice and skipped Medellin and kept riding through the fairy tale land. My energy was really good today. Easy riding without any pain. We passed some buffalos that got scared when they saw us. Also cows sometimes panic and do a big jump when they see us. We must be very scary... After a long stretch of no house we got to a little store and got a cold drink. The woman moved immediately her rocking chair towards us right underneath a fan and offered us to sit in it. Have I mentioned that the Colombians are so generous??? Two little boys overtook us. One was pulling the other one with an elastic, that was attached to his handle bar. What a great idea!!! There was no village but we made it to a hotel on the side of the road just before it got dark, lots of trucks stopped here for the night. Saw lots of lightening in the evening. It was cloudy today, nice riding and good energy.
Resume: Puerto Parra-Puerto Serviez, 94 km, 28 to 32 degrees
LINK: Photos 145-170

13.04.10 Colombia
It rained the whole night, nice to listen to the rain. From our window we had a nice view to a paddock with cows grazing on it. On the road by 9 am, we passed more wetlands and flooded grasslands. People used their canoes for transport. We also passed some oil wells and a big oil refinery with 2 huge tanks and lots and lots of oil trucks that got loaded up with oil and petrol. This oil is used in the own country but also gets exported to Europe and other areas. We had seen so many oil trucks, truck after truck after truck... While riding we heard a desperate miaoo. It was a little kitten being helpless and scared. Bhinti tried to get it but it was too scared. Somebody must have dumped it in the middle of nowhere. Another heart breaking case. It probably will be dead by tomorrow. After 62 km we saw a hotel. In front of it were hundreds of oil trucks. I asked for a room but they were all booked out. The oil trucks even parked on the side of the road. We kept riding and found one that was not booked out. In the little village we had beans for dinner. First time in Colombia that we saw beans. They don't grow them here, they get imported from other countries. Why? I don't know. In the village was also a supermarket, it was the first bigger supermarket we had seen after about 300 kilometers. When we got back to our hotel room, we saw another flat tire... The hotel was in the wetland, right next to our window, the hachery for mosquitoes. We went mosquito hunting in our room and got at least 40 of it. Having the fan on full blast we were hoping, the rest of them won't be able to suck our blood. I heard Bhinti in the bathroom going crazy with his towel... He got at least another 15 of these hungry little insects. At the hotel restaurant I made next to MILO another discovery: HANUTA!!! German waffles with chocolate in between. I loved them when I was little and I forgot about them. And... yummy in my tummy!
Resume: Puerto Serviez-Puerto Libre, 68 km, 27 to 38 degrees
LINK: Photos 171- 178 , video 214

14.04.10 Colombia
We listened to the frogs during the night. We made porridge, we stocked up with Hanuta, sat down and waited for the rain to stop. I got the computer out and did some work. We left at 10 am. It was still drizzling but it was nice. After a while we passed a crazy city, called 'La Dorada'. There was an air force and the traffic and activities were intense. We heard a few jet fighters in the air. All these trucks that have been passing us. 'La Dorada' was the first bigger city after 100s of kilometers. Back to civilisation. We found a nice restaurant where they actually didn't fry so much food. The meat was chewable and instead of using loads of salt they used for the first time herbs. We also passed the mighty river 'Rio Magdalena' again. The first time we crossed it at the coast in Barranquilla which seems to be ages ago, about 900 km north of here. Now we cross it again. We had 30 km more to go. The valley was just so beautiful, the grey clouds all disappeared. The mountain ranges on both sides got closer and closer, the valley more and more narrow. The mountain formations were just incredible. It felt like the more we rode into the valley the more beautiful it got. It didn't take long, and the two mountain ranges on both sides merged together in front of us. We were about to leave the valley that we have ridden in for about 900 km. We definitely left it behind us and were in the mountains. 5 km more to our destination for today, to Honda. Honda was another beautiful surprise. The setting was picturesque, it was located in the mountains, and the mighty Rio Magdalena went right through it. We looked for an accommodation. The man at the reception got excited when he talked to Bhinti. Bhinti said to me that he doesn't understand we he said but he felt like we were not very welcome here. I walked in and got the final 'kick out'. They must have had bad experiences with Gringos, I guess. He did us a favor as we found a bright room with a great view for the same price. We went for a stroll through the city and admired the big river, that was really full of water. A strong current moved all sorts of wood in a fast pace. We made it into the mountains, no more flat areas from now on...
Resume: Puerto Libre-Honda, 74 km, 27 to 38 degrees
LINK: Photos 179-186 , videos 215-216

17.04.10 Colombia
We stayed in Honda for 2 days. It rained, it poured, loud thunder and lots of lightning. And it was windy. Time to get our computer fixed, to find patches for my gloves, see how long they are going to make it. We could use the internet connection of the reception. The owner only had one leg and.... he rode a bicycle, somehow it worked out. I was still dealing with my kidney infection. That also kept me busy on our rest days: drinking and peeing like crazy.

We left and it was sunny, porridge for breakfast. We are heading towards Manizales, the first city on the other side of the mountain range, having to pass the pass. I guess that's why it is called pass, ha ha! The first 20 km were still quite flat, steady but soft climbing. Two little boys, 10 years old, on road bicycles which were weigh too big for them overtook us and slowed down. They wore helmets, biking clothes, gloves, they looked really professional. They were even clipped in with their shoes that were too big for them. They asked lots of questions and must have slowed down immensely to ride with us, with our pace. We had been riding together for 30 min, then 2 other cyclists joined us. There are lots of cyclists in this country. Altogether we rode until to the next town, to Mariquita and had drinks together. One of the cyclists offered us his home for a night and also his swimming pool, but we decided to press on to make some miles, our destination was Fresno in the mountains. From Mariquita onwards it was only climbing. Climbing, climbing, climbing... In the lowest gear I made 5km per hour, up, up up. After a while we looked down into a beautiful valley deep down beneath us, we rode into the land of coffee. Coffee plantations everywhere and banana trees on steep hill sides. I guess when they harvest the coffee, they might have to use ropes as it is so steep. 27 km of climbing. We also passed lots of bamboo. The are got fresher, in the afternoon we had 25 degrees, the coolest ever in since California. Okay 5 km to Fresno... My legs started to feel tired and the km appeared to be really long. Sometimes I pushed my bike up. After one hour we finally saw the town in the mountains and finally we arrived in Fresno, it was late afternoon already. It was a noisy and busy worker's town. We found a cheap hotel on the second floor and hauled our bags and bikes up. No more fans in the rooms, instead we had thick blankets. Sleeping under blankets, it has been a while... We had hot water. Our last hot shower we had was in Costa Rica, when we stayed with our Swiss friends. We put on our sweaters and long pants and looked around for food. Tomorrow we will be even higher and it will be even cooler. Bhinti ordered a soup, called Odongo. We didn't know what it was. It had a really strange and strong smell - tripe soup -. Bhinti was hungry so he somehow managed it to eat this soup, hmm... eating a stomach of a cow, I am not quite sure if this is my taste. We paid and waited for our change. The waiter said, that we don't get change because we gave him the correct amount for dinner. After arguing we left and 3 min later he passed us on his motorbike and stopped telling us that we haven't paid at all and he wants his money. We argued a while, but what can you do as a foreigner... So we ended up paying too much the first time and then we paid again. We were happy to be in bed under these snuggly blankets. We climbed 4000 feet (1300meters) today. We really enjoyed the quiet roads. All the truck traffic appeared on the other road in Honda, that goes to Bogota. It was a sunny day. In bed by 8pm.
Resume: Honda-Fresno, 48 km, 25 to 38 degrees, started at 1500 ft (500m), ended at 5500 ft (1800m).
LINKS TO FOLLOW

18.04.10 Colombia
We left Fresno at 8am and climbed as soon as we left our hotel. The people in town gave us funny looks, telling us over and over again, how steep the climb to the pass is. Steep, long and cold. 70 km uphill to the top of 12500 feet (3700 meters). People looked at us as we were aliens? Or maybe as we were idiots??? We climbed through Fresno, it took us 30 min to get out of that little town, riding only 4-5 km per hour. We saw lots of cyclists on road bikes. Their bicycles weigh half of ours, their tires were so thin and they didn't have any bags. Hmmm... nice thought. Up in the mountains we had beautiful views to huge valleys. The clouds were partly underneath us, partly above us, heading into all different directions. After 40 min we stopped for breakfast. Two policemen on a motorcycle stopped also at the restaurant for breakfast. The police man in the back carried a big machine gun which he tried to manage on the motorcycle. When we left we left some money as tip on the table. The waitress walked to us with the money telling us that we forgot to take the change. They probably had never been given any tip before. Riding up these mountains was hard work but exciting. What was around the next curve??? We had a good rest in Honda, it rained both days, good timing, not being on the road. In a little mountain village we stopped for some fruit which we bought from a 12 year old boy who sold them on the street. It was remarkably cooler up here. For the first time I felt chilly. When did I feel chilly last? Was it in Guatemala? After 18 km we stopped at another village, the last village before the pass, which was about 40 km far away. All in a sudden we were in the middle of lots and lots of people, music and party. Were we still on the main road? Yes. It turned into a market place. We found a quiet accommodation. After a cold shower I fixed my gloves again, which were falling apart. Clouds passed the village which was located on a hill side. Unpredictable mountain weather, which changes so quickly. I wore my sweater and socks. It was not hot anymore, that is for sure. Tomorrow it will be even cooler. We had 23 degrees in our room. Today we saw lots of pine trees and coffee plantations. People on horses were riding through town with a heat and cigarette in their mouths.
Resume: Fresno-Padua, 18 km, 24 to 38 degrees, started at 5500 ft (1800m), ended at 7300 ft (2400m).
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19.04.10 Colombia
It was pouring during the night, so loud. It still rained in the morning. The air was wet, 19 degrees, it was the coolest since California. 40 km more steep uphill to the pass. It rained, it was cold and this village supposed to be the last one before the pass. Climbing 5 km per hour, how long would it take???? Maybe up to 8 hours??? We had a stroke of genius and took the bus up to the top of the pass, squeezed our bikes and bags into the back of the bus. We weren't exhausted, we didn't sweat and we were quite relaxed. Why? Oh yes that's right, we weren't riding our bikes. After about one hour, we arrived on the pass in 12500 feet (3700 meter). It still rained and we wore our winter gear for the first time. The sky was grey and clouds passed, filled with water. These mountains were massive. We passed firn and pine trees. We didn't expect trees and plants at 12500 feet hight, but there were still trees and grass growing. The poeple here wore thick and warm ponchos. It was 10 degrees only, it felt colder as the air was so damp and it still drizzled. I saw my own breath. Lots had changed in the last couple of days... It was 12pm when we started our downhill on the other side of the pass. It was steep and there were no uphills or plane stretches in between. Braking, braking, braking. Every 10 min we had a short break to relax our freezing and hard working hands. It still drizzled and we dropped and dropped. My eyes were looking at the bike computer again and again... waiting for the temperature to rise. 10 degrees, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, degrees, yay, it is getting warmer!!! After 1.5 hours riding, only dropping, haven't pedaled once, we rode into Manizales, the first city after the pass at 7000 feet (2300 meters). We dropped 5500 feet (1800 meters) within 30 km. The temperature was up to 22 degrees, I still felt cold. After a hot chocolate we started looking for an accommodation. We didn't have to ride through the city and found an accommodation at a super busy and road, but so what. It was still drizzling and the sky was dark. Nearby the pass were the mountains really high, up to 16200 feet (5400 meters). On a clear day you can see the snow on the mountains. We checked in at 4pm and had a nice view to a valley. And now I have to tell you something really pleasant: We had a nice, long, HOT shower!!! After exchanging some of our brake pads we went to bed at 8pm.
Resume: Padua-Manizales, 40 km by bus, 34 km by bike, started at 7000 ft (2300m), ended at 7300 ft (2400m), highest 12500 ft (3700m), 10 to 22 degrees.
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20.04.10 Colombia
Blue sky today! We saw snow on top of the mountains. After we both called our families we left at 11.30am, climbed a bit and saw all in a sudden a gondola going up to the city Manizales. Many people parked their car down at the station and used it as a transport to get to work. And then we had another long downhill of 14 km and dropped to 4800 feet (1600 meters). We were in the coffee land. These coffee plantations that we passed didn't seem to end, they were so big. We also passed lots of banana trees and bamboo. I felt tired today so the downhill was really nice. The road was quiet, not much traffic. We saw a restaurant and stopped. It was so nice there, being in a rural area surrounded by mountains full of coffee fields with horses and dogs. They also had rooms down in the green. We decided to stay. The temperature was comfortable, not hot and not cold. Not much later it started raining and a rainbow started from one coffee field ending at another one.
Resume: Manizales-Santa Rosa, 30 km, started at 7300 ft (2400m), ended at 5600 ft (1900m), lowest 4800 ft (1600m), 10 to 22 degrees.
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21.04.10 Colombia
It rained during the night. Here in the coffee mountains it rains every day a bit, all year long. We got up at 3am and started to hunt mosquitos. We got at least 8! Of course they were all full of blood. Bhinti made porridge in the morning. The air was fresh. Nice temperatures, not too hot and not too cold. I also had the leftover meal from last night. The restaurant kept it in the fridge for me and heated it up. We left at 10.30am and rode through the beautiful coffee land, climbed 11km from 5600 feet (1900 meters) to 6600 feet ( 2200 meters) until we had 2 valleys on both sides of the road. We left the Santa Rosa Valley and dropped into the Pareira Valley. After a steep and only 5 km long downhill we were at the same height from where we started off. We stopped at a restaurant and the man next to our table was working on his little laptop and offered us to use it to check things in the internet. He asked lots of questions and at the end he gifted us a t-shirt with the logo on it from the company he worked for. He wanted to know the name of our website and together we looked at the photos. People are so curious here. He told us that he met a man, who travelled through the States and through Mexico on a horse!!! Why not? We had 25 km more to Cartago, our destination for today. We kept dropping; dropped to 4100 feet (1400 meters) back into the heat and everything flattened out, which was a surprise for us. We dropped into the Cauca valley where the mighty Cauca river runs through. Colombia has 5 valleys in total. In no time we arrived in Cartago and a man on his bicycle offered us to show us a good and cheap accommodation, which he did. Today we rode downhill for about 35 km, what a nice surprise. After a hot shower we strolled through the town which was bigger than we thought it would be. People in the park had their coffee shops on wheels with a big espresso machine and made business. A river ran through town and we also saw a gym outside next to the river. Lots of people were working out. There are into sports, we also saw lots of joggers running along the river. Cartago was a modern city with lots of health stores, very clean too. This side of the pass is so different than the other side. It is more modern, more prosperous, more populated. 2 days ago we had only 10 degrees and now we are back in the warmth. In bed at 7.30 pm
Resume: Santa Rosa-Cartago, 50 km, started at 5600 ft (1900m), ended at 4300 (1400m), lowest 6600 ft (2200m), 30 to 38 degrees.
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23.04.10 Colombia
We had a rest day yesterday. I got my shorts sewed and worked on the computer. Our computer did funny things, it does more and more strange things all the time. I guess it is learning from Bhinti. Ha ha ha!!!

We left at 8am, 26 degrees, nice riding temperatures. It was flat, easy riding, we are getting spoiled: flat, sunny and we had no wind. We also realized that the houses on this side of the pass were different. They all have bricks on the roof instead of well paper which makes such a big difference. Colombia... it has so many different faces, it is so untouched. We stopped in a little village for food. A railway track divided the town into two halves. The track was for the sugar cane train which went back and forth. We had left the coffee land and are now in the grape, sweet corn and sugar cane country. People on horses passed us and we heard salsa music in the distance, only the suspicious beat though.We passed another village and I took some photos while riding. 2 police men on a motorcycle yelled at me: how about us, take a photo of us!!!So funny! And we met another cyclist today. He was from Argentina and made his way up to Canada. I understood every word, he spoke so clear. Sometimes when I speak to the Colombians I don't understand a word and I started to doubt my Spanish... We passed signs on the side of the road: 1. free mechanic service. 2. free towing service. 3. free ambulance. I think this is great! The air smelled so sweet. We decided to ride to Tulua. It was a busy and crazy city, very commercial with lots and lots of shops, one motorbike shop after another, industrial areas and the traffic was just outrageous. All one way streets. Where are the accommodations? We found one but it was really expensive. A man on a motorcycle offered us to show us a cheap hotel. We followed him through the chaos. We stopped at two hotels, they both had rooms only upstairs and no place to store our bikes. So the man was determined to help us kept asking people on the street and we kept following him through the dense traffic. Then we found a cheap hotel that had rooms downstairs, so we could roll our bikes in. At the end the man wanted to invite us for lunch tomorrow but we would be gone by then. People are so nice here! We were happy to have a shower and to find a place for dinner. They were about to close, it was almost 6pm. Shops and restaurant close early here. I guess people don't live here, they come into town to do business. Every town/city is different.
Resume: Cartago-Tulua, 96 km, 4300 (1400m), 26 to 41 degrees.
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24.04.10 Colombia
We kept riding through the Cauca valley. It was a cloudy day today, nice riding weather. We passed more sugar cane fields. On our right was a little gravel road going off the main road, leading into a tiny village. We thought we check it out and only a few minutes later it seemed that we were back in time. Simple houses along sandy roads, and horses wandered around through the village, they took themselves for a walk. Why not? Children played on the gravel roads and elderly people sat in front of their houses, chatting away. We hoped to find a little food place but there wasn't any, so we rode back to 2010, back to the main road. We stopped in a farmer town, San Pedro. While we had something to eat on the side of the road, lots of people on bicycles and motorbikes passed. They had babies on the motorcycles, little children and even dogs... and even alive chickens!!! Then we saw a cyclist who had 3-4 chickens in each hand, still holding on to the handle bar. I don't know how he did that. After a while we left and kept riding. We rode into Buga, which is a small city and a nice surprise for us! Buga is an old and historical city with lots of tourists from Colombia. The church was old and it was the main attraction in Buga. In front of the church was a big square, where no cars were allowed. And the church itself was surrounded barbed wire and military. People were singing in the church. In the evening we heard loud thunder, and not much later it started to pour down. For the first time we had a mosquito net on the window, which means NO mosquitos in the room (for a change).
Resume: Tulua-Buga, 32 km, 4400 (1500m), 29 to 36 degrees.
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25.04.10 Colombia
It was Sunday today and we weren't sure if we wanted to stay or to keep going. We strolled through the busy city and had something to eat at the square. Several people asked us if we can get water for them or buy them a coffee. The people here call me 'Mami'. Strange for me. The bars were full and the beer bottles, lots of beer bottles on the tables were already empty, at 10am. After our Sunday stroll we decided to leave and packed. Back on the road at 12.30 pm. We were still in the Cauca valley. We almost flew with tail wind on the flat road and made for most parts 20-25 km per hour. We looked back and the sky was black. It rained in Buga. The rain chased us but didn't get us. Lucky us! The colour of the people changed. We passed lots of black people. The railway track for the sugar cane train accompanied us on our right. Children were playing and walking on it. The sugar cane fields didn't seem to end. Trucks on the road passed us, full of sugar cane. These trucks pulled 4-5 trailers, they almost looked like trains, they were so long. A car slowed down to our pace and started a conversation with us. Then they got out their video camera and interviewed us, while driving on the main road, this is really crazy!:-) We didn't plan to go to Cali today as we left late, but the wind blew us in that direction and we were there in no time. Riding through the suburbs of Cali, we passed a 'Sex and Love Hotel' and lots of guys were on the side of the road, partying, drinking and doing other drugs. It didn't take long and we have been offered some Marihuana from a guy on a bicycle riding next to us. I told him that Bhinti is my drug and he rode off. Cali is the second biggest city in Colombia, nicely located on the foot of the hills in the Cauca Valley. We were looking for a hotel, they were all expensive. Somehow our angels lead us to a cheaper hotel not in the center, but in a nice area, as we found out the following days, close to the center. The restaurant next door to our hotel had only burgers and greasy, fried chicken. The labels on the door were in English. Hm... nobody speaks English here? Somehow the impressions I got from Cali reminded me of a city in the States. Very modern with fast food restaurants. The couple on our neighbor table started kissing and touching everywhere, they still kept their clothes on though. All what I have seen so far in Cali left me with a strange feeling. We had an early night in a safe hotel. So much tail wind today!
Resume: Buga-Cali, 72 km, 3500 (1200m), 30 to 32 degrees.
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30.04.10 Colombia
The strange feeling that I got about Cali was gone the next day. It rained so we stayed in bed for a while. In the late morning we walked to the busy city center. Shops, shops and shops, people, people and people. Cali is the capital of face lifting and plastic surgery and the Mekka of Salsa dancing. I went to a hairdresser to get my hair cut. She cut 5 min and spent about 20 min styling it. She dried my hair almost hair by hair. She wore a mouth protection and the door of the shop was locked, so all the attention went to me. What an experience! It is such a modern and busy city, like an American city really. So much affluence in Cali. We strolled through a huge supermarket and along the crowded streets. It started to rain and we walked back, had pizza and wine for dinner. The last wine we had was in Canas Dulces in Costa Rica, in February. Soooo yummy! Oh, the food here is really good, they serve fresh vegetables and non-fried stuff! Our area where we stayed has lots of restaurants and the Salsa dancing district is only 5 min away. One bar with dance floor chases the next one. Not only bars on both sides of the road, also restaurants and discos. Salsa music was coming from all directions. We were there at 6 pm and people were dancing already. Salsa, salsa, salsa....! What an incredible experience! These beautiful Colombians can move there bodies so well, it looks incredible!
As our computer did more and more strange things, probably caused by viruses eating through the software, the guy who worked in our hotel recommended us a good computer shop. We walked there and guess what??? There was not only one computer shop, no, it was a shopping mall only with computer and other electronic shops! I had never seen anything like that before. This area was high-end with also lots of restaurants and coffee shops. It didn't take long and the computer was like new, everything newly installed. Yay! The guy who fixed the computer forgot something and drove, after the computer shop closed, to our hotel. Unexpectedly he had to spend another 2 hours and more. He spent so much time on it, worked until late evening and he did an excellent job. It all cost us 25 dollars.
We realized that lots of 20 to 30 year old guys hold hands with their mothers, looking after them. Oh yeah, I also like holding hands with my beloved parents. Elderly women sell fruit and other stuff walking along the streets, yelling in a high voice while they are carrying their goods in a basket on their heads. This city has it all! There were the mountains, the valley, dry days, wet days, the busy city center with all its shops and markets, the area with all the restaurants and the Salsa area with all its bars. The strange feeling that we had at the beginning turned into a liking, that's for sure!!! What a great city! It makes it difficult to leave.
Resume: Stay in Cali.
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