Friday, June 24, 2011

Life After Mike, Leaving Colombia

!Danger! Unstable Zone!  Leaving the day after Mike to head south, the road never ceases to disappoint. 

And the landscape began to grow and grow into some of the most beautigul riding one could hope for.

Arriving in Cali, Colombia, I fell swiftly into a large biking community.  This is Keller, a fine fellow on his way up from Argentina to none other than, Texas.  He was gracious and bought me a couple meals, something I´m extremely grateful for.

So my little beater needed some more welding.  I was told to go to a shop around the corner and, Wow, what a reception.  People poured out of the shops and asked questions, took pictures, and invited me right in.  The ol´250 got put up in a place with these rides.

Jorge, from Spain, is the man.  He whipped up a proper fix in what would have been no time, but he and his friends invited me to lunch.  He showed me the Harley (above), and I was immediately distracted by the Norton right behind it that turned out to be his.

My prayer in this moment was that my kickstand would not break.

Alan, He rides a BMW and hangs out at Jorge´s bike shop a lot.  He´s the one that had us all over for lunch.  He showed me a million things to do in South America that he experienced on his trip.  This is about the clearest picture you´ll ever get of him, he´s always on the move.

After a chaotic drive though the busy town, I ended up in this house, being served drinks and AMAZING food on silver platers by maids.  Out of my routine? Yep.  Alan´s beautiful wife runs a contruction company that builds hydroelectric dams, bridges, roads, and huge buildings.  She had interesting stories of her projects getting blown up by the guerilla groups that are still present in some places.

Jorge and Sory, his wonderful wife on their Harley.

Jorge´s shop, a center of the moto community.

So weird, another broken subframe.  This time, we crammed some metal rods inside and welded it together.  Why didn´t Honda think of long distance traveling fo this dirt bike?¿

Jorge and Sory on his wall of history.

The Cali crew.  Keller, my 2 new Aussie friends (both on bikes), and of course, the girls, Megs and Jules, who somehow are still on the same schedule as me.  May I remind you that they are on bicycles.

This is the hostal in Cali, especially if you´re on a moto.

Mike and his beautiful family run Casa Blanca.
Alan, an Irishman.  I don´t know how he got over the thousands of topes (speed bumbs), but he´s on his way south, without a care in the world.

You think life on a motorbike is dangerous, this mean mother is your option.  As anyone has experience will tell you, they are not slow, and they are not safe.  I consider myself lucky to be on a small bike so I can get the hell out of the way.

Finally leaving Cali, which proved harder than I thought, I made it to Popayan.  Its an old Spanish colonial town like Cartagena but without the color or the waterfalls of flowers.  Everything in the Old Town, except this church, is white.

Courtyards are a long lost art in the states.

Being very few and far between, an espresso machine is a treasure in this travel, and in life in general.  Its also nice to flavor your brew with pure sugar cane (panela).

I stayed in this hotel that was above a casino in the shadier part of town.  It felt much more real, and I found it hilarious that for 2 days, my bike was parked inside next to the slot machines.  There was no way to pull off a picture.

Leaving Popayan, the landscape holding the twisting turning roller coaster of road made me laugh out loud.  It was so beautiful to behold that it pops out of you as you ride.  As I tried not to swallow bugs in these moments, the ground seemed to just fall away into depths so great I could not see the bottom.  Sorry guys, I just refused to break the moment for a picture, these will have to do. 

In southern Colombia, you creep into the beginnings of the Andes Mountains.  I can not be more excited for what is to come.

Deforesting the land for farming creates a patchwork of color.  I know its bad, but its rather pretty.

I met Stefan briefly in Cali, and then we met up on the road and rode for a half day.  He was patient as my bike coughed its way up the mountains.  We went through one town, its the only time I´ve followed a GPS...we got lost.

Here we said good by as he stopped and I continued.  Little did I realize that the border was literally around the very next corner.  In absolutely no way was I ready to leave Colombia, but there I was, face to face with the dreaded border and its truckloads of policemen that I´d been dodging (since I didn´t have the Colombian insurance).  At 6pm, I crossed the border, leaving possibly on of the best countries on earth, and entering Ecuador on a cold June night.
Dive bars always make things better.