Thursday, 10 November 2011

Nr Taraza to Cali

Tues 8th to Wed 9th November

Our stop last night was in a motel on the edge of a small village. We didn't venture past the front entrance as there was a bar and restaurant on site and in the morning it was straight back on the bikes for another full days riding.

Crossing the Puente Valdivia!

We continued along the main Cartagena to Medellin road although it was a completely different experience today. Yesterday it was the hot and humid plains with open grassland and straightish roads whilst today it was tight, twisty roads winding their way up into the mountains to cooler air. The road is a bikers paradise with some spectacular views if you dare take your eyes off the tarmac......

The shovel is bigger than he is

....... as the road is breaking up under the constant weight of the heavy lorries. This lad was spotted filling holes with soil from the road edge hoping for a few pesos from grateful lorry drivers!

Quite a few of these black plastic communities are dotted along the road edge. I don't know if they're nomadic or live here permanently but poverty is a big problem in Colombia with around 50% considered below the poverty line and 16% drastically so.

Keeping friendly with the local law

The mountainous area around Medellin is clearly bandit country as there are military checkpoints every mile or two but most of the time we were waved through without a problem.

The road towards Medellin. Bob and Terry are down there somewhere!

A lorry that didn't quite make the bend!

Every one has been very friendly and helpful so far in Colombia. Mapping and Sat Navs are not what they are at home. Three times we have been lost and someone has stopped to ask if they could help. When they realised we were stupid non Spanish speaking Brits they insisted on escorting us.

Ruta 40 Medellin - one of the places we were led to.

We seem to have gained celebrity status or is it notoriety. Whilst riding along a four lane highway in Medellin a local rider came alongside and started taking photographs of us with his camera phone and whenever we stop at traffic lights we are constantly asked where we are from and then welcomed to Colombia.

The hotel doorman at the Hotel Hacienda La Bonita our stop for the night. A touch of luxury that we accidentally came across by going the wrong way (again)!

The hotel is set in large grounds and calls itself a ‘parque ecologico’ with nature trails and botanical gardens. In addition there are eight pools, a sauna, steam room and hot tub, All this and a four bedded room for £20 (less than £7 each).

Wednesday and another day on the road to get some miles done. Our goal was to get to Cali, Colombia's third largest city and according to the sage of Lightwater, No 10 in the New York Times list of places to go in 2011

With Cali 282 miles away along narrow mountain roads and the clouds rolling in, it looked like our goal was going to be a bit optimistic.

Breakfast was a roadside fruit stall........

..... shared with the local birds.

It was slow progress but at least the military checkpoints had disappeared and the road surface had improved.

Bob enjoying the view whilst waiting for his afternoon cream tea!

Mid afternoon and we had only managed around half the distance. It looked like we were going to have to stop somewhere short of our hoped for destination when this apparition appeared. A European style motorway complete with service stations whisked us the last 140 miles to Cali. Dark had already descended as we rode into the city and once again we have to thank a kind local motorist who escorted us to the Casa Blanca Hostel after our sat navs failed us again.

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