(Words by Liz, photos by Justin, opinions by both of us)
Since we’ve now been in South America for five months and my mom thinks the only neat place we visited was Galapagos, I thought a list of all the reasons Colombia is amazing was necessary. We were in Colombia for a little over two months so we’re pretty passionate about the country and the need to visit it. Read more →
Riding to the Peruvian border from Ecuador I received a concerning welcome to the country when a crow dive bombed into my chest at 70km/hr, breaking its neck and rolling across the pavement dead right before we reached the border crossing. I pulled over, more in awe of the tragedy that just unfolded than of concern for any injury. As I looked back and saw the dead bird about 100m behind me I noticed the look on my supportive girlfriend’s face through her helmet as she tried to keep the laughter in. Thankfully the border crossing was less traumatic and took a short hour and a half to sort out paperwork and purchase new insurance for the motos. Peru has their act together when it comes to border crossings and the moto insurance could be purchased right at the border. This was opposed to the fiasco we had to go through in Ecuador coming from Colombia as we searched all over the nearest town and eventually had the police escort us to the insurance office.
There is a road in the south of Colombia between the amazonian town of Mocoa and Pasto known to locals as the Trampoline of Death, or Trampolín de la Muerte. Most of the road is a single lane dirt track with some parts dropping straight down 1,000 feet with no railings. The road traverses through the cloud forests around 10,000 feet for most of the way. When not watching for a river crossing, or some crazed bus driver to come flying around a blind corner the views are pretty incredible. The road is called the trampoline because it effectively feels like a trampoline as your teeth rattle around from the terrible conditions. (below is the video shot from my helmet)
Just like Google translate I learned the lesson yesterday that Google maps can’t always be trusted. After a sweltering few days in Cali, we wanted to take a lesser traveled route to the national archaeologic site of Tierradentro which was supposed to have some interesting underground tombs and caverns remnant of a pre-Columbian era civilization. The route looked simple enough. According to Google it was major interstates the entire way. As we headed southeast out of Cali we stopped in a small town for some coffee. As expected the spectacle of two gringos on motos with ridiculous luggage strapped to the back drew some looks. I struck up a conversation with one man asking about the bike and he inquired where we were headed. I showed him on the map that we wanted to go to Tierradentro. The only one turn on the route was in a town called Corinto, which again Google maps highlighted as a major interstate. He commented to our surprise that this small town was pretty dangerous and we shouldn’t stop, and we certainly shouldn’t drive past the town due to numerous guerrilla activity. He emphasized pretty heavily to just make the left, don’t stop, and we will be fine. The first red flag had gone up. Read more →
In exploring the new freedom of having our own transportation we took the motos to the national reserve of Rio Claro 3 hours east of Medellin. It wasn’t many years ago that this land was untouchable to tourists due to the perpetual guerrilla violence in the area. Now it boasts one of Colombia’s proudest nature reserves openly accessible and beautifully set in a lush jungle river basin canyon, not to mention fully ready to take all of your money. The impending nickel and dimming should have been obvious as we sat sweating from the jungle heat at the reception desk to the park hotel being promised that although the room I was about to book was open aired without a fan or mosquito net it was quite cool at night, and lacked any and all mosquitos and bugs. The price for this fairy tale was more than triple my budget typically allowed for a private room.
As we sat at dinner the first night amidst the humidity and various jungle sounds we were approached twice by workers from the resort offering us the various caving, zip lining, hiking, rafting packages. They all seemed a bit concerned that we were not interested. Which I guess in retrospect was probably a fair assessment as I don’t think a ton of tourists come here, plus we came during the week. So I imagine those that typically show up on a weekday only have a couple days of vacation and don’t want to waste any time, we however wanted nothing more than to waste time. Read more →
I think ever since the little scooter in New Orleans I’ve had a fascination with taking some cross-country pan american road trip on a motorcycle.
Unfortunately, like many intrepid fascinations in life this one was diluted by the sheer logistics of the task. That was until I took my first South American night bus. Stopping once in 12 hours for some cheap fried snacks in between being sleeplessly whipped around mountain roads by a driver that must clearly be on potent stimulants was enough for me. So when we were hanging out in a hostel in Medellin the idea was once again brought up to purchase motorcycles and say to hell with all trains, taxis, and dreaded night buses for the duration of travels. Read more →