I picked up my bike from Mr. Bike in Medellin on Saturday. They hadn’t complete a few non-critical repairs and the bill was 1,385,000 pesos (~$700 USD), much more than I had expected. It was the senatorial elections in Colombia on Sunday so the ubiquitous Leya Seca (‘Dry Law’) signs were everywhere forbidding the sale of alcohol, so normally party-crazy Medellin had a subdued atmosphere. This didn’t stop the party at the Casa Kiwi Hostal that was in fact selling beer to locals who were stationed across the street in the little park.
On Sunday Sonny (Turkey/USA on a ‘new’ KLR650 – his interesting blog is http://www.la2ba.com), Esteban, and I took a short bike trip to San Antonio De Pereira, a small town in the mountains above Medellin. Although not much to look at, the ride to and from the town included the beautiful green gentle hills that define the Antioquia department of Colombia. Sam (Australia/Canada on a KLR650) and Justin (USA on a KTM950A) came looking for us and after passing us in the mountains followed us down to the look-out above Medellin (where they were selling beer contra la leya). Sam’s KLR was spitting oil back into the air filter, onto his brakes and exhaust.
With Sam waylaid at Mr. Bike, Justin and I left on Monday at noon to see El Pinol – a huge slab of black granite that towers over the valley. Excellent roads led through soft hills and fincas until we reached the artificial lake that surrounds El Pinol. They had flooded the valley and the hilltops now form small verdant islands and peninsulas being rapidly developed for vacation houses. After climbing the ~650 steps to the top of the rock and taking photos we had a late trout lunch in Guatape.
Justin and I then parted ways as he was returning to Medellin and I feel a strong urge to get going on my way after feeling trapped with no bike for almost two weeks. I drove towards La Ceja and then took the road to Sonson, however with the sun going down and a sign spotted offering a finca with cabanas I decided to get off the road. Camping in my own tent or using a teepee costs 30,000 pesos including breakfast, so I’m spending the night in a teepee in the hills overlooking La Ceja. Well it turned out that they felt sorry for me and offered me one of the private cabins instead for the same price.
As I drove making my way towards the city of Manizales in the coffee region (Eje Cafetero) I came to a fork in the road with soldiers. So I asked if I was heading the more winding and mountainous route, they said yes but it was not recommendable – not for the road conditions but for the people that I might encounter. After thanking them I continued anyway to Sonson where I asked the army there. They replied that they had travelled the route 15 days ago and it was fine then – although it was a hard and steep dirt road route with rocks all over it. I said that I wanted to do it and was then escorted by one of the army men on his bike to the edge of town where the dirt road started. He put his bike on it’s sidestand and wasn’t paying attention as it started to move forward and then fell on my bike, knocking me and my bike over.