Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Day 68 to 70 – to Calí, Colombia

28 to 30 May    Kms travelled – 16,516

An uneventful departure from Pasto, though a place I was not sad to see behind me.  Given that the roads to get there were so great, the town itself was a bit of a let-down.  While out for a walk the evening before I was approached by a few unfortunate souls separately, who while walking the ground (though somewhat unsteadily) were clearly travelling at a much greater altitude in their minds.  The visible police presence during the evening only added to a seedy sense to the place.  Ah well – back on the road.

And what a road to Calí.  The surface was worse than the one travelled the day before, but the extra challenge just added to the day´s ride.  It also necessitated a few more rest stops than I had planned; as I had thought to try for a long ride to see how my back would hold up.  

Nevertheless all was well, and the road took us through some spectacular scenery, with some really deep gorges just appearing in the landscape as if someone had just gouged them out.

I should have stopped at Popayan, but I didn´t.  There were places to see of interest there, and it would have been good to do that.  But I was concerned about the distance to Calí – unnecessarily as it happens, as the road straightened and quickened after that, so I was entering the city in good time before I realised.  Plotting the GPS coordinates for the Casa Blanca Hostel, I wound through the busy city traffic to be met by the smiling Leidy (pronounced Lady), who did the necessary to see me settled in and Idris parked safe and sound. 

I had a couple of days in Calí to catch up with writing, sorting the transport of the bike to Panama, researching flights, and doing a few things on the work front.  Shame that latter bit crept into the journey, but necessary to do and in my own best interests.  

Jude, Albert and Gabriella
I also had the opportunity to catch up with a former colleague, who moved back to Colombia with her family the year before.  Jude and her husband Albert took time out to feed me and show me around parts of the city; including some all important coffee and rum tasting!  Can´t wait to get to Guatemala and pick up a bottle of that stuff myself!  Dinner was at the curiously named Chipichape, which was a railway station, but now a shopping centre.  It seems that while Ecuador is busy investing in and refurbishing theirs, Colombia no longer has a rail network due to the level of crime that surrounded it during its operating days!  We also spent some time in San Antonio, an old colonial district of the city which boasts some spectacular views (plus sights of the Christ the King statue and another hill with three crosses overlooking the city) and the church where they got married... nice!  I´ve noted it before, but it continues to strike me how well the early religious types chose their spots to build churches, convents, monasteries etc.  We then called round their house where I was able to say hello to the lovely Gabriella – soon to be the eldest child in the family!  Good luck with all that folks – and thanks again for the hospitality. 

Thought for the day
The biggest thought I had been having during this period was one which I also talked through with other bike travellers staying at the Casa Blanca – and that was whether to press on into Central and North America or whether to simply spend the rest of my time exploring South America in more detail.  I was seriously considering the latter, as I think you have to pay heed to such things while on the road.  Plans change, new experiences arise.  And there is so much more to see and do in the south.  But if I didn´t do Central America now, would I ever have the chance again?  Probably not, so it was that thought that finally pushed me into making reservations to cross the Darien.  

But first I had more riding to do in Colombia!


  1. Hi Pat, all sounds good, any news on the mythical ferry from Cartagena - Colon? I take it its not running yet since you look to be flying?

  2. Gino - spot on. The last I heard was that they were taking bookings for July! I think it will happen, but in ´Latin time´! Shame I missed that though, I would have loved to run up to Cartagena through Medallin.

  3. I am glad to read that things are going well. Again, very impressive scenery. Enjoy the ride!

  4. How was the Girag experience? No doubt it'll get a mention.
    Good to hear its all going well