Tolu: Letting time pass
Saturday 11, January 2020 – Total so far: 1023,8 km
It felt good to sleep a little bit longer. I woke up at 9:30 and went to the bakery just in front of my hotel. There I got me a coffee and some sweet stuff for breakfast. I wrote the blog and edited images. This always takes some time because the internet is not very fast here.
I took another nap later on and then explored the village a little bit. Just strolling along, taking it very easy. I stopped somewhere to enjoy a maracuya-mango juice while I was watching the beautiful sunset.
In the evening I went to eat a pizza and then watched some TV. Feels like holiday.
Tomorrow will be an easy ride I think. I am going to Berrugas which is not very far from here. Only 50km to go.
Caucasia – Monteria : Easy ride almost flat
Thursday 09, January 2020 122km – Total so far: 907,2 km
At 6:15 I started to bring all my stuff downstairs and loaded the bike. I was on my way out of the city at 8:30. Temperature was already 26°C degrees and there was a lot of humidity in the air. It felt like a sauna.
The road was quite average-nothing special. Cycling was kind of boring.The landscape was meadow. A lot of cattle everywhere. You could see those big farms with huge farmhouses. This region is famous for its cattle breeding.
I thought for sure the road would be flat today but that turned out to be a nice dream….I mean there were definitely flat stretches in between but always with a lot of small hills going up and down. In the end I made 500m of altitude difference. While I was riding I saw people selling parrots and tucans and I felt for the poor birds. To me a bird inside a cage seems to be a torture for this animal who’s nature is to fly.
At 8 am I stopped for breakfast. Same procedure as every morning: eggs and rice. I still thought about the birds. Crazy.
Also in this part of the country the roadside looked a little bit more dirty than the days before. Sometimes I cannot understand why peole are so dirty. They stop, enjoy the tree’s shadow for a break and after they leave all their garbage. Plastic bottles, dipers etc. Disgusting. Another thing that impressed me very much today was a guy who’s way to travel was hanging on to the back of a container truck. Crazy!
I pedaled on and temperature was rising high. At 1 pm it was real hot. I was lucky that in the middle of nowhere suddenly appeared a “restaurant”. At that time my water inside the cycling bottle was already to cook tea with and I was so thirsty. The „restaurant“ saved me. I stopped, enioyed a cold drink and besides had some chicken with rice.
Regain of energy! I kept going as fast as I could but then for about 15km no possibility to get myself something to drink. Again I was thirsty like hell and again the water of my cycling bottle was cooking.This time no restaurant. I had to keep going until I reached the city about 3:30pm. That’s life.
Thanks god I found a good hotel with AC. I first took a shower and then a well deserved power nap.
In the evening I went to an Italian restaurant and had a real big pizza. I felt so hungry like I could eat a „family size“ one.
With stomach full I came back to my hotel did some blog work and about 10pm I went to sleep.
Santa Rosas de Osos – Valdivia : The downhill starts
Monday 06 , January 2020 88,3 km – Total so far: 656,2 km
I woke up at 05:45 and at 06:45 I already had breakfast.The usual menu: scrambles eggs, some arepas and coffee.
I started pedaling at a temperature of 12°C. It was 7:30 in the morning and the new day was dawning.The road went up and down and the landscape once again looked like Switzerland.
Later on the sun came out and it felt so good to feel the warm sunbeams on my body and skin. Temperature rose up to 24°C and it was fun to cycle. Very nice. I enjoyed.
Before arriving at Yarumal I stopped in the middle of nowhere to have a coffee. I saw the woman who worked there was doing some handcraft and I asked her about it. She showed me her work then. She was doing all kinds of handcrafts with bottle caps, very nice. She already won a big price in 2014. It was amazing. She e.g. did all of the tricots, balls etc. of Colombian’s national team. Super interesting.
Today I found a machete on the road and I carried it with me. Then I saw a guy working in the fields and asked him if he wanted to have the machete. Yes, and how he wanted! He really was so happy he almost kissed me when I gave it to him.
My plan today was to go to Yarumal but I already arrived there at noon and I was still feeling fit. After I had some lunch there I decided to keep going on to Valdivia.
Valdivia is just a small village at the side of the road. I was happy that at least they had a hotel there.
After a shower I went to eat. The food was not fresh. Warmed up chicken. Not very tasty.
I went back to my room and did the routine work. Packing my stuff and then going to sleep. It was 9:30pm.
Medellin: Visiting Comuna 13 and Plaza Botero
Saturday 04 , January 2020 – Total so far: 491,9 km
I woke up early today at 7:30. I went to have breakfast already at 8:15.
Today the breakfast was much better than yesterday. Maybe yesterday I went down too late and the best things were finished already. Could be.
My plan was to do the guided sight seeing tour. I wanted to avoid walking around and wasting time with looking how to get to each sight. In the hotel they offered tours but they were all booked so in the end I went to Comuna 13 on my own and got me a guide there.
Comuna 13, also known as San Javier, has the most tumultuous history of the city. Once even labeled as the most dangerous community due to its astronomical homicide rates and its forced displacement of thousands of residents.
Comuna 13 Medellin is an over-populated and low socio-economic zone that crawls up along the west hills of the city with thousands of brick and cement homes stacked close one to another. It was a pivotal center for paramilitary, guerrilla- and gang activity. The location offers ideal conditions for crime, as it leads directly to the main highway (San Juan Highway), providing easy transportation of guns, drugs, and money.
Today it’s a an absolute tourist attraction. The young ones do a lot of graffity art here, you can see breakdance performers on the street and all kind of things that belong to a so called subcultural area. A must see if you visit Medellin. You don’t need a guide if you don’t want to. Only if you are interested in the meanings of the graffities it makes sense. I found it interesting, you can learn something and you help the people to make a living, too. It’s not easy here….
From Comuna 13 I took a taxi to Plaza Botero then.
Plaza Botero or Plaza de Las Esculturas (Sculpture Plaza) is 80.729 square feet of public space that occupies the area in front of the Museum of Antioquia and also surrounds the Uribe Palace of Culture .
In this space exists a perfect mix of art, culture and nature in which 23 of Botero’s bronze sculptures are on permanent display and exhibit. Donated by Medellin’s own Fernando Botero years ago and put into place during 2002, they adorn the surrounding area and create an amazing outdoor exhibit. Among the pieces worth admiring are “The Hand”, “Eve”, “Maternity”, “Man on horseback”, and “Roman Soldier” to name a few.
Visitors of this part of the city need to be alert. Like in all the big cities there are many junkies, pick-a-pockets and it is very crowded.
I left and went to eat in a Vegetarian vegan restaurant . It was nice because I could enjoy some vegetables that I had missed long time now and I ate some salad.
After I just strolled along a little bit and about 4pm I decided to go back to the hotel.
In the eveneing I went to eat at an Italian restaurant. I ordered some spagetthis to get carbohydrates for tomorrow.
I want to go to Santa Rosa de Osos tomorrow. It will be a tough ride because I have to climb up to 2600m ….Well, we’ll see.
Villeta: Exploring the city
Friday 27 December 2019
Yesterday night I went to sleep already at 21:30 ; I was so tired….
I fell asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow but at about half an hour later someone tried to get into my room and made me wake up. My door wasn’t locked, so I jumped out of bed yelling and shouting and whoever it was- he disappeared.
I know why I always take my security cautions: my bike was leaning against the door, so if someone would try and move the door it would make a lot of noise like it did right now.
Still I think someone was stupid enough to go to the wrong room….After that it took me some time of course to fall asleep again. I was pissed.
Finally at 6 o’clock I woke up and at 8 o’clock I got out of bed. I really wish that one day I’m able to sleep real long!
I went to have my first colombian breakfast here in my guest house. It was a soup with a piece of meat (that was consisting more of fat then of meat) and a potatoe. I ordered some scrambled eggs with „arepas“ – a kind of fusion between a tortilla and a pancake.
I decided to walk to the city and I visited the main square. Like everywhere in South America here is where life takes place.
Surprise! I met Fernando again. I was happy to see him. I was just looking around for a machete and he joined me. Nice to have company! I found and bought one and Fernando sharpened it. He really knew how to do it. Man I was happy with the new piece of my machete collection and we kept on walking around a little bit. We also went to see the river that is called like the town: Villeta.
Back at the main square another premiere: I drank my first „agua panela“ a very typical drink here. It is juice made from sugar cane and you can also drink it hot with milk. I also tried a beer that they ferment with sugar cane. It was very tasty, not sweet at all.
On the way back to my guesthouse I passed by a supermarket and bought some bananas for tomorrow.
At 7 pm I went for dinner at the same Italian restaurant like yesterday and also ate the same dish like yesterday: spagetthi a la bolognesa. Lovely.
I got back to my room finished to pack my panniers and at 21:30 – also like yesterday – I went to sleep.
Bogota – Villeta: My first climbs and a lovely downhill almost 30km
Thursday 26, December 2019 113 km – Total so far: 113 km
Today at 5:30 I already was awake. I felt so ecxited – my first day on the roads of Colombia. I couldn’t sleep anymore. I was ready to start.
I loaded the panniers on my bike, had a coca tea and did the check out . When I started pedaling it was about 7:20am.
Getting out of Bogota was not too bad in the beginning. I was using google map – pedestrian mode – but then it always took me to wrong directions somehow. Finally I was fed up and I changed to Mapsme which was the better choice.
It took me about 24km to get out of town. Bogota really is big….. I passed through areas you don’t want to be when it’s dark…
I cycled a secondary road (Number 15) and then took the main road 50 to Medellin. From there on the road started to climb really hard. It was even more challenging as it was my first day of cycling and my body still had to adapt to the high altitude.
I took it very easy and did a lot of breaks.
It was amazing how many cyclists were there on the roads of Colombia. I never expected Colombia to be such a biking nation! Nice!
I kept on climbing and about 12 o’clock I reached the top called Alto dell Vino at 2840 m over see level.
An old man came up to me and I chatted a little bit with him. He told me he was keepig fit like this and that last year he even did the Pre-Tour the France. Incredible!
Then another guy called Fernando showed up and joined our conversation. Fernando made me change my plans….. Originally I had planned to do the downhill just for about 15kms where there is a small village called San Francisco. As Fernando was from Villeta he convinced me to go there instead of San Francisco. Still 53 kms to go but about 30kms just downhill. After that some few small hills and you are already there. Easy.
He was on his way back home and also going there. So we started to pedal together to Villeta.
The downhill was great, but the few small hills after were, too. I told Fernando to ride up in his own rhythm and wait for me at the top but he didn’t want to. He said „You don’t do that. You don’t leave nobody behind“. So he kept on pedaling my slow pace with his fast racing bike. Very nice.
The last 2 hills then really were killing me. I was just finished. Going real slow and Fernando still trying to motivate me. That was kind of⁷ cool, but I already got cramps in my legs and I needed to walk for some meters. Fernando got off his bike and walked with me. He impressed me.
At 4pm we arrived in Villeta and before he left he took me to a hotel from his family. Very nice experience to cycle with him.
I took a shower and washed my clothes. Later on I went downtown and found an Italian restaurant…I ate spagetthi bolognesa with 2 big beers! Wonderful.
When I came back to my room I did some work on the blog and I went to sleep at 21:30.
Under the sun of Bogota
Tuesday December 24, 2019
Unfortunately I didn t sleep too much. At 2:30 in the night I already woke up the first time – that really sucked. Then I hardly could fall asleep again and at 7am I gave up the fight and finally got up.
I organized my stuff a little bit inside the room and put the last few things on the bike. After I went downstairs to the lobby, had some coffee and ate the rest of my pizza from yesterday. Theo, the tiny sweet little dog of the guesthouse was joyning me and he got some pizza, too.
I finished and went to look for a place where I could change money and buy a simcard.
The weather was a little bit chilly but very sunny – I made a first mistake today: I didn’t think of putting some sun screen because it was not hot at all. Besides that I didn’t even wear a hat and so I got my first sunburn today-right on my head. I learned my lesson: colombian sun is really strong guys.
I strolled along and finally found myself inside a mall called Andina. There was a Claro shop located in there where I could get my sim card and it also was possible to change money there. Mission accomplished.
On my way home I passed by a supermarket, got some food and arrived again at my guesthouse. Time for a little nap.
Later on I went outside again to see if it was possible to find an adapter for my charger. It wasn’t: everything was already closed due to Christmas.
So I got back, watched some TV and I started to check out wich route to take when I start touring with the bike on Thursday.
Flight to Bogota
Monday December 23, 2019
At 3am my airport shuttle came to pick me up and took me to Frankfurt. My journey began at 6:55 with the flight to Amsterdam from where I got the connection flight to Bogota. There should be enough time to catch the connection flight easily, so I felt quite relaxed.
Everything went good and the flight itself also was ok. The only thing that bothered me was the fact that during the flight I couldn’t get some sleep….
I arrived at Bogota in time and I ordered a private taxi to take me to my Guesthouse called Casa Prada. It’s a very nice place located in one of the best neighborhoods of Bogota.
After I finished the check in I drank my first Colombian coffee. That should be on your „to do list“ in Colombia.
Up in the room I opened all my luggage and already reassemble the bike.I felt so hungry that I ordered a huge pizza and two beers. In the end I couldn’t eat it all up and I kept the rest for tomorrow’s breakfast.
When I finally went to sleep after being awake for 25 hours non stop I could feel the altitude of Bogota. I laid in bed and my pulse was at 140 beats per minute. Wow! I normally have some 60 beats per minute…. It took me quite some time until I finally could fall asleep.