25 September, 2012

Day 82, 300km: Here we go again

I feel like I have to learn to do this again! My navigation was lacking, my route planning sucked and the hotel plans were a total failure.
So that's how being back on the road went!

Bye bye Bogota
 I left from Bogota at the somewhat morning-ish time of 11am. It was hard saying no to a nice breakfast with friends. I remembered at that time how I felt when I left from Bangkok, then from my family in France before starting the trip. Excited, scared, anxious, but also eager to see the Americas!
Now I have to say that it's way easier starting a trip in British Columbia than it is in Colombian Colombia. And I'm fully aware of that fact so I set the "anxious" dial a notch up.

Oh so THAT'S why they were honking!
 All in all it's great to be back on the road. The family events were still in my mind all day long and that's on what most of my "available brain time" went (when I wasn't focused on avoiding potholes, trucks swerving in my lane without giving a f*** or simply making sure the motorcycle didn't end-up rubber side up.)
Which meant I didn't pay much attention to what was around me at first.

So when a car behind me started honking, I thought little of it. Looked into the mirrors to try and understand what it was about but still didn't have a clue. A few moments later the car passed me and a lady in the passenger set told me "spanishspanish PLAQUA spanishspanish". Now a plate is called "plaque" in French. So I pulled over anxious that I had no license plate anymore.

But it was there, hanging on by a single screw, still doing the job well like the devoted, efficient plate it it. Kind of how I was on the bike. Not 100% but hanging-on.
Little shack that I thought was abandoned until kids came to say hi
 While fixing it, a couple kids came out of the house pictured above. I was pretty sure to be alone on the side of the road and they scared me. That made them laugh, at least I'm sure I made their day! We exchanged a few sentences in my still broken - slightly improving Spanish and I was back on the road.

Entering the coffee valley
And what a road it was. My destination for the day was Manizales, then Pereira if time allowed. Well I didn't anticipate at all that the road would be so ... mountainous. I mean it was great but so twisty that I averaged 40kph at most. The day started at 2600m in Bogota, then down to 1000m-ish, then back at 2000m in Manizales.

The last kilometers to Manizales where really bad. At night, with rain, by 15C, in mountain roads washed by mud and landslides. I'm sure there was another road to enter the city, that one really sucked. So instead of making it into Manizales around 4pm as planned, I was there at 6.30pm.
The hotel I looked-up the day before was actually outside the city itself, another hour away from the city center where I was.

Stopped somewhere in downtown in a cybercafe to find another hotel. When I came back to the bike, there was a crowd gathered around it (there are a lot of motorcycles in Colombia, most if not all around <250cc). This is the first time in Latin America that people told me "Hey that's a BMW F800GS, cool bike!"

It was late and I wanted to check-in, shower and sleep so I said bye to the crowd (picture Mr. Bean getting into his Mini and leaving his parking spot with great pain). Found a hotel after more searching and cursing at Garmin for being a piece of shit (I think I'm going to try free maps instead of the Garmin one I bought.)

Then off to bed, I felt exhausted like when I first started the trip. I have to get the rhythm going again!

Cheers,
Guillaume

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