Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Beginning the Trip - In COLOMBIA

FINALLY, after three years of planning the trip begins.

On Sunday September 15 I arrived in Bogota, Colombia. On Monday I got the bike from the airport and went through customs. All-in-all not a bad experience. The customs at the Bogota airport was one of the most civilized I have dealt with. They even served coffee (free).

The first problem began, however, riding into Bogota. In Colombia motorcyclists are required to wear a vest with the license plate number prominently displayed. You can see it in this picture of David (a South African I am riding with) and me. On our way to get these vests made we were surrounded by eight cops with drawn weapons and patted down. Evidently in the old days assasins would ride around on motorcycles and kill rival drug dealers, so they assume anyone on a motorcycle without proper vest/ID is a killer! A simple explanation (and flashing my old Marin County Sheriff badge) made everything OK and turned them into my new best friends, but it was a bit of an adrenaline rush. I´m not used to being on that side of a pat-down!

Bogota is a great city. Lots of everything, and very well organized. A fantastic public bus system in with separate bus lanes. Overall, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

David and I then left for the north, stopping first in Zapaquirá. Here they have built a cathedral (not a shrine, an entire LARGE cathedral) 100 feet underground in a salt mine. It is facinating, and with incredible acoustics.

Then it was off to Villa de Leiva, a colonial town on the way to Bucaramanga. This is charming, but ultimately not interesting enough to stay long. The one night we were there the big to-do in town was a performance by the local high school band in the plaza. However, the young ladies were very cute.

In the morning we went to the Saturday market and had a great breakfast for $1.25.
Also a lot of interesting faces.

We are currently in Taganga, just past Santa Marta (a town of no particular interest). David and I got a small apartment behind Jimmy´s (an American living there) house. Funky is a kind term. Lack of sleep the first night was caused by my bed falling in (as in the boards just broke... must be time to diet), and the second night by the drunk in the other apartment coming back at 3 am. I´m beginning to see a pattern. Then again, if you want predictable stay at the Holiday Inn. Today I went scuba diving... not fantastic, but it was nice to get in the water again. Saw a bunch of eels, and a HUGE lobster. Unfortunately, I didn´t have a sack with me or he would be tonight´s dinner.

Which reminds me, it´s about that time and I´m hungry. We´re off to Cartagena tomorrow. More soon.

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