We all parted ways after a few days in Cartagena and I ventured off on my own towards northern Colombia.
Gotta love toll-free moto lanes in Colombia!
It was the starting of a week-long holiday in Cartagena (La independencia de Cartagena de Indias) and people flocked the road and stopping traffic for money. I just gave it more throttle and watch them run off the road. Ruta 90 was somewhat scenic with Caribbean Sea on one side and cactus filled marshes on the other.
And lot of slums as well…
Riding into the mountains of Sierra Nevada De Santa Marta
I rode into the little dive town of Taganga just north of Santa Marta. The water front is dilapidated and the rocky beach is kind of crummy too but it’s still packed with holiday traffic.
I hiked up the mountain to some spectacular views.
I no longer have the perk of splitting on hotels now that I’m traveling solo, so I booked a cheap hostel on the hills. The problem with booking in advance is that you never know the crappy roads that lead to it.
I consider myself lucky on getting my first puncture 6k miles into this trip. This was my first time plugging a tire and the hard part was putting everything back in the kit!
I may have caused a village-wide power outage as everything went dark the moment I flicked on the lights. Power came back eventually and I could hear the whole town applauding and cheering.
I made all the way to Riohacha the next day close to the northern tip of Colombia. The landscape was arid and the town was very run down. I had nothing in mind and going north was purely to fulfill my personal curiosity. Back south I went but this time along the inland route. Temperature was getting cooler going up in elevation to about 7000 ft, which was a nice change from the steamy heat of the past 2 months.
Gotta love it when you can go for a piss while keep an eye on your bike
New record: $8 hotel…filthy? Yes, but the $3 dinner (only meal of the day) was pretty tasty. Traveling under $20 a day is not impossible.
El Peñón de Guatapé had been on my list for awhile. It’s a 220 m monolith in the town of Guatapé. The rock was formed millions of years ago from erosion.
If you are wondering why ‘G1’ was painted on it, it’s actually a ‘G’ and an incomplete ‘U’. The town of Guatapé and El Peñón had long disputed the ownership of the rock and the residents of Guatapé decided to paint the town’s name on it. It did not take long for the residents of El Peñol to notice and a large mob was assembled to stop it. Only the “G” and part of the “U” were completed.
You will be rewarded with breathtaking views after climbing 740 steps to top of the lookout tower. (360 Video)
The rock can be seen from anywhere in the area, even my cabaña.
I continued my way west into Medellín to get some new shoes for the GS. My previous Shinko 705 rear lasted 12k miles with thread to spare but this one was almost done at 7k. The front is still holding air with a plug but threads are starting to crack. Tires just don’t last as long in the Central America heat and rough roads. Hopefully the new set of Heidenau K60 Scout will last rest of South America.
Medellín is situated in the valley and the climate is very pleasant all year round. It was once known as the most dangerous city in the world when Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel dominated the place in the 80s. Today it is an innovative and bustling city. The best way to see the city is to ride the Metro, more specifically the MetroCable which is gondola lift system that goes up the steep hillside of the surrounding suburbs.
The terminus station at Santo Domingo used to be the most dangerous neighborhood in Medellín but has been improved dramatically since the introduction of MetroCable.
I transferred over to line L for an additional ticket and took a ride to Arví Park. It’s an ecological preserve and archaeological site on top of the slopes. It’s fascinating how quickly urban sprawl transitioned to woodlands.
MetroCable was a fun way to spend the day for a just a few bucks. I know I got my money’s worth. 😛