Sunday, 15 December 2013

262 Cartegena and the road to Medallin

Wednesday 11th December 2013
Miles Today 0 Total  28,540
Today was a catch up day.  I got Ray to actually come shopping with me and we found a large shopping mall, near the old fort.
The fort overseeing the old town.

There were a few essentials that we both needed, and to be honest, it was lovely being in an air conditioned mall, it really is hot out there.  
Decorations in the mall
 We ended up going back to the walled, old city and had a wander around all the bits we hadn't seen, but the heat was quite ferocious, so we headed back to our room.   

Busses and Taxis were all mad and plentiful.

Tall ships in the harbour.

One of the more decorated streets.

Believe it of not these are Taxis too.

It appears to be the norm, that every evening around 6pm, there is a serious downpour, and once that had passed, we slipped out for some food and then had an early night.

Thursday 12th December 2013
Miles Today 228 Total  28,768

We were up early and everyone was ready for the off around 8am.  The hotel lobby looked quite bare once all the bikes were out on the street.  We were heading straight for Medellin and the others were going north first.  It was a long road, and seemed to go by really slowly.  It was not however uneventful.  Getting out of town was pretty fraught, and you needed eyes in the back of your head and anywhere else you can fit them, but Ray muscled his way through, and soon we were on the open road. 
 The mayhem escaping town. This is the norm for the locals but was intimidating for us.

The road is two lanes, mostly cutting a tarmac ribbon through the jungle, and on going around a bend, you would find yourself suddenly in a little town or village.  We stopped at a couple of the little places to have coffee and as soon as we landed we were surrounded by locals all admiring Wallace, and asking how big an engine she had, they were phoning their friends to come and see her and taking pictures of her, it was very friendly and quite funny as well.  

At a roadside cafe.
 However, our entrance into one town, took us both a moment to decipher.  From my point of view, as a pillion, I could see that there were a couple of lorries stopped in the middle of the road.  I could see that most of the other traffic was coming towards us quite quickly, and then I saw the group of males, all wearing bandana's, across their faces and carrying lumps of concrete.  It was then that it registered that there were people on the other side of the road, exactly the same.  It would appear we had driven into some sort of riot between the two groups.  It was kind of surreal, because although there was a battle going on in the road, local vendors were still sitting at their stalls, letting it all happen around them.  This was all happening in seconds and Ray pushed on through the mayhem.  We were approached by one of the guys with a bandana and a handful of bricks, but he quickly got out of our way, when Ray turned up the throttle and we shot through all the trouble. 

(Ray) This guy was trying to intimidate me to stop by waving the concrete in my face but he could not see me due to the blacked out visor. I had a very quick decision to make and bear in mind we have been in a lot of riots in our time and it was almost just another day at the office for us!  It was turn around and add on another 200km or so or just nail it. I decided 1/2 a ton of Wallace surging at the guy was a lot more intimidating than his handful of concrete. I was right. On whacking open the throttle, the guy lost his bottle and jumped out of the way just in time. 

(Karen) There was a lot of broken glass in the road, but we made it through, past the trouble, and without me getting hit by any missiles on my back.  I was glad we were in full motorcycling gear which provided us with some protection.  We didn't stop until the next town, where we stopped for petrol, and Ray mentioned the trouble to the garage attendant who kind of just shrugged his shoulders as if it was an every day occurrence.  Main thing was we were safe.

We have no idea what this is about but they are everywhere
 Around another corner, not long after, we came across a passenger bus, which had left the road, and was parked at a very unusual angle on the banking. There were lots of dazed looking passengers, but no injuries that we could see, so we left them to the locals.  Never a dull moment.     We finally reached our destination of Caucasia and found a hotel for the night.  "The hotel Beijing".  

They forgot to do the upper floor !
It was right on the main junction and seemed to be unfinished.  The middle floor was lovely, but upstairs needed a bit of work!  It was very comfortable, and a nice end to a very interesting day.  Later I checked for news in Colombia, but there was no mention of the mini riot.  

Friday 13th December 2013
Miles Today 180 Total  28,720 

We had less miles to do today and were looking to get to Medellin and have a bit of a look round.  We are booked into a hostel, called the Tiger's Paw, along with the group from Cartagena.  The road was actually very slow, long hard going and was so bumpy that I was in a lot of pain with my shoulder.  

The river we followed for about 50 miles.

Another roadside cafe.

We were climbing up into the mountains, and although the temperature was more comfortable, the journey was anything but. The scenery was very beautiful and we stopped near the top for coffee and a bit of respite. 

As we entered the mountains it cooled a lot and the scenery got better.

For praying whilst doing an oil change and car wash.
 We were both pretty shattered as we pulled into Medellin, and on route to the hostel, Ray spotted the Yamaha dealer, and pulled in to see if he could get an air filter.  I got off the bike and looked around into the shop, and a huge display window, floor to ceiling, was filled with Japanese and Colombian people, all waving frantically at us, with huge grins on their faces.  We were then mobbed by these people, admiring the bike, admiring us and taking photo's and having their photo's taken with us.  I'll let Ray take over from here.

As I got off the bike a Japanese man, approached me and shook my hand. Very nice I thought. Then, in perfect English, he said his name was Fujii Hasashi and he was the Yamaha boss for the whole of South America. Wow ! Then he went on to tell me that he was one of the Wallace's designers. An even bigger WOW.
Half the window contingent.
 He was beaming from ear to ear and was clearly very chuffed that we had driven his brainchild halfway across the world. Then he started taking photos of Wallace. How bad ass is that ! He went on to say that he almost scrapped the project that was 10 years in the design process as it was too heavy but persevered with it and this was the end product. I told him I had just come in for an air filter and he insisted that we take Wallace into the workshop for a checkup. Once inside, he then insisted that we exchange e-mails and phone numbers.

Fujii giving me his card. We were both as chuffed as each other.
We chatted for about 1/2 an hour about the bike which we were both clearly delighted with. It was surreal. He also stated that he (in his position) he sponsors the Argentinian Patronelli Brothers (only Dakar followers with know them) in the quad bike class. These brothers swap the winning and second positions each year. Sadly they did not have a filter at this shop but one was nearby and I would have to come back and collect it in the morning.

(Karen) After eventually making good our escape about 2 hours later, we found the hostel.  They are not as bad as they used to be, there are separate bedrooms and bathrooms, and we were given room number one.  They have one thing in their favour and that is they are cheap and clean.  We were going to have to move bedrooms for our second night to a shared bathroom, but I can live with that, we are going to the Galapagos Islands for our Christmas treat, so bring on the hostels till then.  I went to bed early after we had eaten and Ray waited for the others to arrive.  The music coming from the reception area was loud and we were told that it would end at 12.30am, so we decided not to be too grumpy and old, and work our way through it.

Saturday 14th December 2013
Miles Today  5 Total  28,725
At 4.30am this morning, I was running out of goodwill to all men, the music was still blaring and as it stopped at 5am, two of the most considerate travelers, I have had the pleasure not to meet, started playing snooker outside our room.  Hostels, you can shove them where the sun don't shine!  There is no truth in the rumour that I am grumpy or an 'angry bird', but to be honest, maybe I just have to accept I am getting old.
Anyway, we packed and took our time getting ready to sit about until they had got our new room ready for us.  Ray had to go back to the Yamaha dealership, and apparently, just as they were closing, he discovered that our lights don't work, so he is off trying to sort that out. 

(Ray) I got to the dealer and one of the managers handed me the filter and said that it was a present from Mr Fujii !  I stayed a whils as they had just had the new version of Wallace delivered and I also needed to change the filter. The workshop staff were a bit put out that I wanted to do it myself but understood when I explained it was part of the whole trip experience and I enjoyed doing it. As the garage was shutting at 1pm I showed one of the managers a switch I had installed to turn the lights off (they are permanently on normally) they would not come on at all. Doh!
They wanted to sort it but I again insisted I wanted to do it and came back to the hotel. It took about 2 hours to bet a new battery for my electric multi test meter and then about 1/2 an hour to trace the fault to a corroded connection. Probably due to the salt water thrown over it for the rough sea trip.

We finished off the evening with a meal with all the other guys we had met on the boat and then a trip down into the Christmas Fair in town. 

The last supper. Tomorrow we separate.

The lights were impressive.

Like a scene from Avatar. The tree of light.

Kids playing in the fountains.

Part of the mobbed mayhem.
It was absolutely heaving but very vibrant and friendly. Sadly we all soon got fed up with the crowds and made tracks back to the worlds nosiest hostel and so to bed.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Dad, So that's the Guy that like my Facebook post! Very impressive!