• South Colombia to Ecuador Border

    Posted by Murray on March 6, 2011

    After loading up, doing a brief pre-start on the bikes and running some chain wax on the chain whilst the bikes were still on their centre stands, we left our palatial abode around 7:30am and pointed south. The previous twilight views of the gorgeous mountains were now replaced with a thick heavy wet mist which when viewed through a dusty visor splattered with Colombian bug guts more resembled looking into an oversized cauldron of mince and vegetable stew. Thankfully the rain/mist soon drifted away to reveal a stunning backdrop of vibrant green glistening rolling mountains. Colombia truly is an incredible scenic country and this is not just exacerbated in my mind given we are viewing it from a motorbike saddle and at speed. For those that haven’t had the fortunate experience of riding or being on the back of a motorbike, the view is increased significantly from that of sitting in a bus, train or car….but probably similar to the view from a donkey, wilderbeast or abreast a woolly mammoth. This is primarily due to your field of vision – the sky is the limit. If you want more, you lift or turn your head. Plus, other added benefits are the interaction with nature (insects, bugs, bees and grasshoppers splattering into your body and face at random intervals and bird watching). Unfortunately most of our bird watching has been limited to viewing a smirking Turkey Vulture slowly lift off inches from the front tyre as we interrupt his unrestrained feasting on some hapless roadkill at 100km/hr.

    The afternoon rain showers have commenced. A few days back we made the hard call of “do we put our waterproof liners in and risk dissolving into a bubbling pool of sodium chloride whilst negotiating traffic crammed villages in the midday heat OR do we leave them out for a few days more and try to dodge the rain?” That afternoon whilst motoring on through a dumping rainstorm I made a mental note to dig mine out of the bottom of the panniers and zip them in that night. As the rain found its way through my unlined jacket and pants I spluttered over the radio to Loren “Man, this is serious rain!” “Rain” Loz replied with an unusual giggle, “My liners have been in all day and I am as dry as a chip”. Generally the temperature drops like a stone as the rain is typically occurring at elevation so the combination of wet and cold aids in a snap decision to pull over for a while to see if the rains passes. Actually, in one such occasion today we pulled over and rode into some bloke’s partially constructed restaurant. A few of his mates were there chewing the fat while he hammered and nailed and they took a shine to the bikes. One fellow was so happy that he pulled out his police badge and my grin must have encouraged him because then he pulled a 16 shot Sig-Sauer handgun from his sports bag, also with a big grin. He was evidently off duty and when the rain eased he jumped on the back of Yamaha 125 and with a wave, took off to play afternoon football. With his gun….. in case the ref gets testy.

    Our hotel the next night was our cheapest yet. $5.56 each. Have to be happy with that! The guy wanted 28,000 pesos but after some casual bargaining he seemed happy enough with 20,000. The highlight of the room was taking a morning shower. The shower comprised a roomy enough tiled cubicle with the standard 1 tap. The shower itself was a single piece of 25mm diameter electrical conduit jutting awkwardedly out of a gashed hole in the wall. We knew the hotel had a touch of class as the shower pipe was equipped with a 90degree bend glued to the end to prevent the water gushing at the opposite wall, some don’t. Upon twisting the tap in gleeful anticipation, the water colour changed quickly from relatively clear to a yellow brown to a dark mud colour as the sediment and gunk laden liquid poured repulsively out of it’s feeble nozzle. Then the water hammer kicked in and foul coloured paste pulsed and spat all around the shower cubicle like a crazed fireman at work. Actually, I think I am fine for a shower this morning – I had one 4 days. How about you Loz?

    A brief stop was had at El Santuario de Las Lajas, an amazing church structure spanning a gorge. The altitude was having some effect as we trudged up the stairs., nothing to do with our fitness of course :) The other intriguing moment was watching a priest evidently blessing or christening some blokes car – all doors and boot were open and the robe clad gentleman slowly moved around the car flinging water from his long brush which had a place along with a water tub on his braided belt.

    On the way out, Loren was able to finally blast an ADD dog with his pepper spray as it attempted to remove his ankle at the kneecap. Needless to say, the bewildered hound quickly retreated.

    It was raining as we approached the Colombia/Ecuador border. The border crossing can be summed in up in one word. “Seamless”. Incredible what a systematic approach and logic can produce. Handed in our bike permits (yes, the ones we waited 4 days in Cartagena for), 1 minute, no problems. Next building, stamped passports out of Colombia. Cross border, stamped passports into Ecuador. Adjacent building, new bike permits. The Aduana official (customs) processed our paperwork for the bikes in a professional and prompt manner and took about 8 minutes per bike, including the inspection. He then asked us to check his work on the computer before printing off our permit, we signed it, he stamped it and away we went. Great stuff Ecuador!

5 Comments | Leave a Reply

  1. Donna on March 6, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    You’ve got to watch that Loren… he’s always got tricks up his sleeve. Or in this case, hidden liners under his gear! Haha.. funny anecdote!

  2. Liz & Stuart Condon on March 6, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    It’s been to follow you guys on your trip. Love the stories and the fantastic photos. Looking for the next episode! Happy touring, Liz, Stu and family

  3. Mumma Pamma on March 10, 2011 at 8:14 am

    There seems to be a surprise around every corner! Dad hasn’t made any comments but he sure is laughing when he reads about your more than interesting travels……Que tengas un viaje seguro……

  4. Anthony McNab on March 16, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Absolutely awesome photos lads. Thanks for sharing them. Hope your trip is going well. I would be interested to hear from you both – what are the most redeeming and most annoying features about your travelling companion. And Loren you can’t mention Murrays unfortunate uncontrollable gaseous emissions in crowded places ‘cos everyone knows about that already.

    I trust this doesn’t open a can of worms. Try and limit the annoying stuff to about 20 points each. Just thought it would help us working folks understand a bit better about life on the road ;)

    • Donna on March 17, 2011 at 6:02 am

      Sounds like Loren is in the perfect company then!