Tom here again.
The main highway will get you from San Gil to Bogota in under two weeks on paved and well kept roads but with plenty of traffic to go with it. It can get pretty frustrating having truck after truck blow past within a beard whisker so once again i decided to turn of the main highway and head towards the back roads to get me to the city. It added an extra week onto the ride and it threw up some rough and steep climbs but this section was one of my favorites so far.
So i have kept the text short again and chucked in plenty of photos. Im going to try out this google maps gaget (you will see a second map halfway through the post) to give you an idea of where the heck i am and where i’ve been.
After the sweaty toils through the Andean foothills I found my self in San Gil. A town literally built into a hill side which made for some steep exploring.
I spent the afternoon checking out town and restocking on some supplies
Traffic. The next morning i began the 4 day adventure up into the mountains.
The road started of with sweeping views of farmland
And leads you to the town of Charala
there is a nice old church here with some friendly dogs guarding it
they do a pretty good job
Tesla? a protest for better electricity?
Further down the road i stopped to ask for directions and came across the Colombian doppelgangers of some friends from back home
they pointed me to a bridge but warned the road was in a pretty rough state
It was a bumpy old track. I met this guys just as i started the climb. He was also on his way into the mountains to look for crystals that he says have a strong spiritual power. I didn’t find any
mud = pushing
But it was nice to be off the busy highways
Plenty of places to fill up the water bottles
the afternoons company
The main street of the only town for the day. I asked around for a place to camp and was pointed to someones brothers house for the night
home sweet home
The next morning I came across a secluded Taoist community nestled into the mountain side. they invited me into their gated community, fed me and filled my water bottles with some pretty green looking river water. It was a bizar experience and this is the only photo i have of it as they asked for no photos inside
back into the climb
The guys from the Taoist community sent me off with bags full of fruit and some thick doughy stuff to chew on
I met these two chipmunks (Andres and Julian) when i was having a rest and we started a game of soccer on the patch of lawn between their home and the church
Just a normal backdrop for Andres
I was invited in to their home for the night and fed up to my eyeballs
This was an interesting breakfast. water,milk and a pinch of salt then plunged with home-made flat bread
straight from the teet
and into the chocolate
The next morning we said our goodbyes – the boys went to school and Edwardo and his wife Mellena set off for work and i continued with the climb with some refreshed batteries
Lunch break at the top of the pass and one of the few cars for the entire ride
Some strange looking things start to grow up at this altitude
after two days going up it was time to go down!
50kms of down hill
Back down at some reasonable elevation i found myself on another back road towards the town of Villa de Leyva. first stop was a small village of Sotaquira
Im pretty sure the church in Sotaquira was exactly the same as the church in Charala but without the guard dogs
Just some old timers waiting for service to begin
The main square was full of stalls. Sundays seem to be big around here with most towns have some sort of celebration or gathering going on
The road to Villa de Leyva. no traffic lights or stop signs
Just a few farmers and the odd mountain biker
Tubeless tires are hard to patch. this guys passed me about an hour before and i found him stranded with no patches or anything to fix his tire.
our company for the repair job
cruising through the folds
up a hill and around a corner i stumbled across over 100 ponch wearing farmers on horseback who were celebrating their public holiday by drinking beers and riding from town to town
after cruising with the pubcrawl for a while these kids stopped me for some interrogation
rode through this little guys kite string. they thought it was hilarious
my steam ran out about 10kms from Villa de Leyva so i ended up camping in a small town square. this group of friends where also celebrating the public holiday and invited me in for a a feed and a coupla beers
The next morning i cruised the 10kms to Villa de Leyva and i knew something big was going on when i arrived in town
Thousands of people had assended on this tiny town to celebrate the Festival of Kites. Colombians love to celebrate
this is the highly competitive sport of kiting
Kite fanatics everywhere. I rested here for a couple of days an became knowledgeable in the sport of kite flying
Then it was one last push towards the big city of Bogota. First stop Raquira
a quirky little village with lots of clay monuments in the town square
i guess they want to represent the whole community
A short stint back on the main highway
about 30kms north of Bogota is Zapaquira. famous for its mining history it has converted one of its old salt mines into an underground cathedral
As the mine goes deeper and deeper you follow the proccesion of the stations of the cross
And at the end you can buy your own candle for $18.00
I was closing in on city life. something i do miss from time to time
Bogota was alive with music, youth and energy
I was lucky enough to time my visit with a Critical Mass bike ride.
These events are huge in major cities all over the world and Bogota put on a pretty good one. the milk man even showed up
With only a set location and time and dress code the event is steeped in mystery
Over the course of an hour people on bike arrived in twos, threes, and fours slowly filling the town square up from a handful of cyclists to hundreds
The following day was another big day for the city. In the 70’s the government of Bogota introduced ‘Cyclovio’. every sunday 300kms of major city road networks are shut down and open to cyclist and pedestrians to roam freely. A momentous occasion in the life of cities and an event that has since spread all over the world.
Stalls arrive early in the morning and take their position on what would usually be one of the busiest traffic bridges in the city.
you can get your bike fixed, buys some new shoes, dvds, suitcases, dictionaries, pots and pans….
local groups take to the kerbside to voice their opinions
photo shoots and film crews around most corners
the city life
Until next time