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Still on the road heading north. With traffic, small towns, and countless checkpoints (although you don’t need to stop, just slow down) I figure it will take awhile before I hit the coast. The bad part is I’ve descended in elevation in to the low lands, and the humidity is through the roof.

I decided to stop just before the next big town to get a hotel. I’m staying at a truck stop hotel. Can’t help thinking that the rooms here can be gotten by the hour.

The lady who helped with the room was so friendly.

While the lady who ran the restaurant was the biggest bitch imaginable. She radiated evil. What opposites.

Meanwhile down stairs while I’m writing this, there is a group gathered around Ruby checking her out. A lot of pointing and discussion. I guess the BMW is a rarity around here. One group leaves just to be replaced by some new faces. They all want to touch her too. That’s a big no no in the states, but as long as they don’t start taking her apart, what the hell.

I’m noticing that many locals first reaction to me is to laugh. Instant smiles and hysterical laughter. But what are they laughing at? The way I look in my insanely hot space age riding gear? The overloaded bike? My oh so cool bandanna? All of the above? Not sure, but it really gets the people rolling. I guess anything that puts a smile on one’s face is a positive. Better than a frown and machete. I always end up laughing with them. It’s a bit strange, but all good.

H


I got up early to try to beat the Bogota traffic, but at 6am the roads were already grid locked just like in L.A.

Once out of Bogota, I finally got to see the Colombian country side. I was blown away. What a diverse country. In one section I even hit some desert with cactus. The terrain changed continuously as you went up and down the mountains. Beautiful twisty roads made riding the best.

I stopped for the night in Bucaramanga. It’s Thanksgiving so I decided to stay at a hostel. I didn’t want to spend the night in a hotel cell on this day. I went to a hostel up on the side of the mountain that overlooks Bucaramanga. This place is also a para-gliding school. It had the typical assortment of Europeans backpackers. They were all pretty cool. Fortunately they were all into flying so the conversation never degraded in to politics, and “What’s wrong with America” lectures.

We barbecued steaks and potatoes that night on a fire pit that overlooked the city. Was actually a perfect place to spend the night. Although, I would have rather spent the day back in the states with friends and family. Wanna you goin do?

H


Ok, Ive been really dropping the ball on the blog. Many days of mainly hanging out in Bogota. Not many pics. But here’s are the few days in a nutshell:

Monday 11/23/2009

Today Aifa arrived. It was great to finally meet her. I looked for any features similar to Michelle. Sorry M, I just didn’t see any. Sure you’re related?

That night I met more of Aifa’s family who live in a beautiful house up on the mountain outside Bogota. Here I gave the 411 on the Babbitt’s. No worries guys, I you made you sound like rock stars. You all need to visit by the way.

Tuesday 11/24/2009

I took the bike to the BMW dealer. Initially I wanted to get some tranny fluid, but I found out that the bike had a recall on the fuel pump modulator last month. So I decided to let them change it out and do the tranny fluid at the same time.

In the process they dropped the bike bashing in the left pannier. I realize shit happens, but what pissed me off was that they denied they dropped it. The red scrape was identical in color to their bike lift too. Mechanic job security, fix one thing just to break something else in the process.

I took a piece of wood and mallet and bashed the box back in to shape. Hopefully it doesn’t leak now.

Wednesday 11/25/2009

I decided to push leaving Bogota one more day, because Maria wanted to cook a small feast for us. So at lunch time we all headed out to Felipe’s house. They told me Maria could cook, but WOW, what an incredible lunch. Slow cooked ribs where the meat almost falls off the bone, perfectly cooked chicken, deep fat fried plantains, coconut rice that was to die for, and a vegetable soup (Maria’s specialty) that was simply amazing.

The whole time I’m thinking I should be taking them all out to dinner. They stored my bike, gave me a place to stay, and now they’re cooking me a going away lunch. I’m simply at a loss. These are the best people. I will pay this forward.

So tomorrow I head out and get back on the road. It’s good to stay an extended time in one place. It’s the only way to get a good feel for an area. On the bike, I blow through too many places too quickly. Perhaps this ride is just a sampling of many places. In the future I’ll return to explore further.

H


While its cool to simply hang with my new Bogota buds, I must not neglect the tourist stuff. Just gotta do it. So I headed out on the TransMilenio to check out some of the sites.

On Sundays they close some of the streets to cars. Bikes and foot traffic only.

Lot of street performers were out:

The presidential palace:

This area was controlled pretty heavily. They searched everyone walking by.

First on the agenda was the Museo del Oro, the gold museum. Here they have a huge collection of gold artifacts dating back about 2500 years. Various methods of working with gold and other metals was on display. One elaborate method was called the lost wax method. Reminded me of the lost foam technique used today.

Death mask. This was put over the faces of dead people:

Next was the military museum. No pics allowed except for outside. It had the usual assortment of weapons, but what caught my eye were the original Gatling guns. I’ve never seen or touched one before. Work of art.

After that I check out a Cathedral. By accident actually. I sort of stumbled inside. This was the only place that wanted money, and it was also the most uninteresting place I’ve been to. Maybe if you know something about religion you might get something out of it. I stayed about 5 minutes.

Then it was on to the Museo Historico Policia, the museum of police history. Now this is a must for anyone visiting Bogota. A young police recruit takes you on the tour. The place has a random collection of police artifacts not only from Bogota, but from all over the world. Somethings didn’t seem like they belonged here, and you had to strain to make the connection.

A gun guitar:

It ends with a display on the shooting of Pablo Escobar. Three rooms devoted to him. They had many of his personal items on display like his custom desk, camcorder and sun glasses.

The bloody roof shingle Pablo’s head came to rest on when he was killed. Why would anyone keep something like this?

To top it off, they had a dummy Pablo Escobar on display.

The recruit that gave the tour:

I ended the day with the changing of the guards at the presidential palace. Soldiers and a band marched to the palace. The ceremony included the most elaborate flag folding process Ive ever seen.

Kick ass day.

H


After yesterday’s nightmare, it was time to take a step back, relax and get a little walking tour of part of Bogota. Roger, who is currently living with Aifa, and Felipe who’s got the bike took me around a bit.

First Roger and I jumped on the TransMilenio, the mass transit system here in Bogota to meet up with Felipe.

First they took me to see a friend who was setting up a green house in his backyard to grow exotic plants.

Coco plant:

Venus fly traps:

Pitcher plants:

No explanation required:

Between the homes are common areas making the neighborhoods really nice.

Next it was off to the mall:

And finally some food and brews:

From the left: Roger, Felipe, Felipe’s friend (forget his name), me

Got a real good feel for the town from our little walk about. This town is starting to grow on me.

H

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