I was determined to leave for Pasto today and asked the hotel receptionist to wake me up at 5.30. I felt strong, had everything packed and was ready for the ride. The road to Pasto is only safe in the early hours of the day. It’s a remote, mountainous area and has the reputation of being dangerous. Too many ladrones (lowlife) here. And like always, the Guzzi and I would be an easy target. Leaving early is the trick, people tell me. Pues, wake-up call at 5.30. I rolled over for a sec or two and… woke up at 11. Yes, I know that’s 5,5 hours late. Nobody cares. This means that I’ve some time to kill. Popayan, where I’m now, is at its self a nice city – they call it for some reason the white city of Colombia – but I’m not connected. Still miss Medellin, my friends. When you leave you have to start all over again: meeting people, finding your way. To be honest, I don’t give a flying fuck about museums, archeological sites or whatever. I prefer to meet nice people and to hang out. Everybody knows that the street is the place where you learn most, which is so true (without taking any lessons my Spanish is getting fluent). I don’t get any information of a badly conserved pre-historic stone, rusty spoon or 500 years old lousy painting. The Guzzi and I live in the present.
Anyway, I promised to upload a little diary, therefore I’ve to look back. I don’t know what date it is today or when I left Medellin exactly. I think its five days ago when I left, or six. Well, let’s see:
Day one – I was sad to leave Hostal Medellin, run by Claudia, Lili, Teresa and Patricia. Spent 1,5 month with them – nice people, good friends. And I was sad to leave my friend Yuko. She’s a very elegant Japanese woman traveling with her husband Yoshi from Deadhorse to Ushuia – on a Honda scooter. Yoshi had to go back to Japan for work, got sick and had to be hospitalized. I took care of Yuko and she took care of me. We wandered a lot through Medellin, taking all these award-winning pictures. But the moment I pulled the throttle I got myself organized; finally the Guzzi and I were together. I mean she always waits for me paciently and is at my service whenever I want, the sweet. And she never, I mean never fails on me. Like on this day. She ran beautiful. Thanks to my friends of Moto Angel who worked hard on the bike, almost for free. Indeed, Colombians are generous sweet souls.
Just outside Medellin a girl jumped on the Guzzi, shouting hystericaly that I and the Guzzi were so cool. The only thing I could think of was: Damn, wish I was 18.
I must have been near la Pintada that the Guzzi came to a sliding halt. Army boys! They didn’t ask for documents, just wanted to see the bike and hear some wild traveling stories. I offered them a gaseosa (a Coke) and wanted some good pictures instead. I was still looking for good photographs of militaries and the bike. I need an opener for the Colombian story for Motor Magazine (Leest dat blad!) and I think I’ve got one now. The militaries you see guarding the road are regulars. They serve for two years and are mostly bored to the bone. You hardly see the professionals. They fight the FUCK-FARC in the jungle. It’s a part of traveling in Colombia, seeing all these soldiers beside the road. Most of the time I have a lot of fun with them. In this case the Guzzi was decorated with automatic rifles and handgrenades before I knew it. ‘We’re the best army in the world. Always alert’, the guys said. This is negotiable, as the following pictures will show. I mean I was close to throw a grenade myself. Sitting on the bike they melted. Some cool pics: pic one, pic two, pic three, pic four.
After the ‘photo shoot’ I drove one more hour and found in the little villageIrra a cheap hotel (10.000 pesos is the regular price, 3,30 euros) and hit the sack.
PS The night before I left I said goodbye to my Medellin friends in the Parque de Periodista, a groovy place in the centre where you can smoke your joint without being molested by the police. Took this last picture of Katherin, who has the sweetest face I’ve seen on this trip. Said Taylor goodbye.
Day two – Uh…Got a gap in my mind. Think I was aiming for Salento, or Pereira? I like the marihuana of Colombia a lot. It’s pure and cheap. You smoke a plant that’s all. But I forget things now and then, like waking up in time. Yes the goal that day must have been Salento a touristy village in the mountains. Got there at… hell do I know? At least it was still light. Salento is in the heart of the Colombian coffee zone. Lots off fincas here. Needed some coffee pics for the magazines. And that’s exactly what I did on day three. With Julian, a Wales guy I met in Cartagena, and Elke, a German girl, we walked an hour or so to see the finca El Ocaso. The coffee season last only two months (April and May), so there was not much going on. Made some pictures of details I might can use. Hm, I see now that I didn’t wash the dishes and what is that fly doing there? Will kill it in Photoshop.
Day four – The whole idea of this expedition was to ride to San Agustin in the south, left of Pasto, where you find Indians and where you can chill out. Yes I needed a break. But it’s a FUCK-FARC area so it could be tricky. To get there I had to go for Pereira, Armenia, Ibaque, Neiva and then San Agustin, hundreds of lonely kilometers. Never got there. The army, professionals this time, sent me back when I reached the top of the mountain range, 3500 meters. The road was too dangerous. All FUCK-FARC. ‘People get shot here’, said the lieutenant. ‘And the kidnap risk is too high. I highly recommend you to drive back.’ And that’s what I did on day four and progressed zero (0) kilometers.
Day five – Didn’t like this ride. The road was plain and boring. And it was hot. Don’t like the heat anymore, that’s why I choose for the mountains the other day. I could see them all the way to Popayan over my left shoulder. Drove like 400 k’s that day and arrived tired at Popayan. 400 k’s on this old, fully loaded Guzzi is not that bad. Well folks, that’s all for the moment. Let’s see if I can make it in time to Pasto tomorrow. Well, lets see if I can make it to Pasto.