The morning was cool and the skies were blue as we walked out on the patio for our breakfast. It seemed like it was going to be a beautiful ride south to the bluff overlooking Chicamocha Canyon. We had found a place on the maps, La Mesa de Los Santos, that look like a great place overlooking the canyon 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) below. When we arrived we discovered the road was completely washed out. Turning back we found a small pastry shop that had a closed hotel. We asked, and they opened a room for us for $10 for the night. Across the road was a small pizza place that had incredible pizza and also heated wine, with sugar around the rim. So good.
The road up to the Mesa was small, steep and very tight. Going down the next morning my display lit up with a FI. Not knowing what it was, I checked it out when we got down to the bottom and it was a fuel injection issue. From coasting down and not touching the throttle all the way down, the engine detected that there was a fuel injection problem. After I shut off the bike and restarted it, everything was fine. We rode another twisting road down into the canyon then back up to another Mesa between two larger Mesas. The views from the coffee shop at the top were just amazing with a small river sandwiched between two large mountain ranges of the Andes.
Riding into Barbosa late in the afternoon we found a small boutique hotel, the Turrim Dei Hotel Boutique, on the edge of town. They had private parking for the bike and an upstairs pool / hot tub with amazing views. It was so relaxing that we decided to spend an extra night to catch up on the blog and just enjoy doing nothing.
We discovered that south of us there was a Terracotta house, the Casa Terracotta, that looked super interesting, so we decided to check it out. This place was built by a Colombian architect, Octavio Mendoza Morales, in 1999. He moved into it soon after and after 6 months, left. You see, it had become so popular and interesting, that people would show up randomly and he had no privacy. It is now a tourist attraction with guides to lead you through and tell you about this unique property.
Riding west we decided to spend the night in Hostal Amuya, in Chiquinquirá. When we arrived a neighbor, with the help of a cousin, let us in. The owner was in Bogota and would be returning later that night. We found a room and the owner said to help ourselves to the beer, since he wasn’t there to greet us. We had a good Mexican dinner and the owner showed up later that evening. A couple other guests had also showed up, which I had let in. We all went upstairs to the bar area and had a few beers, on the house, and just chatted with everybody that had shown up. The owner, Nester, was a great host and the place was perfect for us. There was secure motorcycle parking just down the street. I added this place to IOverlander, as I felt it was a good spot to rest.
Our good friend Tiffany, from the UK, had put us in touch with one of her friends, Bernice, that lived in Colombia now. We we’re headed to see her down Ruta 60. Ruta 60, a main artery, started out with the normal potholes and missing tar road that is so common here. But then it got iffy. The Rojo Burro, our Suzuki VStrom 650, had the wrong shoes on for this type of road. It became an unpaved mountain road with frequent washouts, landslides, rocks and no fewer than 8 water crossings. Melanie would hop off at each water crossing and help guide me through what she thought looked like the easiest path. One ended up so deep that the water ran into the top of my boots. I’ve learned that if Melanie wants off the bike to walk, not to argue. Being a pillion passenger has to be one of the toughest ways to ride a bike. You’re constantly feeling out of control and throwing all your trust on the old bald guy trying not to crash, sitting in front of you. After about 60 km of this, the road finally became a washboard of gravel. Not one of my favorite types of road, but we made it through. In one particularly bad section, 5 BMW GS riders came around the corner and stopped. They all had matching GS Ruta 40 shirts on and 2022 GS trophy stickers on their bikes. They were saying things to us in Spanish, shaking their heads and pointing at our inappropriate tires. They told us to go slow and be careful. Pretty funny, looking back at it now.
Bernice and her Colombian husband Camilo, invited us to spend the night at their house. We had a fun night chatting and becoming friends. The next morning they took us out to see a property that they were buying with dreams of it becoming an eco friendly housing development. It was a beautiful piece of property overlooking acres of wetlands that were full of tropical plants and wildlife.
We left their house and headed towards Guatapé. We stopped to look at Hacienda Nápoles, the old home of drug trafficker Pablo Escobar, the infamous Colombian drug lord. Built as a farm in 1978, it became a fantastic place with homes, pools and exotic animals, and also a meeting place of the drug cartel. It has a very interesting history, I provided the link from Wikipedia. After the death of Pablo Escobar and the end of Narcoterrorism, the property, valued at 57 million US dollars in 1983, was seized by the state. Private entities have gone in and built it into an amazing themed park complete with free range hippos.
We found an inexpensive resort style hotel, Hotel Parador Del Gitano, just past this and decided to spend a couple nights, relaxing by the warm pool after a tough couple days.
That’s enough for now. The next post will finish our trip around Colombia.