Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Up & Over Never Ender- Ipiales, Colombia

Beautiful valley just outside of Pasto
Arid part of the ride where the grass was brown and there were cacti.

Mountain road Route 25 that passes through a 211 meter tunnel (You can see where the road emerges on the other side)

Gas station hotel for 6 dollars a night

Chicken foot soup, served with breakfast, tasty!

We rode out of Manizales 2 days ago on Jan. 04. The night before I had to sample some of the bottle of Colombian rum that my parking lot buddy gave to me. I began sipping it with Coca-Cola and before I knew it I had met an American fellow named David and his wife Lisa. It was well past dark and David and I walked up the street to get some snacks only to realize that the store had closed as it was Sunday night.
Our next option was to walk over to a happening bar area where we were able to grab a bottle of Coca-Cola. Immediately we were invited to sit down at a table for a few drinks. Some 2 hours later Julie and Lisa showed up worried about us two hooligans. Alas were were fine but well past our bed times.
The next morning I was up at the crack of dawn so that I wouldn't puke and loaded the bike for a relaxing drive down a straight wide valley drive with giant mountains on either side. We had planned only to ride to Cali but had arrived at 1pm so we kept on rolling. Just when I thought that the mountains were all over we began climbing, and the valley grew more narrow with every passing Kilometer. Within minutes we were ascending up the side of a mountain on narrow mountain roads. By now it was getting close to 5pm and it was time to look for accomodations. Finally just before dark a road side hotel which looked like a gas station appeared. I wouldn't have normally stayed there but the price was just right at about $6 bucks.
We were up and on the road at 7:20 am the next morning with less than 300km to ride to the Ecuador border. We knew that the high mountain roads were slow going and we wanted to have time to stop and enjoy the scenery. We stopped for breakfast at a road side restaurant in a small town. We tried to ask for eggs and we got a bonus chicken foot soup. I ate mine (aside from the foot) but Julie wouldn't touch hers. Apparently she only likes legs & breasts!
I was thinking how beautiful the scenery was and how tranquil the area was when out of the blue some people on the road side began hoisting a rope off the ground across the road. I thought "what the hell?" Then they dropped it at the last second with their hands stretched out maybe begging for money. It kind of annoyed me, then it happened again, and again. There was a whole colony of these road side people doing this. The rope that they were using was too valuable to waste on tangling me up so I didn't slow down for the remaing 20 or so beggars in the 10 kilometer stretch.
My rear tire was getting to the point where it needed to be changed. We were only 150km from the Ecuador border so I decided now would be a great time to stop. We pulled into a road side tire changing spot. (they are everywhere) Here I asked the guy how much and he said 5000 pesos I gave him 10,000 ($5) and then got no change. They never have change! I pretty much changed the tire myself with a bit of help from the guy but I needed him nonetheless to help with stabilizing the bike and blocking it up when we had the tire off. Though he spoke no english he knew exactly what I needed him to do.
With the knobby tire installed we rode to Ipiales and pulled into one gas station after another. Every time the attendant said ...sorry no gas. We rode past 5 gas stations and then finally the Esso has some regular for us.
I took a wrong turn and ended up in the centre if Ipiales. There was a Colombian festival going on called Blanco Y Negro Festival (Black and White festival) and at 4pm we decided to stay the night and partake in the festivities. Everyones face was painted black, yellow, green, white Etc. People were spraying this soapy white foam from this areosol can that stuck right to you. Apparently the thing to do is aim it right in the persons face.
We found a Hotel right away with secure parking and the owner and his entire family (6 of them) invited us out to head into the town that night to take in a public concert and join in the festival. Immediately Julie and I got our faces smeared with white make up paint by some stranger who ran up on us from behind. The young fellow with us who was about 12 yrs old handed Julie a can of the foam and savagely she began attacking innocent by standers. We got our own back and by the end of the night our hair and shirts were soaked. Our faces were thick with the make up paint.
We entered the town square and watched the concert whose live band played Spanish rock, salsa, and other types of boom, boom music. Everyone was dancing and having a great time and of course spraying the foam. We were shot many times.
Julie kept getting whisked away by latino men who showed her their very best dance steps. They all wanted to dance the salsa, but by the time 5 minutes had passed their shiny shoes were all scuffed from her hiking boots. Finally a Latino gal came over and got me to dance. She was all smiles but after about 40 seconds she was wishing the song was over. I had no rhythm and the song went on and on and on. We packed it in at 9:30 before the drunk guy who was pelvic grinding Julie asked for another dance.
Today we head to Ecuador and go looking for the Ecuator.


  1. Good eye, Lynne!

    Anyone who can spend 2 months [so far] together in such "challenging" circumstances, & be so happy, must be "right" for each other!
    We love you...XXOO.
    Mom & Dad

  2. Hi Julie

    Your mother gave me your blog URL and I'm so glad. Your photos are spectacular and it is so interesting to read of your adventure. I was in Quito in 2007 as part of my trip to the Galapagos. We went to Otovalo and to the equator too. I stood with one foot in the northern hemisphere and one in the south during that trip. And I took the cable car to the top of the mountain in Quito one evening. The altitude made me dizzy for sure. But the only thing about my trip that can compare with yours when it comes to how brave you two are was when three other people and I hired a driver to take us to the Cotopaxi Volcano National Park. We were held at gunshot when it came time to exit the park and the driver told us that the gunman wanted a fairly substantial sum of cash to let us proceed. It was scary.
    So keep safe you two. I admire your adventurous spirit. It has blossomed far more than what it was when Julie and Stephen sat in the bottom of a canoe on one of the trips that Ken and I took with Dave and Valerie! Regards. Debby Peck