The country of people with golden hearts…

It’s now been a week that we’ve been in Colombia.

We had finally found a cargo to transport the moto by plain. And at the same time we found a new friend, Walter. Born in El Savador, he is Canadian and has been travelling from Toronto on his Scrambler….man that bike is pretty…

We could not wait to get out of Panama City and get to South America…it was such a mission though that when we met him he had decided to go back to Canada. I’m happy he changed his mind. Just thinking of all the borders he would have had to go through again…you can’t wish that to your worst enemy.
Panama City was a complex city. A city divided in three distinct souls. If you face the Pacific, look left and you’ll see the skygrate of the business center, on the right the colonial architecture of the historic city, and just turn around to look back at the poor part of the city. This is exactly in that kind of epicenter that we share crisps and a bottle of wine looking at the millions of fireworks illuminated the city on New Years Eve.
You never see the poor part on pictures funny enough. But it’s a big part of the city. We stayed in that area and it was full of colors and busy like a beehive. Quite dirty too I give you that…

The thing I could not take much more was the heat…if I had doubt before, now it’s pretty clear, I’m a woman for cold countries…not like our host in David who was just loving that heat so much that he moved from Italy to come here.
The other striking image I will keep in mind is the amount of rubbish you found everywhere. On the side of the street, in rivers, on the shores of the ocean, on beaches, places that would look absolutely incredible if people would care a bit…I saw so many people young and less young just throwing their plastic bottle of fuzzy drink up in the air and on the road or on the beach…like that…I made a point once to collect it and going to put in a bin. Not sure it worked for two reasons. First the look on the face of the person told me that they actually had no clue what on earth I was doing. Secondly, I actually did not see any bin around so I just walked out with their empty bottle of fizzy drink…thus probably the look…

Nicaragua was very nice for that. The sides of the street were ones of the cleanest I’ve seen in Central America. We often saw people, government employed, wearing their orange uniform cleaning the side of the street. The amount of rubbish thrown is probably similar but at least there is some cleaning happening. First step toward environment’s consciousness?

Anyway, now we’re in Colombia.

What a country.

Really.

The first thing that stroked me was the friendliness of people. Starting from DHL’s people, who we collected the bike from.

All along the way, people stopping to talk with you. Interested in you. Where you’re from, and what the hell you’re doing on a motorbike trying to get to Argentina. They smile, they look amazed, they laugh, they’re happy for you, they thank you for talking with them. Really? I’m thanking YOU for stopping and talking with us!

One of those amazing people was a young couple, Yefry and Andrea. They stopped talking with us while we were looking for an hostal (with parking) within the Candelaria area of Bogotá.
I’ll remember that day as it’s the first day I felt slightly uncomfortable going through some streets around Caracas avenue. First day I actually took the pepper spray in my pocket…just in case..:)
Anyway, Yefry offered to accompany us to find tyres for the bike and a garage to fix different stuff we had too. He ended up spending nearly the all day with us, taking us from one place to the other, negotiating for us, asking where to buy insurance for us, everything. He saved our day. He actually probably saved our week as we would have spend easily 3 or 4 days to get all this done. With a big headache.
We then met him and Andrea at night for few beers and a bite to eat. Wonderful people.
It’s clearly because of people like them that our trip is just incredible.
They make the difference.
So, thank you.

Same for Walter who personally taught me a lot about generosity and taking life as it comes. Really open minding person. Just a very good person.
With his friend Jose who came meet him in Bogota and is now riding at the back of the triumph, they make a funny couple ☺

The second thing that really blew my mind about Colombia is the sceneary….incredible. After Utah in the States, it’s the second country where I’m like…Wow…most of the rides we did gave me the smile. It was stuck on my face for few hours. Made me forget the bumps and the soar back.
You ride and you feel good. Firstly the temperature is closer to what you’re used to coming from the Alps. It’s fresh. No more sweating under the helmet and in your pant! (I know, classy).
You ride through high plains parsed with pine trees delimiting little neat fields. The grass is not too green, it’s short, it’s the grass that you would see in the Alps when the snow has gone and spring is blooming. Everything feels fresh and clean. You feel good.
Then you reach a curve and all of a sudden you’re like on a cliff. You’re overlooking a valley, greener.
You go down for few minutes and everything changes. The vegetation becomes tropical. And you start sweating…again…
But you keep hope as you know you’ll get high up again. Just a matter of an hour maybe?

And that’s it. You go from high mountains climate and vegetation to tropical one. Every day.

But I like the “high up” part, very much.

We’re now staying in an Air bnb in Medellin, city of Pablo Escobar. Controversial character who seems to have won the heart of many Colombian and others, actually…

As I’m writing I’m thinking back of the persons we met.
We’ve been invited to stay at the retreat house of the General of the armed force, who is the uncle of a very good friend of us leaving in Milan, Michel. What a bless. I did not have the pleasure to meet them in person unfortunately.
We did meet though the family who looks after the house for them. What a nice family. We spent a whole day going around Villa de Leyva, its beautiful colonial village, its coffee, its Azul lagoon, its winefarm (at 2100m altitude), its incredibly good typical food, its market….it was a blast to be around them. We still have to work A LOT on our Spanish to be able to spend such quality time with local people. But thanks to Walter and Jose we could all communicate.

I’m lost in thoughts again, thinking back…

So many good memories already of Colombia…

Like that incredible ride of 8 hours through the mountains trying to get from Villa de Leyva to Dorada…we were told there is no road. But we saw some on google…surely google can’t lie…so we went…
Now you just need to define what “road” means exactly…there was some kind of a path…
But that was one of those days we will remember for ever.

So, I’m stopping now as I need a shower , but Colombia : THANK YOU.

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