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Colombia Part 4: Bogota and the Tatacoa Desert

With a majority of Colombia behind us there were still a couple of areas that needed to be explored. Most travelers didn’t have anything good to say about the capital city of Bogota BUT in order to verify we’d have to experience it ourselves – plus big Cities always give us the opportunity to resupply, tune up the bikes, and feel like normal people for a change. From Bogota we wanted to head south into the Tatacoa Desert where we’d heard there was some amazing off-roading before sliding on over to the Spanish Colonial town of Popayan (not quite sure why but we heard it was cool). Good times to come!

Leaving the coffee region wasn’t easy but after almost three weeks it was finally time. Swerving, weaving, and inhaling diesel fumes were something we’d become accustomed to navigating through some other BIG Latin American Cities (cough, cough Mexico City) so we thought we had this in the bag. Things were flowing smooth UNTIL Mitch got a little aggressive and tried to shoot the gap between two rather large Colombian semi-trucks. Well, the back right truck wasn’t having it and casually gave Mitch’s back right pannier a love tap pushing him into the wheel-well of the other truck to his front left…NO BUENO!! Not knowing how he wound up on the high side of his bike (and outside of the wheel-well), he looked around noticing that he had about 100 eyes on him and as quickly as he could pulled the bike up-right and wobbled his way to the nearest gas station…something’s not right here!! With his steering bearings FUCKED and dash board SHATTERED, Mitch limped to home base praying there was a solution for todays catastrophy. (more…)

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Special Edition: Hiking in the Coffee Region

From the first time we wandered into the Valle de Cocora we were enamored by the gushing green landscape, the giant wax palms and last but not least the queso and hot chocolate. After doing some further research, we determined that there was not only the day loop (which most tourist walked) BUT there was also a multiple day trek up to the unpredictable mountain, Nevado Tolima. With Justin back in the States for a good buddies wedding, we (Mitch and Antonia) decided to give it a run. 

Already knowing the first part of the hike from our previous adventure and conversing with a few guides we quickly determined to take horses to the first checkpoint, Estrella de Agua…who needs exercise anyway?! Well, as it turned out this portion of the hike had the most inclination and although our horses (Dingle and Smingle) were sweating their asses off, we had a pretty good time saving our leg strength and speaking with our guide Carlos. Although this section was pretty much straight up for 2.5 hours, Carlos didn’t even break a sweat…almost positive he had a couple gold medals in his closet! Guy was a legend!


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Colombia Part 3: Medellin and the Coffee Region

Medellin has been at the back of our minds since we left the States (thanks Narcos, Pablo Escobar, and EVERY damn traveler we’ve met coming north). Needless to say, the bar had been set very high and for very good reason. With stunning views, passionate people, and one of the biggest plates of MEAT (bandeja paisa) you can find anywhere, what was there not to love?! That coupled with the coffee region which is regarded by many to be their favorite region in all of Colombia (mainly due to its beauty, temperate climate, and coffee ALLLLL the coffee). This next leg of the trip was sure to be one of the best!

Arriving in Medellin, we set ourselves up in a nice AirBnB in the Laureles neighborhood, we’re gonna be here for a while. The common theme we heard running into other backpackers (and talking to buddies a head of us) was “Medellin, I could ACTUALLY live there!”. Hmmm well those are some pretty high expectations, we’re going to have to DIG-IN and find out for ourselves! This was evident upon our arrival. Weaving in and out of traffic we got non-stop honks and the occasional “Bienvenidos!”. The people of Medellin were excited to see us!

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Colombia Part 2: Santa Cruz de Mompox and San Gil

Returning from two weeks in the States Mitch was eager to hit the road and get into the depths of Colombia. He was missing the vibrant culture, food, and of course El Tractor (and Antonia, of course!). We had plans to head north retracing some of Justin’s footsteps before heading further up coast towards Punta Gallinas, the northern most point in South America. The horror stories of the man eating sand fleas and the unbearable heat Justin endured must have not sounded enticing and Mitch’s mind was quickly changed. We decided we needed to retreat down to the mountains near Bucaramanga and San Gil, where it would be cooler, and we wouldn’t need three showers a day. We would follow the Rio Magdalena south stopping in Santa Cruz de Mompox before ascending into the mountains. It was game time!

Before we could depart Cartagena, and officially dive into South America, we had a few maintenance items to take care of. We’ve both been running the same tires since we left Denver, some 12,000 miles ago, and our chain and sprocket setup was even older! It was time to treat the girls to some well-deserved maintenance. The guys over at Moto Gangas were a great crew and got us all setup, and had the best selection of motorcycle tires and parts we found in Cartagena. 

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