A Travellerspoint blog

Colombia = big


Colombia is a big country.
We made the 600k drive from Santa Marta to Bucamaranga yesterday, and it took 9 hours, with very few stops.
The countryside in this part of Colombia probably doesn't make any top-10 lists as places to vacation or retire. It is extraordinarily dry, and the temp did not drop below 97F until sundown. We saw a high of 107. There are many Brahma Cattle farms. It is remarkable that these beautiful creatures find enough to eat in such a harsh environment. Whenever we are in a place that might be described as an armpit, I remind myself that this is someone's home. There are folks who raise families and enjoy their lives in these places. Except border towns. Those are armpits.
Back to the journey. Douglas was a real champ. The 2-lane road was full of trucks as far as the eye could see. He viewed it as a challenge, though, and passed truck after truck in true Frogger fashion, dodging the motorcyclists who seemed to come at us from every direction. There were toll booths at least every 50 miles. There is evidence of road work, and in fact expansion to 4 lanes in some places. Maybe all those tolls will result in better roads. Gas is very expensive, especially in the cities. $4.89 at one place yesterday!
We recently had to purchase a new Garmin. Since we bought it in Colombia, it has Colombian maps, and--bonus--it warns us of the speed bumps (reductores, here)!
To keep things interesting, the highway passed through many small towns, all with the requisite reductores. They are really tough here. The speed bumps are preceded and followed by rumble strips from hell. Reverse speed bumps.
After driving for hours in the above-described conditions, as the sun was setting, we started climbing a windy mountain road. Just as I thought, "what next?" it turned to gravel. Up and down mountains, switchbacks, in the dark (our bad--gotta plan shorter days), with the trucks and swarming motorcycles, on gravel. No complaints--just bragging.
We have programmed our new Garmin with the voice of James, an Englishman. He speaks in such a storytelling voice--it sounds like we are listening to a book on tape, or commentary on a nature program. Anyway, James narrated us straight to our hotel in Bucamaranga.
Today, a stop in San Gil, a town known for its adventure sports.

Posted by ceastburn 07:12 Archived in Colombia

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I checked out the terrain for your last journey on google maps, and it looked harrowing, even if not Rocky Mountain style....I hope you didn't lose too much in the car break in...was that the reason for the new garmin, locally tuned? How far south are you headed? Will you spend more time in Panama or just keep exploring new space? The driving sounds, um, interesting. Take care and enjoy all that scenery!

by Jleastburn

Hi Judith,
Yes, the terrain is spectacular, especially today's.
We lost quite a few items in the theft, no one particularly huge monetarily, but they add up. Tools, an AC adapter that runs off the car battery, our cooler (no doubt to carry items), pepper sprays, a knife . . . The Garmin was a different story. It accidentally got re-formatted, and everything was lost. We will need to send that one in when we return to the States; repairs cannot be done online. So, in the meantime, we get a South American version. We will confine our travels in South America to Colombia and Ecuador. We planned on visiting Venezuela, but have been warned that folks carrying US passports are not welcome. We will drive a loop through Colombia, Ecuador and then back through Colombia. We will ship the car again from Cartagena, Colombia mid-April to Panama City and start our journey northwards. So, we will be back in Panama for a bit. Thanks for reading!

by ceastburn

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