Day 136 – Cerca Valparaiso, CO

Day 136 – Cerca Valparaiso, CO      01/04/11      Mileage: 0

The Hotel Pipinta is so good, I decided to stay another day. I focused on getting some blog posts written as I was several days behind. I still couldn’t post them because of the lack of internet, but at least I can upload them the next chance I got. I also took a short hike down to the river, spent an hour in the Turkish steam bath, did some pool time and drank some beer. Here are some token picks from the hike…

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Day 135 – Pereira, CO to Cerca Valparaiso, CO

Day 135 – Pereira, CO to Cerca Valparaiso, CO      01/03/11      Mileage: 116

I wanted to stay one more day in the area, and specifically in Manizales. It was early enough in the day to perhaps hunt down a room, and still get somewhere else in case I didn’t. The road from Periera to Manizales is really fun 2 lane divided highway with endless 3rd and 4th gear sweepers and I was glad ride that a second time, this time going up hill.

Check this out…a side car Vespa!  We we’re stuck in traffic in Manizales so I got to chatting with him. He’s from the UK originally but was in town to see if he could get the Vespa in the parade later that day. That’s one crazy rig!

I didn’t have any luck finding a place to stay in Manizales…the closest being a 6 square foot patch of cement in an open courtyard at a hostel for $22…no thanks! I guess it wasn’t meant to be, so I hit the road back north towards Medellin. After about an hour of riding, I came across a nice looking hotel-restaurant perched on an outcropping overlooking the river. The Hotel Pipinta is a great place…good food, pool, awesome views, sauna, turkish bath, pool tables, and all for $22! Hmmm, slab of cement in a smelly hostel, or all of that…it’s a no brainer to me and I’m glad I passed on the hostel. After getting settled into my room, I hit the pool and had a light lunch.

Now that’s a gym with a view!

They build a nice overlook with an excellent view up and down the river.

The only thing missing from the mix is internet, which is too bad as that would be the cherry on top. But given their distance from the nearest town, this was the trade-off. Dinner was equally tasty and after I retired to my room to get some work done on the laptop.

They even ordered up a great sunset over the mountains…

Day 134 – Santa Barbara, CO to Pereira, CO

Day 134 – Santa Barbara, CO to Pereira, CO      01/02/11      Mileage: 199

Like yesterday, I could have taken the main road to Manizales, but where is the fun or challenge in that, right? So after the town of La Pintada, I banged a left over the river and headed back up into the mountains. The road today was like yesterday with plenty of mud, dirt, land slides and missing pavement….in other words, good fun! Some condensation got in the helmet cam housing, so most of the pictures did not come out today…I salvaged what I could so that’s why some appear blurry…

You might want to take this turn on the outside!

I finally pulled into Manizales and the place was packed. What I didn’t realize is that it was festival week so the chances of finding a place to stay were zip.

I had just enough daylight to make it to Salento, a small town tucked into the foothills of the Andes Mountains. When I arrived, it was even more packed than Manizales! My search for a room didn’t produce any results, so plan C was to backtrack…I hate backtracking…to a no-tell-motel about 15 miles back. Once again, it proved to be a great option…clean, inexpensive and my own garage for the KLR.

They even had room service…chorizo with papas fritas and 2 cervezas…served through the secret pass-through of course.

Here’s the secret wall pass-through. They put the food in the pass-through and then knock on the wall. Dinner is served, I I never saw the waiter!  lol.

Another fun day in the saddle!

Day 133 – Rionegro, CO to Santa Barbara, CO

Day 133 – Rionegro, CO to Santa Barbara, CO      01/01/11      Mileage: 116

Morning came and I was up around 9…which is not bad considering we didn’t get home until after 3. I packed up the bike, thanked my hosts for their generous hospitality and then hit the road. Given the late start, I wasn’t going to get very far, so I had the modest goal of Manizales some 160 miles away via all back roads. That was the plan anyway…but what I really did was chase roads that were on the map but did not exist, and find roads that did exist but are not on any map. I had to backtrack some 20+ miles today because of a road that simply wasn’t there…I hate backtracking! I also had to give up my goal of getting to Manizales to backtrack to a hotel before nightfall. So as far as progress goes today, I went almost nowhere…but the riding was great and I guess you could say I had a great time getting nowhere! Here are the pics… 

You could use that leaf for an umbrella!

One of countless landslides on the road….

Now we’re having fun!

They weren’t kidding!

This landslide took the whole road with it, so they just carved out a new temporary path across it. Just don’t fall off to the right side, it’s a looooooong way down!

Now where did I put that coin?

Now that was a great day of riding!!!!  🙂

Day 132 – Medellin, CO to Rionegro, CO

Day 132 – Medellin, CO to Rionegro, CO      12/31/10      Mileage: 26

This morning a ran a few more errands before packing up the bike. Tonight of course was New Years and I was once again invited to join the festivities up in Rionegro with Lilly, Santiago, and their extended family.

The view of Medellin from the road up to Rionegro.

Santiago and Pablo’s family “farm” in Rionegro.

 They had made reservations for the whole family (and me!) at the local country club, which was great! I felt a tad under dressed in my low top hiking shoes, blue short sleeve shirt and Mountain Hardwear jacket, but it will have to do. I’ll let the pictures do the talking, but suffice to say it was a late night and a good time was had by all!

Day 131 – Medellin, CO

Day 131 – Medellin, CO      12/30/10      Mileage: 0

This morning I woke up feeling pretty sick…not booze sick…cold and flu sick. We left the house early as Santi and Pablo had to work today. On the way back to Medellin we stopped off for some amazing yuca bread which hit the spot.

 This place makes the most amazing yuca bread!

Back at the Shamrock I went back to sleep hoping to shake this cold, so I basically did squat today. Oh well…here’s a token shot of Medellin when I wandered out for lunch in the afternoon.

Token shot of downtown Medellin…

Day 130 – Medellin, CO

Day 130 – Medellin, CO      12/29/10      Mileage: 0

The first order of business was to get the left side engine guard and right side rear pannier rack welded. The local Kawasaki dealer pointed me to a welder, who pointed me to another welder who steered me to yet another welder…but 3rd times a charm I guess. The left side engine guard was particularly bad as the weld had cracked and spread not around the weld but up one of the tubes….never seen that before. The rear rack had a small crack that was for sure going to get worse or split completely the next time the bike falls over on that side…so I had the welder put a nice bead around it.

A good weld should look like a roll of coins laid on their side. This one is pretty ugly, but I think he did a great job for $10. Back at the Shamrock I showered up before Santiago, his girlfriend Julie and brother Pablo came to pick me up. Their extended family from all over (as far aways as Lebanon!), including the Puerto Rican side of the family were all in town for the holidays. Tonight was a big party at their uncles house in the town of Rionegro high in the mountains above Medellin…and they were gracious enough to invite me.

On the way to Rionegro with the city lights of Medellin below.

Their uncles house is amazing and they went all out for the party…it was like a wedding with out the bride and groom!

 At one point, their uncle went and got the head chef and brought him over to where I was sitting and told him to get whatever I wanted…wow!

Me and my parents friend Lilly, she’s the reason that I’m here! In the background is the head chef their uncle sent over.

This was a significant upgrade from the steady diet of road food!

Although I was a complete stranger to him only 15 minutes before, he opened his home to me and made me feel welcome and a part of the family. Indeed, everyone went out of their way to make me feel welcome. Oh, and did I mention that it was a great party too…but I guess that is inevitable anytime you get 40 or 50 Colombians and Puerto Ricans together with good music and wine!

The theme for the party was Tango Night, hence why most everyone is wearing black…

Santiago, Pablo and their mom.

 

This is the reason there are not better pictures….fire water in a box…oooph.

And she was the pusher making sure all the shot glass were topped up!

I’m not sure what time we left, but after the party we crashed at Santiago’s family’s house nearby. That was a fun night!