Day 302-306 – Bogota, Colombia to Miami, Florida

Day 302-306 – Bogota, Colombia to Miami, Florida         06/19-23/11        Mileage: Local miles

I had an early flight out of Bogotá to Panama City where I caught my flight to Miami. It’s been 8 months since I left the US and it was great to be back…though they speak still speak mostly Spanish here…so that wasn’t much of a change. lol I stayed the next 5 days visiting with family in the area and with my parents who flew down from NJ.

From L to R: My Aunt Helen, Cousin Barbara, my mother, father and me…

My cousins Barbara and Murray were great hosts and staying at their place was like a vacation within a vacation!

The great view from my cousins house….

Barbara also helped me get the bike out of customs which was a big help, and gladly went really smooth.

Unwrap it and ride away…it doesn’t get any easier…..thanks Barabara for your help!

I also took some time to work on the bike and get her ready for the final leg of my journey home to NJ…

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Day 300-301 – Bogota, Colombia 06/17-18/11 Mileage: 0

Day 300-301 – Bogota, Colombia        06/17-18/11         Mileage: 0

The last two days I spent getting caught up with blog and walking around downtown Bogotá.

I made it a point to stop by the street stand I got the hotdog from the other day to try out her burger….and it did not disappoint. It probably tripled my cholesterol, but whatever…it was freakin good!

Tomorrow it’s back to the good ‘ol USA after 8 months out of the country…

Day 299 – 300 – Bogota, Colombia

Day 299 – 300 – Bogota, Colombia       06/16 – 17/11       Mileage: 0

I met the Lyncargo representative at the airfreight terminal at 8:30am along with a handler from the airline, but not before making a D&D run!

I must be getting closer to home….

…..though the signs were still in Spanish…

The national police were also there and they went through my bag and side cases, presumably looking for drugs or other contraband. They even made me start the bike while one of the officers had his nose in my tailpipe….whatever floats your boat, fella! I tried to take a picture of him but he gave me the wave off which was too bad….it would have been a funny picture. So with that complete and signatures all around, the bike was cleared for export.

That done I made my way back to the hotel where I hunkered down to update the blog which was now over 2 weeks behind way back in Manaus, Brazil! That night I walked around downtown Bogotá and had the best hotdog…maybe ever.

It goes like this….put onions on the grill, smothered in ketchup, mustard and mayo, then put a big fat hotdog in a bun huge bun, cover it with said grilled onions, then a healthy (or unhealthy as the case me be) layer of crushed potato chips, then 3 more unidentified sauces, followed by diced tomatoes and relish, smother it with a big layer of mozzarella, steam it for a minute to melt the cheese, then top the whole thing off with pineapple sauce. I didn’t make it up folks…that ‘s just how I watched it being made! 

The following day was more of the same…walked around the downtown, more writing and updating the blog,…

The police here ride Suzuki V-Strom650’s…pretty cool!

Day 298 – Bucaramanga to Bogota, Colombia

Day 298 – Bucaramanga to Bogotá, Colombia        06/15/11        Mileage: 257

Today was all business on the mountainous road down to Bogotá and despite the great scenery, I didn’t even stop for a picture…sorry folks. I arrived at the outskirts of Bogotá mid-afternoon and made my way straight to the Lyncargo office near the airport.

Fortunately they were still there and got right on finalizing my export paperwork for the bike. Once done I followed one of the Lyncargo staff over to the airfreight terminal at the airport where I prepped the bike for its flight home to the US.

No girl likes to get weighed…..    😉

The ‘ol girl weighed in at 247 kilo’s, or just under 550 pounds….lock, stock, barrel, boots…everything right down to my Aerostitch gear…

I handed the bike over, but will have to come back tomorrow morning for a final police inspection and to finish the paperwork. That done I hopped in a cab to the El Cafeceito hostal where I got a room and some dinner.

Tomorrow it’s back to the airport to finish processing the KLR for export…

Day 297 – San Cristobal, Venezuela to Bucaramanga, Colombia

Day 297 – San Cristobal, Venezuela to Bucaramanga, Colombia       06/14/11       Mileage: 173

It was supposed to be a short run to the border, only 22 or so miles, but it took over an hour as the road was mountainous, full of slow moving trucks and largely in disrepair. Thankfully I had Silviu’s GPS waypoint for the immigration office that was buried in the border town maze of streets instead of being on somewhere on the road like usual. After getting stamped out I made my way to the border but had to wait for the aduana (customs) officials to return from siesta in order to cancel my import permit for the bike.

I paid this cute kid to watch my bike while I was in the aduana office….he got a kick out of sitting on the bike…

Once that was done, I crossed back into Colombia for the second time on this journey. The immigration office for Colombia was right at the border, and I had my entrance stamp in under 15 minutes, but the Colombian aduana office was 10 miles away in a small city called Cucuta and it would have been impossible to find had I not once again had Silviu’s GPS waypoint for it. (Thanks again bro!)

The aduana process was painfully slow and took over two hours…..and what made it worse was sitting there watching helpless bureaucrats chit-chat, drink coffee, flirt…pretty much anything but actual work…while me and the rest of the people waiting in line were losing our f–ing minds! By the time that was done it was mid afternoon and I still had many miles to ride if I had any hopes of dropping the bike of at the freight terminal tomorrow in Bogotá, so I got on the gas. The road was twisty and great fun to ride, but very slow going which was not helping me make progress.

I had it in my mind that I wanted to at least get as far as Bucaramanga, which I did eventually do…but not without 4 hours of riding in the dark on twisty and foggy mountain roads…a calculated risk for sure. Tomorrow will be my last day on the road in South America which is kind of hard to grasp…a sure sign that this journey is nearing it’s inevitable end.

Day 141 – Pasto, CO to Otavalo, EC

Day 141 – Pasto, CO to Otavalo, EC      01/09/11      Mileage: 164

There was no power in the hotel this morning, so that slowed down the packing process a bit as my room had no natural light. I skipped breakfast and just had a granola bar while I did some routine maintenance on the bike. Once that was done I hit the road for Ecuador, but there was one more stop I wanted to make in Colombia, and that was to visit the famous Las Lajas Sanctuary.

Here are some bullet cam shots from the road…

There is an overlook on the road to the church that affords a great view of it, and from there I could see that it was packed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Las_Lajas_Sanctuary

It was after all Sunday around noon, so I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise. I decided to pass on going in for the tour, so I just took my pictures and split for the border.

Getting out of Colombia took only 15 minutes for both me and the bike, much less time than any of the gents in the picture above I suspect.

This nice lady had the bike processed out of Colombia in 2 minutes!

No lines at immigration to stamp myself out of Colombia…sweet!

Changing my Colombian Peso’s into good ‘ol U.S. greenbacks…

Ecuador took quite a while but was very straight forward and didn’t cost a dime. It took about 2 hours, partly because of the long line at immigration and the one gentleman working at customs was, shall we say, deliberate in his pace of work. Well, at least he won’t die from stress!

Pulling up to the Ecuador border buildings…

This is the immigration line inside the building…it went out the door and around the building, but I forgot to get a pic.

The KLR patiently waiting for her import permit at the aduana office….

With that done, I was set loose in Ecuador…country number 12 for this trip! The scenery continued to be rivaled only by how much fun the road was. There was some rain here and there along the way, but that certainly didn’t dampen my spirits.

The road from the border to Ibarra was fantastic both in scenery and fun to ride factor. The bullet cam was out of juice which was too bad, I might have had more great road shots. I stopped for the night in Otavalo which is famous for it’s local market, in particular the Saturday market. I found secure parking and a private room w/ bath at Hostal Maria for only $7. It was also nice to not have to convert all the prices to U.S. dollars, as Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar as it’s currency. The only thing missing at the hostal was wifi, so I set off to find dinner, beers and some wifi. Each country so far has had what amounts to a “national beer” (or maybe 2 or 3), and Ecuador’s is called Pilsener. Of all the “national beers” I’ve had along the way, this is by far my favorite and is very drinkable….and that’s the excuse I’m using for drinking my body weight that night. I certainly paid the price the next morning…

Day 140 – Cali, CO to Pasto, CO

Day 140 – Cali, CO to Pasto, CO      01/08/10      Mileage: 248

I was up, packed and on the road at the crack of 10am this morning….not exactly the alpine start I wanted. Either way, I should still make it to Pasto which was my target for today. The road started out flat down the valley in which Cali lies, but soon started climbing back up into the mountains. The views were great and the road was even better. I put more pre-load on the Ricor shock this morning and it was paying dividends, as the KLR felt even better than yesterday.

Today I mounted the bullet camera above my left grip, so you’re seeing what my left hand sees…

10

Doing the misty mountain hop…

Pulling into Pasto, and out of the rainy mountains….

I pulled into Pasto around 4pm and spent the next hour trying to track down a room. I finally ended up at the Koala Inn, which was decent and only $13 for a room with a private bathroom.

After settling in, I walked around town for a bit and had a lite dinner.

When I returned to the room, I worked on the blog for a bit and the hit the hay. Tomorrow it will be on to Ecuador….country #12!