Hola amigos, que tal? Our Spanish is improving but the problem is that people think we are fluent when we use what little we know and they respond a million miles a minute and that’s usually when the conversation ends. It’s getting better everyday though.
We spent 4 days exploring Bogota and getting acclimatized at 2600 meters, figuring local currency, food and all the things we need to know travelling in Colombia. Bogota puts Chemainus to shame with their murals. Here you find colourful graffiti art all over the place and some of the artists are quite famous. There were many cathedrals that we visited and when we left the one of them a pigeon decided to turd on my head. Jacklin said this is good luck, I say it is just plain crappy. So far the weather has been great for us and no rain to speak of during our rides. It looks like Bogota had major flooding a few days after we left. It took 3 hours to get out of Bogota along the many bike lanes, but we still had to manage through the traffic as it was a Friday before a long weekend and it seemed all of the 8 million people who live here were leaving the city as well. Jacklin contacted a Colombian couple from the Warmshowers website and we stayed with Eli and Walter in Cajica who were fantastic hosts and gave us fabulous advice on possible routes to take. We thoroughly enjoyed the Arepas they made for dinner The next morning they rode with us to Zipaquira which was a nice flat ride and surrounded by mountains. Zipaquira is home to the 2019 Tour de France winner, Egan Bernal. We didn´t see him but his picture was all over the place. We may have biked the roads that he trained on but maybe not quite as fast. Our first camping experience was at Termales los Volcanes. This was not what I had envisioned when we decided to bring our camping gear. I pictured camping on a remote snow capped Andes mountain top with no one for miles. As you can see from the photo this was pretty much the opposite of that, but pleasant still the same. The hotsprings were refreshing and a bit more relaxing once all the weekenders from Bogota went home for the night. Our ride from the hotsprings to Santa Maria was very tough. There was a lot of uphill on rough gravel, rocky roads and endless tunnels. We went through about 13 poorly lit and leaking tunnels. We were always relieved to see the light at the end of each one. 8 hours later we took the first hotel we came across and had a cold shower, as all the cheap hotels we stay in don´t have hot water. A cold shower is nice at the end of a hot long day on the bike. I´ve tried convincing Jacklin that cold is better than hot without success. The days have been getting hotter the lower we go in altitude. We thought that today would be easier because we were biking down into the Casanares plains. We should know better than to think that any biking day in Colombia would be easy. The day started with a 2 KM steep climb out of town and then 10 KM down on a brutal rocky, muddy and bumpy road which we had to keep our brakes on the whole way. We weren´t going much faster down that we were going up. It was up and down for the rest of the way until we were in the plains. We are now in Monterrey, a lively little town in the heart of ´los planos´. This is cowboy country with a lot of cattle farms and horses. We found our cheapest hotel room so far at $12. It is exremely hot and humid here and we are looking forward to some ice cream and another beer for me.