My boys, just 5 years and 3 months old, fly solo into Bogota.
Some stories are short, this one is short.
All alone on an Iberia flight for 20 hours, but Daniel and David have each other, they arrive in Bogota tired, and I am happy again to have them, the twins, a bit shy this first night in a strange environment.
We leave morning 8th of April and I am filling up oil in the differential, my new greasy everyday task which is here to stay till Ecuador. Easter traffic is back to Bogota and frequent halts make for a long and curvy, first rainy and once we are down at Honda on the Magdallene River hot journey, the same Magdallene Christina and I crossed first 1,000kms further north near Barranquilla. Before people on the way from the Caribbean to Bogota had to travel many weeks up on the majestic River before hiking up mountain.
We follow the river downstream to Puerto Triumpfo, a former Pablo Escobar stronghold, Escobar who once controlled 80% of the world cocain trade and was one of 200 billionaires in the world, Robin Hood and gangster, who's plata o plomo, 'accept silver or face lead' policy made Colombia with over 25,000 death the murder capital in 1991 and 1992, he died of police bullets in 1993 and really nothing changed; the drugs trade moved a bit south, from the Medellin to the Cali Cartel.
We camp near by, there is a white round plaza and red bushes, surrounded by a citadel and a church, all feels completely safe.
We end up eating pizza in both, Medellin and Cali. Medellin is modern and buzzing and parking harder to find and more expensive than in Hollywood. We are on a mission now, south to the equator and have still 6 degrees to go.
Colombia is a country whose economy has gotten way ahead of its infrastructure, road building in mountainous terrain is going on almost everywhere, we follow a line of trucks through into the night, out of Medellin, on badly marked, narrow, half-finished or just dug up roads, in dust and fog the Pan Americana winds higher, drops back into a valley, around endless bends. In complete darkness it is intuition that helps me take that exit in Santa Barbara; there is a hospital, a small plaza, a tienda that sells beer, all is quiet, the old and young sit in the street, aqui no pasa nada, 'nothing happens here'.
Morning the woman invites Daniel and David to hot chocolate.
Manizales, enter coffee route.
With the boys still jet-lagged, they are sleeping a lot and not eating too much apart from pizza, and C. and I on a mission to get to Quito, simply keep driving. Land is beautiful and green around the Cauca River, before we climb and arrive in Manizales, high over 2,000m of elevation, and it is when storm hell breaks lose. Later we discover the coffee plantations all around, Colombia has maybe the best coffee in the world, just local brewing habits are at best lousy, resemble washing dirt and poisoning it with molasses. The best way to fulfill my morning and afternoon caffein addiction is still through nescafe.
Colors in Salento.
In Pareira I have the diff's oil checked and moved another level up in viscosity to 250, which almost resembles grease. I am losing about a liter, sometimes two a day by the wheel-bearing sealing.
Evening we get to peaceful Salento, which is named after the heel of the Italian boot, we climb with the boys to the mirador on top before settling on the square of painted wooden houses in original bahareque architecture in a dark unlit bar that stashes old records, a Nirvana for us Latin music lovers, we become friendly with the owners and they still try to whack us over the price of a beer; trying to make a living. We find a cheap small restaurant, that serves just one dish, excellent soup, delicious fried trout, just my twin boys refuse eating altogether.
Past Cali thunderstorm and past thunderstorm to Popayan.
I fill up oil in Armenia, then we find Cali, hot and dusty, and an expensive and bad Pizza; our experience of Medellin cannot be reproduced, we drive around, then drive on till thunderstorms and ultra-heavy rains force us to wait it out, while we drink beer and the boys Fanta.
Night we drop onto the white city of Popayán, and there are still post easter celebrations and processions for children going on, in Popayán it rains all night and mornings Daniel and David wear rain gear and we are still, despite our ups and downs and lefts and rights, following the Cauca River upstream and south.
Rough southern Colombian mountains.
Southern Colombia is beautiful, from low to high, at some point we drop to 600m, where Dos Rios is, then climb it all back up and funny the plantations are only on higher grounds, we are close to the equator and all is upside down. For our last night in Colombia we get to Pasto with a heavily smoking, mercilessly hot left back tire. A tight set of break pads heats up when the grease floats around exuberantly. Next day we have the breaks renewed, not so our wheel bearing or axle yet. Then we are out at 0°48' north of the equator and off to Ecuador, and this is a new story.