Meeting our first fellow cycle tourist

Trip Start Oct 16, 2012
Trip End Apr 20, 2013

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Flag of Colombia  , Cauca,
Thursday, November 29, 2012

As we packed up our belongings and prepared to hit the road again after a couple of much need rest days we were excited about the road ahead. As we left I checked with the owner that my intended route out of town was the most direct and was amazed that he had no idea, even though he had lived there for a few years.  He was only used to getting public transport and could only direct us to the bus station.  Thankfully Popayan isn't a big city, so we easily found our way back to the highway.

We cycled along rolling hills for a couple of hours and stopped a couple of times to eat some fruit, drink some water and snap some photos.  We were surrounded by agricultural land with cattle grazing on either side.  At around 11am we saw that the road snaked down into a deep valley and climbed up the other side to another ridge.  The views from here were spectacular and we saw dramatic rocky hills jutting up from the valley floor.  The landscape was changing substantially from what we had seen on the ride into Popayan.

We coasted down into the valley and stopped numerous times to enjoy the downhill and take photos.  The uphill on the other hand wasn’t so easy and it took us a while to climb back out of the valley.  The main problem was that as we were plodding along slowly, with laboured breathing, pouring out sweat, with sunglasses steaming up, gradually making it up the hill, in a trance like state with legs rhythmically spinning, when all of a sudden a dog would bark and chase after us.  We haven’t really had the problem much in Colombia so far but the dogs in this valley were guard dogs rather than friendly pets.  They seemed to enjoy nothing more than noisily jumping out at us when we least expected it, sending our heart racing even more and giving us a good surge of adrenaline.  Thankfully as soon as we stopped and shouted at them they would run back to their homes or at least cease their chase but they definitely gave me a fright a couple of times.

When we finally reached the top we pulled into the first restaurant and met Rasmus, a 25 year old Swedish cycle tourist who was going the same way as we are.  He had set off half an hour before us in the morning and after completing the climb had stopped at the first restaurant as well.  We chatted over lunch and decided to cycle along together for the rest of the afternoon.  It was his second time cycling in South America but his first time in Colombia.   

After lunch we all headed off together and enjoyed the new scenery as the dramatic hills continued in a wide valley.  We had a couple more long down and then up hills but the day finished on a long downhill into a warmer climate.  The town of El Bordo seemed like the logical destination for the day as the next town was a further 40km along the road.  We pulled in at around 4pm and Rasmus told us that he usually asks at the police/military/fire station if he can camp there.  He said that it is usually fine and they allow him to use their facilities and camp for free.  We have heard that numerous cyclists do this but had been reluctant to do it so far, as we are trying to be extra cautious in Colombia and also we are pretty happy to lie on a soft bed after a day of cycling.  However, we decided to go with Rasmus to see how easy to was, in case we need to do it in the future if we have no alternative.  Basically he just said that we are cycling through South America and need a place to camp with security, to which they said fine, you can camp here, use the showers and kitchen and we close the barbed gates later so you will be safe….easy as that!  So that is how we ended up camping in a fire station for the night. 

We went with Rasmus for an early dinner at 5pm and then almost straight away afterwards he hit the hay.  Well, that is a bit boring, even for Kory and I, but after the sun had set there wasn’t much else to do, so we retired to our tent and played cards for a while.  What we hadn’t realised was that the fire station area was also used as a mechanics/spare parts yard and trucks were arriving and leaving all evening, which might not make for the most restful sleep.  
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Grandma on

I bet it was so nice to meet another cyclist!!!! Also sounds like it wasn't a bad place to sleep. Do hope you's had a good nite's rest.

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