Columbia just won't let us go

Trip Start Aug 20, 2012
Trip End Jun 08, 2013

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Thursday, May 16, 2013

Off again, heading to the border.

However Columbia had other ideas and broke Freda, this time nothing minor. We broke a leaf spring, one of the steel bars which when bolted to another 2 bars, act as suspension.This was not going to be a short stop.

As our luck was going we obviously broke down in a dip in the road, on a bend.

The leaf spring bar is about 8 feet long, 4 inches across and over an inch deep. Hence very heavy and a complete pain to get it out and back in. Once we go it out, we could see that the bar had cracked under the plate that joined it to the other bars. Thus the crack had been undetected and started to rust, until it met one South American pot hole too many.

Guess it must happen reasonably often as we were carrying two spare leaf spring sections. Although Franco says it has never happened to him thankfully he had helped other drivers change one in Africa. Later his driver mates said (via facebook) that they had broken lots. Seven seems to be the record. Their sympathy seem to extend only to saying at least he wasn't in the mud.

Strangely it turned out to be a bit of a good experience. I spent most of the 5 hours under the truck helping Franco, joined periodically by Richard, until he cut his hand. I really enjoy the hands on stuff and learning something different.

Most of the rest helped, digging out the spare from its hiding place, directing the traffic around Freda. Mel befriended a local homeowner, getting hot water for drinks. They all seemed to be having a bit of fun and taking the whole thing as a normal bit of overlanding.

Others unfortunately just got out some stools and sat there. Shame my attempt to get them to flag down a passing bus failed.

Once we had the new leaf spring in and were starting to tighten it all up and tidy up Franco and I felt very pleased with ourselves. Our spirits got a bit dampened when the heavens opened with a tropical down pour. We got soaked to the skin, and I mean it, my underwear was soaked.

The hilarious thing was that the colour started  to run out of my top and stain my white linen trousers. Now I wasn't planning to take these trousers home, which was why I was happy to go under the truck with them. However now that they looked like I was turning into a Smurf, they definately had to go. All those clothes became truck rags.

This 5 hour delay, meant we didn't make our destination in Ecuador. After a brief overnight stop in a town in Columbia, we again headed for the border.

I was stunned by a cultural stop just before the border. Las Lajas Sanctuary is in the provence of Ipiales.The basilica is set in the most stunning location. It sits inside a narrow canyon on the Gualitae river.

It was built here against the rock, where a young deaf girl heard the Virgin. The back of the Church is still the bare rock.

This is an amazing looking place. I was hugely surprised as I had never heard about it and my guide book had no pictures. In today's world it is very unusual to get such surprises. We seem always to have seen everywhere on the internet or in books etc before we visit it.

The border was nice and smooth, maybe because Franco changed into an Ecuadorian football top between the border stations.

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