Rum, Rafting and Riding in San Gil
Trip Start Jan 11, 2012
38Trip End Aug 09, 2012
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The bus journey to San Gil definitely ranks very highly on our list of least enjoyable consecutive 13 hours. Initially scheduled to arrive in San Gil at about 7PM, we eventually rolled into town at 1:30 in the morning. 13 hours to cover 600km is bad enough, but with the bus's air con set to "blizzard of death" as well as being forced to watch 5 of the most violent movies ever made (all dubbed in Spanish and played at a volume that makes your ears bleed), it was no surprise to see a few tears of joy from both the Jouberts and the Lynches when we finally arrived in the adventure capital of Colombia
So then, what sort of extreme sports can one expect to find in Colombia? We were hoping to enter a competition to see who could smuggle the most grade A heroin into Venezuela without being caught or maybe just take part in a game of hand grenade volleyball, but unfortunately Colombia is actually quite normal and our selection was limited to the usual adrenaline junkie repertoire. After a brief discussion we opted for white water rafting, mountain biking and sampling some Colombian rum.
First up, white water rafting, an "extreme" sport that none of us had previously attempted. Owing to our lack of experience, we decided to first tackle the less intense rapids before deciding on whether we were brave enough to challenge some crazy grade 5 rapids on a much more violent river. So off we drove to a nearby riverbank, received a basic safety briefing, wondered why the hell we needed helmets and then set off into the abyss. The Lynches, led by the St Andrew's 2003 rowing sensation Donna "Row for Show" Lynch, completely dominated the starboard side of the raft while the Jouberts faffed away on the port side. 6 months in New York had clearly softened them up, but after successfully navigating through some treacherous eddies, flotsam, jetsam, meanders, cutoff slopes and all those other things that you learn about in high school Geography, the Jouberts finally started to pull their weight, thanks mainly to audacious Ally as Big Nicholas was clearly more concerned about saving his energy for the cycle
Next up on the agenda was a mountain bike ride through even more impressive landscapes. In an attempt to bolster our nonexistent fitness levels, we opted for the cross country option rather than a simple downhill ride. This decision was soon to be regretted but nonetheless off we headed into the mountains to commence the downhill leg of the journey. Big Nicholas steamed ahead while the girls and the ginger took it easy at the back of the peloton. Don, previously a strict non-cyclist, has grown tremendously in confidence on the bike after grueling cycles in the Atacama Desert and down the Death Road in Bolivia, so it was perhaps due to a wave of complacency that she involuntarily discovered how to do a forward somersault on a bicycle. Unfortunately none of us were within eyeshot to witness the event but apparently she would have scored a perfect 10 for execution. Lying in the dirt, bike on top of her, bruised, some blood, Don shrugged off the incident like a real Colombian soldier and got right back onto that bike. Would you expect anything less after all those years tuning chicks and rocking okes at Italian Club, Bedfordview, boet?
With the cycling team reunited we continued on to a small pueblo (village) in order to sample some famous chorizos
San Gil is a really special place. Relaxed town, friendly people, amazing scenery and plenty of activities to enjoy. It was not without some sadness that we decided to pack up and continue on our journey south to Villa de Leyva, but fortunately the Lynches would be revisiting San Gil with even more Lynches a few days later. Once again we have some bonus writing from Nick which you can read here: http://www.travelpod.com/z/nickwardable/1/1338826472, otherwise that's about that. Next stop, giant pizza, a navigational mixup and Ally breaks a bicycle...