The Road Back North with Kel and Al

Trip Start Jan 11, 2012
Trip End Aug 09, 2012

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Sunday, June 3, 2012

After one busy day wandering around the streets of Bogota, it was time to commence our action packed adventure north with Kelly and the Good Doc. They would be flying back to the grindstone in 3 weeks' time and would probably not be returning to this part of the world any time soon, so it was essential that we filled our time with as much Latin American flavour as we could handle. In hindsight, it's pretty clear to the four of us that we more than succeeded. Let's see if you agree...

First stop, that small old town that you might have previously read about, Villa de Leyva (VdL). Our previous entry contains a bit more detail about the town, but basically VdL is a small old town that looks like a small town from the old days, only in those days it would have just been a small town as it would not yet be old. A visit to VdL would not have been complete without a visit to the second best chicken and chips shop in the world (Nando's is still comfortably numero uno). A visit to Colombia is also not complete without drinking as many Aguilas as one can, every day. So after muchas Aguilas and delicious pollo we headed back to Colombian Highlands, the same place where we stayed with Nick and Ally. As mentioned previously, Ally broke one of the hostel's bicycles, so that activity was ruled out of the equation. Hiking up the mountain was also not the most appealing option thanks to Don's lack of faith in my navigational skills. Blame laid squarely on Big Nicholas for that one.

So with our options severely limited we eventually decided to visit a local wine farm run by one seriously crazy German man. Most Germans are crazy, my cousin Arni being a fine example, but this guy was like Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest crazy. The farm may have produced some of the worst wine that we've ever tasted (even clueless me thought that Autumn Harvest Crackling has a superior balance), but we still enjoyed a pleasant afternoon in the countryside. Perhaps influenced by the wine/vinegar, we then stupidly decided to make another attempt at the elusive summit of the nearby mountain. Our record versus The Mountain: Played 2, Lost 2. This time there was no Nick to blame. Luckily we did make it halfway to a waterfall and we also managed to capture a jumping photo on our 11th attempt. Trying to work out the timing of a camera's auto timer is much more difficult than you would think!

After a relaxing few days in VdL it was time to get our adrenaline back on in the adventure sport capital of Colombia, San Gil. We have already written about our time here with the Jouberts so we'll spare you some of the more mundane details and go straight to the highlights. First up was a team white water rafting session where Team Lynch Junior absolutely destroyed Team Lynch Senior. No surprises there with "Row for Show" leading the team. It was then time for the Good Doctor and me to challenge some grade 5 rapids on another river. This was comfortably a highlight of our entire trip, definitely something that we would both highly recommend to anyone visiting the region, or any white water rafting region for that matter. The river was quite huge at times, with 2 to 3 metre waves crashing over the boat, but it was all run very professionally and the sheer excitement of it all easily erased any fears that our 6-man team might have felt prior to departure. It was just a real pity that the girls didn't join us as even though the rapids were rather crazy indeed, it was not at all scary, but there's always next time. We hope.

As Don and I had already enjoyed a cycle in this region (update: Don's wounds are healing well), we left Kel and Al to burn their quads on them mountain bikes. The sisters also decided to go paragliding one day but unfortunately the weather was having none of it so they missed out on jumping off a cliff with a parachute attached to their backs. I doubt that John and Heath will be too displeased about that! It was then time to head out of town after another memorable few days in San Gil. This time we were not having any of that 18-hour, freezing, violent movie-filled bus journey that we experienced on our mission south. We had somehow stumbled upon a low-cost airline that flew directly to Cartagena and the rest is history. The budget is already on his deathbed, let's see how much he can fight before kicking the bucket.

Back in Cartagena and straight back to the Chill House Hostel. Mistake, big mistake. In an attempt to prolong the budget's fight with death, we decided to stay in a less than basic 10 bed dormitory filled with 6 other humans that all decided to eat cloves of garlic for dinner. Cloves of garlic washed down with garlic juice. The dorm obviously didn't have any windows, such a luxury would have been way out of our price range. One of the garlic humans was also a big fan of that white powder and relentlessly tried to spark up conversation by explaining that he was Swedish, even though he looked like a young Hugo Chavez and spoke like Rafa Nadal used to speak in post match interviews (I gggam vggggery gggggeppy). All in, not the greatest night sleep for the team. Throw in some food poisoning for the team's youngest member and you have a bit of a nightmare. At first light we got ourselves the hell out of there and found some much improved accommodation. The budget called for a priest.

We spent 3 days in Cartagena where we strolled around the streets and enjoyed plenty Colombian cuisine and more than enough Aguilas. The Good Doc also treated us to some sun downers at the excellent Cafe del Mar situated right on the wall of the old city. This would be our last evening in South America. Don and I could hardly believe that 5 months previously we were about 7000km away, in Ushuaia, on the southern tip of the continent. We've certainly enjoyed one or two memorable moments since then. The next leg of our adventure would take us through Central America, hopefully all the way to Mexico. Step 1 of that journey would be a sail from Cartagena to Panama through the most beautiful place that any of us have ever seen, the San Blas Archipelago...
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SJ on

Couldn't stop giggling (in the office!) at this entry - your blog is brilliant Wa!

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