After Angel falls, it was a few days ride to the Colombian border. The roads were very good and once again took us through beatiful landscapes, jungle and twisty moutain passes. Our only downer was the Venezuelian checkpoints. They were mostly very hostile with the military police demanding to see all our papers and checking everything. To me it just seemed an excuse to bully about rich weterners about or just out of total boredom (probably the latter). Saying that, we were never asked for a bribe or physically threatened so onwards we pressed.
A few LONG days later we made it to the Colombian border. Venezuela gave us our final sour taste by demanding an “Exit fee”, AKA bribe before they would stamp our exit visas and let us leave the country. I dont want people to think I didnt enjoy Venezuela but it has the potential to be so much better if they would just chill out a little.
Within 15 minutes we were happy and smiling again. Its a fantastic feeling to get through a border and see all the wlcome signs.. I always let off a “Woooo Hoooo” everytime I see the first sign..
It was fantastic to be in Colombia. The difference was like black and white with relation the the officials. The guards had big smiles and welcomed us in. They offered us drinks and gave us directions to the customs office (unusually it wasnt at the border and a couple of miles in the city near an airport). We had to go to customs to declare our bikes and obtain our tempory import visas for the bikes which WOULD be checked at guard points on the roads. A bit of a pain but necessery.
So off we went into the madness and jumble of the city following signs to the airport. On arrival at the airport the gateman told us that the customs was infact not at the airport but in the town AHHHHHH !! Luckily, and in true Colombian hospitality style , a random bloke in a car insisted that he show us the way
After all the faffing about with the usual customs photocopying and form filling Sean and myself decided to head for Bogota and home leaving Criste to head north to the coast. This is after we were grabbed by a local guy on a bike who insisted we come to his small B&B for free drinks and even offered to put us up for free. We were all quite eager to press on so unfortunatley had to decline his invitation but it all made us feel very welcome in what is such a wonderful and unfairly critisised country.
I really really really wish that I hadnt lost the pictures of the ride south to Bogota because it was simply stunning. Riding the Colombian andes at over 10,000 feet in the mist of the jungle moutains was one of the most memerable rides of my life. The people are verging on indiginous and their lives are very basic. What I didnt really plan on was the cold at 10,000 feet. We were bloody freezing and glad when the altitude dropped as quickly as it rose.
A few days earlier I had received an invite from a fellow scouse biker (Mick) who has an apartment in Bogota. Mick spends 10 months of the year in Colombia and 2 in the UK, working when he feels like it. He kindly invited myself and Sean to come and stay with him while we sorted out out shipping and flights back to the UK. It was really nice to roll into Bogota knowing a friendly face and some local knowledge was on the horizon.
Over the next few days, Mick made us feel like Royalty and even he even bought my bike off me to replace his well used and abused KLR. I was a little sad about leaving my bike behind but it saved me the huge hassel and cost of shipping it home.. At least she will be used in South America for many years to come !
After I booked my flights I made sure I made the most out of Bogota with the little money I had left. We went clubbing in downtown, enjoyed the fantastic resturants and basically chilled out with some locals…. Bogota is not what I imagined it at all. Big expensive shopping malls, classy resturants and nice museams. Thorwn into the mix is samba, dancing and friendly happy faces…. I loved Colombia and my biggest regret is not having enough time to explore it properly.
Writing this blog has been fun and I hope its helped to inspire a few people to just getting out there and doing it. If I can do it, ANYONE can…. You will meet so many wondrous, kind and selfless people that it will totally shake your own perspectives on western life. You will meet many other travellers, with and without motorcycle, who will happily share your experiences with you (and your beer). I can almost guarantee that you will make friendships on the road that will last a lifetime.
What I learned about travelling is that you really cant plan anything and I’m glad that I didn’t really plan much at all. You have to remain very elastic as nothing ever really goes how you plan it. In my opinion, I had much more fun that way too.
Its pretty sad writing the last post on this South American blog and thats probably why I’ve waited 6 weeks after getting home to do it. But ALAS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, the trials and tribulations of touring Ted will continue…
I’ve just started planning my next trip. At the moment im still undecided but I think its more than likely going to be a huge long trip to South Africa. First crossing western and eastern Europe and down the side of Africa (not sure which one yet)… Its going to probably be 2 years off with my current dire financial situation but hold onto your hats, knowing me its going to be more adventure packed than this one was
Until then….. Chau !