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Monday, March 24, 2014


So, I've been in Bogota four nights now and have to say that it's growing on me.  I had been here before, but only briefly, and didn't get a chance to really check out the city.  Nina treated me to a nice hotel the first couple of nights near the Flores Metro stop (nice little part of town w/ flower shops scattered about - hence the name of the Metro station).  The third night we stayed at Tip Top Hostel, which is decent.  They have a couple of properties and there is parking for the bike, but there is something wrong with everything here.  There is hot water, but it is too hot (never thought I'd say that on this trip!).  Like scalding hot, and you can't reduce the temp.  There are curtains on the window, but when I went to close them the bar fell off the wall.  There is a towel rack, but that fell as well when I put a towel on it.  The location is good (La Candelaria) and there is parking for the bike, so I can't really complain in the end as free/secure parking is a biyatch to come by in Bogota.  

Nina is working here for a couple of months, so during the days I have time to explore on my own and take care of necessary chores and errands.  The other day, following a recommendation from a fellow ADVrider, I dropped in Bikes Adventure to take care of some bike schtuff.  Immediately I met Mauricio (the owner) and his crew.  They are all nice blokes and are very knowledgeable around motos.  Mauro had his Super Tenere parked just outside the shop, so I knew I was in the right place.  We chatted for awhile and I decided quickly to give him my business.  We slapped on new Heidenau K60's, swapped out the rear wheel bearings, changed the rear brake pads, and gave the bike a much needed wash.  Mauro even had his buddies at the wash print off some die cut stickers with my blog address for the bike. 
While in the shop, Mauro introduced me to several of his friends.  First I met Jean Paul, who runs Top 1 motor oil in Colombia.  We had some great conversations and he and Mauro are trying to talk me into racing a Yamaha R6 for Top 1 in Expert Supersport class in the FEDEMOTO Colombian race series.  If that comes to fruition the trip will be on hold, but I'll be racing a motorcycle again, and in a foreign land, which is amazing!  More to come soon...  I also met Camilo, who runs Mastech for all of Colombia.  Mastech is the Colombian designed/produced version of Touratech.  They have a very large catalog of high quality parts for all ADV needs.  The cost seems to be a bit lower than the competition too, which should make it a very appealing option.  Long story short, if you find yourself in Bogota and need ANY type of service, parts, and/or accessories for your bike, Bikes Adventure is your one stop shop.  I HIGHLY recommend dropping in to see Mauro and the gang. 

The night before last Camilo had a girlfriend in town from Medellin, so he invited Nina and me out for a night on the town.  We stopped in for "a drink" at a nice underground salsa club and ended up staying for quite awhile (uhhhh... like ALL night).  After XX (don't remember the actual number) bottles of Aguardiente and several Club Colombia cervezas later, we were all a bit wrecked and causing a right raucous.  Okay really it was just me and Camilo, but to be fair, the girls did polish off their share of Guaro (Aguardiente).  We had agreed that day to meet Mauro at 9am at the shop the next day for a ride to Villa de Leyva, which is a beautiful small Colombian colonial town about 100 miles north.  Normally I'm the one complaining about 'Latin American time', but due to the Guaro I was the reason Nina and I were an hour late.  Doh!!!  

After shaking the fog, Nina and I did finally meet up with the gang for the ride to Villa.  Mauro brought along his daughter, and Camilo had his girlfriend from Medellin along for the ride.  The guys are so incredibly nice.  Not only did they agree to ride with us, but it became a tour of the Colombian countryside as well.  Mauro was sure to stop and show us several landmarks along the way (i.e. Battle of Boyaca site, etc).  When we arrived in Villa they escorted us to our hotel to unload the bags prior to a nice lunch in the main plaza.  The ride was beautiful, and the city was even more so.  I didn't know what to expect, but the city is breathtaking.  Whitewashed buildings all over, a cool breeze in the air, a laid back vibe, and beautiful lush green mountain vistas in the background create a very special and romantic place.  Nina and I grabbed a nice campsite at Colombian Highlands Renacer Hostel, which was a very cool spot.  There were several couples there overlanding in kitted Toyota Land Cruisers, and we even met up with Susan and Scott (Bentley's Big Adventure).  Nina and I really enjoyed our time in the city and campsite together, and I would love to go back sometime in the future.  We even talked about it being a great place to live at some point.  It really is that special.  

This morning we woke up fairly early and, after a nice breakfast, decided to explore a bit more of the town.  We stumbled upon several incredible cafes and restaurants and had lunch.  It started to look like rain was moving in, so we decided to pack it up and get back on the road.  Nina is really enjoying riding on the bike, but I figured a wet 60 degree ride might change her perception a bit.  The beginning of the ride was incredible.  The roads just outside of Villa de Leyva wind up and down through lush green Colombian countryside.  The miles were clicking away until we got close to Boyaca (which is where Bolivar's final battle with the Spanish was). 

At that point the cars were at a standstill due to holiday traffic.  I got the bright idea to bypass everyone on the right side (like everyone else does here, and I've done countless times).  Well, due to the holiday there were a $hit ton of police out.  I crested a hill on the right side (over the white line) and was immediately staring down a cop.  He motioned me over, so I pulled over straight away.  If you recall, I made the awesome decision to NOT buy SOAT, which turns out was a mistake.  At first I told Nina to stay quiet and I would play the dumb gringo.  I gave them all my paperwork, but my heart sank when homeboy said, "uhhh, y seguro?".  I pulled out my State Farm insurance card with expiration of 11/2014 and told him, "seguro no necesito en Colombia" and that my insurance was "functionar en todo el mundo".  Surprisingly he said, "oh really?" and went to hand my card back to me.  Then he thought twice about that and called his buddy over.  

Copper numero dos wasn't quite as gullible and/or friendly.  He immediately started hounding me that it was illegal to drive without Colombian SOAT, and that they needed to impound the bike.  He said I would need to take a bus with Nina to Bogota, pay a 600,000 COP fine, then get back out to East Bumblefukk to get the bike back.  "Oh sweet shit sticks" I thought.  At this point Nina took over.  She started going at it with this guy back and forth in perfect Spanish.  They just ignored me from that point on and were having a pretty heated conversation.  I saw her go from mad, to sad, to perplexed, to happy, all in 20 minutes.  She really pulled out all the stops, and before I knew it officer numero dos was handing my stuff back and telling us to be safe on the ride back.  I couldn't freaking believe it!  If Nina hadn't have been there this blog post would be MUCH different.  Thanks babe!!!  Long story short, I'll be tracking down SOAT tomorrow, and hope that my stupidity will help others out in the future.  If you can't track down a beautiful German girl to get you out of trouble, BUY SOAT, or risk losing your ride!!!  

Anyway, after $hitting my drawers and getting off with a pat on the back, we finally made it back to the city earlier today.  We are back at Tip Top Hostel, but moving to Casa32 tomorrow for four nights (and yeah, I'll be buying insurance as well).  They have nice cheap private rooms and private/secure parking for the bike, so it should be nice.  I'm not sure what the plan is after that.  I need to get moving at some point, but we're really enjoying each other's company, so it may be tough.  Not to mention the opportunity to race, which may present itself.  Only time will tell.  I think I may check out the salt cathedral tomorrow or the next day as well, and am open to suggestions on things to do/see in the city during the days.  In addition, there is a nice park close to Casa32, so I'll probably start up my exercise regimen again.  I've been a slack ass, which absolutely DOES NOT work when eating like a fat arse in Colombia.  :( 

I guess that's it for now...  However, I'll leave you with a few more pics.  

The first few are from a street art tour of the city that I did the other day.  Even if you aren't a graffiti fan, I would highly recommend taking the tour.  It is free (tip not included), and is a great way to see and experience otherwise overlooked parts of Bogota.  It is run by a nice Australian guy named Christian (artist tag - Crisp).  If interested, hit me up for details.

The next few are from the lovely ride to Villa...  

And finally, a funny one.  This morning they were filming a music video for a popular pop artist named Juan Carlos at the hotel in Villa.  The director was chatting with me about the bike and trip, and then asked if I would be in the video.  So, here I am with a beautiful Colombian actress from Medellin trying to look "muy romantic".  Keep an eye out for my music video debut soon!  :)  

Ok, more to come very soon...  Hasta pronto, 

~ D

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