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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bucaramanga, San Gil, & Barichara...

After an uneventful evening in Bucaramanga (another relatively large city w/ slightly less appeal than some others - IMO), I pointed the bike south towards San Gil.  The ride was beautiful, scenic, and allowed me to get in a fair amount of mountainous riding w/ plenty of cooler temps and twisty goodness.  San Gil is a small town nestled on the Chicamocha Canyon.  The canyon itself reaches 2,000 meters in depth at some points (compared to the Grand Canyon in the US, which only reaches a measly 1,800 meters at its deepest point), which creates a plethora of opportunity for trekking, climbing, rafting etc.  Thus why San Gil has been dubbed the adventure capital of Colombia.  

When I reached San Gil I explored a bit, but was enjoying the ride so much that I decided to make a last minute change and keep going about 20km up from the city to Barichara, and I am extremely glad that I did.  Barichara is a very small village also in Santander department.  It is widely known and accepted as one of the best preserved and most beautiful colonial villages in Colombia.  It really is a special place.  There is a tranquil vibe and way of life there.  Everyone goes about their business and life at a seemingly slower pace.  There is an obvious family friendly and communal vibe, and everyone has a smile on their face.  I stayed at Tinto Hostel, which was amazing for $11USD per night w/ perfect secure parking for the bike inside the gate.  After spending a couple of hours exploring and strolling through the town, I ended up in a hammock back at Tinto for the next six hours reading a book from start to finish.  I haven't done that in...  ever.  A testament to the relaxation Barichara creates/provides.  

The book I read, Everything That Remains (by Joshua Fields Millburn - The Minimalists), was gifted to me through Kindle by a friend Nina in Dallas.  Thanks Nina, I owe ya one!  Everything That Remains is not a how-to-book, but a why-to-book.  A touching, surprising story of what happened when Millburn decided to let go of everything and begin living more deliberately.  I related VERY much to his experiences and learned a metric $hit ton while reading.  The book is equal parts uplifting, deeply personal, insightful, and exciting (when you think that you too can make similar positive changes).  The memoir is peppered with helpful, and often hilarious, interruptions by Ryan Nicodemus, Millburn's best friend of twenty years.  

I would highly, highly recommend the book to anyone.  It is chock full of poignant quotable passages.  Here is one that moved me deeply.  It refers to why some don't make changes in their lives even if they want to or it's obviously necessary.  Whether it be from external consumerist driven mindsets and expectations, fear, etc...  ~  "It's that ingrained fear we all have, a natural instinct. We tend to be afraid of bucking the status quo. But when you do take that first jump, it actually becomes terrifying to do 'normal' things, because you realize what a risk it is to give up your entire life just to be normal."  ~  I feel very fortunate that I've taken the first step referenced (I think).  I sold and gave away the majority of my possessions and have taken off on a motorcycle.  Something that I've always wanted to do, something I'm very, very proud of myself for achieving.  However, the farther along on the adventure I get, the more scared I get at the thought of returning to my 'normal' life.  It doesn't even seem possible at this point.  Now I just need to figure out what the F I want to be when I grow up.  Something most everyone is challenged with me thinks...  

Anyway, after waking up refreshed in Barichara I hopped the bike for the long and winding 200+ mile journey south to Bogota.  The ride was absolutely beautiful.  Filled with lush green mountainous vistas in all directions, small inviting towns, and delicious roadside churrascarias (steakhouses).  The past few days riding has really reminded me how much I enjoy being solo on the bike.  It gives me a lot of time to focus and think.  Not to mention I simply enjoy flipping the lid closed, cueing up the perfect song, and riding.  The roads the past few days have been incredible and I'm stoked to get back on the bike soon to experience more.  Before I do that however, I have some errands and chores to take care of here in the 'big city'.  Speaking of big city, the drastic night-and-day contrast between slow paced Barichara and the surrounding country roads, and fast paced, insane, dense, stressful roads of Bogota is crazy!  Nina booked a nice hotel for us here and I finally made it and settled in around 3pm.  Since then I've been checking things off 'the list'.  Laundry...  check.  $hitty haircut number four...  check.  New charger for iPhone...  check.  Etc, etc, etc.  

Shortly after finishing this and flipping the lid closed on the laptop, I'll be grabbing the bike and driving it over to Bikes Adventure, which is a shop recommended by fellow ADVriders.  I'm going to source new tires there and will probably repack the rear wheel bearings while the bike is apart.  I'll also most likely perform some typical service while there as well (i.e. fluid changes, brake pads, etc).  I've heard great things about the shop and owner, and apparently I can (hopefully) use some space to complete some of the work myself to save cost.  Most importantly however, I need tires.  The Heidenau K60's have held up fantastically well.  I LOVE them.  They handle well in all conditions.  I've slapped well over 8k miles on them and would trust another 3k (at least).  However, I'd rather spoon on new rubber while I'm here as I have some challenging terrain coming up in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.  Better to grab it now while it's a sure thing.  I'll be sure to post up a review of Bikes Adventure after my experience there.   

I think that's all for now...  I need to run a few more errands today.  Nina is working here in Bogota, so it's best to knock these things out while she is in the office.  Speaking of Nina, when I saw her yesterday she was more stunning that I remember.  We both mentioned that we were nervous about our reunion, but we hit it off like there was zero gap between meetings.  We enjoyed a nice dinner and conversation last night and I'm really looking forward to spending more time with her here in Bogota.  Only time will tell where things will go, but I'm enjoying everything immensely at present.  

I hope everyone reading this back home is doing great.  Now that I'm back online with decent interwebs I'll do my best to get caught up with friends and family.  

Chat soon...  

~ D

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