Thursday, December 27, 2012

Parking lot or highway?

We were up early this morning due to the extremely strong smell of chemicals in our hotel room from the staff waxing the floors in the middle of the night. We had to get the heck out of there so we packed up and went down to the basement parking lot to find a crowd checking out the bikes. The usual photo shoot ensued. The same questions were asked... How much did the bike cost, how fast does it go, where are you from and where are you going, how long will it take, are we crazy? Once we had satisfied the masses we headed out of town. Almost two hours later we had cleared the city limits of Bogotá. Traffic was horrendous, we had to weave in and out of lanes and do a lot of trick riding to get out as fast as we did. We stopped to put on rain gear as the sky looked like it weighed a ton and it was a dark shade of gloom. It never rained on us though, after we put on the gear, but of course that's how it goes. We got pretty hot in the stop and go traffic and then we came to the mountain passes. We stopped to remove some layers and let the bikes cool down a bit before struggling to pass about a million cars and semis on the twistiest road ever littered with construction, tolls and donkeys carrying loads of coffee up the steepest of hills. The hillsides were all being farmed for this and that at what seemed like impossible angles. We finally crested the pass at about 11k feet and the view almost made it all worth it. The clouds were below us and above us and all around us and the mountains seemed to disappear into them. Following the ridges down the canyons covered in green and flowers we seemed to go down further than we thought possible. It was like coming down out of the heavens into the jungle and then going further down until we reached the level where people lived again, all the while battling trucks and cars and other bikes for the right to keep going. We knew that the traffic was bad when the caution sign that we saw repeated the most often was a warning of a head on collision with a picture of two cars smashing into each other! It was a shame that the traffic was so bad because when the spectacular view came into sight we dared not stop to take a picture for the thought of loosing all the progress we had just made passing trucks. We needed to get to somewhere so that we could pull of the road and sleep. The day was a stress ball sprinkled with adrenaline and euphoria from the vistas! Camping spots were non existent and people lived in small tin huts on the side of the road the whole day until we got down from mountains and found a place to spend the night in the first real city in 8 hours. We managed to squeeze out about 200 miles today. It sure would be nice if we could average a bit higher mileage but we need some real highway and a lot less traffic to even think about that happening. I wonder what the heck we are doing all this for sometimes. It's hard riding through depressing poverty everyday. It's also hard to be away from home and to spend all this money to ride when I could be using some of it to help some of these people somehow. I just don't know how or where to even start. I find it difficult to haggle for the cost of things even though I am sure they expect it. Often times I just pay their price because I can't bring myself to offer less. Maybe tomorrow will be easier, although today was overload for the senses and emotions it was still one that we didn't waste. Here's to making the best of what's around, which is what all these people do everyday!

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