Monday, 13 August 2012

Moving South to Las Brisas Colombia

Time to leave Medellin.. However! Kevin is still playing with that new camera.  Dude!  "Wait.. if I take a photo on this setting it looks like this.."   Great...ready yet?  "Nope.... if I take a photo on this other setting it looks like this.."  You can see how thrilled I am as I'm trying to go out the door.. ;-)  C'mon, Kev....  Get this man some breakfast and coffee so we can get on the road!


Woo hoo, we're on the road again!



Besides the big trucks that bellow heaps of black or blue exhaust, it's an absolutely gorgeous ride through the little mountain towns of Colombia.


One thing I love about this country is when there are toll boothes, there is a little lane to the right for motorcycles to pass without paying.  In some of the other countries, it's such a pain to stop the bike, take my gloves off, unzip jackets or pockets to get the small change needed.  By the time I'm putting it all back together again, the people behind me are beeping the horns.  So I appreciate a country that allows free moto access!



It's one of those super nice flowy riding days.  Roads are great, not much traffic, and gorgeous!

Kevin spots a view stop.  I have to admit looks pretty good.


Until we started down these rickety rotten stairs!  Honestly, if this stair case was in sue-happy countries like America, they would have this completely closed off if not torn down.

The entire structure would sway with every step.  Stepping over gigantic holes of the pieces that have truly rotted and fallen away.  Which piece of wood will I break through and end up rolling down the cliff into the muddy river below!?  I'm a wussy, Kevin is the brave one.  He's down the bottom watching me nerviously make my way with lots of photos while laughing.


 Dag gone it, he wore the same t-shirt as me today... ;-)



It was absolutely beautiful here and since the wood stairs didn't break down, it was totally worth the trip.

Later in the afternoon we pull into Manizales.  My number one goal is to find a bank, totally out of money. 



Very good looking but busy town!


After we both scored with the magic money that comes out of a machine, neither of us was quite ready to give it up for the day yet.  We've been in Medellin for days and had enough of city life.  Small village or camping sounds good to me for tonight!  That is the beauty of living on the road..




Kevin has got the Lonely Planet book and there are a couple of parks around here with thermal springs.  The book even shows a couple hostels within or around the park, so that's where we head. Not long after this nicely paved road it turned into dirt.  I pulled Kevin over to make sure he wants to do the dirt.  His street tires have no tread to begin with, but he's traveling on a rear tire that is extra bald and needing to be changed at this point.  He's still keen and says let's do it.


We took a photo of this sign after traveling on the rough road for a while.  It is so out of place and surprises us both to see it here. There is food in 500 meters?  If there was, it's not there now! ;-)


Up, up and up we continue to go.  A lot of the road is getting really rough.  Like little rivers running through it, deep crevases from the water with slippery rock and mud.

A chance to pull over and one of my favorite photos I ever took of Kevin.  So beautiful here and so glad to have somebody to share the views with...


As usual, the dirt roads take you to the prettiest places, never fails.

One of the hostels and hot springs coming up from Kevin's LP, Termales de Ruiz.


This hostel was VERY closed.  Nobody has been here in ages, big chains and bolts across the door. It looks and feels really creepy.  This old man comes out from the back with a dog.  He seems nice enough and we tell him we are looking for a place to camp instead (sort of wish we didn't tell him that..)  He takes us out the back to the thermal pools and says we can camp here.

The pools are good looking even though unmaintained.  Lots of thermal hot steam. We've got our tents so we can set up on the wet ground, and even go for a midnight dip.. Cool! Kevin is scaring me with stories of what the creepy old man is going to do to us tonight. ;-/

The more we walked around to check it out, the more questions we had.  Why is this guy here?  Is he a guard or simply a squatter?  He had a little bed set up in the pool mechanics room.  He was strange, but we still thought we'd stay here.  Kevin pulled the machete out of his pannier and said we'd be fine. ;-)

All was well until he said we needed to pay.  How much?  It worked out to be the same as any ol' hostel that had a warm bed and running water!  Kevin was telling him that we are not going to pay that much to camp but the man wouldn't back down.  It made no sense to charge even a little, let alone a lot. So we left, even though it was nearly dark now.



There is still one more hostel listed in his book called Las Brisas.  We confirmed we are on the right track and continued up the hill.



Kevin said he's feeling a bit dizzy.. We had a look at the elevation (4032m = 13228ft). He said the dizziness wasn't bad, however it was noticeable.  I didn't feel it at all, but we better get off the bike sooner than later.


I had no idea we'd come up this far!

After some tricky slippery riding in the dark we come across this little shack. According to Kevin's calculations from the little paper map in his LP, this should be Hosteria Las Brisas. It looks more to me like a temporary wooden shed and at the time there were no lights on outside or inside.  So I am trying to make out the words on the wall in the dark. I am laughing so hard and telling Kevin that the sign says this is it!  Kevin is taking a photo through the fog.  My head is turned because there is a lady inside that heard me and she is yelling at me through the wall after she turned the front light on.


I'm like, Oh Sh..!  There's somebody in there!! She is speaking so fast, but I explain to her in my much more simple Spanish that we are looking for a room tonight???  Ha! I said it sort of cocky and expected her to shooo us away.

She then turned on all the lights, opened the door, and what a surprise!  This is a working hostel, the owner was just the only one here and must have gone to bed for the night.  There is nothing up here, no towns, no reason for traffic or to expect anyone this late. She said she was worried at first, and then surprised to see two motorcycles!

The hostel has one tiny room here with 2 bunk beds.  Anything looked good to us.  Such a nice lady, she made us a wonderful dinner too!  We had soup, hot tea, and big plate full of rice veggies and chicken...  SCORE!!!

I have often found in the world when I am struggling to stop for the night trying to figure out where to sleep; just around the time I am about to give up, not only a good place, but a PERFECT place shows up.



We ended up at about 4200 meters (13,770ft) and it was freakin' cold!!  We drank the tea and had our soup as quick as possible since it wouldn't stay warm that long in this air.  Dinner was fantastic and she even had a couple beers in her cabinet!  I had already settled in my brain we would have a chilly night camping on wet earth with a tin of tuna for dinner. How lucky are we!?

This night we squished together into the one bottom bunk wearing every bit of warm clothes, wool socks and beenie hats.  I counted at one stage after stealing from all the other beds, that we accumulated 12 blankets! (including Spiderman and Cinderella ;-)

For months we've been in hot humid weather and didn't expect (or research properly) that it would be like winter tonight! No problem getting warm enough, however we both had massive headaches. Kevin was still feeling a bit dizzy and we could not sleep for anything; which I have since learned is normal when you are not yet acclimatized.

Lucky for me, Kevin has a few movies in his computer, and we literally watched movies and laughed all night long.  Turned out to be quite fun actually!  See ya tomorrow.. ;-)

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