A Little Peace, an Accident and Goodbye
Before we get to the little drama, let’s start with something nice: We found IT, even though we thought we’d lost it: Silence.
We found it where you would normally expect it to be: way out in the countryside, where the hummingbirds in Colombia say good night to each other.
Following the recommendation of two friends, we find one of our favourite spots in Colombia: a magical place outside of Barichara.
Here it is quiet as a mouse at night. No music, no people shouting, and no noisy animals – nothing. Just dead silence. Lovely. And apart from the beautiful silence, we also meet super friendly travellers here, with whom we can share experiences. So it happens very quickly that a week passes by like in a flash!
More Favorite Places
Barichara is only one of these great places between the lush green mountains north of Bogotá. To ride comfortably between the cute villages overland is really one of the most beautiful things you can do in Colombia.
Life is once again extremely good and wonderfully undramatic. Until we decide to ride on and take the road to Zapatoca in the Chicamocha Canyon.
Luck in Misfortune
“Here we go!” I think as I look down the narrow serpentines into the valley. The view over the mountains in the canyon is spectacular.
I’m riding ahead when I suddenly hear a “fuck, fuck, fuck” over the Sena of Moe after the first curve. I immediately realize that something bad has happened.
“What happened?” “I hit the side.”
I turn around and see Moe in the curve – to my shock in the guard rail of the opposite lane. I am a little reassured that he is already on both legs. Also the Tiger is already standing again. Another motorcyclist stopped immediately and helped.
A dog on the side of the road had confused Moe. The strong braking in the curve finally led to a loss of control.
We first bring the bikes to a safe place (luckily the Tiger is still running), then we take a closer look at Moe’s injury. The trousers are torn and the leg has a burst.
It’s 25 kilometers back to the next bigger city and a hospital, partly on a sandy earth path.
“Can you handle it?”
Moe isn’t sure: “If I don’t have to shift gears or stop, I’ll be fine.”
Moe throws in a painkiller and then it goes back in first gear. When we arrive at the hospital, we’re irritated why they want to have the motorcycle insurance, vehicle registration and the course of the accident described at the registration desk.
Then everything happens quite fast. Before the x-ray, the doctor takes a quick look at the leg in the examination room: “I think it is broken.”
Nevertheless we make our jokes and ask if there is a wheelchair suitable for offroading that we can tie to the back of the bike. Of course we are aware that a broken leg would mean a big setback for the further journey.
In just under three weeks our crossing to Cuba begins. How do we get both motorcycles on the ship in Cartagena and what do we do in Cuba? While we wait for the results of the x-ray, unpleasant thoughts shoot through our heads.
But finally we get the message that it is not broken. The leg will be stitched up and Moe should be fit again in a few days. We are so lucky!
We know that this story could have ended very differently… And not only that: to our surprise, the Colombian vehicle insurance, which we had bought after crossing the border, also covers all hospital and medicine costs.
A country called Locombia
I must admit that when I heard Moe’s call for help I immediately thought it must be a mistake of another road user. We have had so many crazy situations on the road where I could only shake my head in bewilderment. I think there is really nothing that you don’t see on the streets of Colombia.
As one of the daily eyecatchers, I will always remember the guy on the bike who swings his legs up in front of me and lays down on the bike like Superman – in the middle of the running traffic. Another guy sits on the front of his tank with flip flops. Seeing things like that, I have to giggle into my helmet.
There are also not as funny moments, though. For example, this annoying truck driver, who thinks it’s a good idea to set back just behind a curve. The oncoming traffic forces me to make the most spectacular emergency stop ever.
Or a bus which drives on the two-lane mountain pass on both strips at the same time. Every time I try to overtake it crosses over to my lane and pushes me so hard that I have to give up after the third time.
Even as bad as the van in front of Moe, who has to overtake a car in a sharp bend. So he leaves the oncoming motorcyclist no other choice but to crash into the berm.
But not only in traffic we experience crazy things, no, also in human encounters. From lovable to exhausting we really have everything!
No wonder then that the Colombians like to call their country “Locombia”, which is made up of the Spanish word loco, meaning crazy, and Colombia.
Apart from the everyday encounters in Colombia there is another very special one: the one with Markus from Venezuela. Right, Venezuela – the state which has been in crisis for years.
Venezuela’s recent past is a sad story, which I’m sure you’re aware of through the media. One of political chaos, whose effects we experience almost daily on our journey through South America: you see and meet Venezuelans everywhere. Inflation and shortages have already driven a fifth of the people out of the country, according to United Nations estimates.
It’s not that bad for Markus yet. He has been living in a town near the Colombian border for a very long time and runs a bakery together with his wife. Markus wrote us spontaneously via Facebook and invited us to a meeting – a great idea. Since we can’t enter Venezuela at the moment, Markus comes over to Cúcuta, the main border to Venezuela.
Of course, much of the conversation is about everyday life in Venezuela. We have many questions. “It’s not easy”, admits Markus “but we keep on fighting.” We can only imagine what this struggle looks like. Because not only basic food is missing, also electricity and tap water are turned off for hours every day.
Despite these circumstances, they want to stay: “We have too much to lose to simply leave”. In one way, they are still lucky to live near the Colombian border. Here they can come over regularly to stock up on the most important things. Besides that, Markus explains that it is also important to know the right people in the area. “If we hold out long enough, we’ll have a really good life later on.”
Dear Markus, we wish you all the best for the future, so that you don’t lose hope and one day have paradise on your doorstep.
Goodbye, South America!
And now it is done, after almost two years. We crossed this continent from south to north, went back and forth in circles, and zigzagged again. What a time, South America!
Little did we know of what awaits us. How varied and beautiful you are. You are powerful and you have shown us what solitude and vastness is.
What did we marvel at. At your generosity and hospitality. About the trust you placed in us. Your openness and warmth.
You have led us through sandstorms, over volcanoes, to lonely beaches, into the jungle, to burning heat and over icy cold passes.
Oh, and what have we cursed about you. About your breakneck traffic, about shenanigans, or about how you tried to rip us off. About your “no hay” or your “mañana.”
So much we learned from you. We tried to understand you. And have failed at times. For you cannot be tamed. You’re restless and loud. And sometimes incomprehensible.
One thing is certain: one day we will return. To absorb more of your magic and get even more answers. But now it’s time to move on with our heads full to the brim and wonder elsewhere.