Thursday, 12 April 2012


Lately I’m getting fat from all the non-cycling which Leana and I have been doing. We’ve proceeded rather slowly, roughly in a Westerly direction along the North Coast of Columbia on the Caribbean. After Leaving Taganga from where I posted my last report, we went over the hill to the city of Santa Marta, the oldest existing city in South America with the first cathedaral in the country. From Santa Marta Leana took a side trip to go trekking to the Lost City of Cuidad Perdida. After that we made our way via Barranquilla to the famous historical city and tourist attraction of Cartagena. Along the way we turned off to visit a mud-volcano where Leana coated herself in the supposedly healing muck. In Cartagena we booked into a comfortable hostal close to the historic centre, and spent a couple of days experiencing the place. The city was one of the first Spanish settlements on the continent, and the old historic part is surrounded by water and almost completely walled in. Of course, there is also a modern part to the place, which includes strips of skyscraper hotels and apartments (the hordes of tourists have to stay somewhere). The next country we’re heading towards is Panama, but there is no road through the Darien Jungle region around the border of Columbia and Panama (referred to as the Darien Gap). Most cycle tourists either take a yacht or fly from Cartagena to central Panama from where they continue with the road again. We wanted to minimize the non-cycling distance, so we decided to head for the town of Turbo, which is about as far as the road goes along this coast on the way to Panama. Last year this time we’d lost track of the date and ended up in Rio De Janeiro on Easter Weekend. This Easter Weekend we found ourselves at the little holiday towns of Tolu and Arboletes, on the Carribean. These were both wonderful bustling places, where we could see the locals having a good time on their holidays (and unlike Rio, we found cheap accommodation close to the beaches). From there to Turbo was also interesting, and although the road wasn’t fantastic at times we did stay in some really local out-of-the-way little places. Turbo itself is a hectic, dusty & muddy, smugglers haven of a port on an inlet amongst the mangroves. The place is a crazy mixture of old and modern, big trucks and horse-drawn carts share the burden of carting things to and from the boats. Well, that was the last time I’ve been on the bike. From Turbo be put the bikes on a speed-boat up the coast to Capurgana, close to the Panama border. Capurgana is a tiny picturesque village, becoming very popular amongst travelers. Now we are staying in a very nice little hotel overlooking the dock, and we even got hold of some snorkeling gear and went into the water today to take a look at all the colourful fish in the warm clear water. We’ve been stamped out of Columbia by the local immigration office, and tomorrow we’ll put the bikes on a small boat and head towards Panama. Daily distances cycled since my last report have been:- Santa Marta 7 km; Barranquilla 101 km; Santa Veronica 46 km; Cartagena 87 km; Cruz De Viso 52 km; Toluviage 100 km; Tolu 19 km; Cerete 94 km; Arboletes 86 km; Mellito 61 km; and Turbo 69 km. The total distance which I’ve cycled in South America is 26 484 km, and the total distance which I’ve cycled on this trip over the past 5 years is 92 971 km.