Colombia II

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Medellin, The City of Eternal Spring, at 1.600 meters and 6 degrees north of the equator.

Parque Lleras, Medellin.

The best way to get up the hills in Medellin: hitch a ride behind a Chiva, tow-rope included.

In November my mom came to visit me in Colombia for two-and-a-half weeks. She flew into Medellin to see my apartment and meet my friends - both local and international. Then we flew up to colonial Cartagena, visited the Islas del Rosario, and attended the Miss (Seņorita) Colombia pagent.

Miss Colombia pagent, Cartagena.

One of the regional-dress costumes.

On the way back to Medellin I met Seņorita San Andres in the Cartagena airport. Although she took third place, in my opinion she should have won it all. The winner, Seņorita Atlantico will represent Colombia in the Miss Universe pagent.

Miss San Andres and I in the Cartagena airport. Yes, she's wearing heels, big ones.

My mom and I in Parque Botero, Medellin. WIth the metro line in the background.

Although my mom was originally hesitant and nervous to visit Colombia, during her stay here she fell in love with the people and the country. She wants to come back sometime soon to rent an apartment in Medellin for a month and study Spanish.

It's the same story as always: those who have never been to Colombia believe it's just jungle and violence and drug-traffickers, those who do visit fall in love with the place.

There's only one way to find out.

The Metro Cable in Medellin, inagurated July2004 to increase public transportation to poorer barrios

I had to leave Colombia in September in order to renew my tourist visa. Since Colombia and Panama are not connected by road, there are two options: either Ecuador or Venezuela. Since I will eventually (some day) leave Colombia through Ecuador and the Andes of Peru and Bolivia, I choose Venezuela for this visa renewal. I rode to Bogota through Honda, up to Bucaramunga through Villa De Leva, Socorro and Barichara, then from Bucaramunga I crossed the mountains - reaching 4.300 meters - and dropped down into steamy Cucuta, on the Colombia-Venezuela border.

On the highway from Bogota to Tunja, Colombia.

Barichara, Colombia.

The main plaza and church in Villa De Leyva. Find the KLR in front of my hotel right on the plaza.

Some catholic school girls inspecting my license plates in Socorro.

On the highway from Bucaramunga to Cucuta.

Berlin, Colombia, between Bucaramunga and Cucuta on the highway to the Venezuela border.

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Arriving at 1pm on Saturday, I discovered that the Venezuela customs closes at noon on Saturdays and doesn't open again until Monday morning. In case you're not privy, the Cucuta-San Antonio del Tachira border crossing is one of the main routes between Colombia and Venezuela. But what can you do? That's how it goes. We all need opportunities to practice pacience. It is a long lost virtue.

''The Devil Bush.'' I took this picture on the Colombia-Venezuela border crossing at Cucuta.

...so I rented a dirt-hole in San Antonio, Venezuela. Since changing my rear tire was long overdue, I decided to make the best use of my time. After asking around a little, it was unanimous that the best place to buy the tire in the size and dual-sport style that I needed was back in Cucuta, Colombia. Considering Colombia's most popular export, I found it incredible how wide open this border is. I cruised across a couple of times without anyone even asking me the time of day, let alone for my passport.

Sara and I outside of Merida, Venezuela.

Three days later, Sara flew into Maracaibo, Venezuela for a little south-of-the-border vacation. Catching the tail of huricane whats-his-name, we decided to escape into the Venezuelan mountain town of Merida. After the weather settled down we crossed back into Colombia on the Caribbean coast highway to Santa Marta, Taganga, and Parque Tayrona. Then down to Medellin through Caucasia and Valdivia.

The little fishing village of Taganga, next to Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast of Colombia.

Parque National Tyrona, 20km from Santa Marta.

No surprise, Sara also fell in love with Colombia. But then again, who doesn't? The only problem that she encountered was a slight lack of enough padding on the KLR seat. Some days we put on about 600 km. I'm hoping to pick up a nice sheep-skin seat-cover one of these days. Or yak maybe. Ostrich feathers anyone?

Taking fresh milk to the market on the Valdivia-Medellin highway.

Valdivia. Heading back home to Medellin after visiting Colombia's northern Caribbean coast.

Halloween in Medellin.
My friend Axel and I designed and constructed our own costumes for a couple of costume contests. He dressed as a centauro and I was his elf sidekick. In Mango's Discoteca we took third place, which got us a big fat nothing, while first place won $800 and second place $400. What was the first place costume, you ask? A mattress.

If this guy below isn't an exact Mr. T look-alike I don't know who would be.

Mr. T and I in front of Mangos discotech.

Quite a show at Mangos discotec for Halloween.

The second night of contests we took second place, winning $160. Regardless of the prizes, a good time was had by all.

Elfo Paul in Parque Lleras, Medellin.

On the highway from Cali to Buenaventura, Colombia.

Charles Lowell on his KLR. Motorcycles don't have to pay a single highway toll in Colombia.

Juanchaco military base.

The Sprockets practicing for their circus show that night, Medellin.

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