Saturday, June 29, 2013

Foothills of the Andes and Cocora Valley/Wax Palm Trees

This is just a quick post to let you know we are fine.  Still running around Colombia.  We got tied up on some dirt roads that ended 5 miles in and other dirt roads that were closed because of landslides.  We ended up backtracking and had to ride through Medellin traffic anyway, as much as we tried to avoid it.  We have spent the last few days in a little town called Salento,  which is more or less the gateway to the Cocora Valley which leads to Los Nevados National Park.  This area is famous for the wax palm, which is the national tree of Colombia as well as the most scenic area in Colombia.  The wax palm tree is unique in the fact that it grows taller than the forest canopy all around it.  We went for a five hour hike up and down the mountains checking out the scenery. We were hiking at 7-8000 foot elevation in a cloud forest.  We should be moving on in a day or two,  we want to go horseback riding tomorrow.   That should be an adventure,  I've never been on a horse except for a short ride on the back with my cousin when I was a kid.  So, not many captions, just some scenery and then the palm forest hike.  


Now for pictures from the hike...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cartagena to the Foothills of the Andes

While in Cartagena we took a double-decker sightseeing bus to check out the city.  We rode the whole loop first, then went back to check out the parts we liked.  We also took a 90 minute walking tour of the "Walled City of Cartagena" which was designated a World Heritage Site as well as the fort nearby.  Rather than attempt to repeat the history lesson I'll let you do your homework and check it out at Wikipidia.,_Colombia   
The past few days have been spent riding around the countryside a little east and south of Medellin.  I think Colombia just swept the title for best country so far.  We have been riding mostly dirt tracks up, down, around and over the 5000' range of the Andes foothills.   This area is all farmland with a lot of coffee trees and numerous fruit trees we don't know the names of.  The scenery is of course magnificent and the roads we do find are smooth and curvy.  The people are all very friendly and smile and wave as we ride by.  We intend to spent at least another week or so in Colombia getting acclimated to the altitude before we go into Equador and the higher elevations further down the road.  Hasta LaByeBye

Main entrance and clock tower to the "Walled City"

More of the wall and a side entrance

Part of the wall with the new section of the city in the background 

Now we go inside the walls with some random shots
total chaos but it works and every driver is considerate of the other driver

From Cartagena we headed towards Medellin, just close enough to avoid it,  I hate cities. Then into the foothills of the Andes. 
The lane on the right is for motorcycles.  This is at a tollbooth and motorcycles don't have to pay at any of them.  How cool is that!
This is typical from Mexico to here, there's only four on this one.  We have seen six, as well as refrigerators being hauled,  20 foot rebar being dragged, animals being moved,  if it fits it goes.  Also there are more bikes than cars in these countries.  They range from scooters to 200 cc  with very few larger ones.  The police run 650 cc bikes.  Any age seems to be a legal driver and every driver has total disregard for rules of the road.  It's going to be REALLY hard driving in the states when we finally return.  Lane splitting, passing on curves, passing on right, anything, and I mean anything goes when driving in these countries.  There is absolutely no road rage because every driver is considerate of the other drivers even if they are passing on a blind curve over a hill in my lane.  Yes, it happens daily.
This guy needed some help up the thirteen mile hill.

This was a Colombian ceiling fan in one our hotel rooms

These guys wanted us to take a picture of his fresh haircut

We climbed to the top of this hill to take a picture of Valdivia as the clouds rolled in

We stopped at an overlook to take pictures of these guys
This is El PiƱol, " Sugarloaf Mountain"
740 steps to the top, next few photos are the view from this point

Some scenery from the ground

That's enough for tonight,  believe it or not this is very time consuming and we're ready to rest after a long day.