It is with a heavy heart that I now bid a fond adios to Colombia. I’ve tarried here far longer than originally planned, but somehow even before arriving suspected that this place would be as beguiling as it has turned out. Oh, there are of course the lovely ladies, and the women folk are also something very special indeed. Throw in a good smattering of charming colonial cities, lush pretty countryside and people who are helpful, friendly, relaxed and engaging then you really couldn’t wish for much more in a country. Not to mention the good cycling road shoulder, serious cyclists out on the roads and traffic that is, in the main, courteous. However, as I leave, I am still left with some serious questions:
Why is it that no cheap Colombian hotels have shower-heads?
Why is it that people put pineapple (and in Pasto, even marmalade!!) on pizzas?
Why don’t more people appreciate my salsa?
Why is it that in the local music videos the farm boy crooners strut their beer guts while local scrubbers wave their voluminous posteriors about the place and this is considered good?
Why does no one here appreciate that never has a banana been improved by frying it?
Popayan is a cracker of a little city with a huge collection of white-painted colonial buildings around the city centre. It is a modern sophisticated place (being a hardcore cycling adventurer I know sophistication when I see it). As such it sports a large number of museums and galleries and the local people seem to have perfected the art of looking at truly average art works and pretending to see something of value in them where no such value exists – a skill I have never really mastered.
I’ll miss this place very much as I head south into the high Andes. I just bought a map of South America and I am usually a great lover of maps. This one, however, has me a little perturbed in that the road south is still very long indeed and a lot of it runs through the centre of the brown and white that denotes huge elevations. This is a double-edged sword in a way; the Andes of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile are both daunting and enticing at the same time. I do enjoy a good climb in a masochistic sort of a way – it’s just that it looks on this map like they go on forever! Over 4,000 meters in places it is as high as the Tibetan plateau and unlike a plateau the rises and dips appear unceasing up to Bolivia where the salt plains might be a respite.
I must add to this post (again, in the near-constant pursuit of self-glorification) that your most humble correspondent has now become the pin-up boy for custom made bicycle manufacturing. Yes, out go the scantily clad, shock absorber fondling busty scrubbers in barely visible swim suits and in comes your T-shirt clad correspondent sitting on his arse next to his bike! I balked (this time) at the idea of a series of nudes, but what the hell – if the coming Andes steel-up the buns sufficiently I might reconsider, I just hope that the good folk at Co-Motion Cycles will be able to handle the influx of orders!
It also appears that cycling fame is short lived in this day and age. The spike in hits on my site that sent me into such excitement has come crashing back down to earth, my ego along with it. Might just have to write another article for the newspaper. Regardless, it is for you my loyal clickers that I toil away week in week out bringing you these rare insights into the world of bicycle touring and the human condition.