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Saturday, October 19, 2019

Bucaramanga

Wednesday Oct 16th

We had a long drive yesterday to get to Bucaramanga. We left at around 8am and didnt arrive in Bucaramanga until around 3:30 and then once we got close to the city it took another hour just to get to the the park in the centre of the city we were going to park for the night. I had read it has free wifi. So why not?? The reason for the very slow traffic is because they are working on a problem with one of the power lines!! Didnt look like they were doing anything when we finally got around it! Waiting for parts? LOL!!! Guess they just didnt want to move the truck once it had the landing gear placed just right! Who cares if it's rush hour traffic! People can wait - but they dont so the buses of course pass and then there is no room to get back into the lane until someone pulls over.

The drive to Bucaramanga was very windy and up and down thru the mountain pass. We did get up to  900m at one point- nice and cool up there :)  Again it was pretty slow going because big trucks go this way to avoid the tolls on the main highway, so of course they just chug along going uphill and passing on these roads is pretty hard!! Not always a lot of time before the next curve. But we didnt have any close calls :)
They really fancy up their pedal carts in this small town.

Another fancy pedal cart - stuffies attached to the back 

A couple hitching a ride on the back of a semi. 

Very strange that there is a highway to the left but not used? 

Lots of truck traffic on this highway

Getting higher into the mountains




Bought a sleeve of mandarins for $1C

Coming into Bucaramanga - must have had a sale on turquoise paint?

Then we see all the high-rise apartments

When we get to the park San Pio we find a level spot to park for the night. Of course lots of people watch as we get out and look at our license plate trying to figure out what planet we are from LOL!!!! A couple of guys came over and "talked" with us. One guy asked about El Perro? and I pointed to Dwayne - รˆl es me Perro!!! He just laughed.  We walked around the area a bit, stopped to buy some bread and then of course there were cheese empanadas ๐Ÿ˜‹ I had to try with my latte, and Dwayne had a donut. Bought a warm loaf of fresh bread :)  Sat and watched the people for awhile then walked around some more before heading back to Vanna to make supper. Pork chops with onions, mushrooms and zucchini.  Fried potatoes for Dwayne. A little weird making supper with all the curtains closed and knowing people are right outside our door sitting in the park. Once supper was done we sat outside on the bench near the van and used the wifi - not very strong to use inside Vanna. 3 people who are JWs and sitting with their pamphlets talked to me as they were leaving for the day and told me to be careful with my laptop sitting out here. I said Gracias :)  I'm alway careful.  After awhile we decide to head to Crepes and Waffles for ice cream.

Once we were back at the van we stayed outside awhile but of course we are targeted by everyone who is selling something. So we buy a few things, pay for the guy playing a guitar a ways down the sidewalk and then head inside to read. By 10 its pretty quite and we fall asleep.

By 6am people are in the park walking! Don't they like to sleep?? Guess it is nice and cool at this time of day. But surprised how many people are walking around this small park.

We have breakfast, shower inside and then head out to check out some sights. We walk to Sagrada Familia Church a few blocks away. Hummmm nothing like the Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona!! This one was started in 1895 and completed in 1898 so not very old. Sagrada Familia means Holy Family. We walked into the church and they were busy washing the floors so all the pews were on their sides.  We walked around the park across the street before heading back. By the time we got back it was 11 and we walked 5km. That was good because yesterday and the day before I didnt do any walking and my hips were sore in the van.  We wont have to many more long stretches like yesterday.


Morning traffic 

This sounds familiar - Less Taxes, More private business, better pay for the workers LOL!!! The same everywhere!!

Sagrada Familia Cathedral 
Thursday Oct 17

We got Vanna ready for our next move. We are heading to a farm just outside of town. I've read its only 10,000/p and we can use a washing machine! Yea!! need to do a couple of loads of laundry. There is no wifi out there but hoping the setting is nice and we can just enjoy the afternoon there.

We arrive at noon and speak with the owner's daughter.  The owners Alberto and Lucila are away somewhere. We agreed on a price of 15,000 and laundry is 5000 a load. Plus there is water for us to fill our tank.  So guess tomorrow we get to shower again Yippee!!

The afternoon is spent getting the laundry done, having a couple of beers, Dwayne washing Vanna, having a couple of beers and taking the laundry off the line and having a couple of beers LOL!!! Was nice to use the washer but it is not hooked up to taps so had to fill using a hose and wait for it to get to the full level and then the machine would go thru the wash cycle. Then I'd have to go back and put water in again for the rinse cycle. Hey its better then having to wash them in the river LOL!!!





Our view



Just before 5pm Alberto and Lucila stopped by to say hello. Neither spoke any English so it was hard to talk with them. But they did want to take a picture with us and Vanna :)  Then Alberto showed us a rig that was here a couple of weeks ago.  A couple from Spain brought over a big huge camper truck and after touring Colombia they were heading to Alaska.  Told them, oh ya we've been there.... no we didnt say that! LOL!! We've seen a couple of decals on vehicles that say "Ushuaia, Argentina to Alaska' and Dwayne figures we should put on the box at the back 'Fairbanks, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina' ๐Ÿ˜  It doesnt HAVE to be ALL in one trip Dwayne says ;)

Friday Oct 18

In the morning when I woke up I wasn't feeling good. During the night my stomach was churning and I thought I was going to throw up - but I'll do anything NOT to throw up! My joints were aching and I had a headache.  Took some Tylenol and got rid of some of the pain. But we decide to leave anyways and head off towards San Gil. We are going to stop at a national park that has a gondola.  We fill our water tank and say our goodbyes. Back onto the busy 2 lane highway to Bogota.

The highway again goes overtop the mountain range and we get to an altitude of 6000'. The trucks of course are impatient as are buses and are always passing just before a corner!! Surprised we haven't seen an accident yet! But we're use to seeing that in Honduras so drivers here don't really surprise us! LOL!!! The views are spectacular! The highway just continues to zigzag along the mountain.

We get to Chicamocha National Park and pay the $3 for parking and thought we could walk up to the top of the park area, but have to pay $20 just to walk thru the park. And to ride the gondola its another $20. At the time we were there the gondola wasnt working but it did start up just as we were leaving. It only goes down to the river.  Since we are already as high as we can get at 6000'!


Starting our climb up to Chicamocha National Park 
The road we are travelling 


Chicamocha Canyon - is 200km long






Inside the park there are rides for kids but nothing really for us to paid $20C for 

Great area for parasailing 

Looking down towards the river where the Gondola goes. It was not working when we first got there. You can just see a couple of the cars midway down (really really tiny :)

We stop at a nice hotel/campground just outside of San Gil with a swimming pool. When we drove thru San Gil it was very busy and I just wasnt feeling up to walking around the centre of town. We parked around 2pm and I pretty well slept for the rest of the day. Didn't even get to use the nice pool by our site :(



Our spot for 30,000COP which includes power and use of the pool 

Today feeling a little better so guess I dont have dengue fever!! I had all the symptoms other then a rash. So back on the road and see where it takes us today ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

YIKES it's hot along the coast - time to head to the mountains!

It sure has been a hot tour along the north coast!  After we left Santa Marta we continued going east and got to a little village of the Wayรบu people, Dibulla.  Lots of indigenous people living here in the village next to the sea. We found a nice spot to park right on the beach again, but this time the beach is very nice. Reminded us of our place in Honduras. 

Lots of thatched roof houses, houses made of mud and sticks and then also concrete houses. Where we parked is close to Marakarita's BnB. Marakarita (Wayรบu for Margarita) is a transplanted Colombia from Bogota who moved here 2 years ago. She also runs a small pizza and beer place. Both of which we tried ๐Ÿ˜‹. Parking where we are is free.

We set up camp for 2 days and enjoyed watching the sea since after this spot we are going inland. We could go further east but have decided it won't be much different and we are really hot here! Since no power to plug in to use the a/c we have just the roof exhaust fan and the 12v fan we just bought. Both actually keep it bearable inside at night. 

This is a nicer road to get to the beach site. 

Our spot for a couple of days 

View one way along the beach 



And our view the other way 

Just after the rain we see a rainbow over Marakarita's place 
Tonight's dinner are pork tacos with guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream 

Ummmmmm they're good!!  LOL!!!

Had the solar panel out the 2nd day to recharge the batteries to use the 12v fan and roof fan.

Our new clip-on 12v fan - works great!!

We put our Careful of the Dog sticker on that we had made when we were in Comox- should keep us safe ๐Ÿ˜Š

As you can see no one is around us :) 

We even got the shower tent out and had a great shower :) 
Next day one of the local girls came over to visit. Denise Sofia :)  she's 9 years old but doesn't speak any English. So we tried our best to converse in Spanish. Oh course she wanted to see the inside of our van - and she just smiled. She also showed us how she could do the splits and bend over backwards and flip. I had cooked up some arepร s so we shared with her. We then needed to go to the store to get some ice for our beer bag. She came along as far as her house and then went home. We continued on to the store where we bought ice in foot long plastic bags about 3" in diameter. Actually pretty good because once melted I could put one of them in the freezer and reuse. The other leaked out :( 

Denise Sophia - she always said both names :) 

A visitor along the beach 
Later in the afternoon a Wayรบu lady comes by to sell woven bags that we've seen lots of hanging for sale in Santa Marta and along the highway to Dibulla. The ones the woman carry are of bright colours and the men carry darker coloured ones. I bought a nice bright orange and yellow one :)  She then asked for some water - don't blame her since it's stifling hot to be walking around selling stuff - even she's sweating!  After we gave her a glass of water she asked that I pick out a key ring with bubbles on it, told I didnt need one, no it's a "regalo" a gift :)  How nice. Unfortunately I forgot to get a picture of her and her goods :(  

My new bag

And my key ring regalo :)
On Tuesday we headed out. We were going to go see if we could see the flamingos that are about 30 minutes east but it was already 9:30 and very hot. So figured we would have had to start really early to have been able to see them. Marakarita agreed with me when I said goodbye. I'm sure we will see more somewhere along our trip ๐Ÿ˜‰

Houses along the roadway going out.  The pink is for one of the candidates running for mayor.
We have to head back towards Santa Marta to turn onto the highway going south towards Bogota.  On the way we look for a place that shows on IOverlander to get water since we are almost out. Found it and filled the tank for 5000COP ($2) Then a stop at a tire shop to use the air to fill the rear airbags.

While we are there a van parks beside us that is from New Zealand - more Overlanders! :)  They are Tanya and Paul and have been in SA for 4 months. They actually bought their van in Santiago, Chile with Washington plates but put a New Zealand sticker over Washington! Said it's been easier.  So we chatted awhile - they are going to go as far east as possible - they had thought we would have been there already. We give them one of our cards and they will email me to give their blog info. I'm sure we will meet again since they will be heading south again because when they were in the Patagonia area in June it was to cold! They also gave us a good place to go in Ecuador to see the Blue Footed Booby bird without paying the expensive tours to the Galapagos! Just what we are looking for :) 

We then head into Sant Marta because I have to get to a Claro store to get my phone registered otherwise it will be locked and I can't use it. Not sure why?? I've tried registering it myself online but it wont accept my passport number. 

We find a mall with both Claro and a grocery store plus a food court so we can get everything done in one trip. Get to the Claro store and they even had problems trying to register my phone (no one spoke English in the whole store and there must have been 30 employees in this store!!) But seems like they finally were able to do something with my driver's license and said I should get a message later that it's registered. Ok....  Which I did about 2 hours later, so hope I dont get anymore messages saying I have to register my phone to continue to use it!

Then we have a quick lunch in the food court - just chicken and fries and McD's ice cream cone for dessert. Off to the grocery store to buy a few things then back to the van. Stop for gas and a water outlet to fill our 20 litre drinking water bottle and we're back on the road.

We drive along for about and hour when all of a sudden traffic is stopped both ways. We see a couple of ambulances pass us. So this may be a long wait if its a bad accident. Eventually we are moving slowly - seems they must have one lane open because traffic is now coming from the opposite direction. So its a stop and go for another hour!  As usual the locals make the best of this situation by walking along selling water and snacks :) 

Once we get going we cant see where there has been an accident so not sure what the delay was for. And I think ambulances here are like in Honduras, they just drive around with their lights on all the time passing traffic! But this delay has put us behind and we aren't going to get to a nice spot I found that had a pool! The closest place is a hostel still 1.5 hrs away. Should get there before it's dark. 

We find the hostel around 5:30 and ask if we can park next to their building - no problem. Also another free spot for the night. But we are right next to the highway where lots of trucks are going by but that should end by around 10. But this place being a hostel - lots of truckers park here and stay in the hostel. So it wasn't long before the parking lot if full of trucks! Oh well tomorrow we'll find a quiet spot :)  

This morning I got an email from Paul and Tanya and they also use Polarsteps which is great because now we can follow where they have been and where they are at :)  I was also able to add our Polarsteps to the blog so you can see exactly where we are and have been ๐Ÿ˜Ž.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Enjoying the North coast of Colombia


Just to show where we are in the world ;) 

Wow couldn't believe what a good sleep I had in Vanna. Slept 8 hours straight!! It's been a long time since that happened LOL!!!

We take our chairs out and have our coffee on the beach. Watching the waves and the dark clouds over the sea. But as it got warmer we decided to take a dip in the pool since no kids are in there and we have it all to ourselves. Ohhh it was nice and cool and refreshing.  Then it was time to get dressed and have breakfast before heading to Barranquilla for the propane.

As we are finishing breakfast it starts to rain, the owner told us to watch the roads in Barranquilla when it's raining because they flood easily. We talk with them a little longer and then head out.

The trip to Barra is only about 40 mins. We get close to the propane fill place but miss it because its on the opposite side of the road and we can't get there unless we go further down the highway take a "retorno" and try again. Its a real little hole in the wall place but we got in there :) Asked the kid if they refill vehicle propane tanks and he says yes and goes and gets the owner.  While we wait Dwayne uses the air hose that's hanging on the fence to fill the rear airbags to try and make the ride a little smoother :) He bought a little compressor in Canada and brought it along but doesn't have the right ends ๐Ÿ˜  Oh well maybe it will be good to take to Honduras to fill our bike tires since the one we had was stole a couple of years ago. I get to play with some puppies that are probably a couple of days old!

The owner shows up and Dwayne shows him our hose and thought the guy would use it but no he'll use his. So all is going great, the tank is filling and we're happy. THEN he goes to disconnect the hose and inside his connector there is a little tip point and when he disconnected the check valve on our tank  froze open!!! So the propane was shooting out and there is vapour all over the place. Dwayne had turned off the pilot light for the fridge before the fill,  which I didn't know since was inside Vanna when this was happening and wonder why I could smell the stinky propane and then saw the vapour. I also turned off the fridge from the inside. Everyone got a little excited because we were loosing propane, Dwayne was not happy. I thought maybe the guy broke off the valve!

So our tank was half empty after a few minutes. Tried to explain to the guy just to wait until the value thaws and then use our hose. He wasn't going to do anything and Dwayne said we would be paying for both fills. So after awhile he used our hose and filled the tank again. He then closes the main tank and disconnects from there first. As he disconnect from the van tank Dwayne is running water over the connection with the outside shower to prevent the valve from freezing.  Man that guy of mine knows all the tricks!! ๐Ÿ˜  The hose disconnected without the valve freezing open and we were done and happy to have propane again!  The cost was 55,000 x 2 fills 110,000 - $44Can. Said good-bye and thanks and off down the highway we go again.

These yummy things are called Arepas de choclo - like a cornbread pancake with cheese. If it has cheese IT'S GOTTA BE GOOD!! LOL!!

Unwashed potatoes are cheaper!


Getting ready in the stores for Christmas


These are the "baby" carrots!


New bridge being built in Barranquilla - not sure why so high? Dont think any cargo ships come this way 




Pretty impressive

Then the pilot car came down the road and we all had to back up and park close to the side so this machinery could get through

We drive towards Santa Marta and cross a narrow roadway that has the Caribbean on one side and a large lagoon on the other. Lots of mangroves in there. Then we got to a very poor fishing village as we got closer to the end of the roadway. Not sure if this may be where alot of Venezuelans have settled after leaving their country. It could also look bad because of all the rain.

Driving along and listening to a Roy Orbison tape, eating peanuts bought from a vendor at the toll booth - but no Tim Hortons coffee LOL!!

Crossing along the narrow road between the Caribbean Sea and lagoon

Pretty poor area we are driving through 


At least they have a new water tower

Lagoon side
Egrets like it here


Locals fishing in the Caribbean sea


Then selling them

Normally see a family of 4 on a moto Dad, mom and 2 kids. Not often 3 kids 

Plastic chair salesman

The plan is to go to a free spot at the end of a road in Santa Marta per Ioverlander.  Found the spot and its between tall condos along the beach. A very nice area. We only have an hour before it gets dark so just got the van set up, made dinner had some wine and relaxed inside the van because the damn noseeums are out. They are everywhere along our route.  Then I was texting with our daughter Nikki using facebook messenger and after awhile just called her instead - got tired of typing. So chatted awhile, she was sure we were down the street and were going to drop in for Thanksgiving as a surprise because the call was so clear LOL!!! Told her no that was not happening we are in Colombia ๐Ÿ˜


Beautiful beach here - the sand is black

There is our parking spot for the night 

Looking the other direction


Even have someone waterskiing out there 

Dwayne's favorite - chicken parmigiana with noodles. I have salad and the chicken but no noodles - rather save my carbs for Arepas ๐Ÿ˜Š

Saturday - we didn't stay at the spot for the day as we had planned the night before because it was cloudy and the guys on the beach were setting up chairs and cabanas hoping for lots of locals to come down to the beach for the day so they could make some money.

We headed into downtown Santa Marta, found parking near the malecon and walked around the city. We had a few things we need to buy at the grocery store and also wanted to look for a fan that could be plugged into the 12v plug to use at night and I need to buy more data for my phone.   Of course the downtown main street was packed!! Vendors are lined up on the sidewalk between the stores and the street. Only a narrow path between for people to walk through. I had seen a Juan Valdez cafe when we drove down the main street so headed there for coffee and treat ๐Ÿ˜‹  Once we got there we got 2 iced coffee and 2 pastries that have cheese in them that are heated up.

We find the grocery store and ask about recharging my data, no they don't do it here, down the street. Ok so we pick up some veg and wine and off we go. Walked over to a cell store and was told no data for sale, go across at the drugstore, finally we found her and I got my 2GB for 20,000 ($8Cnd) and good until that runs out or 15 days. My last 2GB didn't last the 15days and that is being able to use wifi at the BnB. Oh well its cheap as long as I can find that same package outside the cities.

Then we were on the hunt for the fan. Looked around a bunch of stores asking at all the fan stores if they had it. Finally came up to one guy who pointed us in the right direction :)  Found it,  paid 45,000 ($18Cnd)  Well we got everything we came for so walked around a bit more, eating some more food from street vendors. They have these little rolls of sweet dough that is deep fried and yummy :) Had a couple of bags of those. Then bought some cut up mango in a cup. (2,000 -75 cents C)

Stopped just before getting to Vanna and decided to have a nice cold beer before heading out. On the way Dwayne stopped and bought himself a hat.


Container ship coming into Santa Marta 

Native wrestling ?


Ahhh time for a cold one!

Cool hat Dwayne ๐Ÿ˜

Policia get around the malecon on Segways 

Nice walking route along the busy road 

Now onto the spot for tonight. Which is suppose to be a nice spot on the beach for $20,000/2.  No facilities but the beach is suppose to be nice. Well the road down was pretty slow, rough and winding!  Don't want to meet someone coming the opposite direction! We get to the bottom and can park right near the water.  Once we were setup we go into the water. Its kind of murky - not the Caribbean I'm use to! Must be because of all the rain and the rivers being dirty. Anyways get in and float around for a bit, but there is a lot of stuff floating around. So that's it, enough for me. Go back to our chairs and have beers and watch the locals enjoy the water LOL!!!


Down below is the camping site


The road down is a little sketchy!





Dwayne help the local get his boat in the water

There was another "white" young couple sitting on the beach and when they were leaving on their scooters I heard them speak Dutch! Darn wish I could have heard that sooner so we could hear about their travels.

Tonight Dwayne BBQ pork chops for dinner - nice change. Tomorrow we will head further east about an hour. Will probably be our last stop on the coast before heading south - and out of the heat!

Bucaramanga

Wednesday Oct 16th We had a long drive yesterday to get to Bucaramanga. We left at around 8am and didnt arrive in Bucaramanga until around...