Today I was in an agricultural lover’s paradise. Coffee and bananas grew abundantly at higher elevations, 5K ft+, while sugar plantations surrounded us while at lower altitudes.
Prior to entering Colombia, Kevin had advised, no, insisted, that we stay on the designated route. In other countries, some of the guys had traveled “off route.” Larry & I had too. For us, it was whenever we got lost. Here in Colombia, the situation is different. A side trip down an obscure dirt road could lead us to the barrel of a drug producer’s gun. Everyone is now following the route notes closely.
Bananas are everywhere. I saw enormous piles of them at road side stands. Giant bunches traveled on roofs of vehicles. Today we rode under tree canopies. The height of some of the tree canopies seemed to be controlled by the giant sugar cane hauling vehicles. Sugar cane is transported via horse drawn carts, 4-trailer road trains called “cane trucks,” and everything in between.
One aspect I’ve really enjoyed and appreciated in South America is the common use, and favorable treatment, of motorcycles and their riders. A mother and father tucked their small child in between them while the mother held the groceries and the father steered the bike. In Colombia and Peru, no tolls are charged for motorcycles and scooters. Colombian toll booths even have a separate, narrow, lane for bikes. Ecuador doesn’t allow toll free travel, however, motorcycles pay only $.20 per stop while cars pay $1.00.
I hooked up with Kevin, Richard, and Werner mid-morning. During a rest stop, we observed a curious dog. He sniffed the 3 BMWs then came to the Suzuki. After sniffing, he immediately lifted his leg toward the front tire. Of course, the guys howled. I straightened them out by responding, “The dog was looking for the best bike before it marked it’s territory.”
At lunch, we watched the rice, beans, and chicken being cooked in an outdoor kitchen found in a corner of a truck stop parking lot. While stopped for gas, a group of single digit-aged boys surrounded Kevin’s bike. They were delighted when he gave them Globebusters’ stickers.
Paved roads were promised for our entire time in Colombia. A change in hotel led us to ride a narrow, rocky, damp, dirt road through the jungle. It was well worth it! Our lodge was surrounded by valleys and hillsides covered with coffee and banana trees. Cattle guarded our bikes. Near the pig pen, enough bamboo was growing that a great number of Pandas could have been fed. Huge, perfect flowers, hung from many bushes around the pool and covered sitting areas. The thatched roof, free air, bar was well used. Dinner’s fish had more skeleton than meat but the environment made it a treat.
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