Iron Roamer Goes to Albania?!

Yes, it is true, I’m going to Albania to work as a Law Enforcement Development Officer with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). While there I hope to get lots of motorcycling in too ๐Ÿ™‚

The Email

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I received an email that created some panic and stress. The email was a job offer from the OSCE. What caused me stress was that they wanted me to start on January 21, only weeks away. Meanwhile, I was home for Christmas until January 10, my motorcycle was in Bogota, Colombia, and I was to be in Vienna, Austria, on January 21! How was I ever going to accomplish that?

OSCE

Many of you I am sure have not heard of the OSCE before. The following is from their website:

With 57 participating States in North America, Europe and Asia, the OSCE โ€“ the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe โ€“ is the worldโ€™s largest regional security organization. The OSCE works for stability, peace and democracy for more than a billion people, through political dialogue about shared values and through practical work that aims to make a lasting difference.

The OSCE is a forum for political dialogue on a wide range of security issues and a platform for joint action to improve the lives of individuals and communities. The organization uses a comprehensive approach to security that encompasses the politico-military, economic and environmental, and human dimensions. Through this approach, and with its inclusive membership, the OSCE helps bridge differences and build trust between states by co-operating on conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation.

With its Institutions, expert units and network of field operations, the OSCE addresses issues that have an impact on our common security, including arms control, terrorism, good governance, energy security, human trafficking, democratization, media freedom and national minorities.

Our activities cover a wide range of security issues such as conflict prevention to fostering economic development, ensuring the sustainable use of natural resources & promoting the full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

I have worked with the OSCE before in Macedonia as a Police Advisor, and then as an Organized Crime and Transnational Threats Advisor. So I am familiar with the organization and the region.

The OSCE in Albania

The mandate for the OSCE in Albania is, “to assist Albania in developing effective democratic institutions and to promote the rule of law and human rights in the country. It does this through a variety of legal and administrative reform initiatives; activities aimed at fighting corruption and trafficking; and programmes to develop the countryโ€™s media, support civil society, and train police and customs officials.”

Law Enforcement Development Officer

As for my position, I will be stationed in Tirana, Albania. I will be responsible for working with all Albanian law enforcement bodies to offer strategic and tactical law enforcement advice and assistance.

Why?

So the question that may arise for some of my followers is why would I leave my motorcycle adventure. I can assure you it wasn’t an easy decision.

Motorcycling has given me freedom to come and go as I choose. I rarely set my alarm. I also get to see so many sights and cultures that people only dream of seeing. All this on a motorcycle, where I experience the wind in my face and the freedom of the open road. There is also the identity of being a motorcycle adventurer. All very tough things to give up.

However, like everything in my little mind, there are also down sides. First, there is little socialization on my trip. Part of this is due to the language barrier, traveling by myself, being on the move most of the time, and me not being the most extroverted person in the world. Working in one place satisfies much of this.

Second, the trip has taken a toll on my health. This isn’t entirely the trips fault ha ha. But I don’t eat the best and don’t exercise. This can of course be combated with some discipline. Discipline I don’t seem to have. I need a routine and a stable environment where I can focus on my health.

Third, on the trip I am constantly spending money. Don’t get me wrong, I live a comfortable life on the road, but of course it would be nice to earn money for a change ๐Ÿ™‚

Lastly, I get this nagging feeling once in awhile of being “useless” and not contributing to society. Much of life is a quest for meaning greater than oneself. I have a need to contribute … even if it is just to help one person.

International police development, along with motorcycling have been my passions. I worked Namibia as a Capacity Building Advisor, then in Macedonia after which I motorcycled around the US for 6 months. Then worked for a bit more at thee Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner in BC, Canada, before doing this year and a half trip from Prudhoe Bay to Bogota Colombia. Now I’m flipping back to international police development.

Having said that, I still plan on riding ๐Ÿ™‚ The plan is to buy a motorcycle to explore Albania and neighbouring countries. Also to do motorcycle tours through Italy, Spain and Portugal. So I will continue to blog about my travel experiences ๐Ÿ™‚

I look back at all I have accomplished on this trip with satisfaction, and with some sadness that this part is over. But also excitement about what lies ahead.

Making it Happen

Back to the problem at hand, how will I get my motorcycle to Vancouver and me to Albania?

First, I emailed the OSCE and they agreed that I could start February 1, instead of January 21. Phew, that gave me a bit more time to figure things out.

I emailed and phone a bunch or cargo and logistic places. Only one responded. That was Veronica from Cargorider! Veronica was a life saver. She came back with a quote for $3000 US to get my motorcycle from Bogota to Vancouver, leaving Bogota on January 26. I took it. It was going to be tight, but doable. I hope.

It was now back to Bogota to see Veronica and make things happen. Fingers crossed!!

Motto

You may remember I have a motto for this trip and life and general. It comes from Helen Keller who said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.โ€

Here is a similar quote from Theodore Roosevelt, โ€œIt is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.โ€

I continue to live an adventurous life and daring greatly.

Back to Bogota Colombia and Park 93

It was time to ride back to Bogota and Park 93 to get ready to head home for Christmas. I say Park 93 because when I was in Bogota the last time, one of the nicest areas I visited was Park 93. It is a small park in the Embassy district of Bogota and it is surrounded by restaurants and patios not to mention two Starbucks ha ha. So I was looking forward to enjoying all of this.

Curves

The ride from Salento to Bogota was going to be longer than I have done in a long time. About 6 hours. I left early to tackle it. The ride consisted of going over a small mountain range. As I climbed it got colder and colder. But the view were spectacular. Why didn’t I take a picture ๐Ÿ™ So bad at that. You’d think that after a year and a half on the road I would be better.

The road was full of twisties. Unfortunately, it appeared to be a major trucking route and I was stuck in line ups for a lot of the curves.

The curves also provided another phenomenon. At each curve was at least one person with a flag. These people were not government workers but rather people who set up house on the curve and were there to direct traffic for tips. They were actually very useful. The curves were sharp and big semis had a hard time negotiating them and staying in their lane. So these people would stop traffic if necessary so truckers could take the curve better. They also served as a warning for oncoming traffic to be careful. The people in poorer countries are so ingenious in making money.

To tip these people, drivers would throw money out of their windows.

Soon, however, this will come to an end. The government is building a freeway along the route that will eliminate these “jobs.”

Torrents

As I entered the outskirts of Bogota I could see the storm clouds gathering. I was only 20 km from my hotel at Park 93. However, it was also rush hour and the traffic in Bogota is horrendous. I was barely moving.

Then it hit. Torrents of rain. It wasn’t long before I was soaked as I had left my vents open in my riding suit as it was also hot. At least once I was soaked it felt better than the shock of getting wet ha ha.

I wasn’t the only thing soaked. The roads too became saturated and huge lakes formed. The outcome of these was me getting splashed as cars went by me. Also they became so deep that they reached my boots and splashed over top of them. As approached lights I tried to time things so I wouldn’t have to stop in the lakes.

It took me well over a hour to ride the 20 km to the hotel.

Park 93

Once I arrived I dried off. For the next week I could enjoy Park 93. During the day I went to Starbucks to work and sit in the park for a bit.

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At night the park turned into a Christmas fairytale.

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I wish we had similar parks back home. When it comes to socialization the Central Americans and Colombians have us beat with there plazas and parks to hang out at and enjoy a coffee and talking to people.

Socialization

Speaking of socialization, that is the one thing I miss while riding. It came to the forefront one night as I walked around Park 93. The restaurant patios were filled with people laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Even though I am not the most social person, I miss that and I suppose it being Christmas time brought it more home. I got pretty down.

This has happened periodically throughout my adventure. Social encounters are brief due going from one place to another. They are also rather limited due to the language barrier. One thing I should have done is learned Spanish before heading out. But even if I meet up with someone who speaks english, the conversation is fairly superficial. As a result, small things like a smile become important. Perhaps it is lucky I’m not that social to begin with or it would hit me harder.

Soon I would be heading home for Christmas though.

Motos y Servitecas de Colombia

If you remember, in Jardin I dropped my motorcycle and broke off my mirror. A place recommended by one of the blogs I read was Motos y Servitecas de Colombia. This place is a bit of a hole in the wall but the service was amazing. They were so friendly and fixed my mirror right away. They even detailed my motorcycle. I would highly recommend this place.

Motorcycle Storage

The one issue to take care of before I flew home was storing my motorcycle. I was very fortunate that a person I went to college with knew a person whose father lived in Bogota. As a result I made arrangements to store my motorcycle at his place. It worked out perfect. Now I was ready to go home and see my kids and friends.

My Route on December 2, 2017

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My Location from December 3 to 6, 2017

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In preparation to fly home early in the morning, I moved to a hotel close to the airport.

My Location on December 7, 2018

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The Andean Town of Salento Colombia

Upon the recommendations from people on my coffee plantation tour in Manizales, I decided to ride to the Andean town of Salento. It was a really short ride as you can tell from the map at the end of this post. However, it was relaxing, and the last few kilometers into Salento were twisty among a beautiful forest.

Salento Attractions

Salento is known for the nearby parks. East is Cocora Valley where lofty wax palm trees, a national symbol, and home to rare parrots. Salento is also the gateway to the snow-capped peaks of Los Nevados National Natural Park, to the northeast.

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When I arrived in Salento I looked at tours to these areas. In the plaza there were a lot of 4x4s lined up to take people into the mountains. However,they are expensive, especially if you are going as a single, and it requires at least a day. The weather also wasn’t the greatest. So, I decided not to go but rather just enjoy the town.

Coffee Shop in Salento

One of the first things I do when visiting a new town is find a relaxing coffee shop. No Starbucks in this village ๐Ÿ™‚ It took me a while to find a coffee shop here that had the atmosphere I was looking for. I finally found one tucked away amongst a group of stores. This was my first thing in the morning stop.

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Walk Around Salento

As I walked around Salento, I noticed a considerable number of tourists. I could certainly understand why. The town is picturesque.

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Dogs at every corner sleeping. Kind of a common sight throughout Central America and now Colombia.

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The plaza was a disappointing. While Salento is beautiful, I much preferred Jardin.

Mirador Alto De La Cruz

One thing I have mentioned before is that it is difficult for me to keep in shape while motorcycling. It could be done for sure, but for me I need to get into a routine. Routine just doesn’t happen on a motorcycle trip of this kind. And that is one reason it is so appealing. Everyday is different. The result is that I have gained weight on the trip and my muscles have atrophied ha ha ha ๐Ÿ™

Getting to the Mirador Alto De La Cruz consists on many steps up a hill. I was sore for days after climbing the steps in Medellin. So when I first saw these steps I said to myself … NAH not going to do it. However, I finally told myself I had to do it. The views must be great and the exercise would be good for me.

The Mirador Alto De La Cruz did not disappoint on both counts.

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Salento Rain

As I mentioned, the weather was not great while I was in Salento. The torrents came in the afternoon.

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Time to head back to Bogota where I was looking forward to going home for Christmas.

My Route on November 29, 2017

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My Location on November 30 and December 1, 2017

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Termales Santa Rosa Colombia Hot Springs

Another place I had heard lots about were the Termales Santa Rosa hot springs. From Manizales, Santa Rosa was only a short ride away through the mountains.

Santa Rosa

I arrived in Santa Rosa early and so had plenty of time to look around. Of course I headed for the main square first thing. A high school graduation was taking place at the church.

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The square or plaza or zocalo, or in this case they call it the park, is always the highlight of towns.

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This one was OK as for as plazas go. For me I like to sit at a patio around them. Nothing like that here. So I walked around a bit looking for a place to have coffee. I really didn’t find much. I poked my head in one place and immediately heard in english out of the darkness, “Welcome, come on in.” That was weird. So I walked in. Two guys were sitting at a table. One spoke perfect english. Very unusual. He reminded me of a guy I dealt with many times as a police officer and who one time I chased down the freeway on foot ha ha.

We got to talking and it turned out that he was originally from Medellin and moved to New York City. He spent 32 years in New York. Although 15 of those years were in prison! I was right … he did remind me of a criminal ha ha. After prison he moved back to Colombia and to Santa Rosa. He was great to talk to though. He offered to show me around the city and gave me advice on how to get to the hot springs.

Termales Santa Rosa Hot Springs

The next day I headed to the Termales Santa Rosa hot springs. Instead of riding my bike I took a taxi from the main park. I don’t like taking my bike to these places as I am always concerned about security.

The hot springs are 11 km away from the main park. Part of it is along a dirt road. The day I arrived they were working on the main walkway to the hot springs and so I had to walk to them along a construction road. The views were still pretty cool though.

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There are two main attractions here, the hot springs but also a beautiful waterfall.

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There are several pools at the hot springs.

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This was my view for most of the time as I relaxed in the hot water.

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Once in awhile I was joined by friends.

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It was a pretty awesome place. The views are amazing. The water is nice and hot. And you can get lots to eat and drink. I got there early and there were only a few people around. Eventually though school groups arrived and lots of people came. By that time it was time to go.

I sat outside waiting for a taxi to drop people off so I could catch a ride back. I waited for awhile with no luck until a gentleman approached me in his private car and offered a ride back.

Amazing place to visit. Although I did end up with a sunburn. I didn’t realize it until the next day. Ouch!

My Route on November 27, 2017

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My Location on November 28, 2017

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Hacienda Venecia Coffee Plantation in Manizales Colombia

I left Jardin to go to Manizales, Colombia, where I was really looking forward to taking a tour of the Hacienda Venecia coffee plantation. But first my self induced bad luck continued.

As I was packing up to leave Jardin I reached over my bike to do up the Rok Straps on the other side of my bike. As I was doing that the bike slowly started to fall over. I tried to stop it but the momentum and weight of the bike was too much. Over it went. The result was that my right side mirror snapped off. Crap! I am slowly learning to take these things in stride. I put the mirror in my top case and off I went.

Ride to Manizales

The main characteristic of the ride to Manizales was one construction roadblock after another. The process was always the same. I approached a line up of cars, and like all the other motorcyclist I weaved my way to the front to park next to the flag person.

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Notice the police on the motorbike. This is typical all over Colombia, two cops on a 250cc motorbike.

Estelar El Cable Hotel

As usual, when I reached my hotel, Estelar El Cable Hotel, it started to rain. It was nice to get into a really nice hotel room with nice views.

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One of the first things I did was take my phone out of the rice to see if it would now work. It had been in there for 2 days. Please work!!! It didn’t ๐Ÿ™ The alarm does. And it seems to charge. But the screen doesn’t work. More money to spend when I get home ๐Ÿ™ My luck continues.

Time for pizza and a sleep before the coffee plantation tour at 8:30 am the next day.

The Ride to Hacienda Venecia

The pick up point to catch a ride to the Hacienda Venecia was at the Mountain Hostel a few blocks from hotel. I was joined on the ride by a guy from Paris and a couple from London.

The couple from London were riding a tandem bicycle around Colombia!

The guy from Paris had a year Visa to stay in Colombia. He spent 3 months of it in Medellin studying Spanish. His class had 3 people in it and it was 5 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 3 months. Intense! He Spanish was really good though. I need to do something like that

We went along the same twisty road I rode to get to Manizales. It was a favorite of crotch rockets with riders wearing leathers. They raced around the corners.

Off the main road, along a dirt road, we finally made it to the Hacienda Venecia.

Hacienda Venecia Coffee Plantation Tour

I have to admit I never knew there was so much to coffee before taking this tour. We were joined by others who were staying at the plantation. They were from Greece, Switzerland, France, UK, and of course a few from Canada.

The first part of the tour was a classroom talk where we were served expresso.

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Ok … I hope I get this right. We were first given a coffee cherry. The bean is inside. Our guide said that countries like Brazil, who have lots of sunshine, will dry the coffee bean with the coffee cherry. This gives it an unique taste.

If you pop the coffee bean out, there is a sweet film on the outside of the bean called mucilage. The bean can be dried with the mucilage and these are called honey beans.

In Colombia, however, there is too much rain so they remove the bean from the cherry and wash to mucilage off before drying the bean inside its shell. Colombian coffee is generally more expensive because this process is labour intensive.

Now this is what I found really weird. The coffee is then sold to a Colombian cooperative who sells the best beans to foreign buyers. The bad coffee is sold in Colombia! The guide said that if you have coffee in Colombia it is probably low quality! So I guess I have to go back to Canada to have good Colombian coffee ha ha.

Who knew?!

We then headed out into the plantation, one of the largest in Colombia – 200 hectares.

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I didn’t realize there are many different kinds of coffee plants. Some are for specialty coffees like Blue Mountain. Most of the plants in Hacienda Venecia are Arabica due to the climate.

Another thing that amazed me is that most of the coffee plants are grown on steep mountain slopes.

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I have no idea how pickers climb then. Talk about tough work. And the beans are harvested every 20 days!

Crossing a stream was interesting.

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The coffee plant nursery.

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Beans drying on racks.

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And in silos.

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The beans in this picture are for foreign buyers.

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The beans in this picture are for Colombians ha ha

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We then headed to the main home. It is now used as a hotel.

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The hacienda does some of their own roasting for tourist consumption. On a deck we were shown the various stages of roasting and got to smell and taste the beans.

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Really interesting to smell and taste the green bean, medium roast bean, and the dark roast bean.

This took us to lunch and a typical Colombian meal.

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The Trip Back

It was awesome talking to people over lunch and exchanging travel advice. The one thing I miss on my adventure moston my trip is socializing. I need to do more of these tours just for the socialization.

The guy from Paris and myself decided to take a truck back to the main road at 2 pm. Once there we would have to catch a bus back to the hotel. This wasn’t that easy. Thank goodness the French guy took the Spanish course. After some trial and error we made it back.

Just in time for the afternoon Seahawks game!

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My Route on November 25, 2017

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My Location on November 26, 2017

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Jardin – Small Town Colombia

My next stop after Guatape was Jardin. I was hoping my luck would turn as I was feeling a bit grumpy. But it didn’t. Well … sort of. Jardin turned out to be an amazing little town that I really enjoyed.

Riding to Jardin

To get to Jardin I just followed my GPS. I really shouldn’t have as it took me through Medellin and all its traffic. And it was a route I had already taken. I don’t like backtracking. It also rained as I went through Medellin. Not a lot, but apparently enough to get my phone wet.

I had my phone in the same waterproof pocket I had used the entire trip. Up until now it had kept it dry. I guess my coretex waterproofing has seen better days.

When I got to Jardin the phone screen started to flicker. I turned the phone off and put it in a rice bath.

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Hotel Kantarrana Urbana Jardin

I stayed in a really nice hotel. It was cheap, the staff were really nice, and it was clean. All I could expect in a hotel.

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Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and Parque Principal

My first stop after checking into my hotel is the main square and the church that is always at one end.

The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception was very cool as most all the churches are in Colombia.

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Unfortunately, the square, Parque Principal, was under re-construction. That was really too bad :-(.

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The businesses around the park were quite different than I had experienced before. Rather than restaurants or craft shops appealing to tourists, these were just hole in the wall cafes. And what I found odd was that no one seemed to have food or beer. Everyone was sipping on coffee.

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The town looked so nice that I decided to spend one more day in Jardin than I had originally booked.

Exploring Jardin

Perhaps exploring is too grandiose of a word ha ha. Jardin is very small. But I enjoyed walking the streets and looking out into the hills beyond it.

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I noticed as I walked around that most people lived in small places along the street consisting of a bedroom, living room and kitchen. A lot of the time the living room also served as a parking lot for their motorcycle or bicycle.

A wonderful little town. I just wish I was there to enjoy the park as well.

Cafe Europa

A really nice small little restaurant in Jardin is Cafe Europa. I counted only 6 tables in the restaurant.

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The nights I was there I enjoyed a Greek salad to up my vegetable intake which has often suffered on this trip.

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And of course a beer.

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While I ate at Cafe Europa, this one server always spoke to me in Spanish. I didn’t find anyone in Jardin that spoke English so that wasn’t unusual. However, at the end of the last night I ate there, all of a sudden he spoke to me in English. I was kind of shocked. Now I could actually have a more in depth conversation with him.

It turned out that he was born and raised in Jardin but went to Medellin to study English and French at the university. However, he found Medellin and the university to be so big and lots of hustle and bustle. So he decided to return to simple life in Jardin to figure out what he really wanted to do.

He told me that most people in Jardin work 4 or 5 hours a day and spend the rest of the time sipping coffee by the park and talking to each other.

I really enjoyed our conversation and Jardin as a whole. Such a relaxing environment.

My Route on November 22, 2017

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My Location on November 23 and 24, 2017

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Colorful Guatape Colombia

My month in Medellin was amazing, but it was time to move on to colorful Guatape Colombia, a short ride to the town through the countryside.

Penol Guatape

Before entering Guatape is Penol Guatape. My first sight of it brought a huge smile to my face. For years now I have been following riders who have come here. It is so cool to be following in their footsteps to such amazing places. Penol Guatape is certainly one of them.

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According to Atlas Obscura:

By the 1900s, the massive 10-million-ton rock was seen by local farmers as a nuisance, a giant version of the rocks that the farmers regularly dug out of their fields. In 1954 a group of friends โ€” supposedly at the urging of a local priest โ€” climbed the rock using a series of boards wedged into a crack. These were the first people known to have climbed El Peรฑon de Guatape. (It is unknown whether the Tahamies had a way of ascending the stone.)

Climbing the huge stone took five days, but the top of the rock revealed beautiful views and a new species of plant, Pitcairma heterophila. The rock soon became a modest tourist attraction.

The rock, which is almost entirely smooth, has one long crack, the one that the climbers used in ascending it. In the crack was later wedged a 649-step masonry staircase, the only way to get to the top of the Piedra de Penol. In the 1970s, the area was dammed, and the view from the rock changed: It now overlooks a dramatic series of lakes and islands.

Today, you can ascend the rock (apparently owned by a local family, though also designated by Colombia as a โ€œnational monumentโ€) for 2 US dollars. There youโ€™ll find a few religious relics and a three-story lookout tower.

I noticed that some websites number the steps at 649 and other 727. Huummmmmm maybe it depends if you count in Spanish or English ha ha.

Anyways …. my plan was to hike to the top while I was in Guatape.

Parking

I arrived at my hotel just in time as it was starting to rain.

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However, this turned out to be the start of a series of bad luck, mostly self inflicted.

As I checked in, the clerk said they didn’t have parking! What?! I only book hotels that have good parking. She pointed out a motorcycle parking lot just a half a block away. Phew I thought. As I rode the half block the owner said I couldn’t park there because my bike was to big to fit through the doorway. The parking lot was simply a house you rode into.

Back to the hotel the clerk suggested a big parking lot at the town entrance. I walked in the rain to find it was only a big grass field. No way I was parking there. Turned out that they didn’t allow motorcycles to park there anyways.

For the next hour I walked the town in the rain looking for a place to park. I finally found another house that had a yard where I could park.

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Hotel Guatatur

Back at the Hotel Guatatur I checked in. Strangely, the clerk said I had 2 nights. I thought I booked 3. Once in the room I discovered they only had 2 prong outlets. Good for everything but my computer. I have run into these several times now. It is the one adaptor I don’t have! The result is that I had to charge my computer in the lobby where there was 2 3 prong outlets.

The internet however, was crap anyways. Couldn’t get it in my room. So I had to go to the lobby anyways.

Frustrated, it was time to explore the town.

Guatape

Guatape is known for its colors. In that way the town did not disappoint.

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The sign says “Every angel has a devil who invites him for a good coffee.”

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That’s my hotel in the middle.

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The town is along a lake.

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I was asked a couple of times if I wanted to go out on a boat. Ahhhhhhh I don’t think so.

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One thing that really impressed me … and probably not a lot of other people ha ha … was the sports facilities.

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Of course at the center of every latin american town is a church. The best part of the one in Guatape is that they lit it up at night so it changed colors.

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Time for the Hike

The plan was that after a day of exploring the town I would go to Penol Guatape to hike up the stairs. However, the night before my knees really started to ache and I had to take pain killers. I have suffered knee problems ever since I trained for a marathon a few years ago. Perhaps my knees were telling me something. Or perhaps my mind was telling my knees to give me an excuse not to climb it ha ha. In either case, I just didn’t think I would be able to do the climb. Especially considering the difficulty I had climbing the stairs in Medellin. I was disappointed as it was something I wanted to do.

Instead I enjoyed the town for another day.

Time to Leave

When it was time to leave I couldn’t find my keys!! I usually put them in my riding jacket pocket or in my helmet. But they weren’t there. I tore apart all my belongings and the room. They weren’t there. Even the hotel staff came in and looked through the room. I walked back to where I parked my motorcycle and they weren’t there either. They must have slipped out of my pocket as I walked back to my hotel when I arrived. Luckily, I had a spare set with me. Discouraging.

I was actually happy to leave. Guatape is a beautiful town, but everything seemed to be going wrong here. Nothing big, just a lot of little things. And for some reason, the town didn’t have an appeal for me. No idea why. It is beautiful.

As I was about to leave the hotel manager came up to me and said I had another night left! I thought so, but I checked with the clerk twice and she said only 2 nights. I was ready to leave anyways. The manager gave me 1 night’s money back. Time to go!

My Route on November 20, 2017

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My Location on November 21, 2017

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Sightseeing in Medellin Colombia

After a week of catching up on my blogs it was time to do some sightseeing in Medellin.

Medellin Metrocable

High on my sightseeing list was the Medellin Metrocable. The Metrocable was in the opposite end of the city where I was staying. That meant taking the Metro to get there.

The Medellin Metro is very modern and very cheap! Only $2 Canadian to take it to the opposite end of the city.

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When I reached the Metrocable I was in for another surprise. The Metrocable is a gondola. Back home gondolas are largely tourist attractions or ways to get to the top of the ski hill. But here they are an integral part of thee transit system for poor people living on the side of the mountain. The big surprise was this Metrocable was included with the $2 I spent to take the Metro. It is just a part of the transit system. So I just transferred to it and off I went for the ride.

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Once you get to the top, this is where the tourist part starts. It no longer is a transit system but a tourist ride over a forest plateau. And you pay extra for that. Almost double my $2 transit fare. So the ride continued.

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The end was rather disappointing. I was hoping for a nice spot to sit, have a cup of coffee, and enjoy the sights. Instead, there were just a few food stalls and no view.

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There are some walks you can do through the forest but that is it.

It was time to head back “home.”

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Of course amongst all the poverty is a beautiful soccer pitch ๐Ÿ™‚

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Time to transfer back onto the transit part of the Metrocable

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Soon I was back to my comfortable surroundings in Envigado.

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Downtown Medellin

My next sightseeing trip was to go downtown. One of the major attractions there are the sculptures in Botero Plaza created by Fernando Botero.

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I walked around downtown hoping to see some more great things.

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Other than this mall, I was disappointed.

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I decided to take a walk to another place in the downtown area listed on my sightseeing things to see – Bolivar Park.

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The park ended up being disappointing as well. I guess worth seeing but not mind blowing ha ha. Perhaps I have seen so much now that it takes more to impress me.

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So I just kept walking to lose myself in the city. As I walked I came across the government area. It was deserted but had some nice sculptures.

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Back home ๐Ÿ™‚

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Sunday Football in Poblado

Envigado where I am staying, and Poblado just north are reportedly the two nicest areas of Medellin. An English pub in Poblado was suppose to be the best place to watch NFL football. So that is where I headed.

The area where the pub was located was filled with restaurants around a small park.

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Finally got to my pub to watch some football … in English too!

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Regional Metropolitano Cerro El Volador Natural Park

My last sightseeing spot was the Regional Metropolitano Cerro El Volador Natural Park. This is a hill overlooking Medellin.

Here I discovered that after a year of riding and a hernia operation, that I am dreadfully out of shape. I discovered this after climbing numerous stairs to get to the top.

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I am kind of frustrated, discouraged and disturbed by how out of shape I have become. It is a combination of no strenuous activity and poor eating. Something to watch for if you are planning on a motorcycle adventure of your own.

Anyways, I did make it to the top.

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After my exercise I headed past the Medellin river, back on the Metro and home.

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Starbucks

Actually, before heading home after each sightseeing trip, and on the days in between, I spent time at Starbucks at the Milla de Oro. It was my place to relax and enjoy a coffee. Plus they knew me and greeted me by name. Unique about this particular Starbucks was that they wrote a saying on everyone’s cup. This is the one I liked the best:

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“Brian, the best.” ๐Ÿ™‚

My Location from October 24 to November 19, 2017

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