July 2013
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Day July 31, 2013

to Barranquilla

The track
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The big road, a highway really, followed the ocean but there were only brief glimpes of it.

We passed over a river with long canoes
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I stopped for water here
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And there were two riders from northern Mexico. They were returning from Ushuaia and catching a ship from Cartagena to Panama City, but not the famous party boat, Stahlratte
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The boy in the photo had a simple but persistent question: money? money? Nice kid though. I sat down with them and heard their story. Their particular epic adventure centered around the road from Manuas (coming in from Venezuela) to Porto Velho, Brazil, through the Amazon forest. A very impressive 600 miles of only no gas and only two water opportunities, challenging mud and general mayhem the whole way. We looked at it on the map. They said it was very hard
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This gave me more food for an ongoing chat I have with myself: when am I going to risk such a route? Am I ever going to? Am I ok with it if I never do? There’s all the difference in the world between doing a multi-day no-mistakes epic solo and not. Two of you, no problem. If it happens it’ll be spontaneous and one day I’ll just ride off down a road that appears in front of me and keep my fingers crossed.

Then, in hilarious contrast I rode into Barranquilla and couldn’t find a hotel. There are a million people and it’s a zoo. How pathetic I thought. But actually the cities can be way harder than the country and from a riding point of view often scarier
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Then I saw high up a Howard Johnson sign! Oh no, do I take it or keep looking? I took it, despite the cost and foreigness. Forgive me.

If you allow yourself to get sucked in to long stories and generally look in no rush, have a big smile, talk your best Spanish regardless of screw-ups and recognize that the Colombians think they’re better than you are, you can make a lot of friends easily, depending on where. Some places are tougher than others. I walked around for an hour and if you’re proactive and smile and talk first, Barranquilla is very friendly
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There’s an annoying backstory as to why I’m passing through here, but I’ll let it play itself out before I bother with the details. A strange day.

Saludos
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