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Between one place and another

Sometimes when you are planning a trip there is just that one bit of the trip where there seems to be nowhere to break a 12 hour journey into two 6 hour manageable bits. Experience tells me that if google tells me its a 6 hour trip and I leave at 9am I will get to the location about 4pm leaving an hour and a half margin for daylight, lunch, shopping etc.

So I ended up picking the little town or Aguchica half way between my lovely beachfront of the Tayrona National park and the lovely hill villages of the Cordillera de las Colbardes. I did not look closely at the altitude on the map as I managed to drive towards the mountains for five hours and only gain about 100m in altitude. So there was none of the hoped for relief from the horrible 32oC heat and 90 percent humidity. The only thing I will admit to being wrong in the design of Nelson is his lack of aircon. I read and believed too many of the old romantic stories about crossing the deserts with the vent flaps and windows open, but in this humidity on straight roads then its not fun for a whole day sitting in a puddle of your own sweat.

After five hours of slog on the surprisingly good roads the mountains appear in the distance

Just before I was going to run out of daylight I saw the mountains start to rise up from the plains, you can see the heat in the mirage above the road, but that was to be a close as I would get this day to the mountains I will now follow and criss cross all the way to the southern tip of South America.

The hotel Luz Mery – were the locals make very merry

I chose a hotel from my app as a previous overlanding couple reported they had called in at a few in the town and this was for sure the best they had found. I was keen to spend the $10 for the cool of aircon and the relief of a shower. So I secured the room at the front of the hotel and Nelson was locked down with all its safety measures on and the grill behind the truck is the reception which I was assured with a simile was manned all night, and so it was….

The ladies political rally, soon the yellow cyclists would descend

Although I was feeling a bit rough with the flu I knew I needed to eat and I wanted to force myself to see a bit of the town and get in some practice for my Spanish. Learning Spanish has been a critical thing in this trip even after a few days as commonly I find myself in garages, restaurants, hotels and campsites where nobody speaks any English at all. The first thing I came across appeared at first to be a rock concert, loud music blaring, drinks and food for sale fancy screens and lights in the main park. It became clear when the announcer went on and on and the band did not play that this was actually a political rally. Politics in Colombia is certainly a more lively than in the UK and this seemed to be the red hairband party and they must have had about a thousand folks at the rally.

Then about opposition yellow tee shirt cycling party came down the street on their bicycles, with some pick up trucks with speakers blaring out their message, so the red guys went for the big sounds and let off a lot of fireworks. I watched safely standing with a friendly bunch of policemen who smiled at me and shook hands before gently leading me to the stupid foreigners safe observation spot across the road ….

While the ladies are at the rally the boys are honing their skills on the pool table

In the one main street I walked along there were about eight of these pool halls, all full, while the ladies (chicas) were occupied at the lady oriented political rally the chicos (guys) were busy in the pool hall drinking beers and hoing their skills, you see these pool halls in every village along with a football pitch it seems to be a pair of national obsessions

Supermarkets stock all that is needed after your rally

After a wander around the supermarket I decided to get some dinner at a nice little restaurant, unfortunately my Spanish needs a bit of work as I thought I recognised champion perch (perca) on the menu but it was really chicken breast (pechuga) with mushrooms, so I need to work on my spanish some more had they said chicken (pollo said pojo) I would have twigged !

Finally happy that I had explored party politics, shopping, food and a bit of language training I retired to bed to nurse my flu with some medicine bought at the supermarket. The lady had looked at me funny when I had asked for the room by reception but she knew something I did not. That hotel stayed open all night and it being saturday night they rented out rooms to the amourous young couples of the town, I guess because they were still living with their mums and dads, so every half an hour until about 3am the door bell would ring and the night watchman would let another giggling couple in plus the motorbike which would be driven through reception to the courtyard beyond…..

Thankfully I have earplugs, tomorrow the mountains….a few thousand feet up into the cool I hope.

About Gerry Mulligan

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