I’ll start with the confession: We “cheated”. After one hour of “cheating” and six subsequent hours of enjoying the town of Sibundoy instead of pushing our bikes up an amazingly constructed road carved along the steep Cordillera mountains, we couldn’t be happier about the decision.
There is only one way to “cheat” when bike touring: hitching a ride. The road between Mocoa and Sibundoy was described as “dirt”. It is, in fact, not primarily constructed of dirt, but of rocks. Rocks that jar the cyclists soul. The rain, the rocks, the pushing the bicycle, the sciatica, the descents that maxed 7 miles an hour and made the fingers tingle with pain of squeezing the breaks – this all came to a grand halt when the first vehicle we hailed happily packed our gear and ourselves into the bed of their truck and took us down the pass, then up another pass and finally down into Sibundoy.
The route was beautiful. The virgin jungle was scarred only by the road we climbed. Waterfalls crossed our path as we zigzagged our way up the steep climb, tree ferns, massive rain forest growth and all of the most jagged rocks piled, again and again, precisely where we attempted to steer our suspensionless bikes. On the first night we arrived in Mirador, a “town” we thought, that would have a restaurant and a place to sleep. This town consisted of four buildings, two of them looking relatively abandoned, a few children playing, two determined barking dogs, a store owner and about eight very friendly military personnel. After a bit of conversation and speaking with their “jefe” they informed us that we could not stay there and would have to continue climbing where we would find a hotel and a restaurant. One hour of bike-pushing-in-the-dark later, we came across a house and more barking dogs. A fellow emerged and although he was neither a hotel nor a restaurant, he and his five-year-old boy invited us in and magically opened a door with bunk beds, lines to hang our wet clothes, and (low and behold!!) a warm shower. He told us to make ourselves at home and did not reappear until the next morning when he offered us two “tintos” (coffee with panela – sugarcane).
Prior to to our jungle-rockroad adventure, our five-day stay in San Agustin with Paola, Igel and their fantastic family of dogs, Costena, Rambo and Caramba, was wonderful. They offer not only a great place to relax, but also an example of lifestyle that I admire entirely. The German couple began touring in 2001 and do not have plans on stopping yet. They’ve found themselves a wonderful piece of land that they openly share with all passing cyclists. It was difficult to leave the warmth of their current home but it is a good sign when one is sad to leave and also looks forward to going.
We have about four days left in Colombia before crossing to Ecuador.The reasons listed for not visiting this country have nearly been forgotten. We have felt nothing but safe and welcomed and as the tourist slogan here goes “Colombia: The only risk is wanting to stay.” and as Hugo said, the self proclaimed “rastaman, hippy, Capricorn” who we met on the street of Mocoa as he tied free bracelets on our wrists “Welcome to Locombia!”