Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Journey to the Coast

The trip from Barichara to San Gil was uneventful and after getting all the campo mud out from the undercarriage of the car at the car wash in San Gil, it seemed as if the old girl was considerably lighter on her “sneakers.”
After days of rain, it was pleasurable to see the sunshine and the trip to Bucaramanga was done in record time... just under two hours! The Chicamocha Canyon was vastly different from all the rain... all the cacti and other growing things were swelling and green and the Rio de Chicamocha was roaring down the canyon.
Just upon arrival in Buca, the rain started and followed me down the other side of the mesa. Due to the excessive amounts of rain, there were a number of places where the land has slid anywhere from 10 to 50 or even more feet down onto the road, carrying rocks, trees, and other plants with it. But all the blockages except one had been bulldozed away. 
Although an incredibly dangerous act, the driver was
leaving the same stop we were and I have to think he
was aware of his 'tailgater,' as he drove slowly up the hill.
Two hours north of Bucaramanga took me out of the state of Santander and into Nord de Santander, countryside that was still very mountainous, and also very green, but with long stretches of flat land that provides a lot of grazing for cattle and horses. But the small villages along the way are, for the most part, exceptionally dirty with trash from daily living scattered throughout the pueblo. And in the cleaner towns apparently the residents take their trash out to the roadways and dump it there. There are a number of signs that stipulate “No basura aqui!” (No trash here!). Colombia needs to help their populace learn how to recycle and give them ways to dispose of the non-recyclables that doesn’t blight this otherwise beautiful countryside.
I found a small, but clean “hospitaje” just as the sun was going down. The patron, a woman, showed me a room with two beds... concrete platforms with mattresses inserted into them...for $15000 (about $9 USD) and in a few hours, in spite of flying ants swarming in the room, I was asleep.
This appears to be the milk 'wagon' getting ready to
make a delivery someplace.
Venezuela begins about where the mountain are. This is
from the Departmento Cesar (state), north of Bucaramanga.
The next morning my failure to inquire about hot water came back to haunt me. The shower was a pipe and clearly had only one spigot... COLD! But it was clean and soon so was I, although shivering.
Breakfast was two scrambled eggs and an arepa (corn pattie cooked on the fire) with some wonderful fresh jugo (juice) of mora... a red berry that looks like a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry. Breakfast was not included, but for the equivalent of $3 USD, it was a good deal.
Back on the road at 8, the road continued downward and by the time I reached border of the next state, Cesar, the mountains were more distant and the vegetation was that of rivers and flat agricultural producing areas. And the temperature was higher as was the humidity. The young men in their military uniforms at all the checkpoints along the way made a point to be standing in the shade.
If you look carefully at the bicyclist just behind the moto,
you can see he is carrying not one, but TWO washers!!
As I worked my way north to the seacoast on the Atlantic/Caribbean side, the color of the skin of the natives seemed to be darker, there were more palm trees (in fact, grove after grove of them) and the other plants and trees had a more tropical appearance. And the road got straighter and better.
Sales of mandarinas were slow, I think, at this 'bump' in
the road, one of about 50 we passed over on this route.
I arrived in Riohacha, in the state of Guijara, just before sunset. I don’t know what I was expecting, but the city is like a larger version of the villages... not mud huts exactly, but the construction seems older, shabbier and the alley ways are muddy and  narrow. Colombian “resort” it may be, but it has a long way to go to match Mexico’s Cabo San Lucas for style and charm. The hotel I found was hardly three stars and yet it was full, so I could only have one night there for the equivalent cost of $75 USD. The room was sparsely equipped with a single bed with a horrible mattress and a set of bunks, cheap dresser and a small TV with poor color. In the U.S. this would have qualified as “fleabag,” (not even one star) but here it is considered “upscale.” Perhaps because the room has AC and a hot water handle...but no hot water! However, breakfast is included.
The security guard told me it was not wise to walk on the beach at night. So since “night” begins at 6 p.m., my planned beach walk was postponed for the next day. Instead I went for dinner at the hotel restaurant which was clean and pleasant and had their version of steak for about $8.
This was all the sunset to be captured in Riohacha, Colombia.
After a steady day of driving - not stopping along the way except for gas - I was exhausted and after using the hotel’s wifi access to check my mail, I was able to fall asleep on the mattress from hell... I am too spoiled, I admit it!

1 comment:

  1. Your adventurousness is so admirable and I hope you are enjoying yourself. E loved the photos of Granny with the birds. Hugs from all of us...