How much kindness can you receive in one day? We cycled on dirt from Suarez to Purification, where we were offered free avena (oat) drinks, a free avocado, two free soft drinks and beer if I hadn’t kindly and slightly regretfully turned it down. It’s an awesome feeling when people want to stop us to chat, they genuinely want to know about our trip, and our bikes. Being a gringo is a blessing and a curse, but here in Colombia definitely much more of the first. To me it’s interesting how Colombia has been seen as a place of unrest to many foreign countries, yet the people who are so incredibly welcoming don’t seem to get any recognition abroad. As long as you’ve got your head screwed on straight, (as in any country) this place is amazing and the people even more so.
From Purification, we made our way along a sleepy road which used to be asphalt but would now be considered unkempt. It was relatively quiet and the few cars we saw honked and waved. Eventually we end up in Sadana where we decide to lay low for the night. At this point, the heat here is unbearable and both Gina and I developed terrible sunburn. She’s also got heaps of sandfly and mosquito bites although they’ve left me alone for the most part. We left early in the morning bearing for the Tatacoa desert. About 45 kilometres of boring highway riding along route 45, we turned off towards Pueblo Nuevo onto route 45a. The beauty of the landscape was immediate, and after a quick conversation with a passing moto, we got moving. Crossing the Magdalena river by bridge, we carried on through small towns and happened upon a couple of other cyclists. We shared the peaceful road, and decided to make camp together at a piscina owned by a friendly local fellow. In the early morning we reached Villavieja, and decided to head east through the real desert. We knew of a road through the desert which led to Baraya but just to be sure checked with a guide who confirmed the route existed. We met a group of approximately 10 cyclists who were doing a day tour through the desert, and we decided to join them for a few kilometres, and once we got tired, decided to take it at our own pace, stopping often to take photos or seek shade under a cactus. The ride was tiring and pretty bumpy, our burns were getting so bad and mine started bubbling up, and when we eventually made it to Baraya at 3pm, we decided to stop for the day and let our burns heal up.
Special thanks to Hub Cycles here, without the long sleeve shirts, we’d be significantly more burnt.
Route info: See/download the gpx file here on RideWithGPS