Probably our shortest day on the bikes.
Inza wakes up around 6 AM and gets to work. Driving, moving, sledge hammering, phone ringing, clothes washing, etc. I’m not entirely sure how but we managed to get back to sleep a couple times until about 8:30 when we went downstairs and discovered a very full town square.
We extracted the bikes from their hidey-holes and into the town square with surprisingly little difficulty. I walked it forward and when we got to an unturnable corner Dachary and I (mostly Dachary) would grab the back end and pull it around in the appropriate direction.
By the time we’d gotten both out and come down from the hotel with the panniers we’d amassed quite a crowd. They appeared to maintain a pretty respectable distance from the bikes, but we know they were fondling them in our absence because when we rode off I couldn’t figure out why my hands felt so damn hot until I looked down and saw that someone had turned on my heated grips (not possible to do accidentally). Overall the people have been both curious and helpful, and we regularly get thumbs up and smiles from the army guys we pass at checkpoints.
The road to San Andrés was about 11 k of dirt that was pretty but not particularly notable.
When we got to San Andrés we passed a couple Hospedajes and then saw El Refugio, the only real hotel in town. We’d heard that it was about $30 and went in to check. Yup. 54,000 ($27 US) for two people. So I meandered up and down the street to check the hospidaje’s. The one right next to the hotel had an inner courtyard with a nice garden, and the rooms were decent, and clean, and had a single bed like we wanted, but it was obviously old and concrete floors acquire stains and such over the years no matter how thoroughly you scrub them. Also, no toilet seat. The next hospedaje down the road was all closed up. The one where MotoAdvendureGal stayed in was open, but only had rooms with two twin beds. It was definitely more modern and the bathrooms were way better (although not all have toilet seats), but after having grabbed dinner there for the past couple nights I can assure you that it’s not a place I’d choose unless I had zero intent of relaxing there.
They both cost 24,000 ($12 US) but the one down the hill has a family, or two, living / working there with a gaggle of kids from two to maybe 20. Yelling, screaming, running, playing, with the adults hanging out back near the kitchen area chatting away. The kids would drive me batty, and the place has no soundproofing at all. So, if, like us, you’re looking for a place to relax for a couple days you absoposiloutely want the hotel.
The pool is nice, but more importantly the whole inner area of the hotel is a calm, peaceful place to sit and relax. Except on Sunday afternoons (tomorrow) when it appears that much of the town comes to use the pool. We thought it was great that they did.
We made it there before 11AM and the room with a single bed was being cleaned still so we asked if the restaurant was open and decided to get an early lunch since we’d skipped breakfast. We went over, sat down, and the guy from the front desk asked us what we’d like to drink (in Colombia you have the choice of juice, CocaCola, or random Colombian soda they never want to list the flavors or names of) and we got the Coke.
When he came back we asked about food. He seemed surprised by this even though we’d just asked if the restaurant was open, but he recovered and told us it was Carne Asada ….. or Pollo. I’m not sure why “Pollo” seems to only get added when you sit there and ponder for a bit. Unless we’re actually at a place that specializes in chicken it always seems to be an afterthought, “oh yeah, we’ve got that dead bird in the fridge…”
We ordered one of each and waited, and waited, and waited. Occasionally the dude would pop his head out of the kitchen and make sure we hadn’t died yet. If I caught his eye he’d give me some hand gesture to indicate it was all good and food was coming. So we waited more…
An hour later food came. We suspect that 40 minutes of that was waiting for the one cup of rice that we both got, but we’d have happily skipped the rice to save 40 minutes. The Carne Asada was unremarkable and the chicken leg and thigh had been dropped into a frialator. I’m pretty sure the chicken had been in a knife-fight before, or when, it was killed because there were a number of stab wounds on the section of it that I received.
But, aside from the seemingly interminable wait, and the fact that he felt the need to crank the tunes for us, it was really nice. While we sat there we noticed a sign in the back denoting it as the Camping area. We didn’t know they let people camp here! We pondered it for like 5 seconds, but in addition to seeing Tierradentro our goal here was to stop moving, relax, and just take a break. So we stuck with the room. The hotel has a nice lawnmower, and we met their dogs Lucy and Lucas. Who I’m happy to report rarely bark, except a few times in the day when Lucy tries to get the lawnmower to play.
I’m not sure what the camping costs, but there are bathrooms you can use and I’m pretty sure there are showers too, so it’s probably your cheapest option, and one of the best.
While we were waiting we met a Sweedish couple who’ve been driving their vanagon like thing around South America for a couple years. They suggested we get together this evening and they’d show us some stuff on the map. It sounded good. :)
We spent the rest of the day doing pretty much nothing other than reading. Which was exactly what we wanted. Around two we handed over our clothes, including our underwear, Dachary’s bras, and the gear. I put it in two bags one they could throw in the dryer and one they couldn’t… plus the gear which also needs to air dry.
We made a rather disturbing discovery along the way. We knew that the BMW Rallye Pro 2 suit had better armor, we just didn’t realize quite how much better it was until we saw the knee armor side by side. Turns out, even my elbow armor is larger than her knee armor.
Next trip I totally want to get her into some BMW gear. The armor’s better and the material is thicker. Her RevIt Sand does have better ventilation, but I’ll take slightly decreased ventilation with massively increased safety any day of the week.
Anway, the guy said two hours. So we went back to the room and read for three hours at which point we were somewhat hungry and interested in venturing out so I was sent to track down our laundry.
(all in spanish) “Yes. It’s not done.” “huh?” It was very mugre.” “no entiendo mugre” “mugre mugre…mugre” Ahh…yeah, repetition didn’t really help but, whatever. not done…. “dos mas houra?” “Si”
I return and break the news. “I’m not going out without a bra.” In addition to the effects of gravity she was also concerned about the fact that since she was wearing a tank-top it was possible to catch a glimpse of boob through the side. I suggested that it wasn’t really visible and it wasn’t a big deal anyway, but there was no budging her and I was sent out to scavenge. Mugre, by the way, means soiled, dirty, etc.
I returned from the hospidaje / restaurant down the road with (surprise surprise) carne asada which I had ordered with french fries but received with two odd salads and a small glass jug of red juice which I was to return the next day. I also acquired a couple cokes from the Tienda by the hotel which I was also to return the next day.
We ate, in semi-darkness because despite the fact that the hotel was nice, the main light from the room was out despite my telling the guy that it was “muerte” earlier in the day, and the lamps on the side-table are very dim. I sound like I’m being picky. I don’t actually mind the dim side-table lights, but I do want to be able to see around the room at night without squinting through shadows.
Dachary was somewhat annoyed about the laundry. I had pretty much expected something like this to happen and only annoyed that the guy hadn’t actually said “manyana”.
In the end we watched a couple episodes of Dr. Who, read a little more, and went to bed. Overall, a nice, relaxing day, and as dark fell the whole place became very quiet. No trucks. No loud neighbors. Just us, the crickets, and the dark… we never did get together with the Swedes.