Lest anyone think we get overwhelmed with the bad, we wanted to share our thoughts on Colombia. I’m writing this up but Kay will edit and add notes and I think we’re both in agreement about this spectacular country.
Everyone who rides here says “Don’t skip Colombia.” We’ve read a ton of reports by people who talk about how beautiful it is here, and how fabulous the people are here. As a result, we never really thought about skipping Colombia and traveling straight to Quito, but I don’t think either of us anticipated exactly how much we’d enjoy Colombia.
In short, Colombia rocks. We’re both in agreement that it has been our favorite country in the trip.
We’ve only seen a small slice of Colombia – it’s weird to get back into the scale of a decently-sized country after the tiny countries in Central America. But the slice we’ve seen has been breathtakingly, spectacularly gorgeous. All of our riding here, whether riding at high speeds down a highway to Cali or crawling along a twisty dirt mountain road, have been punctuated with “Wow. That’s so beautiful. I want to take a picture!” We regularly stop to take pictures of the beauty, but pictures can’t do it justice. There are so many scenes where there hasn’t been a good place to stop but the vistas have deserved pictures, and we’re sorry we don’t have them.
Colombia is beautiful. Green, lush, verdant mountains, which regularly lead you into the clouds, surrounding you in an otherworldly misty landscape. Afternoon rain showers that leave the countryside smelling fresh and green and newly minted just for you, like you’re the first person to ever set foot here. Unspoiled, undiscovered towns and vast landscapes where you can get lost just riding for hours. It’s everything that Mexico hinted at, larger than life, without all of the speed bumps – vast and wild and beautiful.
Riding a motorcycle in Colombia has been a gift. Even on the days where I’ve felt overwhelmed by the road, I’ve never ceased to be aware of how lucky I am to be here, seeing these things and experiencing this landscape. It’s been, easily, the best motorcycle riding in my (relatively short) experience, but Kay, who has been all over the United States on a bike, confirms this.
And the people here have been truly wonderful. Turning up in tiny towns where we’re welcomed and treated like a combination of entertainment, visiting royalty, and crazy gringos – is a humbling and awesome experience. We’ve encountered hospitality here that we simply haven’t encountered anywhere else in our travels. More people than anywhere else have been interested in our bikes, our trip, our lives – where we’ve been and where we’re going.
We get so much from these interactions – a reminder to appreciate that we’re able to do this, and the things we’ve seen – and we also get to give to the people we encounter by sharing our trip with them; entertaining them and giving them something to talk about – whether it be us dropping our bikes in front of half-a-dozen locals or simply being crazy gringos on enormous bikes traveling through their country.
We’ve encountered extreme generosity, in the form of people who have happily given us their time to show us directions, help Kay report his missing license plate to the police, or helping to repair his bike. We’ve encountered trust and a different way of doing business – “Sure, take the bottle/glass with you and bring it back tomorrow!” or “Pay tomorrow – no problem!” We’ve left so many places feeling blessed and happy to have had these encounters, which we never had passing through Central America, as much as we enjoyed some of the places and people we met there.
If I could choose anywhere in the trip to return for more riding later, it would be Colombia. I’d happily spend weeks or months exploring this country and all it has to offer.
Riding through Colombia has been the highlight of our trip so far, and has made every bad moment fade to insignificance. This is what motorcycle travel is about. And we’re lucky and blessed to be here.