Day 62 – Zipaquira and Catedral de Sal

Upon checking into the hotel that had semi-functional internet access last night, we discovered that Kay’s new license plate had already been delivered to FedEx in Bogota. We figured we could scrap the plans to see Catedral de Sal and ride to Bogota, grab it and get on the road, but Kay was really interested in seeing it and since we’d already gotten there, decided we should stick around and see it. So I did some research and found lots of great reviews about it, and info saying that it would take a half day to see everything there.

We decided that after seeing Catedral de Sal, it would be too late to get into Bogota, locate the FedEx thing, and get out again – we’d get stuck hunting for a hotel in Bogota. Which didn’t sound good to either of us. So we decided to take the room in Zipaquira for another night, and make a day of it. I wanted to check some stuff on my bike, and Kay wanted to remove the annoying Aerostich multimeter thing, so we had enough to do after seeing the Catedral.

So we got up at a leisurely pace, had breakfast, and went to see the Catedral. Got there around 10AM, bought our tickets (around $10 US per person for just the Catedral de Sal and some 3D movie thing) and headed in. We realized too late that we were going in with a Spanish-speaking tour group, and we could have waited for an English-speaking tour guide, but Kay opted to just go in with the Spanish guide instead of waiting around until later, figuring that the place would be interesting enough to hold our attention even if we didn’t understand the guide.

The Catedral de Sal was… disappointing. One of the reviews described it as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” – we beg to differ. It was impressive from the standpoint of being a salt mine, and Kay was very impressed with what we saw from a mining perspective… but otherwise, it was a bunch of crosses lit up in mined-out caverns which represented various “stations” in Jesus’ life. The main cathedral itself was somewhat impressive, but the rest of it was kind of… lame.

Cathedral De Sal

Cathedral De Sal

Cathedral De Sal

Cathedral De Sal

Also? After seeing just the Catedral and the 3D movie (about mining, and the infrastructure of this mine in particular, which was somewhat interesting) it was barely even 12. Obviously we miscalculated, and had we not taken the room for another night, we could have probably made it into Bogota, gotten the license plate, and made it out again. But we’d already paid for the room, and there was still stuff we could do on the bikes, so we simply headed back.

Startled pera

Cute for sale

The most noteworthy thing about this visit was the fact that the altitude kicked my ass. I was short of breath after walking up just a few flights of stairs toward the mine – far more so than normal. And then walking along the flat roads. And walking downhill later. I don’t remember having this much trouble the first time we were in Bogota, but I also didn’t do much walking around then. By the time we finished with the mine, I was ready to go back to the hotel room and crash for a bit. So we did – went back and watched an episode of Dr. Who and then went out to futz with the bikes.

My bike was having its first problem. I’d noticed vibrations between 60-70KPH. It was worse when decelerating, but it got quite bumpy from time to time and I was worried about it. So we pulled up the F650 forum (the Chain Gang) FAQ, which Kay had archived the entirety of on his iPad for quick reference, and I stared going through the vibration FAQ. Checked this and that and nothing really seemed to apply. In the end, we tightened two of the engine bolts, which I was skeptical of but was easy enough to do so there was no reason not to do it. I also discovered that my steering bearing is notched, but I have no idea how serious of a problem this is and haven’t had a chance to look it up on the Web.

Checked some other fasteners – notably my taillight, after Kay’s had simply fallen off – checked my front sprocket, which requires removing the stupid BMW guard (this is a bitch to remove if you have the Touratech engine guards – we Dremeled a bit out to make it easier but it’s still a PITA) and did some general checking and maintenance. The bike didn’t really seem to need anything else, although the chain is showing signs of wear – my Loobman seems to be doing an insufficient job of lubing the chain. Guess it’s time to find a moto shop and buy some lube and a cleaning brush and do it the old fashioned way.

Kay took the opportunity to disconnect and remove the Aerostich multimeter, which had been failing on him for a while. After the rain in Neiva, it had gotten to the point that it beeped incessantly every 5 seconds, and NONE of the things worked anymore. So he had to take off the seat, disconnect it from his Fuzeblock, and remove the multimeter and wires. Before trashing it he chopped off the wires to use as extra reinforcement for the license plate.

Mine, by the way, is still fully functional, except for the fact that the clock keeps losing time and some of the LCDs on the clock don’t work anymore. I think being more inside the cockpit has afforded mine some protection, but these still aren’t meant for use on a motorcycle. Shame on you, Aerostich, for selling them to motorcycle owners. (They’re meant for inside of a car, we now know.)

Otherwise were fairly lazy, aside from some minor medical ailments. We had to go to a drugstore to request some anti-histamines for me, because I seem to be developing some obnoxiously itchy red dots. Akin to Chicken Pox, actually – I noticed them first at the hotel in Neiva, and they’ve been getting worse since then (i.e. more of them, itchier). Not quite sure what to do about it, except to give it a few more days and see if it goes away on its own. Also had to get a laxative, because I’ve gone from one extreme to the other – so now I was glued to the bathroom for the rest of the night.

There was a pizza place next to the hotel, and we’d had no luck getting pizza there for dinner last night. I sent Kay to try again while I stayed close to the bathroom, and after much to-do, which resulted in the pizza shop lady coming back inside our hotel and talking to the hotel receptionist, who apparently called a pizza shop somewhere else and ordered pizza for us, we finally got an order in for pizza. 45 minutes later, we got two “personal” pizzas. And they were TINY. Still, we dug in optimistically… and agreed that we’ve had better pizzas from a box in the frozen food section. The crust was lame, there was no sauce and the cheese tasted… odd. The only saving grace was that it was cheap. Kay went out a bit later to get a second dinner for us to share – chicken and potatoes. That was much better.

Kay’s note: the Pizza place didn’t have pizza, wouldn’t make pizza, didn’t have the lasagna that was on the menu, and I suspect didn’t have the hamburgers on the menu either. Also, the woman who ran the pizza place was unaware that pepperoni was a form of salami.

So word of advice? Ordering pizza in Colombia is a crap-shoot.

Also? I’m now in a position to say decisively that laxatives are NO FUN. Wish I didn’t have an opinion, but… my digestive tract has been taking a beating on this trip.

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