(almost) time to go
After picking up Norma, we take a look to see if everything is ok. We are supposed to be leaving for Aguachica tomorrow at 8am and Norma doesn’t want to start. At 9pm, we knew we weren’t going anywhere tomorrow. we message our host Marco for the Airbnb and he says no problem of course we can stay another night. He really has been a lifesaver.
After lots of trying different things, Steve takes apart the starter motor and cleans it and voila she starts. Because we went through the storm in Houston and then she sat idle for a while, she had a bit of rust. But regardless, we delay leaving by one day to give ourselves room just in case anything else comes up. So we have one more day for Steve to recover a bit more from the cold and rest. We have one last meal in Cartagena and then pack up Norma to go.
A fork in the road
In case you missed it, there were large protests happening in Ecuador beginning of October. The government got rid of the gas subsidies thereby increasing the price of gas to double or triple rates overnight. Borders were closed, there was a state of emergency with curfews, and the people brought the country to a standstill by blocking all major roads. Now, they called to stop in protests after 12 days but since the “peace talks” aren’t going so well between the indigenous leaders and the government – they are planning another massive protest on October 30th. Why does this matter?
Well, in order for us to get anywhere down south to Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina.. etc – we have to go through Ecuador. Now, we’ve been talking to other overlanders and they’ve been stuck in Ecuador with limited options. We don’t really want to be putting ourselves in danger unnecessarily so here are the choices we have.
A. Drive as quickly as we can through Colombia and Ecuador before the protests can begin.
B. Drive slower through Colombia and see how the talks unfold past October 30th.
Considering we’ve already been in Colombia for a month, we originally wanted to do plan A. But…We haven’t really been able to explore Colombia outside of the two major cities. So because of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), we opt to slow down.
Just about 4 hours (175km) from our last stop in Aguagchica, we arrive in the city of Bucaramanga and Floridablanca. It’s in the mountain andes ranges so the temperature is much cooler than the Carribean coast. We find a small paragliding shop/restaurant/campsite/home of Oscar overlooking the city of Floridablanca and we know we’ve made the right decision.
As soon as we arrive, Oscar welcomes us to his property and just as we pull into the property, someone is taking off to go paragliding. We go talk to him to inquire about the price and its $80,000 COP for 15 minutes or $30 CAD. Back home, it’s about $300. Steve decides this is a great opportunity and might as well while we are here. So we both end up going up. I honestly thought it would be so scary being so high up with nothing to hold in place but a harness. It was a complete opposite. It was peaceful to be up there and you feel like you are just floating in the air like a bird would be.
In the evening, we rest up and look to the fields and see fireflies flying around the field. We hear monkeys howling in the background and every once in awhile we hear the mangos falling from the tree behind us. Even though we didn’t get much sleep because of a neighbor’s birthday party until 2am, we finally feel like we are seeing the country that we came to see.
Next? off to Barichara – often described as the prettiest town in Colombia!