Please Mr Policeman, don’t take my bike

T – Zipaquira here we come! Reading up about this underground salt church place seems quite interesting. We are both looking forward to it as it is quite an unusual thing. But first we had to get there. We intended to use the highways so we could make good time, and here in Colombia we are not the slowest thing on the road anymore!

We struck out from Venadillo nice and early and cruised along the road. We were back down in elevation and the weather was perfect. Not too cold and not too warm. Just right!

C – I had picked this route to Zipaquira because the highway goes straight through the town of Armero, where in 1985 the entire town was devastated by a volcanic eruption.

T – Along the way way came to an old town called Armero. There were broken buildings and buried houses lining the highway. We had read about this place. On November 13 1985 a volcano nearby erupted after 69 years of dormancy. The Colombian government had some advance warning of this but basically did nothing to get residents out of the area. As the eruption occurred the glaciers on top of the volcano melted and a fury of water, mud and debris raced down the mountain and straight into the town of Armero. 20000 people died. A very sad event.

We had a look around the old townsite. There were hundreds of headstones amongst the trees at sites where houses had once been. It was very sobering.

C – This event was broadcast around the world by the media, with particular focus on one small girl. She was trapped under debris, but there was no equipment available for anyone to attempt to extract her from the rubble. Rescue workers talked with her for three days before she passed away. It was very sad to see the impact on the town and the image I found most profound, was that of the place of the cathedral, where half the dome still sits.

T – We continued on from there and soon began to climb the mountains again as we neared Bogota and our turnoff to Zipaquira.

The traffic began to build up very fast and soon we were at a standstill. We passed when we could on either side of the traffic, right up until the police pulled us over. We had been passing the traffic on the verge side and they told us in no certain terms that this was illegal in Colombia. We knew it was and played dumb tourists. They let us off with just a telling off which was quite lucky as we had heard of other bikers being fined up to $300USD and having their bikes impounded. So it was back to overtaking on double lines, around bends, and over crests for us!

C – Besides our dumb tourist act and being over the top apologetic, I think what really helped us was that in this particular instance, we were following a local rider.

T – We eventually made it into town just as the heavens threatened to open up and drench us.

Tomorrow we shall go to a mechanic for Rosie and visit the salt church.


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2 thoughts on “Please Mr Policeman, don’t take my bike

  1. Jax

    Armero reminds me of Oradour sur glane in France. The Nazis burned it to the ground along with all the villagers trapped in the church and the French have left it exactly as it was – as a reminder to all. Eerie place.

    • tncpowell

      Wow. That reminds me of a place in Vietnam we went to. A group of US soldiers went a bit crazy and slaughtered an entire village, women, men, kids, babies, and animals. The village was razed to the ground but the Vietnamese have left the foundations there as a reminder of what horrible things people can do.

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