C – We were eager to hit the road today as we were both looking forward to seeing Desierto de la Tatacoa and its little red canyon. But first, Todd wanted to pick up a new cam chain for Mabel as we had spotted a Honda dealer on the way in.
T – Mabes has a little rattle up in the head under load or high RPM. So I will do for her what I can otherwise she will have to wait a while for an overhaul! Im going to try the new cam chain and maybe I will even run her on premium for a bit! She has 40 000 very hard kms on this engine so I am happy to give her a little love. And seeing as it was a Honda dealer I figured they would have a suitable part.
C – The Honda dealer was super friendly and we soon had what we needed. Time to hit the highway!
The best way for us to get to the desert, was to suck it up and spend a day on the highway. So we trudged along and spent the morning sharing the road with lots of trucks and buses. In no time though, we had only 40kms to go and we turned onto a lovely dirt road. This proved to be such fun!
The road started out as a fairly good, one lane dirt road and we were soon passing through a very small village where everyone seemed to be out sitting on the pavements chilling out. After the town, the road deteriorated somewhat and we rounded a corner to be confronted with…. A tunnel!
T – Not any old tunnel though. This thing was narrow and very tall. Train tunnel! It was all Mabel and I could do to not make woo woo noises as we chugged our way into the darkness. Woo woo Mabel, woo woo!
C – The road must follow an old train line and Todd was very excited to be able to ride through the tunnel. As we entered the tunnel, we saw that the whole length of the tunnel was a massive puddle. We dived straight into and the girls were soon creating bow waves to our hoots and laughter.
T – The floor of the tunnel was churned up mud and about a foot of water. I couldnt resist giving Mabel a bit of throttle and we screamed through, spraying mud and water every where. If Mabel could have I am sure she would have giggled her red bottom off.
C – After another, longer tunnel, we came across a very unsafe, very long bridge spanning across a river than was angry and raging. Of course, Todd suggested I should go first… It was as little scary as the whole bridge clunked and moved as I rode across. Rosie was a little nervous, with her little eye spying the raging, muddy waters below.
T – I felt it was my duty to take a photo of Chantelle as we needed it for our records. It had nothing to do with the fact that the steel plates of the bridge were loose and very thin. As Rosie trundled across I could hear the banging and clattering of the steel as they wobbled and buckled. It was cool and Mabel and I raced across, again making train noises.
C – Many water crossings later, we were reached a little village and turned back onto bitumen, for the final few kilometres to the desert.
We could see the red canyon for a few kilometres, as the road wound down to the rim. The canyon was beautiful, and extremely small. Its amazing that this little red desert exists among the grazing land around it. We took some pics, had a walk and then decided to venture a bit further along the road. Unfortunately, the rest of the desert area was hidden from view by entrepreneurial types who had built large fences and buildings. You can pull into these camps and restaurants to see the desert. For a small fee of course.
Naturally, we did not stop! As it was still only lunchtime, we decided to push on further to the town of Neiva before we stopped for the evening.
As we approached Neiva, we realised it was a big and very busy city. Nope! Not for us! We pushed on, with the GPS navigating us to San Agustin. It was not long before we spotted a cheerful little truckers hotel with a restaurant attached. We pulled in and after checking out the rooms, I decided it was the place for us tonight.
T – These bigger cities are crazy! There is way more bikes in them and the riders just swerve in and out of fast moving buses while texting, looking at us, or chatting to their pillion passengers. Its nuts! At one point a bus shot past me and then immediately decided he needed to pull over to the curb and just swerved straight in towards me. I was very much unimpressed and gave him a good dose of Mabels horn. Not that he noticed because he was texting away madly.
C – After Todd had started unpacking the bikes, he asked how much it cost. When I told him, he made me go and double check with the girl that the cost was for a whole night, and not just a few hours (a lot of hotels here rent rooms for a few hours at a time – I am sure you can imagine why!). After buying a few drinks and ‘casually’ bringing it up, she definitely confirmed that it was a whole night. Guess how much? Precisely $6.21US. Seriously! And more, the room was super duper clean, the bed comfy and it had a working fan.
We ate a huge and delicious meal in their restaurant, where we each had a meat and cheese stuffed arepa, soup, a full plate of pork, veges and rice, a beer, juice and waters for the same price as the room!! Truckers stops are certainly great value in Colombia.
Tomorrow, we are hoping to reach San Agustin to visit the Parque Arqueologica.