Saturday, January 10, 2009

We Love Platypus

We are in backpacker nirvana. As you might recall from earlier blogs, Panama City is not the easiest place to park a motorcycle, especially a shiny red 650GS with all the gear attached. So we made it out of Panama by way of air freight on the bikes. I will give a separate technical explanation of that latter for the biker dudes.

Anyway we needed a hotel in Bogota. So as we sat in the airport waiting to go to Colombia we emailed and called the world famous Platypus Hostel in Bogota. They had no room at the inn originally, but late found us space. This is a great place. But once again, it would have been a little hard to find in the middle of the night on a motorcycle, and impossible to negotiate during the day because we did not have our Colombian motorcycle gear.

We checked in about 10 PM (we are now using the correct time). It is cool (read cold 47 degrees at night) and no heat in the rooms. No big deal. The rooms are rustic. We share bath and shower with the absolutely drop dead gorgeous German and Argentinean girls next door. This is a great imposition, but Marty and I are sensitive sharing types, so we are able to cope with this. And there is a coming and going of people of all ages taking the buses around the world and South America. The Havoc House group in Tucson would love it here. I will say that it is definite plus to be able to speak Spanish and German if one is traveling in the hostel circuit. So if you plan to take the trip, take Spanish so you can enjoy it.

Our bikes did not arrive the next morning. We had been warned that might be the case, so we used the day to get legal in Colombia including the mandatory reflective vest with emblazoned plate numbers, reflective plate numbers on our helmets, and insurance. So we got to see motorcycle Mecca in Bogotá. They have an 8 square block area dedicated to motorcycles, gear, tires and just stuff.

So we got to see Bogotá. Last night when we got back to the hostel there were a bunch of people just hanging. Among them was a mother daughter team from Australia also headed south. Great conversation trading war stories. Geography is everything, and Panama is a funnel. The funnel lets out at Colombia, and every one must pass through Bogotá for all practical purposes. So we finally met up with the great mass of gutsy people traveling on the cheap.

My impression of Bogotá is that it is very safe. However we were warned several times that traveling in the “Red Zone” to Cali and the Ecuadorian border by motorcycle is a dangerous proposition as there is still leftist guerrilla activity in the area. We were instructed to check in with the local military and police at each stage and inform them of our route, travel plans, and when stopped to just get fed, pay up, and leave without any thing more said – especially in English.

So as I write this I am waiting for the bikes to arrive and get underway again. Wish us luck. If you do not see a post after this one, the words of the song apply “Send lawyers, guns and money—the %$%&* has hit the fan.”


PS I did not get this posted until we arrived in Cali, the most dangerous city in Colombia. So we are safe, but send money anyway, if you wish.

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