I crossed back into Colombia from Venezuela in the northern part of the country. My plan was to cycle the north coast to Cartagena then catch a boat to Panama. More about that later.
After a long day riding I pulled into a small town 10 km from the Colombia border. I was told there were accommodations there. Once again I was misled. I stopped in front of a group of guys and asked. No hotels, motels, nothing. They were very nice and offered to drive me to the border where I could ride to a larger town on the Colombia side that would have a hotel. They said the road to the border was dangerous and I could be attacked. I accepted their offer.
They were a lot of fun. Boisterous and telling jokes, whistling and flirting at women as we passed and stopping three times for beer, it took about 90 minutes to drive those 10 km. They also taught me a few new cuss words in Spanish and Guajira, the local indigenous language.
Here we are near the border.
They ended up charging me three times what the ride should have cost, but they were so entertaining I didn’t mind.
I continued on nice roads through the resort towns of Riohacha and Santa Marta. Here are a few beach shots from those towns.
Here is a view of the north coast on one mercifully cloudy day and a view of the mountains towards the interior of the country.
Finally, a bike path!
Coal on its way somewhere.
The ugly part
I was in Santa Marta and just finished a nice meal of shrimp fried rice, salad, and juice. I was strolling around the town and sat at a park bench to rest when I started feeling queasy. I decided I better return to my hotel to lie down. My stomach was really feeling bad and within a block I puked all over the sidewalk. Yuck. A women snickered as she passed and said, “maybe you’re pregnant”. Another group of people said it was probably the shrimp and that I should see a doctor. I hobbled back to my room feeling awful for the rest of the evening.
What to eat and what not to eat is a constant issue when traveling. I avoid buying stuff from street vendors because they tend to be less sanitary. But the two times I have been sick on my trip was after eating in restaurants, so who knows? I try to avoid salads and dairy products and stick to things that have been fried or cooked. I’ve never worked in a restaurant but I have been told some pretty disgusting things go on in the kitchen. Anyone with personal experience have any anecdotes?
The next day I felt better so I rode hard. This part of the country is very hot and humid but with a nice Caribbean breeze it did not seem that bad. But when I pulled into Barranquilla I felt a little wierd, like I had been baking in an oven for six hours. That evening I developed severe chills and fever. I felt like I was burning up. My skin was hot, I had a pounding headache and a sore throat. I eventually passed out but woke up several times during the night drenched in sweat. It was awful. I almost went to a hospital.
I ended up staying a couple days in Barranquilla recovering from that experience. But as I write this I am feeling better and hope to be back on the road tomorrow, headed for my last stop in South America, Cartagena de Indias.