My meeting Heidi in Bogotá and my wanting to do some of the routes Cass Gil has made popular dictated my route from Cartagena across the widely spread drainage basin whose low point culminates in the mighty river Magdalena, flowing towards the sea to the north of Colombia. Across this large area one encounters the eastern mountain range running south, which contains Bogotá.
In the midst of this watery area in which the river takes liberties making it’s sinuous path lies the historically important town of Mompós (Simón Bolívar recruited soldiers for his victory, was once important for travel of goods along the river before the extended road infrastructure and shifting of the river). Touted as lost in time by travel authorities, Mompós sits isolated, surrounded by various waterways (nat geo claims an island… I’m not sure how that works technically) making it difficult to reach. I came in from the west and crossed by an old school ferry. The isolated bit itself is laid-back enough with comparatively little traffic. Spending a rest day in town I wandered off to find replacement flip-flops and encountered a very average sort of town a few blocks apart from the carefully maintained colonial center. Apart from the heat (sweating v’s into my shirt taking a walk) Mompós is pretty and colonial (like so many). This section represented a sort of obligatory race to the hills which in my mind were a retreat from the heat I’ve experienced since descending from the high places in Guatemala (wasn’t I carrying a jacket somewhere in my bags?). Conveniently enough for the cyclist looking towards the Bucaramanga the route cuts through the watery area and the corner of a larger thoroughfare being an excellent option (escaping traffic and taking a more direct route, a seldom found combination).
After Mompós I headed out to the main road and encountered a whole lot of truck traffic. Those unpleasant days were requisite for reaching the hills and a myriad of smaller roads one can take all the way to 30km outside of Bogotá. Along the road I was able to encounter quite a lot of hospitality that made it a touch more worthwhile.
-Hospitality: fruit, water, chats, yards to camp in, arepas (a super thick tortilla sometimes stuffed) and meat, showers, river dip, sweetened the cycling.
-Finally arriving and traveling in a country I’d looked forward to for so long.
-Arriving in the foothills with the promise of chilly nights not too far off.
-Traffic after hitting the main-road.
-The rumble in my gut my last night camping before Bucaramanga that in hindsight signaled the return of unbalanced gut flora.