Arrival In Colombia Date: 9; Tue, 17 Nov 1998
Yes - we made it & are in S.America at LAST!
We're in Cali at the moment, staying at the Lycee Francaise. It's a french school & we're camping in the grounds! Stani just gave an English lesson - telling them all about the trip – we think it went down well as they asked hundreds of questions & went through the break right until their next lesson! The teacher said she thought they were really interested as none of them had ever heard of anyone doing this sort of thing before & that to them we were like from a different planet!
How we got here is when we were cycling into Cali we were stopped by a woman in a car asking where we were from. She's Argentinean & married to a French guy & recognized the King of the Hills (The red polka dot cycling shirt from Tour de France) that we were wearing. Richard's uncle's company is a sponsor of the Tour de France & he gave us a couple of jerseys. Yep the real thing! Anyway she suggested we might me able to stay here & spoke to the director for us. Very nice - really beautiful with kitchen, showers, video & even internet!
Just finished the journey from hell by taking 3 boats from Panama to Buenaventura. I was sick on the first boat - El Amparo. We had woken up at 6ish just as it was starting to rain (we had to sleep on deck!)& got the tarpaulin up over the railings just in time. Then Richard went & got some breakfast (2 soggy rolls & plastic cheese) and at the sight I threw up - mostly my guts I think as we hadn’t eaten the day before & they’d refused to give us food the evening we set off - only crew. But luckily I was distracted by some dolphins that appeared alongside & frolicked for about 30 mins. We got stuck in Jaque (the back of beyond) for 4 days which was just as well as I was running a horrendous fever & felt like shit. Richard has kindly refrained from mentioning the fact that I was also unbearable (WOT even more bolshy than normal?)
Mr Devious - a guy some friends of ours had warned us about that ran the launch, turned up on the second day but was not willing to go less than $10 per bike & $20 per person. For a 2 hour trip I thought this was robbery. I even said I’d rather go back to Panama than pay that much to which he said "so go" & went off down the pub/bar/shack/whatever!
His name is actually Condorito - probably due to his size (smaller than me!) & the fact that his launch is meant to fly like a bird or something. I thought Big Pigeon Shit was more appropriate.
The Saturday morning we finally set off was miserable as there’d been a tropical storm (later to find out that this was Hurricane Mitch) & Jurado was completely flooded. We thought we might capsize several times - I felt like something out of a Monty Python sketch as we turned around & sped away from the really big waves, mentally yelling "Run Away, Run Away" Mentally I add, as I had my mouth firmly shut - you see the colour of the water kept reminding me of the fact that the El Amparos loo went straight out into the ocean.
When we got into Jurado the next boat - the Juan David was anchored on the corner of the bend of the river. They told us to come back later as they weren’t leaving until Sunday morning.
We spent the day at some guy’s house that owned a bakery & basically spent the day eating - very pleasant! In the afternoon we checked out the Fronteras which was docked & was also going to Buenaventura but they said they’d be stopping all the way down the coast & wouldn’t get to Buenaventura for 3 days. So in the afternoon BPS took us to the JD which was trying to sneak out without but had got stuck on a sandbank & had to get BPS´s launch to push them off! Lucky for us heh!
Anyway off to Ecuador to day - via the badlands –yep the Guerrilla area - many warnings not to cycle as too dangerous. Some friends got caught in the crossfire between guerrillas & the military a few weeks ago there. Wish us luck!
Ciao for Now
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Stani & Richard
Next Newsletter: Ecuador Dogs 12 Feb 1999