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EAST to La Guajira (Where Papillon spent his time with the Indians)

Written on: Thursday March 26th, 2009

So ..so ...wellity wellity well...
Where was I??,
It was Me and Peadar, then Me and Lily
and now Im travelling Solo ( y loco [ Joe style ] ),
but It doesn't feel solo...  Im back staying at Fernando's
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..This Saturday we joined about 100 bikers touring all around Columbia spreading awareness and demanding the release of all the hostages still kept by the Guerrilla groups that have been greatly defeated but not destroyed in the past 5 years or so. We had police escorts with flashing lights etc..through red lights and with all the traffic stopped as we and the moto police sped through Cartagena and people waved us on.. ABSOLUTELY GREAT CRAIC.
Here are some of the bikers as we met them outside the city .. its really tough to film this stuff and drive ... & check out the Brothers Americano ! (Dirk and Eric) on their '81 CX 500 that came down from El Salvador.
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And another video featuring Antonio, the crazy Mexican that came all the way down from Alaska on his MOPED:
 
and then Sunday it was Fernando's 50th birthday. Tomorrow he joins the Tour as it heads south with the two Americans that are travelling on the 1981 Honda CX500 and the CRAZY!! ; ) Mexican that travelled down from Alaska on a moped, thats right a 125cc honda! .........but me, Im heading west so I dont go with them, I go on alone to Turbo (but first to another beach and maybe ill meet Tony a mate I met in Tayrona), from there I get a number of boats to Panama, via the San Blas Archipelago. Its gonna be so beautiful, as long as I get good weather. Then Im in Central America.. after 11 months in South America.. get ur skates on Ste!
But that's the future .. and what happens there ....no-one knows. but the past, I think I know what happened there.. let me think..
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When I last left Cartagena I headed East to Tayrona National Park where I stayed for a week. Most of the coast of Columbia is quite dry but behind the coastline of Tayrona there is the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta a mountain range that helps keep the coast wet, with sub tropical jungle just behind the beaches that are dotted with huge boulders. Yes it is another Paradise place. A week spent shoeless trekking an hour here and an hour there from beach to beach and up to the abandoned small old Tayronian village which is a good few hundred years old. Cooking each night for myself on the camp stove and later on in the week on a campfire with a group of people who I met there.
Good people, bar one fupping knobjockey who broke my hammock and didnt even say sorry!!.. just something along the lines of Ahhhh sea erosion, these things happen, they never last..etc. Lanky Fup!!! An annoying guy as well... ANY..WAY... Campfires and so on... and chilled beach fun and I read James Joyce's Dubliners and met a guy from Rathdrum called Neil Mc(Something) who was in school with my cousin Eugene all his life(small world, well kinda), and then on Saturday I headed to the rich part of the park and watched The Grandslamin'!! Great stuff. I had recently found (and bought) some Jameson. Mmmmm. Id say the country went crazy...One of the rare(ish) times I would've loved to be at home. 
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..So then I headed further East to Cabo de Vale, In the La Guajira region, the most eastern department in Columbia. A dry desert home to the Wayuu Indians. Papillon (READ IT if u like adventure!!) stayed here when he escaped from French Guiana.
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..I had a few reasons / ideas why I wanted to go here:
1. To meet and stay with the Indians -Bruce Parry style-, too much time needed to find a really remote tribe, and really difficult anyway.
2. I also wanted to go to the most northern point on South America, but its a desert and the roads to get there are pure sand, & If have you travelled round the world or even just off road on ur bike then u'll know that sand is evil.
3. I heard there were some nice beaches here and without tourists more or less. Which is true.
So Anyway I left the supermarket in Santa Marta all stocked up with food and drink and headed east. When I got to Rio Hacha the last "big" town (where Papillon was imprisoned...ok ok enough with the Papillon stuff) I started to see the Wayuu Indians. The women wear a Manta, a traditional full length dress and they look alot more indigenous than the rest of the Colombians which have a lot of Spanish lineage etc. So on I went and as it got darker I realised I wasn't going to make it to where I wanted to .. So I pulled off the road on a side dirt track and parked the bike behind the thorny bush. It dominates the landscape here, I had imagined that the desert would be flat with great views but these trees blocked the landscape, but then they do provide the people with housing materials and firewood etc... Anyway I set up camp in a spot that I thought was hidden but then came a few local taxi trucks with people in the back, I prefer to stay "under the radar" when camping alone in the desert but I was hardly gonna bother moving at this stage. After a good nights sleep I woke up at 6am. Light and the sound of people passing woke me from slumber. People in the middle of nowhere, but of course. I waved at them as they went where ever they were going. As I was packing up my stuff a security truck turned up, he had heard I was camping here and he was patroling the area as I was near the main train line for transporting carbon out of the country. He waited with me cos he said it was dangerous.... bull! The people had smiled at me and all was well. On I went to Manaure to see the Flamencos.... long story short I was sent all over the gaf!! and and drove down a long CRAP road and noone knew where the Flamencos were and eventually bychance (as is the traveller way) I met a guy that told me that he was going to take me to them... After a lot of miscommunication and after I decided he was nice trustworthy guy he lead me where would never have gone, down tracks past houses in the middle of the desert to the Flamencos after we stopped at his cousins gaf for iced cold drink. As Peadar would say "Good People", but then of course the criteria for being good people in Peadar's book is only that they are breathing. ; ) Anyway he gave me his number in case I needed anything and a bracelet to remember him by, his name was Rafael. Nice guy.
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..I went on to Cabo de Vale and set up my tent in from of some cabanas and stayed there for two days organising(and getting rid of stuff) and reading and playing frisbee and doing cartwheels with the kids.... and later telling them to GET LOST & that I didnt want to do any more bloody cartwheels or play frisbe, I just wanted my own space to read and chill... but they didnt speak Spanish ..just Wayuu.. so it was difficult. Cute little bastards!! but don't they know when to give it a rest ! ; ) .. dang kids!
... I gave the Dad my motocross boots, a bit worn, (....OK wrecked, but repairable, now I just wear hiking boots on the bike) to the family and lots of other random stuff, that they would like cos they really had not much stuff.. and then I got a free cooked fish for breakfast...mmmmm, and then a while later another fresh fish for my dinner. and so began the communal life between me and the family. I got free fresh fish and they were invited to the "Resturant de Ste" and I brewed coffee for us all in the morning and we chilled together and then they did the coffee for me the next day and We shared most food and stuff. and I got a football for the kids and I really enjoyed my two days there
So I guess in the end I did live with Indigenous people (ish) ... but just as the desert wasn't like I had Imagined it, either was this...
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Oh and Peadar is back working 9to5 (haha..), in Good 'Ol San Francisco, after what sound like the most miserable riding experience of his life through icy snow blizzards.
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Amigos - Adios por ahora..... 

 

From flood on Mar 31st, 2009

nice one. great pics and interesting stuff. have to give that prodigy tune another listen. how cool was that turtle wood carving?? all good out west, finish lectures this week so a month off before my exams ....woooo hooo. get the new yeah yeah yeahs album. Stared watching the wire their recently....one of the best series I have ever seen. Pisses all over Lost.......yeah I said it

From Eamonn (cousin) on Apr 10th, 2009

Hi Ste.Following you around S.America is the best way to beat the recession blues at home.Looking foreward to the next chapter on the trail north.Safe travelling.