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Sat Feb 08 2014: Walking on Eggshells to Guatape

I'm walking on eggshells today.

Ever since we entered Mexico and Latin America over a year ago, Neda's done the bulk of the work organizing, communicating and leading the ride. I think she needed the break in Medellin a lot more than I did. So today, as we are packing our lives back into 120L of panniers and topcases, I'm acutely aware that this departure is my idea. We're leaving earlier than she wants because *I* want to travel.

So I try to do everything to make sure this day goes as smoothly as possible for Neda. I tell her that I'll organize everything and take the lead for the next little while.

Things don't go as planned.


This *was* the plan for today...

In our parking lot, with all our bags all strapped down and ready to leave, I thumb the starter: <click> <click> <click>

Nothing... My battery is dead.

The bike has only been sitting idle for maybe a week, this shouldn't happen. It's a brand new battery - I just picked it up in Guatemala in September. I suspect there's something wrong with the electricals, perhaps a short somewhere in all the gadgets I've got hooked up to the battery under my seat. Ruefully, I unpack the bike, lift the seat and stare at the spaghetti wiring around the terminals.

I don't have time to diagnose this. I just need a jump-start.

While I'm tearing apart the bike, I ask Neda to ask around the building to see if anyone has jumper cables. To my surprise, she returns half-an-hour later, telling me that 1) nobody in the building has cables, 2) the super said there was a car rental place beside us, so she went over and asked, no luck, 3) the car rental guys says there was a bike shop 2 blocks down the street so she went over and asked, 4) the bike shop guys said they had a cable, but they didn't want to sell or lend it to us, can we push the bike over?

Neda is visibly upset. The stress-free day I promised is slowly cracking like the eggshells I'm walking on...


Neda: "He told me this would be a stress-free day, so now I'm the one running around trying to jump start his battery..."
Mechanic: "What a dope."

We pushed my half-laden bike through traffic to the bike shop, got a boost and we started off on our journey. However, my confidence in the electricals is shaken and I don't feel safe leaving the big city without jumper cables. I didn't have them in El Salvador with my EWS problems, and now with this, I really felt I needed the safety net.

Neda disagreed. We were burning daylight and she was anxious to get out of the city.


Neda: "I told him we have to leave now so he decides he wants to look for motorcycle-specific jumper cables..."
Storekeeper: "What a dope."

There are a million automotive stores in Medellin. They all sell jumper cables, but only the really heavy-duty kind: 20-gauge, 400A clamps, 50-feet-long cables, 20lbs heavy. The kind you use to jump-start a Panzer tank with...

Because her Spanish is better, I ask Neda to ask around to see if there are lighter gauge motorcycle-specific cables.

She grumbled something dark and venomous and set out around the block. Another 45 minutes later she returns and tells me that she's visited 20 different stores and none of them sell lighter gauge cables. Do I want to buy the f*&^%ing tank cables or not?

I've screwed up her day. I know it. So we buy the Panzer tank cables.

My motorcycle's suspension sags under the additional weight. Kinda like my morale...


Change-up from the big city - our hostel in Guatape

The town of Guatape is only 85kms east of Medellin, but it takes us over an hour to just get past the city limits because of the terrible traffic. The entire way I keep the communicator open, ready to receive my wife's rage and wrath. All I get is the cold crackle of Silent Treatment as we negotiate our way past buses, filtering between stopped cars in gridlock, and dodging pedestrians dashing out in front of us.

Only until we're riding the uncongested and curvy roads leading out of Medellin does normal conversation resume. I know my wife well and all it takes is leaning into a few twisty roads to lighten her mood. Perhaps this day is salvageable after all and I won't wind up hanging from the rafters tonight with a 20-gauge noose wrapped around my neck...


Our motorcycles get a nice view for the evening

We've found a great little hostel just 5 minutes walk outside the lake-side town of Guatape. The actual lake is a man-made reservoir for a huge hydro-electric dam, and the mountains of Antioquia rise up all around us. It's a very tranquil setting and it makes up for our hectic ride out of Medellin.


Nice view for us as well too

Mickey & Luna, the owners of the hostel. After the day we've had, they're giving me some really good ideas

The weather up here in the mountains is markedly colder than the big city. At night, we shiver under heavy blankets and listen to the heavy rains fall outside. We're told it rains nightly here. Now that we're on the move again, we have to get used to brand new precipitation patterns and plan accordingly.

The late morning sun slowly burns off the chill and dampness of the previous night and we walk down the hill into the town of Guatape to do a little bit of exploring. I'm sensing Neda is in a better mood given the nice weather and peaceful surroundings. *This* is what I had planned for us, not the nightmare rush out of town yesterday.


Walking through the Crayola-coloured streets of Guatape

Although there are a few foreigners wandering the streets, it seems that the majority of tourists are from Medellin. Because of its proximity to the big city, Guatape is a popular weekend getaway for Paisas.


What is this towel for?

All over Latin America we've seen older men with a towel draped over one shoulder. We have not been able to figure out what its purpose is. Is it functional or just fashionable? Maybe the next time we see this, we'll ask.


Cobblestone chat on horseback

World Cup Dreams in Technicolour

What I love is that almost all the buildings in town have taken up the Crayola-theme

Even the tuk-tuks get in on the action

No towel, can't ask.

Returning from the grocery store with some dinner supplies for a night in at the hostel

Our favorite Colombian beer to toast our getting back on the road

In the distance, a huge rock rises from the ground. We'll explore tomorrow!

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