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Mon Feb 24 2014: Down and Out of Commission in Cali

I've been experiencing a bit of a problem on my GS:

Wanna see a magic trick?
Note: As of the time of writing this entry, I've gotten the problem resolved. If you're having the same symptoms, email or PM me, I can point you to a thread that has a few solutions you can try out.

And this is one of the shorter wait times for the electronics to come online after I turn the key on! It happens consistently first thing in the morning and the delay lasts anywhere from 10 seconds to just under a minute. It has me a bit worried, especially after the EWS stranded me in El Salvador.

I did a quick check online, there were some others with almost the same symptoms, but no resolutions. Although the bike always starts up 100% of the time, I felt like I needed to get this attended to for my own piece of mind. We weren't planning on spending a lot of time in Cali, but since it was on our way, we stopped into the BMW dealership to see what they could do. They told us to leave my bike with them and they would run some tests on it.

Our large displacement motorcycles are among the fastest bikes in Latin America.
They'll pass anything on the road... except for a BMW Service Center...

Cali BMW is the latest in a long line of BMW Service Centers that we've visited in Latin America. Looking back, I don't think we've passed one without stopping in. :( I feel like I should have a booklet with stamps that I collect from all the LA dealerships. And then as a reward when I collect all the stamps... they'll give me a new booklet for the journey back up again.


Walking around downtown Cali

Cali is about 260 kms south of Manizales, much of the ride was spent on the highway. We're descending a bit from the hills of the coffee region, from about 2100m (7000 feet) to 1000m (3300 feet), and the temperature rises to what you'd expect of Colombia and being this far south. We're very surprised that it's still rainy here, which makes Cali very hot and humid. The guy running our hostel says it's unusually wet right now, and it may be related to the Polar Vortex that has had most of North America buried under snow.

It's a big city, third in size behind Bogota and Medellin. I'm not sure we're ready to spend time in a large city again, but we've got to get my bike attended to before we go any further, so we decide to make the best of it.

This guy looks as impressed with the big city traffic as we were

We made our way down to the historic centre of the city by bus, expecting some touristy old colonial buildings painted in pastel colours. However, what we found was was a very run-down, dirty downtown. Maybe it was the area we were in, but of the three major Colombian cities, Cali was definitely not the nicest. I make fun of GringoTrail towns all the time, but Cali was really depressing in the other direction.

I think what we were also feeling was a fatigue of sightseeing. How many churches, buildings and city streets could we see before it all started to melt into each other? We desperately needed a change of scenery. Much as we always value our "take our time, smell the roses" approach, perhaps this is a sign that were ready to leave Colombia.

Homeless problem is a bit more pronounced in Cali than Medellin or Bogota

Cool looking necklace!

Neda trying out Guarapo - a mix of freshly pressed sugar cane and lime. Very tasty!

Christo Rey in the background

We had big plans on hiking up the mountain to see the 26 meter-high statue of Christ that overlooks Cali. However the skies were threatening rain again and by this time we were so bummed out about how dirty and grimy the downtown was that we just hopped on the bus back to our hostel. Being in the city is really getting us down.

Running errands in Cali

Although sightseeing turned out to be a bit of a bust for us, we took advantage of Cali's extensive infrastructure and amenities by getting some paperwork done. It's getting really close to the end of the month and our insurance is running out. We're not sure how long the service will take to fix my ignition, so just to play it safe we venture out again on Neda's bike to buy another month of insurance. I remember last month when I wrote, "Surely we won't STILL be in Colombia in April". Hmmm...

Breakfast is included at our hostel. Not a big fan of arepas, so I end up playing with my food.
I used to do the most epic mash potato structures when I was... um, last week...

Everyone labels their food in hostels. So we're relaxing in the evening with a Neda Modelo...

We don't go out too much into the city after that. The rest of the 20-somethings in our hostel think that we're very strange for staying inside as they go out exploring Cali during the day and flirt and dance and try to pick the locals during the evenings.

Well actually, we do leave the hostel for food. There's a fish market in Cali not too far from our hostel, so we hopped on Neda's bike, rode over and tried some cazuela, which is a bubbling broth of coconut milk full of different kinds of seafood. It was delicious!

Haven't been posting any local food pictures, so here's a video instead!

When we first arrived in Latin America, we really enjoyed all the variety of tacos and the spices of Mexico. However, after many months of traveling further south, the variations of corn breads, beans, rice and meat have become a bit monotonous, so we find ourselves craving more international foods. The seafood broth was a good changeup, but what we wouldn't do for a large platter of unagi sushi and softshell crab roll!

Outside, Neda's bike waits patiently for us to finish our broth. The restaurant owner
covers it with some cardboard so the seat doesn't get too hot from the sun. How nice!

Prepped and ready to perform major surgery on this poor pollo

Okay, I do like that there is a lot of fried chicken in Latin America. However, I've noticed my clothes seem to shrink after eating too much of it, so this is a rare treat. I also love how all over Colombia they give you plastic gloves so you don't get your hands all greasy when you order fried chicken. Neda wants me to steal more gloves so she can use them to lube her chain. I offer to save her some chicken grease as well...

Her eyes narrow and she replies dryly, "Just the gloves will be fine."

Come on! It'd be great lube for such a poultry sum! We can call it KFC: Kentucky Fried Chain! It's Finger Linkin' Good!

Speaking of final drive, ever wondered what the inside of a shaft drive looks like? Don't worry, not mine...

The service centre was taking a long time trying to fix my ignition issue. Neda called them a few times during the week and all she got was, "Mañana" (tomorrow). We're told that this is a very typical Latin American response. So she said we should just go down there and show our faces to inject a little urgency into the situation.

When we arrived, the bike was in exactly the same condition as we had left it. Nothing was done to it. Neda had a few words with the service advisor and before we left Surprise, Surprise, the tech was busy taking apart my bike. Neda is becoming quite savvy in the ways of Latin America.

The next day, we got a phone call. The tech ran a bunch of tests on the computer, which reported no faults even though the problem could be replicated. They hooked up a new battery and still the problem persisted. They told us that they couldn't isolate what was causing the startup delay, but according to the diagnostics, the bike was perfectly fine. So a whole week waiting around in Cali and nothing to show for it? Not impressed...

We picked up my bike that afternoon and made plans to put Cali behind us, with my ignition issue still very much on my mind. I just hope that this isn't a case of, "We'll know what the problem is once it completely breaks"...

A bit of advertising in exchange for a picture of the two of us... :)

Wow, whiny blog entry... Better days ahead!

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