Written by Gilles
So far..Lots of chicken and rice, horrible Spanish (on our part), mucho buses and of course what seems like a thousand different police, military, para military, narcotic enforcement agency and maybe some guerrilla check points...who can tell them apart really..they all have big guns!!
Grandma´s Special Recipe
I had high hopes for the Chavez led country and I did manage to meet a lot of supporters for his cause especially in Puerto La Cruz where they were holding a huge rally in support of the Presidente. The party supporters could tell I was sympathetic to the socialist cause by the Castro military hat and the Che shirt that I was wearing so it was all thumbs up for me, so much so that one of the supporters gave me a souvenir Chavez political party hat which I accepted with a smile!. Unfortunately most of the locals didn´t care too much for us one way or another, perhaps they thought we were Americans.
Other than that I was happy to say I´ve been to Venezuela in the midst of their socialist movement and in the middle of the elections of 2006.
Next important stop on the political scene is Bolivia where they´ve elected the first ever Indigenous President to the country Evo Morales.
All this political stuff goes hand in hand with the book I´m reading on the CIA´s dealings in South America. The South Americans are quite wise to the dirty tricks being played down here on behalf of the US government and the multinational corporations such as Coca-Cola paying paramilitaries to assasinate Union leaders or union agitators from the Coca-Cola plant here in Columbia. It´s been such a problem down here that human rights activists come from all over the world (we met an American human shield) to shadow employees and union members to offer protection and to record the activities of the company. Apparently in the last 7 yrs the Coca Cola plant went from 1400 union members to 400 with many killed or missing! Nice work Coke!
Crossing the Colombian border was like night and day, the people, the attitudes towards "Gringos" and the awesome landscape.
Columbia's country side is never boring to the eyes and is so full of beautiful sights that you take them for granted. It´s a cyclists paradise and we all (as cyclist) should have an annual pilgrimage to ride these mountains. It doesn´t matter, road, or mountain biking, it will keep you smiling for ever and it doesn´t hurt that Columbians really love cycling as well and show you the respect on the roads to help make your riding even more enjoyable.
Come on down and bring your bike!!
One constant between the two countries have been the girls. Some pretty, and some...well not so much. But what they have in common is a love for tight clothing!!! It´s an interesting phenomenon to say the least, welcomed on some girls but for others it´s a looming National Disaster waiting to happen when the seams of their pastel blue, orange, pink or yellow polyester pants or tops finally give way. You can actually see the seams struggling to hold together on some of the more "voluptuous" girls.
You have to admire their confidence!!
Some good, some bad, some big and some small. A couple of secrets of life have revealed themselves to us, the first being how they stuff so many Sardines into those tiny cans and the other is that in foreign countries we are very similar to cattle being led to market.
We´re dirty, stinky and don´t know what is being said, just guided along by our "Ranch Hands" or ticket agents to our eventual cargo hold. Although they don´t use whips, sticks or horses to herd us along, they do it in a semi chaotic, semi organized fashion with smiles on their faces and the strong belief that everything is going to be just fine...just get on the bus please!!!
Grandma´s Special Recipe
A little bit of hell on earth!!
1-Take one Full size ford van that seats 15 passengers and put 23 passengers in it! add 1 rooster for color.
2-Let the sound of the Van´s frame sagging and creaking settle in your ears for a couple of minutes.
3-Find the worst 120km stretch of potholed unpaved road you can find anywhere in the world.
4-Add one skeleton with leathery skin barely hanging on (compliments of a 100 yr old Colombian man) with it´s elbow dug into your
side for the whole trip.
5-Take an hour time out for some well deserved confidence building. (By watching a bus getting pulled out from the cliff it drove over!)
6-Combine some cold weather, some rain, a little bit of heat and humidity and let simmer for 5 hours.
7-Finally, get dropped off 26 km´s passed your intended destination and get a ride back to the intended destination standing up on the back of a trucks tailgate for 4$!! Thank You bus driver!!
With all that said, riding a bull for 8 seconds is child´s play considering we held on to our seats for 5hrs with one hand going left, then right, up and down, kicking and bucking!