06.12.16 Bogota, Colombia to Ibague, Colombia
Leaving Bogota this morning looked straightforward on the map, but as Paul found out yesterday on his short journey back from the airport, the roads are severely congested.
We queued for the first 10 miles after leaving the hotel, before eventually making it to the Autopista (highway), and then we went in fits and starts, making our way through the outlying urban sprawl of Bogota.
The Autopista is a peaje, meaning a toll is due for using the road. Motorbikes go free, however we do not fit into the special lane they have made for motorbikes, and have to go through the normal toll booth. The first toll booth we reached, the lady working looked at us in horror, and began calling things across to other people, and using the telephone whilst asking us to wait. Paul told her we would pay a car price, but no, we must wait. Somebody else came along with a camera, which they then both fiddled with for several minutes, before declaring ‘no functionar!’. By this time, the trucks queued behind us were working up a head of steam, and the full serenade of tooting horns had begun in earnest. Two more people came along, before eventually the bar was raised and we allowed through ‘libre’ free of charge.
This was great, until we were then immediately stopped by a transit policeman, who pulled us over and checked our papers, asking how much we had been charged. When Paul told him nothing, he wanted to know why it was free for us, we had two seats? We were a little harassed by now, getting hot and bothered. Perhaps though, he was just interested in us, as after a glance at Paul’s driving licence he returned it to us, and we were off.
When checking out the weather last night, the forecast had shown 17 degrees celsius, so thinking I might be a little chilly, I wore my cardigan today. I kept thinking to myself, I’ll be glad of it soon, but when the temperature gauge reading rose to 31 degrees celsius, I began to wish I’d left it off. This was soon rectified when we stopped for some refreshing drinks, whilst sitting in front of a whole barbequed pig, head intact in a roadside lechoneria. We rested a while there watching the very happy dogs mooching past us looking for scraps.
The scenery today has been different from that which we got used to in Central America, becoming mountainous, and extremely green.
I am still maintaining my role as navigator, using the app on my phone (maps.me) to find our way. The one disadvantage to this, we found today is that on occasion, it will take the shortest route to our destination. The route cannot be changed, unlike with most GPS/Sat Nav units, so we found ourselves ending the day as we started it, riding through belching traffic, surrounded my motorcycles, trucks, cars and mopeds fighting for their positions in the busy town for the last 11 kilometres of our journey. Despite all the twists and turns the route required us to make, we made it, with no errors, my shouting and hand signals paid off!