JANUARY 2017

CYCLING TOURING PANAMA, COLUMBIA

We started off the new year with a memorable voyage sin tandem. Meeting up with our friend Hannah in the steamy port town of Portobelo, we decoupled Chewbicca and boarded the sailing boat, Quest, to take us all the way to Colombia, via the San Blas Islands. Sea sickness plagued Julie on the first night, but once she found her sea legs she was as high as life for the rest of the voyage. Paradise is how I can describe waking up at a different island each day, the San Blas islands are an incredible wonder to see, coconut laced palm trees drape over the shores of powdered pure white beaches, giant red starfish bathing in the shallow waters, and fish of all manner of colours and sizes happily swim between the coral. Most of our days were spent lazily swimming to the shore of these islands, diving (table) off the back of the boat into crystal blue water and snorkeling in undisturbed pristine reefs. At nighttime we would pass around bottles of rum, before falling asleep on the deck of the boat, under the canopy of the milky way.

After three days island hopping it was time to drop the sails for a 48 hour deep sea crossing to the Spanish fort town of Cartagena, Colombia. There’s not much to see out there when you’re surrounded by a vast expanse of blue, except a pod of dolphins briefly swam with us before disappearing into the depth of the ocean. The last night on the ocean was waved goodbye by a striking blood red sunset, a perfect way to end the crossing.

I thought I had wrapped everything up on the bike to stop the salt water from damaging it, however when ashore I had found that the bottom bracket and headset had seized up, luckily we found a great local bicycle shop in the city who helped us fix both of the problems in a matter of days.

Once back in the saddle, the flat lands of Colombia drifted slowly by, we cruised the Caribbean coast before turning inland, passing acre upon acre of neatly laid out palm groves, palm oil is big business for Colombia, but the deforestation is immense, as virgin jungle is torn down and replaced by this hungry land guzzling industry.

250 miles from Cartagena and it’s the start of the Andes mountains for us, Colombia, like Guatemala build their roads straight up the mountains, causing the grades to be nothing short of being ridiculously steep and slow going. It took us a week of pain and determination to get through these first set of mountains, at 9200 feet it was the highest we had climbed so far on this adventure.

The last day of January we arrived at the gorgeous city of Medellin, where we would be taking a break from the bike and spending the next two weeks playing tourist, riding bikes, and drinking yet more delicious coffee.

Total so far: 5915 miles.  Colombia
Current Location: 5.596767, -75.819361

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SAN BLAS ISLANDS

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THE PANAMA COAST

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SAN BLAS ISLANDS

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CAPTAIN HANNAH

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CREW OF THE QUEST

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SUN SETTING OVER THE OCEAN

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CARTAGENA

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THE START OF THE ANDES

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THE START OF THE ANDES

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FOGGY AFTERNOON

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TOWN OF VALDIVIA

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TOWN OF VALDIVIA

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TOWN OF VALDIVIA

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