Week 17 - 19 - Back to the Coffee!
So we returned to Filandia in the heart of the coffee region, eating lots of great food, visiting waterfalls, drinking peanut butter milkshakes, learning
Spanish, playing 'Tejo', shedding luggage weight and generally having a good time. Also, Elsebie got her Klim helmet painted by a world-renowned super-cool artist Hayley Fieldes, which was super-awesome! Then we headed a little further North to a thermal town called Santa-Rosa de Cabal, however my bike decided it had had enough and conked out! Off to the mechanics we go...again!
We arrived back at Steel Horse Filandia, which has become our home from home. A lot had progressed at the finca since our last visit, so it was even better! It was nice to be back there and there were a couple of other travellers there from Australia (Hayley and Mitch), who had been travelling around South America in a Chilean Toyota 4wd truck (the normal kind, not the humungous kind). We got drinks and some home-made carrot cake, chatted for a few hours and then had an awesome sleep, which made up for the lack of sleep we had in the tent.
The next day, along with doing lots of writing and publishing my first 'Suzie Says...' blog, we were taken to a local waterfall by Marco and his wife. Six of us went, including several local dogs who tagged along. We passed by a house and stables that was under construction. One of the neighbours was a multi-millionaire and loved his horses, and he had a lot of work going on everywhere. It was quite interesting to see their construction methods, which differ quite a lot from english methods.
We walked down quite a big hill to the waterfall, and it was really pretty. The water was a little too cool for me, however Kelvin, Michnus and Mitch were straight in, jumping off the rock into the large pool at the base of the waterfall. The walk back was hard on the legs, and we got heavily rained on, however it was nice not to be at such high altitude because my lungs felt a lot happier.
Marco then took us to the stables that had already been built, where there were loads of horses of all ages. There was a gorgeous white horse, which he took out for us to see and lots of foals. He also brought out one of the other horses, which did the Paso Fino (trotting walk) that is famous in Colombia.
The following day we all clambered in Yvette's Nissan Patrol and set off for Salento. The only real reason for going there was the mouthwatering peanut butter milkshakes and fantastic food at Brunch Cafe, that we have now been to about five times in the past three months! So, that was our first stop and then we had a mooch around the town, which was buzzing.
That evening was pizza making evening! Hayley's dad has a pizzeria back home, Haley and Mitch were a dab-hand at making pizza bases and the pizza sauce. All we had to do was choose the topping. It was such good pizza, we ate until we were bursting and we cracked open the red wine, which actually wasn't too bad...probably because it was Chilean!
One of the best parts of this stay was getting a whole load of local Colombians and quite a few Overlanders together to shoot a quick video...Bienvenidos a Colombia / Welcome to Colombia shout-out for a video Michnus was creating of a compilation of 'Welcomes' (in case you hadn't guessed). It was really cool, with lots of popcorn, drinks, silliness and more. Plus, Kelvin decided to use the bottle opener on the front of one of the DR's to open my Coca Cola...I was stood next to him and it went everywhere, caking me in sticky fizz, and he didn't even notice!! I laughed my head off!
One of the key dinner nights at Steel Horse Filandia is the BBQ evening, but this time it involved a very popular Colombian game, 'Tejo', and by this point Philippe (MotoPhil) had joined us from Bogota.
Tejo is basically a game where you have a scoreboard, two boards covered in clay, a whole load of fat metal discs, a triangle of gunpowder and some alcohol (alcohol is optional but highly recommended). I had watched this being played when we were in Murillo, and some people take it very seriously, but this is the first time I had got to have a go.
On our last night in Filandia, several Colombian motorcyclists turned up. They were part of A2Ruedas, led by Andreas, who we have kept in contact with since then. We sat for a couple of hours chatting in Spanglish, getting recommendations for routes and talking bikes and travel...the best topics in my opinion. It was great to meet them.
After an awesome breakfast we said our final fairwells to the other overlanders, and also to Yvette, who had made each of us a little pot of peanut butter. How nice is that!
We set off on the road North, towards Santa Rosa de Cabal, a little town which is popular for it's thermals. All was well until I heard a weird high speed clicking noise coming from my bike. Hmmmmmm?! So, after a quick stop and inspection in Pereira, we decided to continue as we didn't have far to go, however half way through Dosquebradas my bike decided it didn't want to go any further. It wouldn't start however I could hear that the battery was fine. Elsebie and Michnus went to the accommodation and got in contact with Andres from A2Ruedas who we met the other night at Steel Horse, in case I couldn't get sorted. Fortunately, despite the Yamaha shop (just about 50m from where I broke down) saying their mechanics only work with Yamahas, a couple of guys recommended a place not too far away. I set off in the direction of the recommended guy, and although I felt like I was melting, I managed to find him, Stephen. Before I knew it I was on the back of his little bike with a ill-fitting Colombian style helmet on, whizzing down the road to my bike. Luckily I remembered the way and he had a quick look at it. On quick inspection he said that the battery was fine, the spark plugs had a spark (always useful) but the issue was possibly compression. Ok, so now came the interesting bit! I sat on my bike, on the main road, and then Kelvin and Stephen pushed me with their feet while riding their bikes, all the way to the workshop. It was bloody hard work, especially going slow at the junctions and traffic lights. I was somewhat perspiring...but I made it!
We sat in the workshop while Stephen systematically went through the bike and then dismantled the top end of the engine. I had never seen the inside of an engine close up and it was all very smooth and shiny...probably a positive thing. Kelvin explained to me how the engine worked and what the different parts were as Stephen dismantled it. All looked well, apart from the several mini oil leaks my bike had sprung over the past five months, however we asked if they could be sorted. They may as well be now my bike was having some surgery. Apparently the issue was the fuel not being able to get to the engine and the carb was causing a problem...maybe. Feeling my bike was in safe hands, I got a taxi up to the accommodation with Kelvin on his bike, where Elsebie and Michnus were waiting with a cold beer. Happy days!
The view from the apartment was pretty damn good. It was up on a hill overlooking Pereira, and as darkness fell the twinkling lights of the city looked quite cool. I'm more a fan of the countryside however I was happy with this view for a few days. Even better when there was a thunderstorm...front row seats!
Each day for the next couple of days I went back to the bike shop, however the bike wasn't done, but I didn't feel worried as all the parts were clean, the bike appeared to be looked after and the workshop was spotless, not like most of the other small places we have seen previously. To my delight, on the Saturday afternoon, Stephen sent me a video of my bike running...woohoo! Later that afternoon we went down and collected the bike. All the work was a total of $100 (about £78). Amazing, it would have cost a bomb back home! I was so glad to have it back and it was sounding so much better, plus the oil leaks seemed to be a lot better. Relief. Along with popping into the bike shop, we took several trips into Pereira, especially around the main shopping area as there seemed to be a lot going on over the time we were there including a Harley Davidson show and a local street festival with loads of food, drink, Ron de Caldas and music. It was bright and busy, plus used up some of our 'waiting for bike stuff' time, and we found some good cheese...woohoo!
The great thing about staying in an Air BnB place, when you get a house/apartment all to yourself, is the ability to cook what you want, when you want. We did a huge shop, bought the biggest bottle of rum we could find (about 1.5 litres for less than £20), loads of fresh fruit and veggies, plus some yummy stuff...like ingredients to make our own peanut butter milkshakes! It is quite a treat when travelling to have access to a proper cooker, a whole fridge and freezer. It's the small things like this that make the difference, and as much as I enjoy empanadas, rice and beans, it's good to make your own stuff and add some variety...after all variety is the spice of life! We did spend one night away from the AirBnB as someone had already pre-booked it for 1 night. We headed to a neighbouring town called Santa Rosa de Cabal, which is well known for its thermal baths. Unfortunately, we had been too spoilt in the way of Thermals since visiting the totally natural one at 'El Sifon', Los Nevados, so we gave this swimming pool type one a miss. However, are wonderful host Jorge showed us a great a restaurant with awesome meat and coffee making, which was really cool. Later we managed to find a couple of bars with some yummy mojitos, and Sangria (bad plan), and after several of those I felt a bit tipsy...moreso when we were given some vodka shots on the house, complete with a slice of lemon topped with sugar and very fine coffee...weirdly nice...you have to try it to believe it!
During our extended stay, I spent a morning teaching the host's (Jorge) two girls (age 8 and 10) how to make some bracelets out of coloured thread. I made them some cardboard cut-outs to help in the making of the bracelets and let them choose some thread that they liked the colour of. I think we sat for about three hours making the things, which was nice and we had good fun trying to work out what each other was saying using the interesting translations of Google Translate...I often find it's way off the mark, but it means lots of giggles! I let the girls keep the cardboard templates so they could make more bracelets, plus I gave them some more thread. By the next day, two more had appeared!! Better than being engrossed in an iPad!
Sadly, during our already extended stay, the bikes seemed to start sharing a bit of a disease...my bike broke down AGAIN, and Michnus' rear shock suddenly decided to start spewing out oil, so back to the shop for mine and off to Medellin for Michnus' and Elsebie's shocks. Stephen came with his friend to collect mine and take it back for some valve clearance adjustments, and they had it running and back to me by about 8pm that evening, much to my surprise. The shocks got to Medellin quick to a company called 12 Clicks, who turned them around super fast and even delivered them back to Pereira themselves as they were on their way to a bike show that weekend. Awesome!
So our final night in Pereira finally came, the bikes all appeared well and we were met by a lovely couple from Austria called Regina and Bernard with their lovely Dalmatian dog 'Gina'. They came for a BBQ and drinks, then stayed in their van for the night, which looked very comfy and came complete with surfboards etc. It was a really lovely, chilled evening and we had bought some 'Punta del Anca' from the supermarket, which tasted divine...about £18 for 8 thick steaks! Bargain. The next day we all packed up and set off once again. Back to Salento we go! Why? Well, peanut butter milkshakes at Brunch cafe of course!!!