Ｇｒｉｎｇｏ riding a 125ccm motorbike 28.000km through Ecuador and Columbia
Since i'm addicted to travel, , I used the winter to start another adventure with the help of Hein-Gericke - Feel the ride, Motorrad - Europas biggest Motorcycle Magazine and Touratech - New Ideas for Motorbikes and Mitas.
Then I continued towards Medellin. Here I was allowed to camp in the waldorf school, where people from Germany can do a social year with the organisation "Weltwaerts" and learn Espaniol.
There I left my stuff and went into the town to find the hotel of David. I had met David on the HUBB forum when I was looking for someone to do the ferry trip from Manaus to Belem with me.
He was stuck in Medellin since a car had driven over his left leg. Now we decided to continue our trip to Venezuela together. We had heard to many bad things about Venezuela so we thought it was saver this way.
The road to Cucuta was nice and winding. Here we crossed the Andes for the last time. David made a lot of speed. He already wanted to be in Sao Paulo a few weeks later. At night we camped on a cow lawn. It was the first time for David to camp since Argentina.
After two days, we passed a sign "Bienvenidos a Venezuela" eventually. Was this the boarder? Right. We were already illegal in Venezuela. After a bit of looking around, we found the boarder post.
There, the officer told us we would have to ride 16 km back to get our exit stamps from Columbia and then we would have to use a different boarder GPS 7°49'8.10"N 72°27'11.50"W because he does not have the stamp to import our vehicles.
We were helpless when a friendly guy from the United States invited us to spend the night in his house. He was married to a nice wife from Venezuela and lived here since then.
Just for us she started to make really nice pizza while we took a shower and spreaded our tents so they could get dry.
The next day Alan showed us the way to the other boarder. We got our exit stamps but the officer did not know how to handle the import papers of our bikes. Doesn't matter.
After following Alan to a well hidden office a few kilometers behind the boarder of Venezuela, we got our enter stamps there. Then the import of our vehicles became a nightmare.
We had to follow Alan to three different offices, all of them well hidden in the big city Cucuta to fill out forms and get stamps. They even wanted 20 Bolivar from each of us for some stamps.
Without Alans help we would have not been able to do all this. He watched our bikes while we had to wait and walk around the different buildings. In the evening, he helped us to change some money. Then we followed him back to his house again.
The official rate in Venezuela is only 4 Bolivar per Dollar but on the black marked we got 9 Bolivar per Dollar.
At Alans place, we were illegally in Columbia since officially we had already entered Venezuela but nobody cared. The next day we crossed the boarder without any stop.
The last night I had made a quick oil change and put on a new tire since I have heard they are so much more expensive in Brasil.
Because there were long cues on the petrol stations, we were happy that we already had bought cheap petrol beside the road in Columbia and did not had to wait here. Petrol in Venezuela is only about 1 Cent per Liter. Im not joking. That's also why many people there use the big, bold and thirsty American cars.
Nobody cares, how much petrol a car takes per 100 km. Electricity is very cheap as well, so even the poor looking houses had air condition.
Against all warnings about corrupt police controls or attacks, the people were very friendly to us. Only one time a police man did not want my travel made to continue his trip with the broken leg.
The next night we were invited to stay in the nice house of a friendly man from couchsurfing.org. He cared about us and even started a big barbecue. I was too tired to stay awake so long.
Just after Ciudad de Bolivar my engine failed while I was trying to overtake a long truck. I parked beside the road to see what was wrong.
A friendly couple stoppd and tried to help me. They were travelling on a Chinese motorbike.
Finally, my travel made came back and pulled me with his belt around my rear set 12 km back to the last city.
Here, we found a competent mechanic who quickly made the same diagnose as I did before: no compression. When he took of the valve cap we could see that one of the valves which were controlled by tappets instead of a chain was bend.
I tried to negotiate about the price for the repair. Because I did not have much of the local currency I wanted to use Dollars. He wanted 200, I offered 100 US$.
Another guy already started to take my engine apart. Then the mechanic disappeared and returned a few minutes later with a new valve. Within a few hours they managed to repair my engine.
With his fingers the mechanic wrote the bill into the sand: 200 Bolivar for the Valves and a new spark plug and 200 Bolivar for his work. only about 45 Dollars. Wow.
Because it already turned too dark, we were allowed to camp at the yard of a nice local family. Thanks a lot. Many neighbors came around to watch the big Kawasaki KLR 650 of my Gringo travel made.
On we went to the east. We tried to do 400 km per day, which was hard because the road was very bad.
Again and again, there were lots of speed bumps and big pot holes. One of them I did not see and nearly crashed. Luckily, nothing happened.
The landscape was boring. We passed many big Cow yards and many bush fires.
A bit later on, the bad luck got David. His clutch leaver started to pulse and his engine made a bad metallic noise. Then I also got a flat front tire. Fuck.
Luckily, we reached the city Ciudad de Guayana, where we found a good mechanic again. He took of the side part of the Kawasaki KLR 650,
then he took of the clutch and we could see one of the bearings was broken. We found a lot of metal parts in the filter.
The mechanic called a friend who appeared a few minutes later on a Kawasaki KLR 650 as well. He owned the Hostel Calle Boyacá,
He translated to repair the motorcycle will cost 150 Dollars and will take 3 days because therefore the whole engine had to be taken apart. The fitting set who needed to be ordered in Caracas will be another 150 Dollars.
David agreed. We followed Martin Haars to his Hostel Calle Boyacá N° 26 con Calle Amor Patrio detás Gobernacion www.posada-doncarlos.com 0058 (0) 414-8546616. Martin was German and owned a German bank account, where David could transfer the money so he did not have to use his credit card with the bad official rate.
I was also able to change some of my dollars here. When David went to the doctor to get his food looked after he found out that the medical care in Venezuela was free even for tourists. I really start to like Venezuela.
On most of the petrol stations were big cues of many cars but motorbikes were always called to the front and filled up for free.
There was just not small enough money to give change for only seven liters of petrol.
Against all the bad things I have heared about Venezuela before, I got treated very well wherever I stopped in the only country of the world that has 30 minutes time difference.
The people proudly presented their home and the landscape and offered nice fruits, which I have never seen before and tasty food.
Some people waved to me as I was riding past. In those cases I stopped and turned around.
On the way through the grande sabana I was overtaken by a 25m long truck. When there was suddenly traffic coming towards us, he pulled back on my lane and pushed me off the road.
I could not avoid to crash, but because of the soft and muddy ground, luckily nothing serious happened. Only my break pedal was bend.
I asked the next person who I saw screwing on a car to help me bend it back.
Instead of a bill he offered coffee and a chocolate bar at the end.
Such are the people in Venezuela. So friendly. Unbelievable. I did not get robbed or cheated but invited, wherever I stopped.
I could not visit the Angel Waterfalls because there was no road going there.
Anyway, I passed many nice waterfalls along the way, where I could even pitch my tent.
One day, I pitched my tent close to a bee nest. It was nice and quiet there and the place was soft and flat.
In the morning the bees started to attack me. One of them stuck me close to my eye.
It started to swill so big that I could hardly see on my left eye.
There were many animals in the Amazonas Rainforest. Everywhere I could hear the sound of insects or the whistling of birds. The Rain forest was really loud.
Because of them, I rather moved into a empty house ad dawn instead if pitching my tent on the high grass.
To leave Venezuela wasn't a problem. In nice new offices directly at the boarder friendly officers quickly did the paperwork for me. To enter Brazil was easy as well. They only wanted to copy my documents, then I got a two pages authority document to ride in Brazil for 90 days.
In Brazil, people were talking Portuguese. One liter of petrol was 1,40 Euro. No medical insurance is needed as public hospitales are free. To smoke in public houses and to attach a box to a bike for two persons was prohibited but to carry gas bottles on a bike seemed to be ok as many people did so.
But the last thing did affect me as a tourist. The last 300 kilometers to Manaus I crossed thick tropical forest.
I stopped many times to take photos. I was stunned by the power of nature.
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