21st to 23rd May

Wednesday 21 May

Today, we leave Medellín, towards Barrancabermeja. It will take us three days to reach the city where Fabi lives. We get up early to start cycling as soon as the sun rises! It is quite complicated to leave Medellín: an intense traffic (many trucks), roads without indications, ! well, we are happy when we arrive on the highway finally out of Medellín. As long as we are on this highway, it is quite boring and annoying because of the trucks. But the second half of the day, we are on a smaller road.

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We continuously ride up and down, following a river. As we arrive close to Cisneros, our destination for today, and it’s still early, we decide to stop for eating. We are in a small village, called Santiago. The roads are still in cobblestone, and the inhabitants all know each other. While eating in the restaurant, the owner brings one of his friends, Benjamin, who is enthusiastic about our trip, and will write about us in his monthly flyer.

Santiago has a touristic hotspot, the Túnel de la Quiebra (tunnel under the Quiebra mountain), and Benjamin brings us there. This tunnel was designed at the beginning of the 20th century, in order to open up Medellín and its region (Antioquia), bring the modernity, along with the train. After many years of discussion and construction, the tunnel was finally opened to the train in 1929, and kept functioning till 2000, when the train line was stopped. At the moment of its construction, this tunnel was the second longest in whole South America (3.5km), and also the most expensive civil construction in Colombia’s history. Now, we only can see the rails, and imagine how it was.

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But the tour is not finished! Benjamin brings us to the house of his friend, Dario. Dario has a small part of the flank of the mountain.

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He used to have cattle on top and use the flanks to produce food for them. But he preferred to sell the cattle, preserve as much as he could of the original forest, and plant new species. In total, he has counted 366 species of trees and plants in the property. Dario has spent these last years taking care of his land, planting tree, so he can explain us the marvels he has, what they are used to use the plants/trees/flowers for, !

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It’s hard to leave, but we finally go, to do the last 15km of the day. And what a surprise!! We arrive in Cisneros at 17h, there is still one hour of Sun!

Thursday 22 May

We have breakfast in the town. It is very beautiful, with its church, its animated streets, music, ! It’s a pity that we did not have time to go to the natural swimming pools yesterday.

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It’s 8h when we start pedalling, and the temperature is perfect. Unfortunately, it’ll get hotter today, and in addition, we will go down in altitude. We are on a small road, with little traffic. All around us we see the green colour. On both side of the road, unorganised trees are growing.

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Sometimes, we see local animals: a fat lizard, a big and hairy spider, flashy red or yellow small birds, humming birds, egrets, ! It’s definitely a pleasure to pedal here today. The road, although going globally down, has many small climbs.

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Yesterday, it was the final of the Colombian football league, between Barranquilla and Medellín. And Medellín, equalised at the last second of the match, to finally win during the penalties. A great part of the night, we heard people outside celebrating the event, blowing horn, shouting, with music! and today, it’s funny to see all the public transport with the green and white flag of the Medellin team.

In the afternoon, the temperatures are high and we sweat a lot. Each small climb, under this heat and this Sun, is a hardship. But when you arrive to the top and start the going down, it is so good to feel the wind, refreshing you and drying your shiny body. We had a rather slow speed today, with many breaks (birds, insects, fruit juice, food, !). But we arrive to Puerto Berrío way before the sunset. There we lose each other: as soon as Mick stops in the town, he is surrounded by children from a nearby school, so Ju passes by him without seeing him! after a small moment, we are back together, answering the questions of the children. The most common interrogation is to pronounce their name in French. It’s such a joy to see all these children around us, full of life, curious, with naïve questions.

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It really has been a wonderful day, and we are happy to find a hotel to take shower and rest. In the evening, we have a walk in the city before lunch. Since we entered Colombia, we understood the fame of the country for its women. Everywhere, in each city, the girls are sublime, with perfect body, nice face, smiling, ! It’s really above all other countries, by far.

Friday 23 May

This last day towards Barrancabermeja is very long, so we get up early. All the people whom we asked us where we are going had the same answer about Barrancabermeja: “Wow it’s very hot over there”. Apparently, much more than here in Puerto Berrio (where we already sweat a lot, even at 5 am when we get up). As we leave the city, we cross the bridge over the river Magdalena. It’s one of the most important rivers of Colombia. Here it’s about 1km wide, all brown from the mud, and with strong current.

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Soon after, we unfortunately arrive on a bigger road: it’s the main axis between Bogotá and the North of the country (Bucaramanga, Santa Marta, Venezuela, !). So as you can imagine, there is a lot of traffic. Not so many cars, but a huge number of trucks, up to 52 tons here in Colombia. There is a small roadside on which we can ride, but most of the trucks just don’t care about us, and pass very fast and quite close.

Given our early breakfast, we take an early lunch. Like nearly every day in Antioquia, we take a bandeja (a piece of meat generally grilled, with rice, red beans, small salad, yucca, arepa). Now we understand what they mean by hot. The heat is striking us: after one minute pedalling, your skin is totally shiny from the small sweat drops you produce, and a couple of minutes later, you feel the big drops running on your whole body. It’s a relief when a lorry passes by and produces some wind (in this region there is nearly no wind).

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As we cross the river Colorado, we pass by a huge traffic jam of trucks. Is it a vision of the future, when humans will consume oil till the very last drop? Well, here, the bridge over the river is pretty old and weak, so only one lorry can go at the time. On both sides, there are several kilometres of trucks waiting. And when you think that in average one lorry pass every minute in each direction! for sure, they’ll have to wait here many hours. I’m happy to be on my bike.

On the last part, we take a shortcut through the oil fields. We see many oil pumps sucking oil like an army of relentless mosquitos. Now, it’s a vision of the past, like one century ago.

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We finally arrive at Fabi’s house on time, before sunset. At night, he and his wife, Cathy, bring us to an elegant restaurant, La Cazuela, where we try their eponym speciality. The cazuela is an exquisite soup of fish, seafood, with with some bread and cheese on the top.

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Back home, we observe the thunderstorm over the city. Barrancabermeja has a lot of iron oxide in its ground (that explains the name of the city, meaning red ground in Spanish), thus helping the formation of lightnings.

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Here you are, the video of these days: