After the heat on the caribbean coast we were glad to spend some time in the mountains, especially for camping in the evenings. We stayed at some great locations and met some really nice people at the same time, from locals who welcomed us on their property to fellow travellers. Our itinerary had us slowly moving southwest towards Medellin, the next major city that we planned to visit. We passed through charming colonial towns with well-preserved architecture and natural sites including Chicamocha Canyon, and Colombia’s largest lake, Laguna de Tota, at 3000 meters above sea level.
Among the people we met was a local family at Laguna de Tota, who was visiting the church located at the site where we were camping for the night. They were excited to learn about our travel plans and happy to receive a guided visit of the camper. Before leaving us for the night, they gave us some locally grown potatoes to sample…..delicious!
Special thanks to Luis and Lida who we met at our overnight spot at Villa de Leyva. This couple from Medellin took us under their wing, provided us with useful travel tips, and helped us arrange a visit to their Toyota garage in Medellin to have some engine issues checked out. They also introduced us to a delicious local specialty, Arepa, a flat pancake made from wheat or corn and stuffed with cheese.
Thank you as well to Viviana and Oriol who put us in contact with a local craftsman who custom made a metal extension for our water faucet in the camper, allowing us to finally hook up and use our water filter.
The great scenery and charming towns came at a price as we drove one of the worse roads we have ever taken, highway 62 between Barbosa and Puerto Araujo. The vehicles we crossed were jumping back and forth from the left to the right lane to avoid huge holes, bumps, and other obstacles due to the deformed surface of the road which alternated arbitrarily between paved sections and gravel. Not only was the road really bad, but it was also very curvy with many hairpin turns. Yee ha! We also discovered that the solution we had found in France to regulate the amount of diesel injected into the engine based on the elevation we were at (altitude compensator) did not seem to really have an effect here; the result being black smoke from the exhaust, even at relatively low elevations (from 1500 meters up) and labour intensive ascensions. We are assuming that the quality of the diesel here in Colombia might be a contributing factor.
Despite the bad parts of the road, other sections were good and provided some great views.
On Christmas day we arrived in Medellin and went directly to our overnight spot on a hill overlooking the city. Christmas dinner consisted of reheated leftovers and a nice bottle of carmenere from Chile.
Stay tuned for Medellin!