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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Brown

Santa Fe Sojourn: Riding the Highways of Colombia

As we glide through the vibrant landscapes of Colombia astride our Royal Enfield Classic, every twist of the throttle feels like a harmonious dance between man and machine. The rhythmic purr of the engine resonates with the pulsating rhythms of Colombian music that fill the air. Each curve of the road is a new adventure, the bike leaning effortlessly as if it's anticipating the next breathtaking vista. The warmth of the tropical sun kisses our skin, and the wind rushes past, carrying with it the scents of lush greenery and exotic flowers. With every passing village, curious eyes light up at the sight of the iconic Royal Enfield, a symbol of timeless elegance and adventure. In this moment, we are not just a traveler; we are a storytellers, weaving our own tale of exploration and discovery through the vibrant tapestry of Colombia's diverse landscapes.

In the cozy confines of our modest yet comfortable quarters at the Ibis, priced at a mere $47 USD, we found respite from the bustling world outside. Despite its compact size, the room enveloped us in a warm embrace, the queen bed serving as the focal point of our temporary sanctuary. As dawn broke, we sought solace from the heat in the cool embrace of the air-conditioned room, seizing the opportunity to catch up on work with our trusty laptops. With the morning light filtering through the curtains, we began preparations for the day's journey, carefully loading our panniers and attending to the needs of our faithful steed. Amidst the echoes of our motorcycle's thunderous exhaust bouncing off the parking garage walls, we meticulously inspected every bolt and chain link, ensuring our vehicle was in optimal condition for the road ahead. Heather joined me as we completed our preparations, the symphony of revving engines and blaring car alarms signaling our departure into the unknown.

Our departure from the Ibis was not without its peculiarities. As we navigated the labyrinthine corridors of the parking garage, we couldn't help but notice the caution tape cordoning off each end. It was evident that some maintenance work was underway, complicating our exit strategy. Like iron sharks prowling the depths, we circled from one exit to another, searching for a route to freedom. Just as frustration threatened to overtake us, a vigilant guard appeared, waving us down with a reassuring gesture. With a swift motion, he raised the tape, granting us passage to the outside world. Relieved and grateful, we bid farewell to the confines of the garage and embraced the open road that lay ahead.

As we merged onto the bustling highway, we were immediately engulfed in a symphony of motion. Trucks thundered past, buses jostled for position, and motos weaved effortlessly through the traffic, their riders ranging from solitary travelers to families of four squeezed onto a single bike, a testament to the resourcefulness of Colombian commuters. With each passing mile, the familiar sight of the sea gradually faded from our mirrors, replaced by the verdant embrace of the jungle. Banana plantations lined the roadside, their lush foliage a stark contrast to the asphalt ribbon beneath our wheels. Our progress was momentarily halted by the ubiquitous presence of a police checkpoint, a routine occurrence on Colombian highways. However, what began as a routine inspection quickly escalated into a bureaucratic quagmire when it was discovered that our SOAT, the mandatory Colombian insurance, was not in order. After a series of discussions with multiple officers, we were eventually granted passage with a stern reminder to rectify the issue at the earliest opportunity. Though relieved to avoid the prospect of impoundment, we resolved to address the matter promptly upon reaching the next city with a SOAT agent, ensuring our continued journey through Colombia's captivating landscapes.

With a cautious but deliberate pace, we eased away from the checkpoint, mindful not to draw undue attention to ourselves. As the miles unfurled beneath our wheels, the road began to twist and turn, leading us into the heart of Colombia's untamed beauty. Towering walls of emerald foliage stretched skyward, disappearing into the heavens like sentinels of the wild. The landscape shifted around us, the road narrowing and winding ever tighter, echoing the contours of the rugged terrain. Our journey took us past cascading waterfalls, their cool spray kissing our skin and leaving the road slick beneath our tires. Buses laden with cargo and passengers labored up the incline, belching clouds of diesel exhaust into the humid air. Yet, amidst the hustle and bustle, the slower pace allowed us to fully immerse ourselves in the lush jungle that enveloped us, bamboo groves casting dappled shadows over the road like natural archways.

As we climbed higher, the air grew cooler, a refreshing respite from the tropical heat below. Thin wisps of cloud danced around us, the sun's warm rays breaking through to illuminate our path. Cresting the summit, we were greeted by a breathtaking panorama of Colombia's rugged landscape, the road snaking its way down into the verdant valley below. With a sense of exhilaration, we descended into the embrace of Santa Fe de Antioquia, a quaint Spanish settlement frozen in time. Cobblestone streets and colonial architecture whispered tales of centuries past, while the lively atmosphere of the town square enveloped us in its warm embrace. As night fell, the air was filled with the sound of laughter and music, the scent of street food mingling with the sweet perfume of tropical blooms. With our Royal Enfield rumbling beneath us, we joined the throngs of locals and tourists alike, wandering the cobblestone streets in search of adventure and camaraderie, our hearts full and our spirits soaring amidst the timeless charm of Santa Fe de Antioquia.

With our trusty motorcycle safely stowed away in the parking garage, we embraced the evening ambiance of the village, joining the locals in their nightly ritual of meandering through the vibrant streets. Cobblestone paths led us through a maze of historic buildings, their ancient facades illuminated by the warm glow of street lamps. After a leisurely stroll, we found ourselves drawn to a charming Tapas restaurant nestled in a quiet courtyard. The air was alive with the chatter of diners and the gentle splash of water from a central fountain. As we settled at our table, the night sky unfolded above us, stars twinkling through the canopy of darkness. A pitcher of sangria, infused with the sweet essence of rose and adorned with freshly chopped apples, awaited us, a perfect complement to the balmy evening. With each sip, we savored the flavors of the region, the richness of the wine mingling with the laughter of newfound love for this place. In this moment, surrounded by the timeless beauty of Santa Fe de Antioquia, we felt truly alive, our senses awakened by the magic of the night. The thought of seeing the world from the handlebars, hum of the road, and what’s around the next corner.

As we concluded our delightful dinner, we knew that the true magic of the evening lay in the walk back to our lodgings. The echoes of laughter and conversation lingered in the air as we navigated the cobblestone streets, the warmth of the night enveloping us like a comforting embrace. Reflecting on the day's adventures, from the exhilarating ride on two wheels to the breathtaking landscapes that unfolded before us, we couldn't help but feel a sense of gratitude for the experiences that had enriched our journey. Yet, as fatigue began to weigh on our bodies, and the lingering effects of the sangria whispered promises of slumber, we knew it was time to bid farewell to this leg of our adventure. With another day on the horizon and an early start beckoning, we retreated to our accommodations, content in the knowledge that tomorrow would bring new horizons and fresh discoveries along the road less traveled.

Not so Charming part of Santa Fe

As the sun rose over the mountainous landscape, the familiar sound of chain slap echoed from our Royal Enfield, a reminder of the journey that lay ahead. Anticipating the need for adjustment, we began our day in search of assistance, our limited space preventing us from carrying the necessary tools ourselves. Thankfully, we were confident that help would be readily available along our route. With Heather's fluency in Spanish, communication would be a breeze, making the task ahead seem simple enough. Little did we know the challenges that awaited us on this seemingly routine endeavor.

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