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Published: July 18th 2015
Day 50 Instant adventure
Distance driven today: 336 miles / 541 km
Cumulative distance driven: 8,599 miles / 13,839 km
Today’s trip: Cartagena to Caucasia, Colombia
Stuck in flooded Cartagena streets with 50cm / 1,5 ft of water: yes
Back on the road again: definitely :-)
We finally got our bike cleared at the port of Cartagena this morning. Of course the one final step required at the port, and which should only take 20min., ended up being 5 separate steps that took a bit over 1,5 hours. We had to go through 3 more inspections (!), forms and fee payments. But seriously, after 15 days of waiting, who is counting at this point! Excited that we could finally
start riding again, Zoe and I returned to our hotel with the motorcycle to pack our things. Interestingly enough, the hotel staff seemed equally curious to see the reason why we had been waiting for all these days. Once they say our motorcycle they got their curiosity satisfied, though the concierge refused to believe that we were serious when we said that we are headed towards Tierra del Fuego and southern Argentina. Is it really possible
to ride a motorcycle that far, he asked us?
We packed all of our stuff on the bike, and the last thing I did was to mount the rear mud guard which had broken when I had dropped the bike in Costa Rica. My wife Kicki picked up a new part at BWM in Seattle, and FedExed it to our hotel in Cartagena. Thank you Kicki, you are the best by the way. The rear mud guard essentially prevents water from the rear wheel being sprayed to the bike when riding in rain. It will immediately become evident why this part is needed…
We only got to ride for about 5 sec before it started raining. Zoe and I quickly decided that, after having waited for 15 entire days to start riding in South America, we wouldn’t let a little water coming down from the sky to stop us. The rain was another one of those cataclysmic downpours that frequents these tropical regions. After 10min of riding, attempting to start exiting Cartagena, we found our self’s in totally flooded streets. The poor street drainage capacity, combined with the insane amounts of water pouring down, resulted in the streets
being flooded. Just like that, before our South American leg of the trip had even started, we were driving in 50cm / 1,5ft of water.
Also, ‘driving’ is probably a misnomer in this situation. The water line got so high that it had engulfed half of the cylinder head, and I got seriously concerned that the electrical wires which feed the spark-plug would short-circuit. Even worse, without the ability to see the street surface under the water, I was afraid that we would hit an obstacle lying invisible under the muddy waters. Needless to say that our riding boots got completely soaked, as there was no dry place to rest our feet. The foot pegs were under water!
With the water level keep rising, we decided to take any
random street towards higher ground. The logic being that water flows downwards and that there would be no flooding at higher grounds. Even though our logic was correct, and we managed to get away from the flooded streets, we suddenly faced a new adventure. We had ended up in Cartagena’s main shanty town, which surrounds one of the main hills in the city. Our onboard GPS unit was of
no help, as this area of the city doesn’t really exist on any official map (!) and thus there are no official roads. In no time we were riding on really poor dirt roads, filled with stones and mud flowing down the hill with the water masses. For some reason that Zoe and I were not able to figure out, the dirt roads in this slum neighborhood were literally filled with the poo people. They were outside despite the fact that it continued to rain hard. Zoe and I speculated that the temporary housing constructions in this area may have bene so poor that they were leaking water. Perhaps these people may be better off outdoors instead? It makes no sense, but who knows?
In total, instead of taking 20 min. to exit Cartagena, which is the normal it should take in dry conditions, we ended up requiring 3 entire hours of driving on the few back-streets that had less than 30cm / 1 ft of water. Once we were finally out of Cartagena, the sun came out and we started (finally) to ride south towards the city of Caucasia, which is our first stop driving in
Colombia. Just outside the city of Sincelejo we found a guy with a power washer next to the road. We paid him 5,000 Colombian Pesos (about $2) to remove all the mud and dirt on the bike which we had picked up when riding in the flooded streets of Cartagena earlier in the day. It is unclear whether the man with the power washer was more surprised by our big and unusual motorcycle, or by all the mud on it.
Tot: 0.588s; Tpl: 0.056s; cc: 10; qc: 51; dbt: 0.0277s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb