4 October – Day 74
Botoga, Colombia to just outside of Guatepe, Colombia
Distance: 380kms (time on bike = 8 hours…. grrrr!!!!)
I thought I’d seen traffic jams before, but they had nothing on today! Wowsers. A two-lane road with traffic (mainly trucks) backed up for kilometres. And kilometres. I have never been happier to be on a motorbike, able to slide in and around the hundreds (if not 1000+) trucks just waiting. And waiting. And waiting. We saved ourselves hours by being able to navigate to the front by ducking and weaving through the queue. One of the holdups was a group of workmen doing perhaps a 40m patch of what looked to be relatively minor roadworks… and for that, people had to wait all day! Seriously, the queues stretched for miles in both directions. I filmed a small section and will upload it to YouTube and add the link when we get somewhere with a better internet connection… we’ve had no or very slow internet for a few days now.
Here’s the link to the video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdhwmkMHgyg. It’s shaky, but you get the picture! This represents about 1/5 of the total jam… I had to stop filming as the riding was getting more swervy and stop/go and I had to hang on to the bike with two hands!! And the jam was like this in both directions… ie these are the trucks that we were ducking and weaving between to get to the front of each queue…
What made the jam worse was that, on more than one occasion, the road was totally blocked when a large semi broke down or overheated at the precise moment the driver was (stupidly attempting to) overtaking another truck on the wrong side of the road… so even when roadworks people turned their little stop/go signs, there was literally nowhere for the trucks and cars to go.
Nevertheless, there was a highlight for the day and it was meeting and having lunch bought for us by Colombian motorbike rider who we met while stopped at one of the jams. We rode with him for a couple of hours which was excellent, as he really knew the roads and – through the sections where there was no traffic and we could get a bit of flow going – guided us at a pace that was slightly faster than what we would have done unguided.
Still, the multiple traffic jams meant that it took a long time to make progress, and we were still 100kms short of our intended destination when we got fogged in. This was some of the thickest, most dense fog on the trip so far, and with the windy roads, the cars overtaking buses and trucks (and trucks overtaking trucks) on the wrong side of the road on blind corners – ie in our faces – it actually wasn’t fun. That, plus brand new tyres on the bike, and rain. So with about 35kms to go, we saw a hotel on the side of the road and stopped there. It exceeded our expectations! And we were both just very happy to be off the bike.