A Travellerspoint blog

VOICES in the Jungle

...There´s a spaceship beyond those mountains.


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It was the voices we heard first. Loud, as though through speakers, even though we were still some distance away. Voices that at intervals seemed to chant, at other times to instruct, and at others to sing. Then we saw it, through a gap in the trees: the spaceship.

We had been warned before we set out north from Duitama on a seldom used back road to San Gil, that there are no towns to speak of, very few people, certainly no bike shops or mechanics, and only one tienda that will sell you agua de panela and cheese. Other than that you are on your own for 131 kilometers of rough, horrible, steep, remote backroad through the mountains. Oh yeah, there is that bunch of reclusive Taoists that live out there...better to roll your windows up and drive fast through that stretch. Oh wait, you don´t have windows and aren´t driving? Oh well then...

Fast forward a few days and we are winding our way slowly along the painful bumpy road when we hear the voices. And not just the aforementioned voices in the jungle, but the rumbling of our stomachs, as we were getting low on food and still had a long way to go. So we mounted our bikes, cycled past the outskirts of the community (though it looked more like a refugee camp at first) and were eventually directed to the main gate were I smiled, told our story about biking from Bogota, and asked if there was any place we might buy some bread. Immediatly one awesome older woman led us past the gates, passed the protests of others who wanted us outsiders to keep moving and be gone, and took us to her little shop where she made us fresh arepas with cheese and blackberry juice and sold us whole wheat bread with cheese for later. Like mana from heaven it was. But no pictures allowed. Meanwhile Jefe, one of the chiefs, had been summoned, and was keeping us company as our chaperone, but to be fair, everyone we spoke with was very nice, interested in our trip, and wanted to tell us about their community. They are vegetarian and Taoist, sell bee products to outside markets, have a number of cottage industries and study chiropractic, massage, and natural healing medicine. And in spite of the tattered tents and plastic sheeting we had intially seen, other homes appeared well made with great craftmanship.

So we made our farewell´s after exchanging email addresses with Jefe and the shop keeper´s son (even in the most remote commune in south America, everybody has an email adress), mounted our cycles, and started off again down the windy bumpy road to San Gil.

It seems almost everyone will welcome us in, due to our bikes. Be it the Taosits, ranchers, every day family, or awesome Gringos, there is always cafe-cita to be had and cultures to be shared... and if no one is home, we are crashing on the porch.

Jared and Risa

Posted by risajs 16:36 Archived in Colombia

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You have a knack, Risa, for creating friendships wherever you go.

by glenn

Those bikes look like mighty fine quality for Columbia. Are they even in better shape than your mountain bike? And, you both look stunning in spandex. I'm impressed that you're sporting it! Thanks for keeping the stories coming!

by l.smith

Super chevere este viaje! So where is that crazy taoist community? what is it called? are there really no pictures anywhere?
Also the pics in the blog are too small is there any way to make em bigger...

by yeisi

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