leaving the Savannahs

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We awake to the sound of rain. Funny, with my new rain gear I had been looking forward to rain, but now it is here I feel altogether less enthusiastic. The temperature is now comfortable at night without AC as we are at an altitude of over 500 metres and climbing rapidly, at least as rapidly as our little legs will allow. The scenery changed dramatically yesterday. From the dry flat savannah we reached the fertile valley of the River Cauca. The green rolling fields with their hedge rows and abundance of hardwood trees could have been in England were it not for the spattering of tropical flora.

We passed through El Jardin, the place where we were warned not to stay due to the high likelihood of kidnap. It was a pleasant village with many inviting looking restaurants.

We stop to buy water and the two girls in the shop are of a friendly nature, free with their compliments and not at all displeasing to the eye. One grabs here mobile phone and takes a photograph of Sebastian. Gesturing passionately with her arms she describes him as ‘spectacular’ which Sebastian seems rather pleased with. We wondered if the peril of kidnap was from the likes of these two and decided that if so then perhaps a little kidnapping would not be so hard.

At mid-afternoon we begin climbing and are soon working hard. The road is two lanes and as is the nature of mountain roads it twists and turns as it clings to the side of the valley. There are more than a few lorries on this road and it has to be mentioned that Colombian lorry drivers are the best we have ever encountered. Unlike their brethren in other developing countries they will patiently wait behind a cyclist, and when they do pass with a friendly toot and a big thumbs up they will give us as much room as the road allows. Could this be due to cycling being such a big sport in Colombia and an appreciation of what is involved in climbing these hills?

An hour up the hill we found the residencia where we now stay.A small and basic lodging place it is the site of one of the many military road blocks. Sitting on the balcony drinking a beer watching the heavily armed soldiers milling about bellow us and patrolling the hillside we commented on how quickly one becomes accustomed to lots of men with guns.

Aside from offering accommodation and food and a haven for soldiers looking for sweets during their coffee break the hospedaje is also a small farm. There is something rather pleasant about being woken by the sound of cows being millked.

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