On the 24th of January we left Sidel and the farm behind. It was hard to leave such a tranquil setting after two wonderful days with his family. On our way south we filled up on cheap gas brought over from Venezuela were it is subsidized to the point of almost being free, 4 cents a gallon. Not sure if it was worth it though, the bikes did not seem to happy on the bucket gas.
A little down the road Jordan raced up next to me screaming ‘happy birthday old man!’. I have hated birthdays from a young age. All my memories are of getting super sick or hurt on them. This birthday would be different though, we had no plan and it felt great. We would just take the day as it came.
Once we got back to Santa Marta we pointed the bikes up into the mountains. We were headed for the small town of Minca, Colombia. Minca is perched up on the side of Parque National Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta overlooking the Caribbean. The town itself is like most tourist traps but the surrounding beauty is what we were there for. The weather was perfect and we found a nice cheap hostel outside of town to unload our gear. It was still early in the day and we wanted to get in some water.
Our map showed the road climbing up into the National Park before dead ending, so we suited up in our swim gear and took off into the hills with the bikes unloaded. The road was an unmaintained double track filled with water crossings and slick rocks. It felt good to have the bikes liberated of their luggage and nimble again. We had no idea where the road would take us and soon we had completely forgotten about swimming. The desire to reach the end of the road was all we could think of. In the back of my head was a voice saying that wondering into the unknown mountains of the Colombian jungle was not the best idea but the incredible beauty of the surroundings kept us moving forward. By now we had ridden over 20 miles from Minca, long ago rising above the clouds that hid the valley below.
The air was now crisp and the dense jungle transformed into high elevation pine trees mixed with plants we had never seen before. The fog fully engulfed us, leaving us with the sense of floating through the mountains. Out of nowhere we rounded a corner and were face to face with a Colombian Military base perched on top of the mountain. The young guard on duty looked at us with complete confusion. He had no idea what to think of a couple gringos in swim shorts riding dirtbikes aimlessly through the mountains. Not many words were said but it was clear that we best be on our way back the way we came.
It was getting late in the day and our minds switched back to finding a swimming hole as we dropped back down towards Minca. The air was once again becoming hot and thick and the water was calling to us. We turned off the main road and down an unassuming path towards the river that had us squeezing the bikes through fences along the way. After crossing a tiny bridge we found the perfect swimming hole. Cascading pools filled with clear warm water all to ourselves.
So much awesome had happened in one day. The birthday curse was over and we finished up the day with a great burger and a chat with family back home. So far Colombia has been blowing our minds.