Finally riding south, Macondo, in the country

Dear friends and family,

Ready and packed, at 0545 with four liters of water and electrolytes , I sped (😁) off. Turned out that after a mile of flat, the next almost two miles were an uphill to get over the hump splitting the city in two. So, I was dripping with sweat by the fifteen minute mark. 

From there it went well. Traffic was light, but I still had sixteen miles of industrial and then beachfront development to ride through.

Finally I turned away from the west highway towards Cartagena and headed south  towards Bogota. The road became two lanes with a fair shoulder. Rolling hills in the banana farmland, with the Sierra Nevada on my left. 

I turned off the phone to save power. Navigation was easy as there’s only one road. The miles clicked off, not easily, but steadily. At dinner two nights earlier a young woman from Denmark ( sorry I don’t remember your name if you are reading this) said that she was impressed that I could pedal so many miles and she could go only a few. I was thinking of her today as the effort increased. When it gets harder, I have to reach deeper into my well of history in knowing that I can keep going because I’ve done it many times before and there is something about this being the why. Why do this? To see if I can continue and to learn about myself.

After about thirty five miles my expectations proved false. I planned this long (54 miles) trip for today because it was forecast to be overcast until afternoon, the road would be covered by trees alongside, and it was mostly flat.

Reality: after ten AM the sky cleared exposing full sun, very little roadside vegetation left, and a bit of a headwind showed up. Did I say hot? Probably over 90F in the sun. 

I could stop at roadside restaurants to buy Gatorade or water. Later in the morning a drink vendor returned my money, probably thinking I looked like I really needed it and wanting to help.

I was concerned about dehydration so paid serious attention to liquids.  I realize that if you are dehydrated the amount of blood circulating in your body decreases, so the heart beats faster to compensate, increasing your heart rate. This makes your heart work harder.

So, I track my heart rate when I ride. If I’m feeling really hot and not pedaling hard, but say on a flat road, and my heart rate gets above 129 beats per minute, then I know this increase is caused by some dehydration. For me, I should be able to pedal for six hours or so below at that rate, so I pay special attention to hydration and electrolytes. Prevention is most important, because it’s hard to rehydrate and still keep moving. I’m a combination  of amateur physician and accountant!


But, I made it into Aracataca, in six hours, found my Hostel, and tried to tell the proprietor that I needed to take my bike into my room with me ( as usual for me). He showed me a place next to the family living room behind a locked door that I could put it instead. I finally relented and when I climbed to my room I realized why. I literally used my hands on the stairs to get up, they were so steep and the step height must have been well over a foot and a half.  I was tired too.

Now I’m away from the tourist track. No more English language, no more gringo pricing. My room, which includes private bath and air conditioning cost $32 USD, a huge lunch was $3.50  and my dinner burrito, which could be the biggest one I’ve ever eaten, was $3. The cook used a huge machete to manage cooking and chopping the chicken over an open flame streetside.

I decided to stay here in Aracataca  for two nights as I’ve got to get serious about my route  planning  and I want a day to explore Macondo, which is Gabriel Garcia Marques’s fictional name for Aracataca, here where he grew up, in 100 YEARS OF SOLITUDE.

You might have enjoyed the policeman giving me warnings before I went in the museum this morning. He had to mime “ don’t touch anything” “ you can take pictures but not videos” and “ don’t walk on any of the throw rugs”. He probably didn’t realize he would need acting skills to do his job.

At first he was frustrated/angry with my poor language skills, but soon  I got him to first  smile- then laugh. Success!

The museum was pretty much a bust as they rebuilt the original house that had been torn down to create a tourist  destination, but only had a few items to stock it with.

One of my favorite memories of the book is when the wondering gypsies would bring new inventions or magic to show and take advantage of the local people by selling them this new technology. One thing they brought that people never saw before was ice. Can you imagine living in this hot place and someone brings you ice? They had to take turns touching it and tasting it. I can only imagine they brought it down from the peaks of the Sierra Nevada, quickly before it melted. 

In riding, I sure appreciate cold drinks, but always ask for “sin hielo “ which means without ice, as the ice often is made from tap water that my tender system cannot tolerate. I guess I would disappoint the gypsies.

I waited for a break in the downpour of a fierce thunderstorm to go to dinner. The family suggested an outside eatery nearby  so I thought I’d try it. That’s where I had the great burrito at great price. The streets were filled with water and I was dodging the deepest puddles to get back to my hostel. As I turned the corner into my street I saw the police tape cordoning  it off and then the fire engine lights  in front of my destination. I crossed the police tape ( I had to get home) and as I got closer could see a fat wire in the street flaming. Since I was walking in water, I wasn’t too excited to reach for the opening in the metal gate surrounding the house. What could go wrong? 

The proprietor saw me approach and motioned for me to come in the side entrance and not touch the metal bars. Soon the utility crew came and removed the wire, and the excitement was over.

Once again I had a teenager, the thirteen year old daughter, want to practice her English, so she used English and I Spanish, as we learned together. Her English was much better than my Spanish for sure.

Oh, did I mention that it’s hot here!

Sending love,


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9 thoughts on “Finally riding south, Macondo, in the country”

  1. Makes me want to reread 100 Years. I love reading about a place as I visit. Always some excitement as you go. People seem helpful and friendly everywhere you go. Nice to see. So hot, really be careful about overdoing in the heat. Relax and enjoy the country. Sounds lovely.

  2. I really enjoy following your trip. I really appreciate the details and your writing style. Fun to read. I love the pictures. I look forward to visiting with you about this winter’s adventure next spring!

  3. Charley – loving your posts. Gives us a chance to vicariously your adventures and to enjoy your writing. Keep the posts coming!

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