November 19th 2011




Waking up I had a slight headache and could still feel the effects of the altitude. My breathing continued to be difficult.

Some sort of cactus fruit, to the right is what it looked like before it was peeled, it was delicious and sweet.

First thing in the morning we walked across the street for fresh bread

Tamales on the street corner

buying fresh eggs on the street from a native farmer


The view from the top floor of Ciro and Pilar's home


The day began with breakfast that Pilar cooked and then off to Monserrate, elevation, 3152 m (10,341 ft). I thought "oh yeah that will be cool to go see some really old church on top of a mountain". I did not realize we would hike up the mountain for 1500 feet seemingly almost straight up. Really steep switch backs and my breathing was already difficult. Pilar took off and ran to the top, I was not about to attempt anything beyond a slow crawl! Ciro kept saying, "okay this is the worst part here" and once I conquered the "worst part" he would say "okay here is the worst part". This happened like 4 times! When it leveled out a bit I thought oh good were about there, Ciro said "we are half way now". I thought "oh shit can I do this". But in my defense it did make me feel good that I was passing a few locals and I barely even stopped to rest. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and pushed on. That was the toughest thing I have done in a long time. That was worse than the time I carried a 50lb pack for 4 miles up a 2000 foot gain on a vision quest early in the year.

Somewhere about half way up, Ciro pointed to a large building below in the city. He said that he was at this point going up when a large building exploded and the shockwaves caused him to stumble. This happened 15 years ago and was the work of the mafia at that time. It was hard for me to imagine an explosion so powerful that it would cause shockwaves this far away. He went on to say that when he turned around it looked like a big mushroom cloud.

on our way, Ciro is standing

The trek upward begins

lots of steep steps

wiping the sweat off my forehead, Pilar being supportive

Still too early to celebrate, the church can be seen in the background, more climbing to do.

after making it to the top there seems to be competition on the other mountain, I had no desire to visit that one!

The afternoon rains are on their way! The town of Bogota below, we are very high up now.

looking to the right.

Pilar posing for Ciro's camera

markets on the mountain

Coca leaves

Aquardiente "firewater" on the right. this guy put leaves of stuff in it for medicinal value.

someone handed me a toothpick with a sample on it, I took it and ate it only to find out I just ate fried cow intestine.

It was quite a big drop below, I decided not to attempt staning on one leg

inside the curch which was built in 1620

this guy is 70 years old and makes this trek daily but once a year it is 6 times! today was his day to go up and down 6 times. He had quite an interesting story from what I understand through Ciro. I did a video of him talking and will need to get it translated.

the church

a waterway through town

what is wrong with this picture?

and this one?

and again, more US businesses

We stopped here for lunch

my lunch

this young girl had deep black soulful eyes and she seemed mesmerized by the man playing a guitar she stared at him and listening to the music the whole time he played.

On the bus returning home, there were people who would get on to sell something. The normal routine is the person would get on the bus, pass out a small item or candy to everyone who would take one, then return to the front of the bus where in a loud voice we would begin to hear their story and why they need the money. After a few minutes the story is finished and the storyteller tells the price for the item and then walks down to collect the money. Some people give money and some people return the item. Their is an honor in this because they will not accept money without selling something and do not take more than asked for. One man was selling flutes, so I bought one from him.

Toward the end of the ride there was a young man who just finished telling his story and when he got off the bus he looked straight into my eyes and yelled out "este pais es bueno para ti", (this country good for you), the bus doors shut and he was gone.

We had fun in the evening unpacking my bicycle and putting it all together, Pilar and Ciro were very interested in my gear. Ciro buys a lot of stuff from the states through ebay and immediately began looking up stuff on ebay to buy.

we had to do one small repair for the wire that was cut for the bicycle computer also lost one bolt to hold the bracket for the handlebar bag. Ciro went and got a new one and the bike was ready for tomorrow's adventure!


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