Garmin Info and Ride Maps
Mompox to Magangue
Magangue to San Pedro
San Pedro to Sincelejo
|Santa Cruz de Mompox, main plaza|
|My driver, not especially happy with|
how much room the trike is using
My 2 week stay in Cartagena was outstanding. I studied Spanish 4 hours a day, explored the city and neighboring islands and did many extra curricular activities with students or my lovely housemate, Aisha. Cartagena will always have a special place in my heart. I love where I lived, Yahara, the house mom and especially the 3 ladies, Luz, Isabel and Beatrice, that worked in the house everyday. With the help of my house mom, Yahara, a truck was scheduled to pick me up with Myrtle and my gear. A small pickup arrived at 4 am on Sunday morning. Brutally early but I was grateful for the ride. Originally, I had planned to ride to Santa Cruz de Mompox. In fact, Yahara had spent a good deal of time with me going over maps and making sure I had a safe place to spend each of the 4 nights it would take to ride there. But, after putting in so much work, I learned from my friend AnneMarie, who recently made the trip by bus from Cartagena, that the road is currently under construction. She explained that the shoulders of the road are being redone. The road is a busy 2 lane road with lots of traffic that was now extra narrow. This was no place for a trike. Getting a ride was right thing to do.
|A trike is under a mountain of luggage and cargo|
I can't remember the driver's name but, even though Yahara had explained about my trike, when he saw the trike he wasn't very happy. But he loaded Myrtle up and that's all I cared about. Lucky for me, I was his 1st passenger. This meant the truck bed was empty and I could sit in the front seat. He ended up stopping for 3 more passengers as well as making a few cargo pickups. This worked out great because everyone's gear could fit on and around the trike. The logistics of this trip couldn't have been better.
It was dark when we left Cartagena for the 7 hour drive. We only made one stop for breakfast. I paid for the driver's meal, a whopping $2.50 with tip, hoping to cheer him up. It worked. Suddenly, his attitude improved immensely. When we arrived at Santa Cruz de Mompox I decided to stay at the same hotel my German friend, AnneMarie, had stayed at. I got very lucky again when I was his last stop. This meant the truck bed was empty and we didn't need to remove everyone's luggage to get to the trike.
|Locals playing a fierce game of cards|
|Santa Cruz de Mompox at sunset|
The Hotel Villa de Mompox is 2 blocks out of the busiest area and is very quiet. Once I got settled in my room, I could tell how tired I was. Not only because I awoke this morning around 3 am but also because my time in Cartagena was so busy. The area where my homestay was is in was very, very noisy area called Getsemaní. The house was directly across from Plaza de la Trinidad which is probably the busiest plaza in all of Cartagena. All day and night there was music, buskers, food cart sellers and sometimes hundred of people singing and dancing. It was 'the place' to simply hang out and drink beer in Cartagena. Even with ear plugs I had trouble sleeping. After 2 weeks, I was exhausted.
|Santa Cruz de Mompox is a pueblo blanco|
|Santa Cruz de Mompox at night|
|Beautiful Santa Cruz de Mompox|
Santa Cruz de Mompox is a very sweet pueblo blanco where most of the buildings are painted white with red tile roofs. The town is on the Rio Magdelena, one of the biggest rivers in Colombia. The town is historic and quaint. It is also an UNESCO Heritage city. There are many, very beautiful churches and they were all busy. On Thursday night, some of the churches were so busy people were spilling out into the street listening to the services. It was also incredibly hot. This was the 1st town I had been in so far on my trip that was too hot. Many days it was 100 degrees and some days temps rose to 103. While I was in Mompox I spent a lot of time in my room. I took a mountain of photos and video while I was in Cartagena but I was too busy, at the time, to go through it all. It took days to go through. There is so much I'm not exactly sure what to do with it. Certainly I'll have to make more than one video, at some point. My week in Mompox was spent mostly recovering from my time in Cartagena, organizing photos and video and escaping the heat.
|Cathedral Santa Barbara|
|River boat colors|
|Our river boat - the blue one.|
|Young boy waving in the setting sun|
Santa Cruz de Mompox is quite small and it doesn't take more than an afternoon to walk through. There's not a lot to do but there are 2 boat trips offered, each in another direction. The 1st trip I went on, I boarded a small covered canoe type boat that steered down the river for 20 minutes and then docked. There were probably 10 people aboard and we all got off to take motorbikes to another river and continue on in another boat. It was very beautiful and I enjoyed the experience a lot.
|Taking a motor bike from one river to another|
|On the 1st boat tour|
|Street life, Santa Cruz de Mompox|
|Santa Cruz de Mompox on the Rio Magdalena|
|Sunset on the river cruise|
The next boat trip was a sunset cruise on a larger boat. This boat had rocking chairs to sit in, there was music and a disco ball provided colored lights. The boat also served beer and wine. I met a fun group of ladies from Barranquilla and Santa Marta. They were dancing to the salsa music and having a great time. This boat just went up the river and then at sunset turned around. I love taking boat trips and had a great time.
|Tranquillo river cruise|
|Fun ladies from Barranquilla and Santa Marta on the river cruise|
|Mompox cathedral at night|
I kept looking at the weather apps hoping for a break in the high temps. The heat was unbearable and much too high for cycling. Luckily, the heat wave broke. The temps came down to the lower 90's which is still very hot but temperatures that I can handle. After a week in Santa Cruz de Mompox, I was finally able to get packed up. It was a good week and, for the most part, I got caught up on sleep and organizing my photos and video.
|Leaving Santa Cruz de Mompox|
Video from Santa Cruz de Mompox to Magangué
The ride out of Mompox through the narrow streets was fun. I had to go around so many vendors riding trike carts, cars and motos while people were yelling out enthusiastic comments. Soon I was on quieter roads going through ranch land. Wow was it hot. Luckily, I didn't have far to go. Today I was taking a ferry from La Bodega to Magangué. La Bodega is only about 20 miles from Santa Cruz de Mompox. But, in this heat, 20 miles was far enough.
|Cow eating in the trash|
|Barber on the ferry|
The ferry was a fun experience. There are many lanchas, small covered canoe type boats, that go up and down the Rio Magdalena all day. You pick a boat and wait for it to fill up. These boats will take the small scooters type motorcycles and I'm sure would take the trike as well. These boats are covered offering shade for the hour long cruise down the river and are probably faster than the bigger ferry. The big drawback is there is only a plank of wood to get on and off these boats. If this was the only option they would make it work but I felt more comfortable taking the real ferry because it has an actual road for boarding. I don't know what the cost is for the smaller lanchas but the big ferry is free. I arrived just as they allowed boarding. There was a long line of trucks lining the road. One by one the ferry loaded up. Each truck had the turn around on the ferry to make getting off at the other end easier.
|canoe with fishing net|
While I was waiting and watching the ferry load, a man who sells water and cokes came over offering to get me a plate of food from one of the road side restaurants. I asked if I could have just meat with a salad. Sure, no problem. I gave him $10,000 pesos (about $3) and he came back with a plate of delicious chicken with a salad and a bottle of water. I never even got out of the trike.
A woman driving a smaller truck full of appliances came over and offered to show me where to sit out of the sun. We walked to the back of the ferry and boarded a tug boat that would be maneuvering the ferry down the river. It felt good to be out of the sun.
The ferry ride was about an hour long. I love boats and really enjoy slow cruises down any river. Aside from watching the river traffic there was a guy giving haircuts at the back of the ferry in the shade on a truck. This barber had been very helpful to me guiding Myrtle to a safe spot and making sure she was secure for the ride. He also helped me board the tugboat which was a bit precarious.
|Lots of watermelon|
The ferry actually goes to a town called Yeti and I still needed to ride 3 miles to Magangué after debarking. This was on a lovely tree lined road. The town of Magangué wasn't at all what I was expecting. A few people had recommended this town and I was surprised that it wasn't touristic. It was another busy, gritty, dirty, noisy town where everyone is hustling for a buck. I really think I misunderstood the name people were saying and they were actually suggesting a completely different town, haha! There is something about towns like this that I really enjoy. To me, even though they are louder than I wish, these towns feel authentic. Because it's not a touristic town, I'm not bombarded incessantly to buy stuff I don't need. Mostly, I really enjoy seeing how people live and there is a lot of life in these towns.
|Secure parking in a space next to the stairs|
It's always interesting to see the hotels that get recommended on Google. The ratings don't have anything to do with the quality of the hotel, only the hotels that people use and rate the most. A highly rated hotel can be a 5-star but mostly they are more moderate hotels where people find value. The hotels in Magangué were less than moderate in terms of aesthetics. The first and highest rated (4.4 out of 5) hotel was on the 2nd floor with only a narrow stairway to the reception desk. This wouldn't work because getting Myrtle up and down the stairs would be too difficult. Sometimes there isn't a choice but since this town offered many hotels options, I went to the 2nd highest rated hotel (4.3 out of 5). Hotel Magangué Plaza had a space next the stairs up to reception that was a perfect fit for Myrtle. I locked her to the bannister and got checked in for $13, not including breakfast. I was worried about the noise level since my balcony overlooked a busy street but I actually slept well. In the morning, the owner offered to order me breakfast. In 10 minutes I had a plate of scrambled eggs, 1/2 avocado and 2 thick slices of cheese with a huge cup of coffee for $5,000 pesos ($1.65). Amazing!
|Main cathedral, Magangué|
I got packed up and did a quick spin around the area along the Rio Magdelena. I stopped to fly my drone in front of the main Cathedral St. Francis de Assisi and along the river. There were so many small lanchas busy loading and unloading people and cargo. It was so interesting to watch. Then I pushed on riding through town following the throng of scooters. At a light, sitting in the middle of the pack, I reached over and shook the hand of scooter driver. After that, everyone wanted to shake my hand. It was hilarious and very fun. As I continued on, posse of scooters developed that followed me for quite a while. They were having a great time. Eventually, I made my way out of town and into the country side. Wow was it hot, hot hot! Not far out of town the road surface turned into awful chip seal. This is the type of road surface that is very rough and feels like it grabs your tires making it more difficult to ride. I stopped a couple of times to see if I had a flat tire because I was going so slowly. The surface was so rough that everything on the trike was vibrating. I also had to stop to tighten my fenders. This road surface is hard on the trike and very frustrating to ride on. The landscape was quite barren which is very different for most of Colombia I've visited. As I crested a hill, I decided to fly the drone to get a better view of the area. The trike drew the attention of 3 young boys from a shack of a house. They were very shy and I had to coax them repeatedly to come over. One boy was riding a small burro. It's really fun for the kids to see the view from the screen of the drone while I'm flying. I'm sure they have never seen what the area around them looks like. They assured me San Pedro, my destination, was very close.
Video for ride Magangué to San Pedro
|Young boys loved the drone|
By the time I arrived in San Pedro I felt like had fought a battle for every mile. I was exhausted from riding the horrible cheap seal and the heat. I checked into the highest rated hotel which was on the main highway for $9.50. This hotel offered what I call an 'authentic experience'. Authentic experiences are where things are not the most comfortable but I get to experience another aspect of Colombian life. This hotel was family owned and they are building it as they get extra money. It looks like this project has been going on for at least 10 years. The trouble with these types of hotels is the owners need to make the money go as far as it can. They don't always know what they are doing or hire qualified people. You can almost see where the infusions of cash start and stop. Tile and can be mismatched because they buy only what they need and the cheapest they can find. The mattress in my room was on a platform made of concrete. Luckily, the mattress was comfortable. The bathroom shower didn't have a shower head or a shower curtain but I did get a toilet seat. The hotel was set away from the street and the rooms faced a courtyard where chickens roamed freely and cats lazed around. There was a open air palm frond covered palapa where the family had a television playing very loudly. Myrtle had a space in front of my room surrounded by potted plants to rest for the night. In front of the hotel was a simple restaurant where I ordered dinner. For many months now, since leaving Bucaramanga, I have been following the Ketogenic diet and I'm surprised how easy it is to follow here in Colombia. I tell everyone before I order that I can't have any sugar, rice, potatoes, bread, arepa or fruit. Right away, most people ask if I'm diabetic. They really understand what diabetes is. I'm not diabetic but I always say yes because it assures that they take my request more seriously.
|It's watermelon season|
|Very flat straight and rough road|
In the morning, I had a good breakfast of eggs, cheese and avocado with coffee, again, for $5,000 pesos. This area is remarkably cheap. And then I pushed on. After 15 miles, the road surface changed to a newer paved road on my way up a particularly big hill. Wow, what a feeling. The road was so much smoother. The shaking stopped and the ride was much quieter. The joy of cycling was back. I crested and flew down the quieter road with a big grin on my face. I was so happy about the smoother surface I didn't even notice how how it was. And it was hot! Today I was going to the bigger city of Sincelejo. The road into Sincelejo was on a toll road and there was a fantastic separated bike lane for about 8 miles into town. This was so nice. It also rained on this ride. This was the 1st time on this tour that I had ridden in the rain. The rain felt great and it didn't last long. Soon it was hot and even more humid.
|Policia at a check point asked me to pull over to get a picture|
|Dad and son on burro|
|Bike Lane into Sincelejo|
Video for ride from San Pedro to Sincelejo
I looked on Google to see about a hotel. The reviews were interesting. Most of the hotels are in the 'historic' area with good reviews. But most of the reviews also talked about the area being very noisy with bars and music all night long. This is something I'd like to avoid. I kept looking and found a hotel that was a bit further out of 'el centro'. This hotel had a 4.3 rating and almost 500 reviews which is a lot. With that many reviews I knew this hotel would be great value. The Hotel Arawak was much bigger and has a parking garage with lots of security cameras. I locked Myrtle to stair bannister and with the help of hotel staff took the elevator to the 4th room. My room had a balcony and everything in it was newer than most of rooms I've stayed in. This room was a step above and the price, $30 including breakfast, reflected that as well. I like bigger towns and got checked in for 3 nights to explore and rest.