Back home at my parents’ house in sunny Kingston Upon Thames I hear a shrill cry in the distance. What could it be? The collective shout of a thousand frustrated blog readers shouting “BUT WHAT HAPPENED NEXT LANKY CYCLE MAN?” as they frantically smash F5 on their sweat dripped keyboards?
No. It’s foxes having sex.
But the question stands. What did happen next? So to distract myself from the conjugal grunts of these vulpine hellbeasts I’ll regale you with the details of my final weeks in South America.
As I prowled the one and only mean street of Sibundoy I spotted a stall selling really big juicy looking salchichas (sausages) and I simply had to have one. Thus I spent the following day writhing around in bed in a windowless room with a dodgy stomach and a fever. Thankfully after a cocktail of drugs and copious amounts of water I sweated it all out and the next morning I was feeling fresh and raring to go.
Diomar showed me around the village, which didn’t take very long, and we visited a friend of his – a very nice lady who gave us warm milk fresh from the cow and, presuming I was an affable invalid with no understanding of what food was, showed me potatoes, spring onions and maize, repeatedly pronouncing the name of each, despite me already having said it.
“Ah, so you grow spring onions too?”
“These are spring onions. SPRING ONIONS”
I’m not some fanatical fan of Miyazaki movies but, as was the case with El Hobo earlier in the trip, when I saw the name Totoro on the map I felt it was my duty to visit. So, after a couple of hours of bumpy roads I rolled into what turned out to be (surprise surprise) a very typical Colombian village. Not a catbus, nor even any catbus graffiti in sight. After some salchipapa and a surprisingly decent piece of fried chicken I went on my way.
If there was one section of Colombia that slightly worried me it was this: riding through the corridor between Palmira and Cali, respectively the 8th and 10th most dangerous cities in the world. While the chances of anything happening were tiny, I didn’t want to end up skirting some dodgy barrio come nightfall so I set of from Walter’s good and early to be sure. In fact I need not have worried. I shot like a bullet down the Pan-American Highway and by 12 o clock I was comfortably clear of both cities. All I had to do was find some lunch.
I didn’t want to leave Casa Madrid. Diana told me tales of a German guy named Matheus who spent 2 months there and I envisioned myself spending the rest of my life swinging in the hammock, reading books, drinking beer and practising Spanish. And so, it was for that exact reason that I had to leave. I cooked Diana and Isabella a thank you meal of makeshift carbonara (ain’t easy to find bacon on a Sunday in Bolivar) and regretfully pulled myself away from their tractor beam and back onto the saddle.
I woke up early and after a little meditation and a simple breakfast (along with the Andes, I see mountains of porridge in my near future) I was on my way. On the side of the road a man was selling huge bags of blackberries and for only 2,000 pesos and I couldn’t resist. About 10 seconds after paying I realised they were underripe and, judging by the vast quantity, were obviously intended for making juice. Not so easily deterred I kept shoveling them into my mouth. My tongue felt weird for about 2 days after.
Keen to avoid the mistakes of the day before, I set off in search of a hearty breakfast. And I found one. Calentao, which literally means “reheated” is a popular staple in Antioquia, traditionally comprised of yesterday´s leftover rice, beans and whatever else. Accompany it with beef, scrambled eggs, cheese, a mini croissant, and a coffee (which was conveniently served in a handle-less bowl like a soup) and you’ve got a mighty fine breakfast. Even the chili that came with it was near Mexico-level spicy, which is a rarity in Colombia.