After a day off, I was on my bike again. I used that day to go and visit the so called El Fin del Mundo (End of the World), a series of waterfalls in the jungle. The rain spoiled my hike a little bit, but then I thought about that same amount of water when cycling and I think I was just lucky not to take the bike that day!!
Just when I was about to leave the ugly town of Mocoa (very nice surroundings, ugly town; no wonder I didn’t see any foreigner there, even though that could also be due to the fact that I stayed at a local hotel at town centre), I met the first other cyclists of the trip!! “Are you the Basque guy?” they asked me when they saw me so yes, pretty obvious there’s just a few of us around here!!
They took the Cerro de la Muerte towards Pasto. I was really tempted to do the same, but:
-the road was not paved, and I rather save my bike for what I still had to come
-in Pasto I’d be forced to cycle in the main road again, where traffic was pretty heavy
-I’d miss the Amazon!!
So I took the road south straight towards Ecuador. And the first thing I found was… Amazonas, of course. (Actually that’s a lie; the first thing I saw were monkeys!! Just hanging in the trees couple of kilometers out of Mocoa. Goodbye nice monkeys!!)
First 10 kms from Mocoa are really nice, up and down amongst forest trees. And then you get to the point where mountains finish and the real jungle begins… What a view.
That was, by far, the highlight of the day.
From that point onwards the road is mostly flat and you cycle through lots of towns (La Joya, Naranjito, Puerto Caicedo…) where nothing seems to happen, where time seems to stop. Easy jungle living!!
Santana or Santa Ana is at the crossroad where I left the paved road and started cycling west again, looking for the border. I didn’t like Santana at all: it’s just a crossroad where all truck drivers leave their engines running while they go for lunch. I didn’t like the noise and smoke, and it was quite early, so I kept going (if you’re to stay in the area, previous town, Puerto Caicedo, is a so much more nicer place to stay).
There are so big works at the moment, so the state of the road might change a lot soon. Right now it’s not the nicest place to cycle, since the road is made of little stones and some sand, creating very often this small bumps separated just 10 cm from each other that make it so awful to pedal. After a while it gets better (or maybe I to used to it!).
It’s surprisingly a dangerous road, since all those 4x4s (where did they come from?!? Why are they so… luxurius?!?) drive very fast and very often smash those small rocks toward the sides; they almost caught me couple of times!!
(also, I found couple of pick-ups with a white flag (?!?) and a “International Mission” sign)
The best thing of this part of the day were the views. I was basically cycling towards the Andes straight, with only the jungle between us. I wanted to stop and take a picture almost at every curve!! Good for me I didn’t…
I was looking for a place to stay. Couldn’t find anything. Everybody told me “there’s a village in 3 km that might have something, and if not, they’ve got big houses where they’ll take you…” It was true, there’s some kijd of town every 3 kms, but nobody took me to their places, everybody said somebody else will do it for sure. Whatever…
Houses are poorer here really. So is life. But they seem happy. Where I stopped for the night, they hadn’t had electricity for 4 days. They were still smiling. But it’s hard to cope with that degree of abandon from the goverment when you’re extracting 300 trucks full of petrol a day from that area…