We have been following a route on bikepacking.com that we have reversed taking us into the mountains of Boyaca, Colombia. A couple days into the route we climbed deeper and deeper on dirt roads connecting small towns that only see a motorbike or truck every other hour or so. It’s quiet, save for trickling streams and cows. We come to a town called Palermo. There aren’t many people arround and we can’t find a hotel to stay at. We try asking around but no one really seems to know. We check the municipal building but there is no one there. There’s no police station in this town and many of the shops are closed. We decide to set up our tent on the roofed soccer/basketball court out of the way in a corner in case anyone wants to play. The court is a little out of the way so we feel it’s a good spot for us. Normally we would ask for permission but there’s not really anyone around to ask so we just do it and how for the best.
Around 5:00pm someone is setting off fireworks, which is strange because it’s still light out. By 6:30pm it’s dark and there is a town procession making their way through the streets. They are carrying a nativity scene and the town priest is leading everyone in prayers. It’s a few days to Christmas and this is an extremely Catholic country, but it doesn’t feel much like Christmas to us.
As the procession passes by, the whole town gets to see our camping spot. Nobody bothered us but the next morning some locals were asking if we were cold in the night.
We decide not to continue with the route and instead head to the highway to the town of Paipa. The route had us climbing 1,800 vertical meters which would take us two days, and we were concerned about not having enough water as there were no towns in between and we were not sure if there were any rivers nearby as the map did not show any.
Heading out to Paipa still required us to climb 1,000 meters over another mountain range and then descend down to the town which took nearly seven hours. Our hardest day to date, but allowed us to see what we are capable of.
Being back in some bigger towns allowed us to get to a bike shop to take a look at Olivia’s shifting issues. We replaced the rear shifter cable but it looks more like something was damaged in shipping the bike to Colombia as we were not able to fix it completely so we will have to keep an eye on it.
We headed up the highway to Belén so we could meet back to with the route and we are now headed east back into the mountains. In a few days we will get to San Gil and spend some time exploring there.
Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season and new year from Colombia.