My Suzuki had seen better days, the chain was still not right and had eaten it’s was through the chain guard which I had to remove. The welds on my panniers were rusting away and my indicator still flapped in the wind ever since the crash. I owned a motorcycle that was 85% Suzuki and 15% duct tape but all I had to do was get to Bogota, that was all that mattered.
Safely out of bandit country all that remained was twisting mountain roads leading all the way to Bogota as the Andes finally came to an end in the north of the continent, twisty as it may be, we were on the home straight. It looked so close on the map, the kind of distance that we could have covered in a day back on the desert roads of Peru or Chile but we knew that the last few days wouldn’t be easy and given that the bikes were misbehaving, we knew that it was going to be a challenge.
The road north of Pasto carved through thick mountain forest, breaking to reveal the epic valley below us, rippled mountains that surrounded us and the baking sun that thankfully beat down upon us. Small swarms of butterflies injected colour to our world of green and black, floating in the breeze across the road between the two of us. The road itself was pretty rough, at one point I narrowly missed a motorcycle sized hole in the tarmac which simply dropped off to the valley below, it was hard to believe that we were on the Pan American.
Cali was our first major city in Colombia, home of salsa and surgically enhanced beauty, and we breezed right through it, looking for a place to stay on the northern outskirts. Unbeknownst to us however, this was the realm of the sex motel, “Cupid’s rest” and “Love station” were all that had vacancy and trying not to look one another in the eye, we checked into “love station”. It seemed fitting to end the journey like it had began, in one of these awful places.
Somewhat jaded after a night in the most sordid establishment either of us had ever seen, we once again hit the road, into the rain. The road had flattened out and we were making good time but my bike, knowing that she would soon be laid to rest on a driveway in Bogota, like the final act of a petulant teenager, had other ideas. I was cruising along quite happily and suddenly the back wheel locked up and I began to fishtail along the slippery road surface, out of control. Managing to wrangle her back I drifted to the side of the road and inspected the damage of which there was none. Whatever it was, it was beyond our mechanical knowhow and with Bogota a mere 200km’s away, we pressed on, limping home.
The road swung east and we found ourselves once again climbing mountains, this time with an endless line of trucks for company. We filtered through the slow moving pack like mice under elephant’s feet, nipping through every available gap determined to find a way through. We beat the traffic but it had taken time and we were forced to stop in the town of Ibague, so near yet so far.
It was Bogota or bust, if we couldn’t make it today, we couldn’t make it and I already had visions of my bike and I rolling into Bogota on the back of a pick up truck. Even Frank’s blind American optimism was not 100% but one way or another, we were determined to make it that day.
Thankfully the road was flat and took us all the way into the city, we were actually amazed as to how close we had been and what little of our journey we had left. All that was left was to negotiate a capitol of nine million inhabitants and over a million vehicles… we were set. Frank and I parted ways as he followed the road into the central backpacker district and I swung North towards my girlfriends neighbourhood, somewhere in amongst the sprawl. I continued northwards until I began to recognise parts of the city, certain buildings and even particular holes in the road. I had been here before, before the journey had begun, to visit Jennifer and here I was, turning down a familiar road.
Ten thousand Kilometres, Six thousand Miles, all built up to these final one hundred metres down my girlfriend’s road, the end of a chapter. The sun was shining as I pulled up onto the driveway, dropped the kickstand and rang the bell. I was beginning a new chapter. I was home.