29th September: We’re getting a bit behind ourselves on the ol’ blog. Right now we are in Madrid, Spain having said a fond farewell to our cycling adventure in the Americas after just over a year on the road. Prolonging the pedaling for a few more days we are going to head up from the centre to northern Spain and catch the ferry back to Blighty.
In the meantime, as we recover from the jet lag, here are some highlights from our last few days in Bogota, and Colombia – in particular our weekend jaunt out to Suesca, a small town which boasts some of the best rock climbing in South America.
Ned and Angela practicing balancing skills on the disused railway line before getting a grip on the rocks.
Starting from the top with our guide Andres, we rapelled down to a ledge and then clambered our way back up a rock fissure - one by one!
Francisco was the first to take the plunge...
Angela on the way down...
Chock-a-block on the ledge, about a hundred metres above the cows below
The crew back on horizontal ground (almost!)
The view from the rocks was unfortunately marred by plastic hot houses, and the local cement factory. Colombia is the second biggest exporter of cut flowers in the world (after The Netherlands) and the rows and rows of plastic shelters are for this most useless, though prized, of crops. The cut flower industry provides a lot of jobs in Colombia, but the growth of the industry since the 1960s has brought a myriad of environmental and social issues to the communities around Bogota where many of the flowers are grown. Use of very nasty, polluting chemicals (many of which are banned in the US and Europe), depletion of the water table, plus exploitation of the mainly women workers that labour on the farms are some of the problems. A fairly old article in the Guardian highlights some of the issues.
Heaps of waste flowers, offering a cheap and resourceful opportunity for the men to indulge in romantic gestures towards their girlfriends!
Camping out in peaceful Suesca. Our cheap-o Nicaraguan-bought tent even withstood a heavy downpour - much to our surprise!
Back in Bogota - soaking up the breathtaking view across this city of almost eight million people from the mountain of Monserrate, reached by cable car. Apparently the first ever tourist to visit Monserrate was an Englishman who, 100 years ago, tightrope walked between two peaks across the gaping chasm below. We settled for ambling around the quaint gardens, sticking to the pavement and staying well away from steep drops!
Now that our time in Colombia has come to an end we realise we have many, many people to thank for their wonderful hospitality and generosity. None more so than the truly amazing Francisco and his girlfriend Angela who put up with our presence in his small flat in Bogota for almost three weeks! Francisco never once complained, and took the 'mi casa, su casa' sentiment to unprecedented levels. We are eternally grateful - thank you Francisco!!