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Return to Sommerwind

June 11, 2016

8.6.16. Sommerwind. Ecuador.
Well, for once we did the right thing. The strike is still on. If we had waited in Cali there was no chance of getting around the detour we had to drive. In the end it was a 1000km detour. The fuel stations south of the striking state have all run out of fuel. No trucks are heading to or away from the border. But at the border there was a 1.5km queue of locals crossing into Ecuador to fill their tanks from the cheap petrol in Ecuador. The traffic buildup on the frontier actually made us easier to get through quickly
Once again the drive over ‘The Road of Death’ proved a non event despite a night of heavy rain beforehand and the thought of driving through thick cloud not appealing. Rivers were high but the road, though rough, is well maintained. Washouts were being worked on from an earlier deluge and the slips already remedied. The small gangs of workers in their bright orange overalls were doing a great job.
So here we are back in Sommerwind where the bakkie will rest up for a few months. A few old faces, a few new. It’s one of the joys of Overlanding.

Before visiting Colombia many travellers had told us how they enjoyed that country. I think most of them had just arrived from Central America where things were on the tough side. Yes, the people we encountered in the main were hospitable and very helpful. Communication was difficult as not many spoke English. The coffee area was good and the estate we visited had a welcoming tranquility about it. Maybe it was all the coffee they drank. Phillipe, the guide had said he drinks up to 14 cups a day. San Agustin archeoligical site was well worth visiting as was the sanctuary at Las Lajas.
Military were very much evident. Many larger bridges had guards on them while check points stopped us regularly. APCs with gun turrets were often seen parked alongside the road. Funny. whenever we passed the soldiers they would all give us a ‘thumbs up!’ Not sure what it was all about but a smile usually accompanied the gesture.
The main roads are good. Some of the sweeping viaducts extending into space were engineering masterpieces. The back roads less so. In time they will improve but at the moment can be quite a challenge. Then there is my old hate. Speed humps. There are so many types from the judder bars where there might be 24 in 100 metres to the usual humps to the double bangers to the improvised ones (not marked, can be a killer), to the false ones that look like the standard one but aren’t. This type is often placed outside schools where you would think is the logical place where the proper ones are installed but the authorities don’t think like that it seems.
Colombia would have one of the most rubbish free highway system we have driven on. You see the odd gang picking up trash but I think once the mindset has been invoked that rubbish is not necessary the public get behind it. Peru has a lot to learn from this country.
On the other hand highway picnic spots are non existent. Panoramic viewing points, zilch. Even finding a place to pull off for morning tea very difficult. Colombians get in their cars to drive from A to B. No mucking around.
The business with the blocked off state was an inconvenience and caused us many extra kilometres, But then when told the reason for their actions we can understand their angst. On further investigation it seems it was the agrarian workers who set up the road blocks etc. They had been promised reforms 4 years ago after more violent demonstrations and nothing had changed. There have been two deaths so far and many injured.
So what about next year? I think we will travel back up through Colombia fairly quickly and get the bakkie shipped to Miami. We have seen a fair bit of Sth America and Central America is out due to Costa Rica not allowing RHD vehiicles. Will be good to have some easier travels in an English speaking country.
Unless something unforseen happens this will be the last blog of this trip. Hope you have enjoyed reading about our travels. Will work on the images for next time.

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