Tuesday, February 12, 2013

An unexpected weekend in El Playon
Our plan was to make those 95 km uphill from the low lands, which end in San Alberto to Bucaramanga in 2 days. A very hard climb, the road winds constantly up and down so that you gain several hundred meters in few km and then go downhill to loose it all, and then again more climbing and more downhill; the average grade for the hills is 6% -10%. After an exhausting day we arrived to El Playon, for us just a dot on the map perfectly located half way to Bucaramanga. I went to the city hall to ask if they have any space where we could camp for a nigh and they told us that we could camp in the sport hall, so we went there and, I have to say, they were super helpful they open a small room, so we could sleep under roof and even let us use the shower - there is not a better thing you could offer to a cyclist after a whole day sweating.

Once we settled down two guys from the council came to see how we were doing, the web master Ivan and journalist for the city-hall, Javier.

Ivan invited us to have dinner in his place; we accepted, we love to meet locals and spend time with them. When we were having dinner they offered us to stay a couple of days so they could show us around and see how we like El Playon. They are just starting to promote the town as touristic spot and they are full of ideas. The main attractions are the waterfalls that we were supposed to go and see on Sunday with the team from the City Hall that was going there to take pictures of them for their web. On Saturday we were invited to go to the nearby Balnearios (restaurants by the river where you have access to swim) and then to a finca which grows heliconias, super beautiful tropical flowers. The plan sounded great! To be invited by the council to the best places of this municipality just to give our opinion and see if we enjoyed or not as a tourist. Good plan!

The Saturday run smoothly, swim in the river in the local Balneario, had lunch and then we went to visit Don Agapito, great character who grows the famous heliconias, those flowers are breath taking!

Sunday, the big day! The plan was to go by car with more people, but in the morning Ivan explained me that they could not find any transport so we will go just the 4 of us with moto-taxis (regular motorbike that can carry one passenger). Ivan has one motorbike so they will need to rent just two to take us up to the mountains where the walk to the waterfalls starts, in San Pedro. It takes more than 45 minutes riding uphill to San Pedro to start walking, our guide, Don Paolo and his friend were already waiting for us it the path straight away, because so the walk was also new for Ivan and Javier so all of us we were super excited. The waterfalls are seriously beautiful, the first one called Salto del Indio the highest, over 30 meters, an easy walk but then to go to the other 2 the difficulty grown severely; our guide had to use the machete to open track and set rope to climb up or down, pure jungle. Each waterfall has its unique beauty with astonishing locations, magic corners within the jungle; it took us over 6 hour to reach the finca of our guide, none of them Ivan or Javier did this walk previously so we weren't fully prepared, tired and hungry - that's how we arrived to the finca maybe 40 minutes after our guide :) 
When we arrived the food was almost ready, plenty of food for the exhausted tourists. What a lovely lunch prepared for all of us by Dom Paolo’s wife, Thank you Senora!

It was starting to be late so we walked back to San Pedro to meet our moto-taxis. But we arrived too late and they were already gone; our hosts tried to call them, but they didn’t pick the phone, I guess they weren’t bothered to do this long ride up again on their Sunday evening. It wasn’t until after 3 hours of waiting (with hope that they will maybe come) and frenetically looking for some guy from San Pedro who would ride us down, until they encounter one. Only one, which meant we had only two motorbikes and 5 people. The plan was to go Ivan and one of us in one motorbike and the other 2 in the moto-taxi (regular motorbike). Quickly Javier came and told me ‘I go with Ivan and you two, because you are slim, go with the moto-taxi’ we said fine, of course a bit more risky but who cares after 3 hours waiting. When we arrived unfortunately something happened that spoilt the day, the guy from the moto-taxi asked me for an awful amount of money and none of our host from the council stood up to pay for the fee so I had to pay it, this money would last us  for a week in Colombia. It was weird! Sometimes people acts in a way that surprises us, the whole thing of coming to us with the idea of promoting their village and see how we like it and at the end finished the day with this gesture it has left a bit of bitter taste in our memories of El Playon.

Anyway all the best for those guys and its project of promoting El Playon

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