Monday, February 8, 2016

Trading Overlanding for Overwatering


Via Ibaque we ride down towards Desierto de Tatacoa. We have been told that it offers some great riding and stellar star gazing. Somehow we miss the turn off to the desert and we find ourselves on the wrong side of a big river. In Aipe we see a sign for a boat crossing the river. Hmmm, it is not on the map. It is either that or take a long detour via Neiva. It is late already so we decide to give it a try. We arrive at the river and are surprised by what we see. A longboat just took off to the other side. It looks narrow and unstable and the river looks wide and deep. There are bikes on the boat though! Ok, 150cc bikes, not heavily loaded overland Honda's. I ask a local if it possible to get our bikes on that boat. "No problema" is the answer. Right! Let's see how this works. 

The boat returns 15 minutes later. And takes a new load of people and bikes. It looks easy but I am seriously worried about how stable the boat is. After seeing another load make it across safely and dry we decide to give it a go. The skipper insists on moving my bike on the boat himself. He tries to get it of the center stand. Fail. I give him a hand and another local jumps in to help. The skipper complains about how heavy the bike is but he is not giving up. We manage to get the bike on the boat and I walk back to get Azure's. He stops me and says he'll do another run for the Transalp. 

Slowly we start going across the river. I hold the Twin steady and am only able to relax a bit once we are half way. I realize that if this goes wrong, it is the end of the journey. 

A minute later we make it to the other side and I ride out my bike over a plank. It was not as easy as writing it down... There are a few kids on the other side and I am worried about leaving my bike and my gear there. The skipper assures me that they are his kids and they will look after the bike. What can I do but to get back on the boat and get Azure and the Transalp.

The Transalp is easier to handle and just before it is absolutely pitch black dark we get to the other side. We thank the skipper and his kids and ride off with a warning about a bridge just down the dirt road. 30 seconds later we stop in front of a bridge that consists of planks and does not look like it is made to hold some heavy bikes. Slowly I tippy toe the bikes over the bridge. The dirt road continues and about an hour later we end up in the desert where we are welcomed by a show of shooting stars. We find a place to camp next to a tall cactus and just sit there for a while. It's quiet and there are millions of stars above us. What a beautiful life!

We hope you enjoy the video of our river crossing:


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