No, we're not dead.
Salento 0 kilometers
Salento - Santa Rosa de Cabal 57 kilometers, elevation gain 1,233 meters
Santa Rosa de Cabal - San Vicente 14 kilometers, elevation gain 672 meters
It takes more than an uncooperative stomach to stop us. We spent one sick day in Salento, trying to revert the stomach to normal and getting enough food, drink and rest to get the energy levels back up. Salento, named after either an Italian region or a Greek village (sources disagree, for a change), is one of the most picturesque villages in Colombia.
When the main road between Bogotá and Cali was diverted, Salento went into hybernation and didn't wake up until all the other villages in the region were streamlined and nobody could tell one from the other. The colonial architecture is now one of its main attributes, attracting a diverse crowd, from liposucked señoras from nearby cities to internationals attending the International Magical Hippie Tour.
They're funny, those hippies, trying so hard to stand out yet conclusively part of another flock of sheep, the only difference being the colour of the flock.
But I digress.
Salento is a great starting point for hikes and other activities, and it's good to see the success of the village. It's even the cleanest village I've seen in Colombia. There are other colonial-style villages in the area if you want to avoid the crowds.
We have now reached what will be our sanctuary for a couple of days. To get here has been a mixture of horror and pleasure.
Leaving Salento was easy enough. Crossing the city of Pereira didn't create any drama. Passing the mountain separating Pereira and Santa Rosa was the event that would make the day interesting. Or horrific. Or horrible. Any word containing something similar to horror.
You can't let traffic scare you when you ride a bike. Fear will cloud your judgement, it may make you waver INTO traffic and it will most certainly make you lose sight of the white line on the side of the road. The white line is your best friend when riding on the highway. It's not a very good friend, but as a cyclist on the highway, it's your best friend.
She is an even better friend when there is no road shoulder, as turns out to be the case when exiting Pereira. A six kilometer climb with brand spanking new lanes for cars and no space for bikes. So once again, we hugged the line and hoped the cars would spare us some centimeters.
It's incredible how a bit of nerves can be converted to a lot of motivation. Omar shot up the hill in 20 minutes. I was up in 27. Remember I was still recuperating from illness, which is why I needed the extra time. That's the only official explanation and if Omar claims anything else, he is spreading fake news.
It's funny how the last moments of a day in the saddle defines the impression of that day. When arrriving in Salento, we had endured a downpour while climbing for 30 minutes. So we questioned the whole journey and started looking for real estate in Salento. After having hugged the white line with such gusto, we entered a serene road surrounded by green hills and not a car in sight. This experience would define that day, as I laid in the hammock reflecting.
And the following day, to get to our sanctuary, we had our toughest climb yet. However, having spent the entire afternoon in complete relaxation, the day hasn't been that bad after all.