San Agustín to Mocoa 

8-9 February 2017

In the distance one the road below, we can see the two Swiss cyclists that we passed not long before this climb.

From San Agustín, we had to backtrack towards Pitalito to get back on the main road. This part was mostly downhill, and we made good time for the first 30 kilometers. Back on the main road, we encountered another pair of bike tourists traveling in the same direction. They were a brother and sister from Switzerland, and we saw them again when we arrived in the small pueblo of San Juan Villalobos. They had pitched their tent next to the police station at the entrance to the village. We thought about joining them but ultimately decided to camp at the school instead.

A boy feeds sugarcane stalks into the machine that turns them into juice. The old method for operating a similar machine was to use horses or mules to turn the rotors.

The next day we rode to Mocoa. The road became increasingly lush with green trees and birds surrounding us, and there was nothing but jungle on the mountainsides for as far as we could see. We stopped at a panela factory in the middle of nowhere, where we observed a family making panela from sugarcane. A young boy was feeding the caña into a machine that would crush it, and juice was flowing into a bucket on the other side. Two other men were working on filtering and boiling the sugarcane juice, or guarapo. Lenin and I got to drink a cup of the sweet juice before they cooked it. We thanked them and continued down the mountain, eventually coming to Mocoa.Here, we stayed with Will, an American ex-pat who was working as an English teacher and had been living in Colombia for the past two years. He was actually in the process of moving out of his house because the landlord, who was also the owner of the school where he taught, hadn’t paid the rent in 18 months. This man was apparently also a priest, and his whole family had been run out of town because he owed so much money to so many people, including Will, who had not been paid in a while either.

The road to Mocoa winds through lush, green jungle and mountains.

Will may have had a bit of an obsession with Yaje, or Iowasca. It was interesting to learn about this spiritual ritual that the indigenous of the area partake in. It consists of two plants that, when combined and brewed in a tea, have a hallucinogenic effect. Will had nothing but good things to say about it, and he barely spoke about anything else while we were there. He claimed that it brings people closer to nature, and that he had seen the future twice (he takes Yaje every month). Neither Lenin nor I had had any desire to try this before, but after talking with Will, we were definitely intrigued.

About Sarah

Sarah grew up in Cranston - just south of Providence, Rhode Island - and developed a love for travel, music, and outdoor sports at an early age. She had started bicycling long distances at age 12, as a participant of the MS150 bike tours to raise money for the MS Society. She didn't use her bike regularly until she built her own while studying in Montreal and found it an excellent way to get around the city. After graduating from McGill and moving back to Providence, Sarah started working at Brown University's office of Environmental Health & Safety as the Biological Safety Specialist. She was living 4 miles away at the time, and for the first few weeks was driving to work. She made the switch from driving to bicycling when she realized that she could get to work faster, avoid parking tickets, and integrate a few miles of training into her day. Bicycling was better for the environment and better for her own health and mood. She found that she had more energy and felt much happier once she started biking to work. When her car broke down several months later, she never bothered replacing it. After 4 years of working in Biosafety (and on her master's in Environmental Studies), Sarah left her job to pursue her passion. She has been working various jobs in the bicycle industry since June of 2011, including pedicab driver, bicycle tour guide, bike mechanic and traveling bicycle advocate. In between seasonal jobs, she has done a few long-distance bike tours, which is the main reason for this blog. Her dream is to eventually ride around the world and sail across the oceans.

Posted on 28 March 2017, in Bicycle Touring, Colombia and Ecuador. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on San Agustín to Mocoa .

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