Welcome to Thoughts from the Road. Here’s Nick and Bec Simmonds on Colombia and the “dangerous countries”…
Nick and Bec Simmonds decided that they were no longer prepared to wait for that elusive “one day”. So they left home in New Zealand, shipped two Honda CB500X bikes to the US and started their round the world ride.
Follow their awesome adventures here:
Colombia: It's Not What You Think
Growing up you hear terrible things on the news about certain countries and somehow these mental warnings stick in the far recesses of your brain.
So, when it occurred to us that to ride our motorcycles from one end of the Americas to the other meant riding through Colombia, we did the worst thing possible: we Googled “most dangerous countries in the world” and it came in at number 20!
Drug runners, cartels, paramilitary, kidnapping …the more we Googled the more profiling showed us only the negatives. We know how the internet works so we just stopped looking. We had to go through this country and that was that. If it was this terrible, we’d make a quick dash to Ecuador as soon as possible on the main roads.
HA! How wrong we were. As soon as we touched down in Bogata we knew this place was different and special. For a start, everyone smiled.
During the first five days as we waited for our bikes to arrive, we explored Bogota on foot, walking through about six zonas. All were safe and full of happy and friendly people. There were no armed hold ups or pockets picked. We even had a personal tour one day from a friend of a friend of a friend who showed us the favourite parts of his city. What was meant to be two hours turned into him giving up his whole day off work to show us around.
Then we headed north to the mountains to explore the country, and the friendliness and warmth of the people ‘levelled up’ – if that was even possible! We only took the back dirt roads and came across no drug runners or kidnappers, only farmers waving us down to ask, “de donde eres?”
One day we waited for hours at roadworks out in the middle of nowhere where the people in front and behind us shared their food and put on music for entertainment. We asked if these long delays were normal and they only smiled and shrugged and said “daily”. Where were the angry and impatient people we were used to seeing in traffic hold ups like this?
Wherever we stopped people wanted to talk, ask where we’re going, where we’d been, share knowledge of good routes and the best places to eat. They wanted photographs with us and photos of themselves on our bikes and to exchange WhatsApp numbers.
They smile as wide as a mile and laugh those deep belly chortles. They share whatever they have. They are quite honestly the nicest people we have ever met in the world.
Yes, this country has a turbulent and horrendous past which makes crossing paths with these strong, resilient and genuine people even more special …they went through all that and they still smile and celebrate life.
Oh, almost forgot to add that it is stunningly beautiful too, and that “quick dash” is going to be more like four weeks. And we will definitely return!
Nick and Bec Simmonds
Do the “dangerous countries” put you off motorcycle travel? Would you ride through Colombia? Let us know in the comments below.
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3 thoughts on “Colombia – It’s Not What You Think! by Nick and Bec Simmonds”
Colombia has always been on my to do list but I haven’t been sure whether to do it on a motorbike or not. So I read this article with a lot of interest. Looks like it’s going to be on a bike afterall. Thanks
Always have to respect those that encourage others. Well done and what an adventure!
South America has always been an elusive dream for me. I want to go but i’ll be honest i am worried about it. I should as its close by but have always been put off. After reading this you know what maybe i will lol