Colombian Hospitality (Turbaco, Colombia)

I think I like Colombia!  OK, OK, we’ve only cycled a grand total of 20 kilometers in the country yet, but first impressions are great!

It’s funny – every cyclist I know who has passed through the country ranks it as one of the best ever.  Everyone I know who has never been here says we are crazy to come – saying it’s way too dangerous.  I guess I choose to believe the cyclists.

This morning we got up at 4:00 in order to hit the road at first light – but that didn’t quite happen.  After having the bikes completely disassembled for the boat ride, everything was chaos!  It took us a full three hours to get ready to go!

Fortunately, it was Sunday morning, so traffic leaving Cartagena was fairly light.  But immediately after leaving the city, we began to climb.  Man, oh man!  Have I gotten soft!  Either that or I was plain ol’ sick.  Or maybe dehydrated…  In any case, I died.  I just didn’t have any energy at all.  The hill wasn’t a bad one – as hills go – but I was struggling big time.  I seemed to be panting like crazy and felt weaker than a rag doll.

So when we pulled into Turbaco 20 km from Cartagena, we looked for a hotel.  Unfortunately, the one we found wouldn’t accept kids.  What to do?

Right about then, a cyclist pulled up to where we were sitting and started asking the normal questions – where are we from?  Where have we cycled from?  How long have we been on the road?

But once he found out we were looking for a place to stay –

“Why don’t you stay in my house?  I have an empty house just a block from here.  There used to be renters in it, but they recently moved out and it is now sitting empty.”

Why not indeed?

And so it was that we met Tony.  And Tony brought us to his church service – a small home service with about 15 people.  And the pastor of the church, Bill, happened to have a house that wasn’t rented at the moment – with four beds.  Why don’t we stay there?

We’ve now spent a delightful afternoon with Tony and Bill and all the other church members, and will be very comfortable tonight.

But the best part of the afternoon (at least for me) was my operation.  You see, yesterday my toe started hurting again.  I wrapped it up with lots of antibiotic ointment to try to keep infection at bay – and bought some Epsom salts to soak it in.  So I was sitting there at Bill’s house soaking my foot when Tony walked in.

“What’s up with the foot?” he asked.

“It’s just this blasted toe of mine,” I replied.  “It’s been bothering me for a long time now.”

As it turns out, Tony just happens to be an EMT and he took one look at my toe and told me it was ingrown – really ingrown.  “You want me to take it out?”

A few minutes later he was digging around in my toe and pulled out four big pieces of nail that were embedded in there.  It feels better already!

So – our first day cycling in Colombia has already resulted in adventure.  I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Kilometers today:  20
Kilometers to date:

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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5 Responses to Colombian Hospitality (Turbaco, Colombia)

  1. Paul August 10, 2009 at 1:44 am #

    Listen to the cyclists and trekkers every time. The tourists in air-condition isolation travelling in coaches and cars can only offer opinions of the tourist traps they’re taken to, not the REAL people and places in-between. The hospitality and incredible generosity of people who have nothing to start with is a common theme of many, many stories I’ve read of people travelling through South America by bike or foot.

  2. Nelson Córdoba August 10, 2009 at 3:16 pm #



    mis datos en Colombia por cualquier necesidad





    Dino Francisco (10) Sara(11) Gloria (34) Nelson (40)

    saludos y pronta recuperación

  3. nancy August 11, 2009 at 12:56 pm #

    You are so right, Paul. Cycling affords us the opportunity to get off the beaten track and see places tourists miss. that’s the main reason we are out here cycling!

    Nelson – Gracias! Le mande un email – lo recibio?

  4. Nelson Cordoba August 11, 2009 at 6:34 pm #


    sugiero pensar bien la ruta


    a todos


  1. Why I like bike touring - January 5, 2010

    […] when magic starts to happen. That’s when people come out of the woodwork to help us out and invite us to their houses or help us find the fire station or allow us to camp in their lawn. That’s when the entire […]

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