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A Close Call : The Road to Manizales

It felt good to be out of the city and on the road again.  Waking up to a fresh and foggy morning in the hills and enjoying the view while I make coffee and eggs outside is one of the simple pleasures of van life.

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The drive across Colombia from east to west moves through some amazing mountainous countryside.  The hills are so steep that you can hardly ever see the valley bottoms, and I couldn’t tell you how many times we oohed and ahhed over the scenery as we rounded another bend.

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The roads are in good condition, but they are narrow and winding with very few places to pull off, so Bec was limited to snapping pics out of the window when something caught her eye.  Like dizzyingly steep green hills and a farmhouse perched atop a ridge,  a roadside haircut session or a fully loaded motorbike hugging the road verge.

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It was a beautiful drive, but also long and challenging.  The single lanes meant that we were often stuck behind slower traffic either struggling to climb a steep grade or slowly descending in a low gear.  After many hours of this, we had our first road mishap of the trip.

After many months of driving in Latin America I had adjusted to their driving style. The truck in front flashed his turn signal, indicating that it was a good time to pass, and I had a look before overtaking on a downhill run as we’ve done many times before. There was another car coming the other way, but a fair way off, this was nothing new either. But, he was coming a little faster than usual and I didn’t have a lot of time to get back onto my side of the road, so the back of the van clipped the truck as I swung back into my lane.

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Thankfully, no serious harm was done, just a bit of a dent and a scrape on both vehicles, and some bruised pride.  It was definitely a reminder to be more cautious and patient, and I won’t be making the same mistake again. This delayed us a few hours as we had to follow the truck driver into the next town and find an ATM to pay him for the damage (about $150), then we had to return back along the same road to find the fuel cap which had come off.

A little shaken by the days events and delayed by the mishap, we didn’t make it to Manizales that day. After a few more hours of driving, it was getting dark, cold and rainy as we turned onto a side road heading towards the Los Nevados National Park to find a spot to camp for the night.

Once again, in the light of morning, things didn’t seem so bad.  It had been a really chilly night, the best weather for a good sleep in a cozy sleeping bag.  We woke to find ourselves in a really beautiful spot and started the day with a good hot cuppa and snow on the surrounding mountain peaks.

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Posted from Manizales, Colombia