This is a photo-jounral about learning to drive a motorcycle in my wife’s hometown of Puerto Berrío. At the bottom of this entry I answer how and why you should use motorcycle travel in Colombia. It was my first time driving one and it definitely wont be the last. Nothing makes me feel more Colombian than puebliando (traveling from town to town) by motorcycle. The first day we drove around a small village called Grecia just outside of Puerto Berrío to get a feel for this 250cc machine. -Click photos to enlarge them-
We drove around the area where Tomasa grew up. I had been there several times but it was a lot more fun experiencing it by motorcycle. I got the hang of the bike after flipping both myself and my friend off the back of the bike due to my inexperience feeling the gas and the clutch. Luckily Tomasa didn’t see this happen and happily rode on the back of the bike with me.
Puerto Berrío is situated along the Magdalena River in the center of the country at roughly 125m above sea level. Due to it’s lack of elevation it is one of the hottest places in Colombia with temperatures reaching as high as 4o˚ with 90% humidity and little to no breeze. For this reason riding a motorcycle is a great way to cool off in the sweltering heat and quicken the process of finding streams and rivers to swim in.
About 15 minutes west of Puerto Berrío and a short hike off of a small road we are relieved by the cool water.
After cooling off in the river (we would have stayed longer but found a turd floating in the water) the real adventure began for us. Tomasa, her brother Lucho, his two friends and I rode motorcycles from Puerto Berrío all the way to Bello, Antioquia (just north of Medellín). I had an absolute blast riding a motorcycle along the winding roads of Antioquia at +65km. I am now hooked for life when it comes to motorcycle travel. Below are pictures of us above the municipality of Cisneros, Antioquia:
The day I move back to Colombia, the first order of business besides find a house to live in is buy a motorcycle. Nothing fancy, just 250cc of power to take me across this incredible country that I am honored to call my second home.
How can you learn to ride a motorcycle in Colombia? Luckily it’s simple. Meet any Colombian and become friends. Every Colombian knows at least one person who rides a motorcycle and will happily take a few hours on a weekend to show you the basics. Ask if they can take a day trip with you to a smaller town and try it out; return the favor by paying for lunch and gas. I don’t recommend learning in the bigger cities for obvious reasons.
Why learn to ride a motorcycle in the first place?
Outside of the larger cities very few people own cars but many people own motorcycles. Towns like Montería, Córdoba have some crazy statistic like for every six people there is one motorcycle. They are everywhere, easy to maintain, easy to get around, will make you feel like a rockstar, save time and are very inexpensive in the long run. They are far less expensive than taxis or long-distance buses. Here’s an example:
The bus ride from Medellín to Puerto Berrío takes four hours and costs 35,000 Colombian pesos per person. 70,000 Colombian pesos for two people to ride on a smelly bus with horrible drivers making even the most hardened travel feel car sick. Imagine, traveling by motorcycle only takes three hours and costs 10,000 Colombian pesos for two people. Best of all, it makes it easier to visit all of the places in between, take beautiful pictures of the scenery and stimulate the economies that need it most.
If you plan on spending several months in Colombia, I highly recommend (if you couldn’t already tell) that you invest 3,000,000 Colombian pesos in a decent motorcycle and see the country the way a local would see it.