Days 352-370: Con Amigos

Days: 352-370  -   Date: 11AUG-29AUG14  -   Itinerary: Zipaquira to Ibague to Pereira, CO  -   Miles: 250

The trip back over to my friend John’s house in Pereira is about 250 miles from Villa de Leyva and would normally take 2 full travel days to get there. The roads in most of Colombia are single carriageway which means a lot of slow going when you get stuck behind freight traffic with limited places to pass. Add in frequent temporary road closures and the journey just takes so much longer.

Temp closure during road repair

I made it to my stop over point for the night, Ibague, a town about halfway between Bogota and Pereira. I was still having motorbike electrical problems ever since they first popped up in Northern Brazil. Despite replacing the battery in Venezuela, my on-board battery monitor was showing low voltage.

The next morning when I went to leave the hotel my motorbike wouldn’t start… sigh, just great. I extended my hotel stay for another night while I spent the rest of the day messing about with the electrical system. After reading online a bit on how to diagnose the charging system, I determined that my stator was fried, as it was hardly putting out any power, thus leading to a dead battery. I replaced the original stator a year and a half earlier in preparation for this trip, as I knew the stock part was known to go bad due to lack of cooling. I did a bit of searching around the city and found the motorbike street. The great thing about Colombia is that motorbikes are extremely common here, so every town has an entire street dedicated to motorbike repair shops.

I found a guy who could rewind the stator coil, however, that would require me to pull the side case off the engine and I didn’t really want to do that here. I ended up leaving the battery at one of the shops to have it charged overnight. Hopefully that would be good enough to get me back to the United States, since I realistically didn’t have that many riding miles left, or at least to Pereira where I could find another motorbike shop to repair the stator.

After fetching my battery and reinstalling it, I got the motorbike started and was back on the road. It was only another 80 miles, so there shouldn’t be any issues.

I made it to Pereira with no other electrical problems, although I realized that the battery was an on-going issue and only a matter of time before it would be dead again.

It was great to be back at John’s house and see all my Colombian friends again. The plan was to stay here while I worked at getting my real life back in order. I spent the next few weeks redoing my resume, figuring out where I wanted to work, and applying for positions in my career field. When I wasn’t “working”, I was hanging out with John and friends, enjoying my last few weeks in Colombia.

One of the days I pulled the stator out of the moto and searched around Pereira for a place that could rewind it. I found a tiny shop that specialized in automotive electrical repair and had the stator rewound for about 70 dollars. I’m pretty sure the guy charged me double when he found out the part came from a BMW motorbike.

Cool Rally Moto on display at the local mall
John owns a really cool old Mini Cooper. A lot of fun cramming 4 people inside there!

P.S. Yes, I realize I am literally writing this blog post FIVE years after the fact. After returning from my trip, work and life just got in the way, as it usually does. Thanks for everyone that reached out in the following weeks to check in me. Everything is good and there are a lot more things in store. Stay tuned!

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