Motorcycle Diary – By @oliverdfinel
By Oliver Finel
(This has nothing to do with Che Guevera and everything to do with me stealing a movie title)
I’m in the lush, mountainous forest of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. The scenery is mesmerizing and the air so fresh I can literally feel it cleansing my tar-filled lungs. I can’t extend these positive sentiments to the local fauna. I’m no fan of insects and this place is filled with mosquitoes and other unidentifiable creatures. But alas, there is little I can do about the situation… May the little flying devils puncture my skin and feast on my blood.
A motorcycle-taxi arrives at the hotel. The 2-wheeled death machines are the fastest way to get around in these treacherous, muddy hills. There’s no way I’m hiking, I’d rather risk my life than use my own two feet as a means of locomotion.
I jump on the bike and immediately inquire about the helmet. There is none. Enrique, the driver, tells me ‘no te preocupes, is okay’ and starts the engine. Here I go.
This is a wild ride. We keep going up and down steep hills, through water, mud, potholes, at an average speed of 60km/h.
My heart is pounding.
My mind is pacing.
My anxiety is rising.
Is this how it ends?
Will Enrique be the death of me?
I tell him to ‘Calma te’ repeatedly. Enrique doesn’t care. He doesn’t want to ‘Calma se’. He probably sees dozens of terrified Gringos everyday. He keeps going.
We hit a decent patch of road. Enrique is still driving frenetically but I start to recognize the man is a master of his art.
Back to a normal heart rate and non-anxious thoughts.
I’m starting to enjoy the ride. Danger is fun and the adrenaline rush feels godly. The tropical vegetation is actually lovely and the gushes of wind are a welcome respite from the crushing heat.
Close-call with another bike rushing down the hills. It’s all good. I trust Enrique with my life now.
At last, we arrive to the destination. A bar perched on a hilltop with as its main selling-point, a net hanging over the forest. I bid farewell to Enrique and enter the bar’s premises.
Ten British ‘lads on tour’ along with a few Germans are wasted in the swimming pool throwing empty beer cans at each other.
A bunch of kids are being chased by dogs. That’s normal.
An American lady in her late 70s is complaining to the staff about the drunk lads in the pool. Did she come here on a motorcycle too??? The staffer, a short man with dreadlocks and massive hole-piercings, doesn’t give her the time of day. She walks off, visibly angry, to her husband who bears an odd resemblance to Dwight Eisenhower.
I get to the famed net. The view is actually beautiful and you can see all the way to the Caribbean sea.
I proceed to sit on the net with a cold ‘Club Colombia’ beer in my hand. This is nice but the net stretches my buttcheeks and it feels uncomfortable. I have to keep readjusting my sitting position. There’s a bunch of people taking Instagram pics. Myself included. This view and this net are sure to garner a lot of likes.
The wifi is actually pretty good here and they sell cigarettes. I take advantage of this amazing opportunity to stare at my phone, watch other people’s vacation Instagram stories, and fix my nicotine craving.
This is nice.
Thank you Colombia and thank you Enrique.