#9 — Back On the Bike in Colombia

Jeremiah Luke Barnett
5 min readApr 8, 2022
Gordita getting a good ol’ deep clean

Back on the bike

Spending a week in Panama city without the bike, waiting another week in Cartagena Colombia for it to arrive, and then the several-day process of processing the bike and paperwork and port bureaucracy to finally have the bike back between my legs and ever-flattening buttcheeks (not between them, below them, you weirdo) has thrown me into a pretty dark place mentally and emotionally (and, I think perhaps physically as well… stay tuned to see if I can eat a full meal without feeling sick again soon).

The first night I had the bike back… the wind in my hair, the streets nearly empty because of the absurdly late hour by which I was finally able to leave the port with my bike (legally between my buttcheeks), the feeling of the bike responding so perfectly to throttle input, no hitch in the clutch, brakes clean and responsive, half a tank of gas, and roads where the only rules are to get out of the way as quickly as possible or suffer the consequences.

Hell yeah.

On that short 15-minute ride back to my tiny little hotel room in the center of Cartagena, it suddenly came rushing back… I am not just a random traveler lost in Cartagena, I am on a massive journey from Colorado all the way to Patagonia on my motorcycle. It was as if being back with my bike reminded me I was not completely lost in this moment in my life after all.

For a few days I felt happy and whole (I know, eww, but hey, ride a dirty little rugged motorcycle 11,000km through all of Central America and then come back and tell me you don’t feel a strong connection to your noble, trusty, lawnmower-sounding beast of burden. I’ll wait) again.

Back to open road

That very next morning, I checked out of my hotel, worked a few hours at a nearby Colombian Peets Coffee lookalike (Juan Valdez), and then hit the road.

Straight north and east toward the unremarkable but pleasant city of Barranquilla.

After locating a mobile battery bank (the doohickey attached to the bike’s battery I’ve used to charge my phone while riding for directions and music broke about 1,500km ago haha), 6-pairs of socks (the lavandaria stole all my socks in Cartagena and I didn’t notice until I was 3-hours away), and getting a much needed deep clean to finish removing the sand and salt from the lovely memory of the horrible 3-hours spent stuck in the sand on a remote beach in southern Panama, I moved on toward Santa Marta, further north and east.

I brought sand from Panama all the way to the northern coast of Colombia… is that a violation of import laws?

The ride from Barranquilla to Santa Marta was an unending hours-long challenge of passing semis and long lines of impatient cage drivers (people in cars as opposed to bikes).

The wind was horrible. Nearly as bad as that fateful first week in northern Baja California, Mexico when the wind tried to kill me via flying Piñata…

The main road along the coast follows so closely to the water that at some points the spray from the waves crashing on the not nearly adequate seawall splattered across my helmet (and helped clean off some of the bugs, thankfully).

The open road of windiness…

I arrived in Santa Marta to some of the worst traffic I’ve been blessed to experience in a while.

Within 15-minutes of city-riding, someone broadsided my rear pannier and nearly knocked me over simply because they didn’t want the car coming up behind me to cut them off from their typically aggressive Colombian entrance onto the main street.

Oh, don’t mind me, I like adding a little bit of your pretty white paint to my collection of scars and scratches painting the rear panniers. :)

Colombia… I can go anywhere

I am trying to turn a new page in this motorcycle journey (and in my life).

In preparation for my entrance into South America and the next chapter in this crazy journey, I still can’t quite believe is happening… I tattooed a rabbit riding a turtle (or a hare riding a tortoise?) to remind me to slow the heck down… smell some roses… at least LOOK at the damn roses, Jeremiah!

The thing is, winter is already coming ( yes, I am listening to GOT on audiobook to pass some of the longer more boring hours of riding) in southern Chile/Argentina. This means I either can rush as fast as I can to reach the south just as the worst part of winter hits (less than 2-months from now), or I can slowly make my way down taking months to do the journey of 10,000km (in a straight line) instead of weeks…

This is terrifying to me.

To the person that is terrified of NOT having something to do, to occupy himself, to entertain himself, to distract himself, to make himself feel busy and significant… the prospect of spending months to make a journey that could (with one very sore ass) be done in weeks is terrifying.

But, after several painful days of working through my thoughts and expectations, and feelings, I realized that if I arrived at the end of this journey and felt I had missed the actual journey part of the journey… I would regret it.

And, since my next tattoo is NO REGRATS right over my ever-flattening buttocks, I decided to bajarme mas despacio por sudamerica (lower myself more slowly through south america).

This has massive consequences.

This means I have no time constraint other than how long my money will last (an entirely different discussion and set of problems) and where I decide to point my front tire…

Stay tuned to see what happens with this new chapter in the life on the bike in South America.


Where to next…