Say there is this rural Colombian town without any roads leading to it. But there is a train track. But the town doesn’t have access to the train. What would you do to get to the town? Welcome to San Cipriano, Colombia.
The locals living there literally constructed wooden platforms and attached motorcycles on top of them.
Welcome to San Cipriano. The day started early at 6Am as a Colombian friend and I left from my sweet boutique hotel (hot tub, sauna, beautiful courtyard, wine tasting events, etc.) in a taxi to Cali’s bus terminal. We took a small van for $20,000 pesos ($10) to one of Colombia’s more dangerous
port cities, Buenaventura, a drug-trafficking hub. But it becomes a simple ride by asking the driver to drop you off at San Cipriano.
The ride was beautiful passing lots of fincas outside of Cali just oozing with natural beauty. We also passed by a neat little nightlife spot outside of Cali. What happens on the weekend is people pile into a friend’s car and drive on the highway to a certain spot (kilometro something…) to blast music from the car speakers, dance, and drink with a view of the city.
After the first hour of driving we stopped at a roadside restaurant for a bathroom break. I don’t know what it is about Colombia but as always I was treated so kindly by a stranger. A rugged man at the counter smiled instantly upon seeing me and insisted on shaking my hand before I bought a bottle of water. As we drove off he waves goodbye and gave me the thumbs up sign. All with a big grin.
Another hour of driving and we reached the outskirts of San Cipriano. We got out of the van on the side of the two lane highway and just started walking towards town. Back to the subject of Colombian kindness. A little boy saw us and walked the rest of the way with us to the train tracks out of courtesy to make sure we found it alright.
After quick lunch we waited our turn for the ride into town. As I sort of explained earlier they built wooden platforms with wooden benches that can fit more than a dozen people. Attached to the platform is a motorcycle with the front tire immobilized and the back tire on the tracks. Being as there is only one track whenever two platforms come head-to-head (quite often) everyone climbs off. The driver then lifts the really heavy contraption off the track until the other can pass.
At San Cipriano it gets even better. Its a town surrounded by jungle built right along a lazy river clearly intended for tubing! We rented a huge black tube and then went to change inside a building next door. But in order to enter the building you had to walk across a single wobbly wooden plank suspended a dozen feet above the ground.
Its better to begin the lazy river journey at the start of the town so I carried the heavy black tube for a twenty minute walk past all of the homes through the jungle until we reached the end of the path. But we were rewarded with this view as we floated down the river.
For the next hour or so we floated down the river passing the occasional rapid.
But we received a signal it was time to leave when it began raining. We lugged the tube out of the river a few houses down from the exact spot we rented the tube. What luck!
The moto train ride out of town was eventful as the faster we drove the harder the rain hit. We walked back to the highway and stood underneath an awning as we tried waving down any buses heading to Cali. No luck. We gave up and found a bus going the opposite direction to Buenaventura. We arrived in the flooded, run down city. The bus dropped us straight off at the bus terminal and minutes later we boarded another bus to Cali.
The 3 hour bus ride turned into a slow 5 hours as our aggressive bus driver weaved through the bumper to bumper traffic leaving the city. It’s actually normal because its a port city that also distributes lots of goods by truck to other cities. Since there are only one lane going each direction and the roads are so curvy these enormous trucks naturally drive no more than 10 miles/hour. But when you combine that with heavy rain and a few car accidents it becomes even slower.
After a few hours we passed the last of the traffic and eventually stopped at the same roadside restaurant where the man from before greeted me like an old buddy. On the road again just as we approached Cali some clueless dog ran across the highway and I watched as we ran over and killed it. There was no other way. By 10PM we got out on the side of the road in Cali and I got a taxi back to my hotel.