Colombia: on the road

This album follows on from Colombia: hiking from Barichara to Guane

Road travel in Colombia is adventurous. Much of the via nacional from Bogotá down to the coastal lowlands is a cheaply built two-lane road permanently clogged with 500-ton, seventeen-axle monster trucks laboriously puffing up or cautiously inching down steep inclines (cheaply built meaning no bridges, no tunnels, just bends, bends, bends). You travel at an average speed of 30 or 35km per hour. The monster trucks sometimes overtake each other. You learn to follow them when the one in front of you (or, if you‘re Colombian, five cars ahead of you) does. (So each overtaking lorry tends to take a whole gaggle of smaller cars behind it with it.) That way if it crashes into oncoming traffic you‘re shielded. Or so you hope.

Having finally reached the lowlands we stopped in the town of Aguachica for the night. Covering the 340 or so km separating it from Barichara took us some seven hours. In the early morning light Aguachica looks almost presentable. It‘s not. Piss poor, and ugly.
Traffic in the lowlands is comparatively relaxed…
…especially as between towns the via nacional actually has four lanes, still quite empty this early (the sun rises before six in Colombia and sets around 12h later).
(This isn‘t the sunset. Just a spot of morning cloud.)
Then we left the via nacional, headed for our next destination, Mompós. The countryside is swamp, almost uninhabited.
The road was empty too, and good.
Why, we started wondering, did both our navigation apps insist that we would take four hours or more for the 190km separating Mompós from Aguachica?
The answer. This is the start of the WORST stretch of road I‘ve travelled on, ever. Potholes that felt a metre deep (unless they were filled with quicksand), requiring you, for every 100m of distance put behind you, to slalom 200m. The pictures don‘t show the potholes at all, the sun must have been too steep. I had serious fears we wouldn‘t make it.
A speed limit of 20? We didn‘t even come close.
At least the bridges were paved!
Almost in Mompós! Blacktop again, but no way to take advantage of it.
That lorry thought we weren‘t being aggressive enough, and that he would get through. He didn‘t. When he overtook, the car behind it did the Colombian thing and followed.
That one played dead for a while as we were fearing the worst for it. Then it did get up. Apparently it hurt a leg jumping over the crash barrier. Meanwhile a second lorry had got impatient, but with no more success than the first.
Made it…!
Dense traffic…
… on the outskirts of Mompós.

Next album — Mompós, Colombia