Colombia Motorcycle Adventure Log: Day 03

Rapids and waterfalls!

Today was a quiet day with only a short afternoon ride. Hailey was elated, as she really wanted a break after what had been the longest riding day of her life. So we slept in, waking in our tiny little riverside bungalow.

Instead of riding, we spent most of the day on what was SUPPOSED to be a kickass adventure. And to be fair, it totally was. But as it turned out, the adventure was only a small part of what was in store for us. We hopped in a tiny boat and went upriver, traversing rapids and dodging floating logs along the way. Hailey sat in the bow, quietly taking in the adventure, pointing out birds and locals as they came in to view.

Colombia Motorcycle Adventure
A boat ride back to the bikes, parked a few miles down river. Already we know this will be one of the most notable highlights of our trip.Photo: Shawn Thomas

At one point the boat tried—unsuccessfully—to climb an assemblage of rapids. The attempt ended with gallons of water splashing into the boat, soaking Hailey. It spooked her. "I want to go back," she said quietly as she huddled against me. But before I could reply, the pilot made another run. This time, he was successful. "We made it!" Hailey declared. "I don't want to go back anymore."

Colombia Motorcycle Adventure BMW
Our river adventure included a hike to nearby waterfalls, nestled in an outcropping of forest and bouldersPhoto: Shawn Thomas

We arrived at a bank of rocks, nestled behind an outgrowth of trees. We disembarked, climbing boulders and making our way to a series of waterfalls. It was stunning, and as one might expect I dove right in and took the usual "waterfall selfies" I am known for. A very adventurous experience, to be certain.

But then, one of the locals beckoned me closer to the falls. In his broken English he went on to explain that this was a very special place for him, where he went to remove all negative energy and cleanse his soul. He guided me to the waterfall, placing me beneath a massive deluge. As the water pounded my senses, he chanted soothing words, emphasizing the ritual with taps against my arms, head and chest. The words lost in translation, I understood the gist of his mantra: "Let go of your mind, your heart, your body. Let the water cleanse your soul. Send your pain to the rocks and pools of water. Renew yourself." I'm not much of a soul-searching guy, but I gotta say, it was pretty cool.

Colombia Motorcycle Adventure BMW
There are stunningly massive growths of bamboo all over Colombia, their stalks as large as an adult thigh.Photo: Shawn Thomas

On the return trip, Hailey was given the option of floating along the river in an inter-tube. She has never been one for excessive emotion. Like her mother, Hailey quietly takes in a situation, making the decision to engage or withdraw with unceremonious resolve. She decided to give it a go. As she floated along the river, I thought how lucky I was to have a travel partner in her. It is no small endeavor, taking a child on a motorcycle. Going on an adventure in a foreign country is at a whole new level. I would be lying if I said I was not at times in doubt of these decisions. But so far everything was working out, she was having fun, and everything was running smoothly.

Colombia Motorcycle Adventure BMW
Hailey takes to the rapids in an innertube as we motor down river.Photo: Shawn Thomas

Rested and anxious for a ride, our small group took to the trails. Our next stop was the town of Mariquita, where we had time to explore the shops and local cuisine. Tomorrow we take on the Letras Mountain pass, the summit at a whopping 12,027 feet! There are calls for rain, but hopefully we will miss the storms. We'll see!

Colombia Motorcycle Adventure BMW
End of the day. We are in the town of Honda, awaiting hotel attendees to open their gates and allow passage. Most hotels offer secure, offsite parking for both cars and motorcycles.Photo: Shawn Thomas
Colombia Motorcycle Adventure BMW
Hailey found a coconut on the ground, and a passerby offered to open it for her. He expertly unsheathed a machete from his hip opened it in seconds.Photo: Shawn Thomas
Colombia Motorcycle Adventre
The path to our riverfront bungalow. Having enough of the camera, Hailey opted to make a break for it.Photo: Shawn Thomas
Colombia Motorcycle Adventure BMW
End of the day. We are in the town of Honda, awaiting hotel attendees to open their gates and allow passage. Most hotels offer secure, offsite parking for both cars and motorcycles.Photo: Shawn Thomas