Leaving Bogota on a Sunday turned out to be a good idea. Finding the correct road was far less hassle than I'd thought it might be. Keeping the sun to one side and following the most likely road was just the thing. There's very little traffic away from the major cities. Being alone made a big difference. Three bikes together can create something of a presence on the road with their three lights. A bike alone can easily be ignored, and no oncoming truck is going to give up its opportunity for overtaking a slower moving lorry for just the one bike. Throughout the day I became strangely more used to this. Still, quite alarming when trying to have a bit of fun on a windy road and coming quickly round a corner.
As I lowered in altitude, the temperature rose. The land towards Cartagena became flat and much more jungle-like. The road didn't seem to be in any danger of being taken back into it - as in Brazil - there was too much traffic, but the trees often overhung lowly as trucks spent most of their time in the outside lane, whenever there was one. Soldiers were everywhere again, and I was stopped four times and asked for documents. This was never a problem as the soldiers were always in a good enough mood.
The bike coughed at one point and lost all power. Hmmm!? I was toddling along a flat road when suddenly, for no apparent reason, the engine just died then quickly re-ignited. The rev counter went right to zero, but no lights came on on the console. Must be electrical. I stopped at a petrol station and had a wee look through the BMW manual. There was nothing describing this in the 'troubleshooting' section. I had a look around the electrics for loose wires, found none. Put it all back together and away we went.
But then, in town 40miles/60km later, just as I was getting to where I wanted to go, it spluttered again, but it got me to the hostel and I promised it some oil in the morning. (It was very low!)
It took 1litre(!) of GTX in the morning and off we went again, happy as . . . 20miles from the next destination (90miles/140km later) it started again. Another look around the electrics was fruitless and so I checked connections were tight and decided to go over them all with some WD40 and some vaseline as soon as I can get them, shade and some peace.
But then the whole thing worsened majorly just as I entered Cartagena. It wouldn't pull away and wouldn't rev above 2500rpm. It was cutting out and then quickly re-firing - like kangaroo petrol. Then there was some backfiring and some sharp, unpleasant cracks from the top ends, but it was still running! No good for riding fully loaded into a city so I left it in a car wash with Fernando and his pals, got a taxi and hoped it would still be there in the morning!
Getting to Cartagena on the public holiday of May Day was also a good idea. Light traffic meant I could cough and splutter further in to the city than I otherwise might have. Cartagena was well into party mode. Their idea of a party appeared to be the gathering up of piles of rubbish at various places along the street, covering them in water and then letting the unbelievable heat contribute to making a stench that made me gag. This is supposed to be a pretty, tourist city but this was no sort of a welcome. None of the native inhabitants seemed to notice, so maybe it's their way of keeping intruders to a minimum.
I settled into a comfy but cheap hotel and returned to the bike each day after negotiating new electronic tests with helpful people on-line. Cartagena was a very attractive city but the heat was intense. I could only manage to walk for a little bit before dodging into some cooler place. Fernando and chums seemed to appreciate my bringing cold drinks for all each day. They put the bike under a cover but I still leaked all over it even though I was in the shade. The problem was eventually traced and parts ordered, just in time for leaving on the boat.
A huge pick up truck took the bike to the quayside and Captain Mark and I strapped it onto the deck. The parts would arrive c/o Yacht in Transit, Panama Canal Yacht Club. Meantime - life on the ocean wave . . .