Friday, February 19, 2016

Scavenger Hunt

I'd heard nothing but good things about Medellin from everyone who'd been there, and I was itching to spend some time there. While the week of riding was great, 40 hours on the bike in 6 days also left me a little tired and needing a break for a few days, not to mention needing a few parts (kickstand primary among them). My only concern was the lethargy that had taken over me in Cartagena, Santa Marta and Taganga - but Medellin had enough interesting things to do that it wasn't ever a problem.

Before getting to Medellin, I'd gone back through some of Bryce's ride report from his trip a few years ago, and he had nothing but good things to say about staying at the Shamrock in town - it was a bar, but with rooms upstairs that seemed to host quite a few travelers. When I looked it up on my map, it came up, but looked like it might not be open. Sure enough, when I got to that place on the map, there was no Shamrock there. I started to ask someone nearby if they knew where the Shamrock was, when a guy sauntered up to my bike and started talking to me with a Scottish accent.

"Now what ya need here, is some more shit on your KLR, because ya don't have quite enough."

That must be Albert, the former owner of the Shamrock - unless there's two guys around this part of Medellin with a Scottish accent who can identify a motorcycle. Sure enough, the Shamrock was closed - but instead, Cafe Ubicuo had opened in his place. Albert would later tell me that he was just tired of all the "bowl-sheet" involved with a bar, and wanted to be able to go home at night. Either way, the rooms above the place were still there, and he had one available, so I started hauling stuff inside. The rooms had some old posters hung up inside for decoration.

The new look. That's Albert's KTM parked there.

That is a sexy bike.

Check out the ingredients.

After getting everything inside, I asked Albert if he knew a shop that could take care of a few things for me. I had a list of things that weren't quite fixed up from the shop in Cartagena, starting with the kickstand - putting the bike up on the centerstand is a real pain. He directed me to the same one Bryce had gone to a few years back, so I headed that way. Unfortunately, they said they didn't have what I needed and were super busy, so they sent me over towards another shop and told me to ask for Pepe. So I went there and asked for him, and he said that while the shop was full right now so they couldn't store the bike overnight, I could come back in the morning and he could take a look at stuff. Back to the cafe I went.

That evening I headed out to find a place for some food and maybe a beer, and ended up walking to the corner where I'd seen the Medellin Beer Factory on my way into town. It looked like my kind of place, and sure enough they brew their own beers so I was able to get some good beers once again (added bonus, the waitress uniforms were Oktoberfest-style outfits). Colombia has proven to be decent as far as beers go, with Bogotá Beer Company in a lot of places and now a microbrewery. I explained that I wanted to try all of their beers, but in smaller glasses because I didn't want to drink four pints. They didn't really have the concept of a flight at this place, but I explained it sufficiently in Spanish and they worked something out where I'd get half a glass of each of their four beers and get charged for two beers.

I ordered some wings as well, and while I was sitting and chatting with the bartender about traveling and the other beers on their menu, three guys came up to the bar. It happened to be right as I was explaining to the bartender that while their international selection of beers was pretty good, only having Budweiser and Miller as their sole American beers was a travesty. One of the guys gave me a nod and said to the bartender, "This guy knows what he's talking about." We ended up chatting a bit, and it turns out they were visiting Medellin for nine days from Louisiana. One of them was Honduran, one American, and one was from the States but his parents were from Medellin, so they were visiting his family and enjoying the city.

I ended up joining two of them for a couple games of Cutthroat pool, which worked out perfectly for me - my sweet spot for pool seems to be between 2 and 5 beers, and they caught me right at number two. I ended up winning the first game on the strength of a few lucky shots knocking out the better of the two other players, but it was downhill from there as I continued to order beers, this time from their "Tres Cordilleras" selection (another Colombian craft beer). An Aguardiente shot probably contributed some to the decline, and the last game took as long as the first 4 combined as there were a total of five scratches on what should have been the winning shot, bringing the other players back into it.

We exchanged numbers as they were planning on going paragliding the next day and I was hoping to join them (this time hopefully without crashing), but I warned them that I had motorcycle stuff to attend to and might not be able to make it.

Sure enough, the next day turned into a scavenger hunt for parts. When I went to find Pepe in the morning, he wasn't there, and after waiting around for half an hour I asked one of the other guys in the shop, who said they were too busy to take it, but either go ask for a different Pepe in a shop down the road, or go to the place across the street. Other Pepe was too busy to take the bike, and the place across the street didn't have parts despite being an authorized Kawasaki dealership. At this point I was sweaty from riding around in the traffic for the past few hours and tired from putting the bike up on the center stand every time I parked, so I headed back to the cafe and then wandered around to get some lunch.

When I returned, Albert was there and I gave him the report on the shops I'd gone to and the reactions I got. At this point, I'd settle for just fixing the kickstand and not worry about the rest of the stuff. Albert gave me a neighborhood where he said I'd be sure to find a welder who could fix the kickstand, saying it was the kind of place where people would run out into the street and flag you down to try to get your business, rather than getting turned away like I had been. So I rode over there, and while I saw a few motorcycle shops, I didn't see many welders. After a few wrong turns and having to go all the way around traffic circles to pull a U-turn maybe 7 times, I finally found a welder.

Of course, that wasn't the end of the journey - while he said he could fix it, he told me that it would be cheaper for me to just buy a new one than what he'd charge to fix it. So he sent me in the direction of a street that for sure would have the part (he said).

I think that's where Albert had originally been trying to direct me, because sure enough someone ran out into the street to try to get my business, but when I told him what I needed he said he didn't have it, and instead directed me to a different shop. I waited in line to find out they didn't have it either, but then they sent me to the Kawasaki dealership across the street who finally had a kickstand. I paid for it and put it in my box on the bike, and then made my way back to the cafe - getting poured on by an afternoon shower (without my rain gear) in the process.

After changing into dry clothes and waiting for the rain cloud to blow over, I went out in the cul-de-sac that the cafe sits on and started wrenching. I had the kickstand changed out pretty quickly, and was finally able to put the bike up without using the center stand.

All shiny and new.
I also took a look at the headlight issue I'd had - when I got caught in the dark on the way to Malaga I'd discovered that the headlight wasn't illuminating the road very well. I had a suspicion, and sure enough when I pulled off the windshield and fiddled around a bit, I discovered that the shop in Cartagena had just hooked up the brights and the normal headlight backwards - meaning my brights were always on when the bike was on, and flipping the brights switch turned on my normal headlight.

I spent the evening taking advantage of the good internet to relax on Netflix for a while, and made some plans for the next few days. I didn't know how long I was going to stay in Medellin, but I suspected it would be hard to leave.

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