Colombian flag

I’m Going to Travel Colombia by Motorcycle!

Photo courtesy of Semancha.com

Sometimes I’m completely irresponsible. Almost always, these time include opportunities to travel, like that time my friends invited me to Vegas on a whim, or when we went to Cabo San Lucas for a week because the lodging was paid for. These times usually hit when I’m trying to be good, to stay put for a while, get my finances in order, and just when I think I’m doing quite well and giving myself a little pat on the back, another friend will propose a trip I just can’t turn down. If I’m hesitant, the one line that always twists my arm is, “You only live once.”

I’ve been in Fort Collins for four months, and with the exception of a few weekend excursions and a nice Thanksgiving holiday back in Oregon, I haven’t explored as much as I’d like. Homework has me hunkered down, dreaming of an escape. So when a guy I’m dating mentioned he was going to South America for three months – a place I’ve said will be next on my travel bucket list – and that his first few weeks will be spent seeing Colombia by motorcycle, I couldn’t help but exclaim, “I’m free in January!”

So, after some debate and haggling (with the tour operator, not the boy), I’m booked on a 16-day motorcycle tour with Motolombia; a travel Colombia tour that will take us to coffee farms and banana plantations, through the mountains and down to the sandy beaches, from cattle towns to big cities. Here’s the itinerary:


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As amazing as it sounds, this will be a totally different kind of travel than I’m used to. I’ve not spent more than a few hours on a motorbike at a time, and I usually feel that in my body shortly after; I don’t often stay in four- and five-star resorts of the kind we’ve been promised.

I’m used to surfing beds and floors of local’s homes, or paying $5/night for a shared dorm in a hostel. I’m used to not knowing what I’m going to do until I’m doing it. I’m used to a slow pace, to eating street food or sharing meals with locals, and to spending endless days on the beach, alternating between writing and swimming.

Colombian Locals

Photo courtesy of bestourism.com

However, I can already imagine how good a clean, cozy bed will look after long days riding pillion (passenger – I’m already learning the biker talk!) on a motorcycle. I’m beyond excited to try a lengthy organized tour – something I usually avoid because it prevents spontaneous decisions and special encounters with locals – but I am a little afraid I might get used to all this, umm…luxury.

I’ll arrive in Cali on January 3, where I will meet Mads, who’ll be flying in from a Christmas holiday in Denmark. We’ll kick off the new year in a new country, and we’ll have a couple days to couch surf, explore on our own, meet locals, eat street food, and practice our Spanish skills before the tour starts on the 5th. So, I’ll still get my fill of backpacking and adventure, and maybe a little romance too ;-)

And despite missing the first week of school next semester, I believe this is just what I need to get back on track. I crave adventure – I need to get it out of my system before I can commit to another five months of nonstop reading, writing and studying. So, irresponsibility aside, I need this dose of carelessness not for my bank account, but for my sanity.

Colombia Motorocycles

That’s gonna be me! Photo courtesy of rideadv.com

Who’s coming with me? I’m hoping to write and post pictures periodically, so stay tuned. If you haven’t signed up for emails, please do so on the right, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Google+

27 Comments

  1. Frank says:

    Hey Jessica – you’re going to love Colombia! I’ve visited most of the places you’re going: Cali, Manizales, Bogota, Cartagena, Santa Marta (check out Parque Tayrona and Taganga while there). I didn’t get a chance to see Medellin though – you should drop for a visit to Marcello (the Wandering Trader) while you’re there.
    Cartagena – amazing places, make sure to spend a few days: http://bbqboy.net/travel-tips-and-photo-essay-on-incredible-cartagena-colombia/
    You’re going to have a great time!
    Frank

    • jessicajhill says:

      Thanks, Frank! I loved your post. I’m so excited for this adventure – I’m sure it will be amazing. We will get to spend a few days in Cartagena, so I’m really looking forward to that after seeing your photos!

  2. Ann Marie says:

    I’m so jealous! Have a blast! Can’t wait to read the adventure stories and would love to check ou the price :)

  3. Marsha says:

    Wow this sounds like a very fun trip; very adventurous! :) I can’t wait to see your pictures and read up on the trip! Have fun!

  4. The love for travelling that I feel inside is somehow manifested in that up-lifting un-expected interaction and social relation that happens when I feel the connection of mutual trust, in a person I meet along the road.
    Those memories from sharing a moment of laughter, learning, exitement, beauty, danger or anxiety with someone I trust but don't know well, is 10 times clearer to me than the actual places I've been or the sights I've seen.
    This love keeps me going in times when I can't be on the road. It inspires me to read blogposts from travellers around the World and it makes me dream the most wonderful dreams at nigth. It makes me want to talk spanish and it makes me crave indian cuisine when I am 10.000miles from India…
    It is hard to describe the magic that happens, but maybe you recognize this feeling in your own way…?

    I am not sure how it could be that the guy from Denmark happened to bump into a sweet girl from Oregon in a couchsurfers garage in Wyoming, this summer!
    Our mutual love for travelling and the exchange of letters about places and people, have since then kept us in the now. It has given me a small fix of adventure with every story and it has helped me keep my travel fever in check. Thank you for sharing and for writing so wonderfully!

    -Two travellers with so different life agenda's and from each our own continent will soon share this adventure on a third… I am so much looking forward to begin my trip in your company, Jessica. -and to have you as my pillion rider through our Columbia get-away!

    Hasta Luego, Senorita!

  5. Mads says:

    The love for travelling that I feel inside is somehow manifested in that up-lifting un-expected interaction and social relation that happens when I feel the connection of mutual trust, in a person I meet along the road.
    Those memories from sharing a moment of laughter, learning, exitement, beauty, danger or anxiety with someone I trust but don’t know well, is 10 times clearer to me than the actual places I’ve been or the sights I’ve seen.
    This love keeps me going in times when I can’t be on the road. It inspires me to read blogposts from travellers around the World and it makes me dream the most wonderful dreams at nigth. It makes me want to talk spanish and it makes me crave indian cuisine when I am 10.000miles from India…
    It is hard to describe the magic that happens, but maybe you recognize this feeling in your own way…?

    I am not sure how it could be that the guy from Denmark happened to bump into a sweet girl from Oregon in a couchsurfers garage in Wyoming, this summer!
    Our mutual love for travelling and the exchange of letters about places and people, have since then kept us in the now. It has given me a small fix of adventure with every story and it has helped me keep my travel fever in check. Thank you for sharing and for writing so wonderfully!

    -Two travellers with so different life agenda’s and from each our own continent will soon share this adventure on a third… I am so much looking forward to begin my trip in your company, Jessica. -and to have you as my pillion rider through our Columbia get-away!

    Hasta Luego, Senorita!

    • jessicajhill says:

      I completely relate to what you’re saying about your love for travel. It’s almost like a drug – I need my fix before I can feel human. And like you, for me it’s the people I meet that make any location memorable and special, hence the book I’m writing which focuses solely on the local encounters I was fortunate to share in Asia. Sometimes, even the most unexpected situations arise to feel as though they were meant to be just that way, like meeting a stranger who leads you to a jewel you might never have found otherwise, or two strangers randomly choosing the same couchsurf host in a city with many, and somehow running into each other several times more. I think you’re right – it might be magic!

      Thank YOU for helping me keep my travel fever in check, both verbally and physically. I’m beyond excited to kick off the new year with you!

      Solomente nueve dias hasta te veo otro vez! Brazos.

  6. Sanna Rådelius says:

    Awesome!

  7. This sounds like a truly awesome adventure and I can’t wait to hear more about it! I have to admit that my knowledge (and interest) in South America is pretty poor, but Colombia is one of the countries that I would legitimately LOVE to visit. And on the back of a motorbike? Even better! Definitely going to be an unforgettable trip!

  8. How exciting! Visiting a coffee farm would be really neat.

  9. Hola Sanna!! Thanks for reading…- you and Elias Rådelius are to me, two people I met and mixed and matched! I remember our time together so well and it makes me smile on the inside! Remember that Indian place we ate at in Sydney?… Our first dinner together. Bring-your-own redwine and awesome conversation.

    Some day I will make it to Sweden again and I look forward to catch up with you guys.
    Take care. Say hi and have a merry Xmas.

  10. Edna says:

    That. looks. incredible! I cannot wait to hear all about this! I hope you have a blast and that you find what you’re looking for out of this experience!

  11. Karen Fogh Tandrup says:

    Smukt <3

  12. Sanna Rådelius says:

    Mads Kragelund I have so many good memories from Australia :) Good times! You are welcome anytime! Who knows, maybe we'll meet up somewhere else than in Scandinavia?! All the best and have a merry christmas and an awesome trip! :D

  13. Have fun! And stay safe… Should be a great adventure :-)

  14. This sounds awesome, I had no idea there was a tour company like this, such a cool idea. Aunque Colombia es muy seguro que antes, ¡cuidense!

  15. Michelle says:

    whew!!! You go girl! I will try to keep up with you from cold desert Cali! I’m dreaming of a Thai Christmas these days! Lets see where the new year brings me and I will be hoping to make that dream a reality! Have fun and be safe! Here we go 2014!!!!!

  16. Jennifer says:

    That sounds like SO much fun! My hubby has a motorcycle and we’ve been talking about doing a road trip on it for two years now. Every time we plan it, it inevitably rains the entire week straight and we road trip by car instead. I can’t wait to hear about this trip!

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